learning

Parenting A Tween

As a parent there is a lot to consider these days: education, diet & exercise, extra circular activities, general household rules… you get the idea. As a parent of a tween (soon to be teen) there seems to be a whole other dimension added to that I now get to experience. Fortunately (or maybe not) I remember my middle school years. I count myself lucky to still be in contact with my best friend from all those years ago too. (She knows where all the skeletons are buried)

I asked the question on facebook and got a variety of responses, and will ask it here too, because I enjoy the conversations it can generate and learning others views helps to expand mine.

Do you google or facebook/twitter search the boyfriends or girlfriends of your kids?

Growing up in the day before all this technology my parents knew the neighbors, they knew the kids I hung out with, they knew the principal at my school (at least through middle school anyway). They knew the pharmacist at the shop down the street, they knew neighbors on other streets that recognized me when I was out running around with my friends. It wasn’t easy to get away with things then. Don’t get me wrong, I did get away with some stuff and I did get caught doing other things I shouldn’t have. I expect this of kids of any generation. But because of the availability of information and the willingness of so many to share information with seemingly complete strangers in some regards, where do you draw the line? How much information is too much? When is it not enough?

Parent or not share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Bursting The Bubble

I have been trying for 4 days now to write this next post. The words are not lining up in a way that would make any sense to you the reader. After much thought, I decided to share a project I’ve been working on. A friend of mine, Mandy challenged a bunch of us earlier this month to do a self portrait. Here is a picture of what I came up with. (It’s been slightly modified by an app I have on my phone to give it more depth and texture, which I couldn’t quite capture with the elements I had to work with.)

It’s a canvas that I decoupaged with various items, including yarn, glass beads, words, paint, fabric, and ink. It’s a mish mash basically, but a fair representation of where I am in life right now.

I also created a “wordle” based on the words I used through out the “self portrait”.

I’m not sure where this is going yet. It’s a new chapter in the journey of life. But this is me. More to come…

The Girl In The Bubble

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, soul searching, and reflecting lately. A little of that is reflected in a recent post and more is to come in this post and possibly following posts. I don’t know yet how far this will go, or what it will look like. I’ve been hesitant to post this too, but I  feel that there is something in all of this that needs to be shared either with someone else or it’s just something I need to get out of my system. Either way, here it is.

Moving to a new place (if you’ve followed this blog for any period of time you know the journey, otherwise you can read more in the archives) has been an adventure. Having been here almost a year, I can now look back over the journey and see with clearer eyes what has transpired.

I’ve been reflecting recently on the past year, what all has happened since we began our “Great Adventure” and where we are now. Or more specifically where I am now. And where I’ve been for the past 14 years. Some of you may or may not be old enough to remember the after school specials, and the campy movies that came out during that time frame. One that sticks in my mind (and there are many for some strange reason) is the movie “The Boy In The Plastic Bubble” starring John Travolta circa 1976. It was based on a true story of a boy who had to live in a completely sterile environment, hence the bubble. Obviously he had to live in this bubble for health reasons, and that’s not the point of this post. But it does help to illustrate the point I want to make. Have you ever considered you may be living in a bubble? It’s easy to create one, not so easy to realize you’re in one though. For me, I didn’t realize the bubble I was in until after we moved. I can look back on it now and see how insulated and in some cases isolated I was during that time. Some of it was self imposed, some of it was due to the area and the prevailing attitude of the place. When you live in a town where you are made to feel an outcast because you are not born and bred there, over time it tends to affect your view of life and yourself. Unless you are one of those people with a self esteem made of an indestructible material, at some point you will be affected by this oppression.

A little background ~ I grew up in Pittsburgh. A large city, where when I was a kid they bused us white kids to the black neighborhood to integrate the school, many friends were of varying ethnicities, a vibrant nightlife that I took part of for many years, and a variety of other influences, both good and  not so good. Fast forward some years and I find myself living in a small town, in the south where (sadly) there were still klan rallies being held, in a completely unfamiliar place, new job that I really didn’t feel qualified for, and basically an outsider. You can imagine what it felt like – a fish out of water is not a far cry from what it felt like to me.

I made friends easily enough where I was working, since I was spending 14 + hour days there, where else I would I socialize. Thus, the beginning of the bubble. Add to that the nearest major city with any sort of decent shopping, restaurants, or ethnic groceries was over an hours drive away; another layer of the bubble is added. After a while, the job came to an end. The small company I worked for was bought out by a bigger company – which was a good thing and a not so great thing. Good because of a financial windfall, bad because so many of us lost our jobs. Good also because we were able to adopt our daughter, buy a house, and pay off our debt. Bad because friends that I had become close to moved away to find better jobs or other opportunities.

But now we enter the next layer of the bubble. “Stay at home mom” or SAHM for short. It was a tough transition going from independent, working and managing a team of developers who were relatively independent, to suddenly having someone depend on you for their every need. We had neighbors moving in around us, new houses being built, and new friendships were made. Other kids came along in the neighborhood that became playmates and classmates. Suddenly the world revolved around the activities of a child, no longer the adult. The bubble had changed, but it was still a bubble. All that I had dreamed of what pushed back yet again. There were hobbies that occupied some of my time, there were volunteer opportunities that allowed me some creative outlets. But the dreams of writing, creating, taking part in an industry that my heart had longed to be a part of so many years ago, was buried so deep, they soon became forgotten.

Please don’t get the wrong idea and think that there weren’t great times, and great friends as well, there certainly were. But there was something missing too. Something I couldn’t identify at the time. Something that would take me a while to realize, only after we left that place, got away from the bubble we were in, and began what was to become the next phase in life. More to come.

Timing Is Everything

Those that know me, know I am not the most patient person in the world. I’m early for appointments, I hate to be rushed, and waiting for something is not one of my “gifts”. But these last few weeks I have been learning more about waiting than I expected.

I’ve been in the process of setting up & opening my Etsy shop ~ making items, photographing & displaying, advertising, and having design work done. Dean has been looking for job opportunities ~ tech and photography/videography/production work. I’ve been trying to educate myself more in the area of writing ~ reading a lot. And in the midst of all that we’ve been waiting and waiting some more for a settlement to come through as well. Not to mention the regular waiting that accompanies everyday moments of life ~ lines in the stores, traffic, appointments, you get the idea.

The journey from point A to point B is not short or easy. It has involved waiting, rejection, hope, hustling, praying, editing, hard work, long hours, sleepless nights, and… yes, more waiting. And then it happens. Right at the point where you are almost beyond frustration, ready to throw in the towel, and run away to a deserted island, the pieces start to fall into place.

A picture tweeted, leads to a sale. Which then leads to a word of mouth recommendation, leading to another sale. A stop at the Chamber of Commerce opens up doors and connections to an entire geographic area,  and a photography shoot. A friend recommendation results in a day job that could possibly lead to more jobs. And a simple question asked in passing reveals an untapped resource with enormous potential.

Stay tuned, as I know there is more to come.

Following Rabbit Trails

So last week I had out patient surgery for a varicose vein that has been bothering me for years. Because of this, I wasn’t able to do a lot for the remainder of the week, other than sit around, keep my leg elevated, and try not to go stir crazy. Thankfully one of my Christmas presents was a Macbook Air, so I was able to at least use my computer while sitting on the couch. Otherwise I would have been extremely contorted at my desk trying to keep my leg up. But that’s off topic. Back to the rabbit trail.

I invested or spent, depending on how you look at rabbit trails, a lot of time reading. Blogs, news, tweets, help topics, reviews, pretty much anything that was written on line that was broadcast into my little on line world of twitter, facebook, and google reader. And along the way I have found out something interesting.

Rabbit trails are the way to market today. Whether you are a musician, writer, business, whatever… The more rabbit trails you create, the more you spread your word. You create buzz, traffic, and hopefully in the end, you accomplish your goal, whether that be getting your name or product out there, or increasing your business. But notice, the rabbit trails I followed weren’t from print ads, or commercials on tv (which I actually watched less of this past week), or radio spots. They were from links that you posted on twitter. Or maybe it was your blog. Or maybe something someone said on facebook that led me to do a search on google. It all comes back to social media and an on line presence. Now I’m no expert in this field, there are plenty out there who claim to be. But if I can figure this out it must not be that hard. So I ask, if you not, why aren’t you using this as a tool to get your word out? And if you are, have you noticed a change? Is it working? Any advice you’d share?

I’m off to follow more rabbit trails, and see what else I’ll learn.