Working at Home

Since September of last year I’ve been working from home as a freelance contractor. I love how much I can get done in my yoga clothes including actual yoga in my spare bedroom! As I continue to work from the same space, I’ve found there are a few things I need to do to keep sane.

Walk

At least around the house, outside twice a day and longer jaunts to the park when it’s not raining. I used to do laps around my office or up/downs on the stairs to keep from getting sore from a lack of motion. Now there’s no one at the next desk annoying me so I have to really make sure I keep moving. The dogs keep me on my toes too, up and down a few times a day just to open the door so they go outside.

Clean

I’ve started doing small Saturday cleaning projects because when I stay in the same space day after day the small things really start to annoy me. Last weekend it was my bathroom drawers and cabinet. They’re now organized and clean and wonderful! Today I tackled a few projects, the big one was finally dusting the last bookshelves in the office and organizing the closet.

The closet goes through phases and it’s always a challenge to keep clean. When I started using dual monitors in January I stashed the boxes and corresponding cables next to the desk. Where they sat. For a month. I had an overflowing box of cables and wires and electronic junk and no space to empty the monitor boxes so I could move them to the garage. Well no more!

Now the closet is quite streamlined with Banker’s boxes for papers, projects on the small table and even a basket so I can collect crap and put it away instead of throwing it inside. Of course I can always close the curtains to hide my mess but I know it’s there. Mocking me. Reminding me as I work that everything is out of order.

I also managed to grab my zip ties and clean up the overflowing Medusa-esque bo of electrics that used to vex me. Here’s what everything looked like when I was done:

I also found my camcorder so it’s time to charge that up for my trip back East and get my DSLR ready too. The only thing I can’t figure out is this pseudo-charger looking thing. It doesn’t belong to my laptops, cameras, camcorder, ipad, ipod, printer, cell phone, or scanner so I’m lost. Any ideas?

Music

One thing I hated about working in a traditional office was the background noise. Co-workers who called their boyfriend five times a day. Farmville noises. The twilight movie one person listened to daily. Music was a great way to drown out that noise and focus on my tasks. Now that I’m at home the noises are a bit different. Mostly barking dogs, a neighbor who likes Taylor Swift acapella and one particularly annoying neighbor with diesel muscle cars, no common sense and a penchant to waste gas by letting cars run and rev for hours every day.

Music once again saves me from raving at the rednecks. At least until I can find a house and move out to the country!

 

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Mirror, Mirror, On the … Floor

As I’ve been working around the house in my limited free time I’ve been rediscovering all the projects I wanted to do when I moved in but have since forgotten. See I was so busy with ripping out walls and covering up horrendous paint that small things became small things.

ugly, ugly, ugly paint

One such small thing is my bathroom mirrors. They’re just slabs of glass stuck up with small holders and while they get the job done, they’re not pretty. I like pretty things.

So in January while out shopping with my mom I found a great mirror that I thought would work. The only thing I didn’t like was the price. $60. Without knowing if it would fit I was kinda unsure until my mom pointed out the tag said “$60 set of 3” so we found the other two (smaller) mirrors and I bought them happily.

Great deal, right?

I thought so too until I went to Target last night to buy a birthday card. I left with more than a birthday card. I’m not going to fess up to everything I bought but I did come home with another mirror. And 14 photo frames but that’s another story for another time.

The mirror I did find is 30″ x 40″ from the Clearance area and there were three to choose from. I got the least banged up one in brown. So here they are my mirrors on the floor:

The silver ones will probably fit best in the guest bathroom because the brown mirror? Waaaay too big for that space. I don’t mind, it’ll fit perfectly in the Master bath and I love the price too:

$28! Amazing! Now I just need to talk my dad into visiting and hanging these for me. I’m totally an expert competent passable at hanging small pictures but for large mirrors, my dad wields the hammer. Oh, and those 14 photo frames I picked up for under $15? I’ll write about those soon. As soon as I find some free time.

Pretty things

I’m a big fan of home design projects because while I’m a terrible artist, I love the creative process of taking a blank space and making it something different. There are so many different styles and mixtures of styles to utilize!

And while I like to read blogs, magazines, window shop, etc, I don’t really like the perfect magazine look. For one, I can’t afford it. $499 for a side table? $3999 for a couch? $199 for a lamp? Yeah, no.

Luckily I’ve got family who likes to donate furniture (a couch, loveseat, 2 bed frames, three chairs, two footstools, a desk, two bookshelves and lots of shelving at last count) and I like to find deals on my own instead of buying a complete look out of a catalog. The bookshelf in my kitchen, for example ,was on clearance for $32 at Target. The head board for my queen sized bed was $9 at a furniture sale. The china cabinet in the kitchen was $20 including delivery. Aside from the big ticket items, I like to find most everything else used. Because it’s more fun.

This is my mantle. All of these candle holders were thrift store finds.  They’re glasses and crystal cups,  mismatched and awesome.

You really can’t beat a 27 cent candle holder. My tapers come from Walmart and are pretty cheap, the votive candles come in a bag from Ikea, 50 for $4. How cheap is that for a fun design?

Today I didn’t do any shopping, just went for a long drive to get fresh air, hike a little and snap some photos. I don’t usually mention where I end up because there’s inevitably some trespassing involved…

I have to keep away from bees lest I die. Yes, My Girl is a horror film in my mind.  But with spring nearly here the insects are out, buzzing around terrifying me wherever I go.

Affordable Gifts

Today in a very happy accident I was walking out of a consignment shop and ran into my good friend Eli. Well, saw her across the street but still, it was very small town wonderful! So we set off shopping together and found so much good stuff I had to share! Since many of my friends are currently spawning I like to find really cute, new or nearly new baby clothes for gifts. So. Much. Cuteness.

Boy clothes are always hard for me to find and I got great deals today. These are all new outfits, still had the tags for a fraction of the original cost:

I love finding good deals on kids’ clothes. Mostly because spending $18 on something that will be spit on, pooped in and outgrown in 2 months is crazy! I’m all for quality and all but why pay retail? Even when I worked in the kid’s section at a department store I saw how quickly clothes were discounted so quickly. No point paying $25 for one outfit when I can put six or seven onesies, a hat, bibs, blanket for under $15.

For once I have just a few girly outfits in the stash:

Once again, a nice stack of clothes to choose from when I put together a gift, including this adorable little robe:

I can’t forget the toys, so many cute items to choose from including

So cute, right? $1.29  for the dinosaur hand puppet!

 

 

And this fischer price elephant was $1.50. When I found out it plays music I got so excited! Needs a bit of cleaning

but so do most kid toys that have been manhandled in the mall by every kid with grabby hands.

 

 

I think I have enough dino toys and clothes to make a gift basket – gotta include this shirt:

I also found some book (boring to photograph lol), glassware for my mantle (will add pics when I get that finished tonight) , some gifts for a unicorn lover, and the most hilarious ring:

Very Harry Potter-esqe and I think it would be a fun for a Halloween costume or something. More to come as I continue to unpack and put things away from this little thrift shopping spree!

Ego and Fear and Money, oh My!

I’m going to resist classifying this post because, as y’all should know by now, I just write what comes into my head.

Ever since my trip to Colorado I’ve been really thinking about my life on the meta level – why do I do what I do? What’s influencing me? Who is influencing me? What guides and directs my life and actions and thoughts on a daily basis?

Really, this post is all about motivation but you can partially blame it on the Wizard of Oz DVDs I ordered in January. I can’t help it. I’m from Kansas and I like sparkly shoes.

While I can’t definitively isolate all of the positive influences by which I want to influence my life, I did find three not-so-positive ones that I’m now hyper aware of:

  • Ego
  • Fear
  • Money

None of these things are bad by nature but when the control your motivation, watch out!

Ego, aka ‘because I’m important’

This one is born and bred in the school system, I swear. Who gets attention in schools but the kids who know the most, have the neatest handwriting and excel in academics? They get bumper stickers and certificates and recognition in school assemblies. From a very early age we’re conditioned to want that recognition and do whatever it takes to achieve it. Don’t think I’m the artsy kid who felt left out because I could draw better than spell. Oh, I got those little certificates and I’m sure there in a file cabinet around here somewhere! And I can’t draw. At all.

For the most part this evolves but still, no matter where your passion and strengths lie, it’s ingrained to be the best, the star, the one who gets attention. When that ego gets in the way of everything else it’s a dangerous thing, baby. When you act the way you act, work the jobs you work and communicate the way you communicate to feed your ego it’s a losing battle. Because the most powerful things we can do is serve others.

Fear, or ‘oh crap!’

I’ve written about this before, but oh how do I fall back into it all the damn time! Making decisions based on fear (of running out of money, of looking stupid, of becoming like people I dislike) means that I’m working against, instead of working towards an outcome. And if I’m just running from something, I’m going to be running all over the place without a real direction.

At this stage in my life the biggest fear is the unknown. The most horrible, nagging question EVER: what do you want to be when you grow up? Do I really have to choose NOW? What if it (life) changes drastically? Who really sets the entire path for their life at 18, does everything they set out to do and is happy throughout?

I really like working from a place of nervous fear, that jittery, I-better-get-this-right-because-it’s-really-important-and-I-want-to-deliver feeling. Good fear is motivating. Crippling, scary-hide-under-the-bed-and-cry-because-I-can’t-make-a-decision-because-it-might-be-the-wrong-decision fear is not so productive.

Money, really doesn’t buy happiness

Despite a book which suggests the contrary from a former MSN Money editor, money doesn’t result in inner joy, peace or fulfillment. Sometimes money does help make life easier, I won’t deny it. But the idea that money, cash and more moolah will bring some kind of satisfaction is a lie. Why then does money motivate so many life decisions?

Do you work a job you hate because the pay is good? Or it’s more than unemployment? Do you engage in frugality because you fear running out of something? Do you feel the need to spend money to feel better without caring what you spend money on?  I used to notice this with friends who had parents that were absent 18 hours of the day, home just to sleep, when their child was in elementary school and junior high. ‘Cause nothing bad could happen to a 10 year old left alone all day. These parents substituted their presence, time, affection and attention with money. Poorly. Now I see adults doing the same thing to themselves! I work too many hours, didn’t have any relaxation time, managed a big account, went to the gym every day and didn’t have dessert all last month! Now I will spend $50 or $500 or $5000 on something I care nothing about as a reward. Thus, I need more money to reward myself more so I can try to feel better.

Do you know what is motivating your decisions? Have you ever stopped to think and consider it?

January Failure?

I’m torn between thinking January was a great month and a failed month.

Why failure?

  • the grocery shopping challenge never really happened
  • been working waaaay too many hours
  • didn’t get out to dance class once

Eating at home healthily, work/life balance and exercise are important to me but I’m not doing them well.

On the flip side January had a lot of change and I saw some amazing things happen.

I went to Colorado for a long weekend.

Beautiful. Cold.

While in Colorado I met with my clients and our larger team which was great.

My Grandpa celebrated 44 years sobriety and we had a party with AA (their monthly birthday meeting)

A wonderful gift was from a friend of his with audio from my Grandpa talking in AA meetings in the 1980s. Since Grandpa had a stroke when I was 5 years old this is the first chance I’ve had to hear his voice and hear his stories. He does occasionally talk saying “nice”, “fine”, “well shit” – you know, the basics.

My business is exploding and growing in big ways. It’s definitely a ride and I need to devote a lot of time to working with my VA team, my clients and collaborative partners.  As a defense against “work brain” taking over I’ve done two fun, completely frivilous projects. First I took this homemade pillow (design stolen from a magazine because I thought it was cute but would not spend $35 on a Christmas pillow):

After I bought the fabric, felt and pillow form I spent… close to $35. But I didn’t pay shipping so WIN. And, I decided to be tricky and attach the ole Christmas tree with snaps (using a felt backing so no red shows through) and then created this:

So while “relaxing” in the evening, usually watching Psych, I’ve been sewing these dorky little pillows!

Last weekend I went out with my Mom, did some shopping and enjoyed a movie and a massage 🙂 then I came home and decorated a bit:

January felt like a whirlwind of post holiday cleaning up, taxes, work, travel, planning, friends, bills, forgot to eat dinner, sewing, decorating, sleep. Not exactly a failed month but I’m working hard in February to achieve more balance.