December 14, 2004

9:02am duck sighting

Found this morning, 9:02am.

Duck appears to be part of a loving family (note festive collar and warm hat). Duck appears to be attempting to say something but we do not have an onsite interpreter. If you know this duck, please contact judy@freshairstudio.com.


December 12, 2004

josh and spot on holiday

The Dell box disintegrated in the rain... So, thanks to Target (tar-jay), we now have fluffy warm towels in festive holiday colored rooms for both Josh and Spot. Seems, they don't like sleeping together so two hotel rooms were ordered. Looks mighty content in there...

December 08, 2004

cardboard shelter

You can tell the holiday season is here. Three families in my building have opened the door for the UPS driver to deliver those large Dell boxes. Each box houses technical toys that disappear inside the house for their new owners. Seems the humans in each abode find great delight in the faster, better, cooler options each year unfolds.

Last nite, one of those boxes reappeared. You see, it's been raining this week. And the man downstairs lets his cats out when he leaves for work midday and doesn't return til midnight to let them back in. I can't blame Josh and Spot for wanting to get out of the apartment because he is a chain smoker. But it's been pouring rain. Since they are without food for 12 hours, I always put out treats for them when I feed my cats for the evening.

But yesterday, the two of them just broke my heart. Seems the little spot right outside my dining room window and next to my neighbor's door is kind of protected from the wind and rain. When I got home late afternoon, I found the two of them curled up in one giant ball next to each other. I brought out a dry towel and put it under them along with two bowls of food. But they were damp, unable to find dry shelter. I went back in the house and looked around for anything I could use to shelter them. Nada. I was heartbroken.

But as I went back to the window to check on them, a big Dell box had appeared. It was laying on its side with my little towel neatly tucked on the bottom -- and two grateful cats curled up inside. Seems I wasn't the only neighbor whose heartstrings were plucked.

He will cover you with his feathers and under his wings you will find refuge. You will not fear the terror of night nor the arrow that flies by day. Ps 91:5

November 23, 2004

a scoop of cottage cheese

It was lunch, sorta.

There I was, ten minutes before my customer conference call at 1pm realizing that I'd downed half a cup of cappucino at 9 and hadn't eaten anything yet today. Just in case I was to actually feel hungry later, I ran to the refrigerator with a spoon and scooped out 1/3 cup of cottage cheese before the door closed. Great, no dishes to clean. Protein, dairy all in a few bites. Okay, this is nuts. But I was so happy.

And one conference call later, I was even happier. The client loved the global website designs we showed him. In fact, his favorite was my favorite. His email later to me said, "The proposed website designs were excellent! I think that you are right on the money." Okay, I'm floating now.

Glad I didn't have too much food to weigh me down! Cottage cheese and endorphins go a long way...

November 18, 2004

that disease

I have that disease. I'm sure the JAMA has a name for it because I've recognized it in others and I know I'm not alone. This disease has quite a few manifestations. Let me explain.

A few years ago I was laughing with a co-worker. She and I described our intentional dehydration at the office so we wouldn't have to take those time-wasting, guarantee you'll show up for meetings late, restroom break. Today it hit from 9am to 1:20pm. It stopped the moment I looked up from my computer and realized I hadn't eaten anything for breakfast and lunchtime had almost passed me by. I conquered it by making a sandwich, tossing a couple of celery & carrot sticks on the plate, splashing OJ into a glass, snatching a napkin and returning to my desk.... sigh. This type A disease is difficult to keep in remission.

I conquer it each time I stop for 5-15 minutes when my cats walk across the keyboard or rub up against my legs. We take time to play with feathers on a string or some combing or petting. Sometimes it's just time to break out the fresh tuna treat.

Undeniably, the disease is part of my drive. That ability to enjoyably dive into work without regard for time. To look up several hours later after crafting design, strategy or writing and realize the immersion was satisfyingly intense. None the less, variety is important. I need the variety of work -- if I wrote or had to design all day, every day, I'd go nuts. What I don't always keep in the forefront of my mind is that all the other variety matters, too.

So that's why I have a scented candle going on my desk. And why I'm taking a few minutes break to blog. Why I'm sloshing thru herbal tea most days. Why I get up and exercise from time to time (or at least walk to the mailbox). Why I adore when the cats want my attention.

Enjoying variety in all its forms will keep this disease at bay. Now back to that web strategy ....

November 16, 2004

upon reflection

http://www.sorryeverybody.com/gallery/1/

As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.

H.L. Mencken (1880 - 1956)


November 13, 2004

squiggles

The first one looks like waves on an ocean. The second one looks like a tepee with bumpy rocky ground on either side. Signatures on two new contracts. Things of beauty. These signatures not only signal new business, but they are signatures for two redesigned corporate websites along with new extranet capabilities. This marks the first time my marketing consulting work has allowed me back into my favorite territory -- interacting with customers via the web. Woohoo!

No time to amble, be dilatory, be long, be tardy, cool, crawl, dally, dawdle, delay, dillydally, drift, falter, fool around, fritter away, goof off, hang about, hang around, hang back, hang out, hesitate, hobble, idle, lag, loll, lumber, monkey around, mope, mosey, muck, plod, poke, potter, procrastinate, put off, putter, remain, saunter, shuffle, sit around, slouch, stagger, stay, stick around, stop, stroll, tarry, tool, totter, trail, traipse, trifle, trudge, vacillate ...

November 11, 2004

November 10, 2004

not what we're dealt, how we deal

And then something interesting happened. After the election, I mean. A couple of checks came in from clients and two new proposals were accepted. Those delightfully loony Halloween presents came in from Gene & Claudia -- a week late, just like they usually do. Bella still peers into my shut eyelids with a pronounced meow about 5 minutes before the alarm goes off. Ramses still follows me around every room in the house scouting for unknown gnomes that might lurk. Autumn leaves turned more spectacular shades of brilliance than we've seen in several years. Gregory brought me these incredibly beautiful green hewed flowers just beginning to bud because he loved me. Dad sent off his book to the press and mom came over with freshly baked bread. The fabric of our lives continued.

Before the election, Gregory and I had this debate -- the U.S. government matters/doesn't matter. He argued that government affects our daily lives and I argued it doesn't. This morning I realized we were both right. Sort of.

We spend so much of our lives trying to control what impacts us. We vote for our candidate. We want traffic to move at our speed. We order coffee, wine and dinner just the way we want it. We carefully select the right mobile phone calling plan and the right neighborhood to live in. In reality, we can control very little of what happens to us. Happiness is less about what we're dealt, it's about how we deal.

Happiness comes from allowing yourself to enjoy the scenery while you're stopped in traffic. It comes from the delightful conversation with company while we drink and eat. It comes from your best friend's unexpected cheery phone call while you're driving to a client. So while we should spend time trying to craft and order our lives, making the best of life -- however it is handed to us -- is what matters most.

Those little green buds are opening delightfully right now on my desk, by the way.

November 02, 2004

sad sad sad sad day

All my life, I've been in the minority.

I didn't fall for the blonde, blue-eyed quarterback that all the other girls did. I liked the tall, dark mysterious guys. (Still do). I enthusiastically TIVO'd Olympic table tennis and badminton during the middle of the night when most people couldn't even tell you what a birdie is. I don't get on the winning bandwagon, I always cheer for the underdog.

Still, I thought, in these months in the heat of political battle, that my reasoning, my values made sense. I can't fathom people voting for an arrogant man who ignores advice and sneers at dissent. I can't fathom people voting for a draft and continued, unwarranted war. I can't fathom people voting to infuse more religion and pork barrel into their government. I can't fathom people thinking that a president who can't even master the English language can be trusted with their future. I can't fathom that people in 10 states ban gay marriage (as if divorce isn't the greatest threat). I can't fathom that people want religion in government regulating science. But it appears they do.

I have never been this repulsed by a faux leader in my life. I want to vomit each time I hear him speak. Bush is the worst thing that has ever happened to this country. I hate him with a white, hot, burning, screaming heat.

None the less, in the middle of an unstable economy, a ballooning national deficet, with millions of lost jobs, my fellow Americans decided that conservative values outweighed pragmatic progress. They decided spending billions on war made more sense than billions on our own health and welfare. I'm appalled.

For a moment, I had thought reason might prevail. But, I'm in the minority. I forgot about that. And that forgetfulness has begat a deep sadness that has nearly reduced me to tears.

No matter which way Ohio tips, I stand by my voice of reason. Several million will come to their senses in the aftermath and demise of four more years and realize that Bush never had a clue. As we all spiral downward at the expense of military excess, corporate excess and pork barrel excess, they will grow angry at their choice and the consequences.

Today was the beginning of a landslide, referendum victory for Hillary Rodham Clinton. I only wonder who the VP will be.

October 26, 2004

the truth of the matter

Never assume that people want to learn from their pain.

Most people try to forget anything uncomfortable ever happened. They quickly hope they were freak incidents that won't happen again. The rest hold a grudge and assume it was someone else's fault. A few brave souls stare the pain down.

The history of civilization is a recycling anecdote of those who merely forgot the pain only to forget what caused the pain in the first place. Doomed to repeat the same mistake over and over again. Nothing learned, nothing gained.

Those who think it's always someone else's fault, forget the leading role they play in their own life movie and inadvertently add to costly re-takes. Action .... dang, same bad result.

When we quickly distance ourselves from pain, we separate ourselves from truth. Only when we dare confront ourselves to learn the truth of our pain can we steer a different, learned course.

Defiantly dare to face the pain. Let the seeds of growth bask in the warmth of it's light. It can only hurt you again if you choose to forget.



October 21, 2004

and then there's this moment

And then there's this moment. Indescribable, unpredictable moment. You look out the window that glowed green all summer long and suddenly, there's crimsom.


A shade of orange you can't quite put your finger on.


A burnt orange that still burns brightly.


A strong yellow glows and it's not the sun.


Green flirting with deep shades of pink.


Tiny fingers of maroon deftly clinging to mother trees.


There are flowers from Australia that rage glory in unison.


And then there's this moment that words just really can't describe.





October 20, 2004

it's not a moot point

A friend of mine, with pretty strong opposing political views used a new technique to squash my arguments against re-electing Bush. He said it's a moot point because Bush will win the re-election. Period.

It's not a moot point now or ever. When someone tells us to shut up because its a moot point they stoop below the antics of the schoolyard bully that attempts to silence the voices of those they don't like rather than allow all voices in the chorus. No argument -- just shut up and sit down. So let's look at why he wants me to shut up.

My friend is choosing to vote for Bush NOT an the basis of a balanced set of criteria but on a single issue -- Bush's aggressive approach to war. It seems there are a lot of right-wingers voting on a single issue basis: war, guns, religion, abortion.

A great example of that is Mayor Koch who was on the Daily Show last night with John Stewart who explained why he was voting for Bush, "There is not one single issue I agree with Bush on with regard to the way he addresses economic policies or the environment, but I'm voting for him based on his stance on terrorism."

If you don't give a shit about Bush driving the economy into a deep dark hole or theocracy grabbing a stranglehold of american politics .... that puts you squarely in the same corner as a hoard of fundamentalist right-wing religious zealots who are saying, I don't agree with Bush's stance on capital punishment but I'm voting for him because he is bringing God back into the way our country is run. Be careful of the defacto result you think you seek.

At the end of the day, it is fallacy to believe you are simply voting on your perceived view of a man or on a single issue. You're not voting for a man, you are voting for a platform and a party. Bush has been a puppet for the religious right. If he retains office, just watch the religious crusade continue. All the "single issue" voters, so willing to compromise on all the other germaine issues that affects our daily lives MAY get precisely what they ask for.


The fallacy of ignoring all the harm Bush continues to do to the economy, environment, separation of church-and-state -- you may WIN one battle and lose the war.

It's never a moot point. Despite who wins the election, the battle for all aspects of freedom will continue. Our voices will not be silenced.

America was born in pursuit of an idea—that a free people with diverse beliefs could govern themselves in peace. -- John Kerry

October 07, 2004

bah humbug autumn

That's what my friend said. Bah humbug autumn. His reason is a little different than mine. For him, he spent all spring and summer remodeling his home and feels cheated. He never noticed the tulips and now, on the cold breezes of the east coast, autumn is crashing on the shores. He wants a long Texas summer day back to enjoy on his new Delaware deck. He's not ready for mums, he said, he's coaxing the last blooms out of the geraniums.

I'm not ready for the coldness of autumn either. It's the silence I can't stand. The silence of my team no longer in the playoffs for the World Series. I can't put on that uniform and ball cap and protect those tiny little tickets as we walk to the ballpark. I can't joke with the vendor who sells those incredible elephant ears and munch on their cinaminy softness during the first innings. I can't incite the breathless screaming of a stand-up triple, a sliding catch in the outfield or a fiery slider for a strike across homeplate. No, the hated Dodgers took out my Giants in a move that shall not be forgiven. While the colors of autumn start striking around me, I miss black and orange. Especially those fans in converse shoes -- one black and one orange. I don't want to see orange leaves, I want to see orange people. They teased me into hoping the wild card -- even the division win was possible. Nope. Nada.

I feel cheated. Not out of the glory of summer. I saw Barry's home runs. Noah Lowery break into the big show with 6 wins and no losses. Schmidt's dominance. Pedro Feliz's grandslam and Alfonzo's 5 for 5 hits in a game. I saw the wrong end of too many double plays -- but it was baseball. And my team was playing. And somehow, it just isn't autumn without them. When they won their last game of the year at Dodger stadium 10 to nothing, the joy was as soundless as a autumn leaf crashing to the earth. It doesn't matter what color that leaf is, it isn't black and orange.

September 29, 2004

dirt berm

Maybe to you and me, it's a freshly excavated construction site. It's a long, tall smooth pile of dirt pushed to the edge of a road away from a large flat area that will eventually be filled with cookie-cutter houses and too-small backyards. You know, a dirt berm. How mundane.

Two days ago, it stood silently, solitary testament to housing development that the earth willingly obliged.

Today it is a miracle of expressive and boundless freedom. Boys on bicycles whirling up and down. Inventing new moves unheard of by common man. Accidental kneeslides and breathless accomplishment. In their mind's eye, each jump and twist is twice as high or fast as it might look. It's an instant skate park. They discovered it and it's theirs. I can only imagine the lingo spoken there -- slang to me and mere breath to them. No doubt they are tweaking the frame and creating their own versions of switch b/s k/f 3, Pierre-Luc's nollie h/s varial indy 3, and Sandro's 9.

It's a pyramid of frivolity. A hot new place to dash to after school. A boundless monument to energy and invention. Soon construction site signs will go up and they'll be shoed away, but for today and maybe tomorrow, it's their domain and they're reveling in it.

Did you find your own dirt berm today?

September 28, 2004

hotel california

It's interesting to observe this little 8 unit microcosm of the apartment universe. Eight families coming and going -- intersecting for brief or lengthy moments.

There's Tim, the maintenance man from Texas who finally moved into one of the units because he works here and it makes it mighty convenient. He had to borrow some cash from his kids to make the deposit and he's thrilled to have a place by himself. He started out with just a chair and a TV in the living room but he's adding more as he can. We share freshly baked cookies and cinnamon rolls and stuff from the garden. After getting into an accident that totaled his car he found a real cheap silver blue car that despite the bashed in front end, drives just fine. Like him, a little worse for wear but proud of his heritage. There's the couple that adopted the cat that was left behind who used to live in the apartment they now live in. How was the cat to know it couldn't go inside anymore.

Then there's the family that just left after living here 6 years. I tried to imagine 4 people living in 880 sq ft. They wanted so much more and so the husband bought a shiny new truck. That shiny new truck and troubles at work meant they stopped paying their rent. They were told to pay or leave. They left. The daughter left a 6-year best-girl-friend next door. They left an herb garden and tomato plants thriving in that spare dirt between the big tree and the rose bushes. Before they left, the wife showed me all the herbs and told me to tend them and the daughter gave me something she had made and told me I was her favorite neighbor. The week before they left, items of a life were displayed on the lawn with a yard sale sign. Little was sold. When they left with everything roped down into the bed of two pickup trucks, two giant trashbins were left full of furniture, mattresses and dishes. They left in tears to an uncertain life. I cried, too, as I put her pretty drawing on the fridge and knew I wouldn't hear her cheery little "Hello Mrs Kitty" anymore. The pathos here is palpable.

Now there's the new couple moving in. Like the family who left, it appears they can't afford a moving truck and so the trips keep happening, one carload at a time. Clothes on hangers, small boxes. They look tired already.

We live in a little garden paradise. It's beautiful with grand sweeping trees, generous flower plantings, large grassy lawns and sidewalks that cross over for wonderful figure eights for the kids to ride on their bicycles. But we're all here for different reasons with different pasts and futures. For some, it's the best they've ever had. For some, it's a sanctuary away from a bad relationship. For some, it's the most rent they've ever paid. For us, it's the lowest rent we've ever paid since we got married. For us, it's a safe little haven that allowed us to get out of the desert and not over commit to a location or expenses before we found jobs and got on our feet coming back to CA. It's been wonderful not to have a big mortgage while I get my business going and allows Gregory not to stress out while he's building up sales in his new showroom in SF. It's less to clean and worry about.

I've stopped feeling guilty as I park my Porsche every evening next to their battered and bruised vehicles. I enjoy sharing my baking and vegetables from dad's garden as much as I now enjoy the basil in her abandoned herb garden. It's a talkative and personal community so I've enjoyed the camaraderie. But as Gregory and I talk about where we want to move to in the New Year, what size house we want to rent so that we can reassemble part of our world that has been stored in boxes in a 10x20' storage facility, I realize we have options available others do not.

All those esconced here are on different journeys. For us, it's a gentle, safe resting spot until we choose to leave. For some it is the Hotel California.

September 26, 2004

undo this

I was driving along with the top down (on the Blazer, silly) when I didn't catch what the NPR announcer just said. I found myself thinking, "not a problem I'll just rewind the TIVO"... Damn! You can't rewind radio. I've gotten so used to TIVO, stopping sports and rerunning each great play whenever I want to. Or hitting pause on TIVO to answer the phone before starting it up again. Or the other day, when I caught myself adding too much of an ingredient in what I was cooking, I heard myself think Ctrl Z (used to undo in Photoshop and most MS applications.). Augh!

Real life doesn't have undo commands and it doesn't conveniently pause and replay. While our memories can relive moments, it's not in super-slow-motion full-color replay. And you can't conveniently edit words said in haste or take back what happens. It's life full forward. There are no do-overs, but you can live more fully. You can't take back words, but you can think more about what you're about to say. You can treasure time -- past, present and not yet experienced. Time is not ours to shorten or lengthen -- but it IS ours to live out loud. Like I wrote in 1977 ...

Time passes
oblivious
to ticking
seconds of the
calculated
alarm clock.

Present slides
past despite
timers and film.

Time strides on
never contained
by a minute
nor explained
by a hand --
illusive to all
but the memory
of the ones
who enjoyed it.

September 22, 2004

diversity

I chuckled as I viewed my client's response. He requested photos in the brochure to reflect diversity. He wanted all those happy, smiling people, too. So I offered him diversity. Male, Female, old, young, Caucasian, Hispanic, Indian, Asian, Black, and finally a gay couple. I wondered how he would respond. What did diversity mean to him? He chose 5 women and 5 men. 4 of the women were Caucasian, 1 was Black. 3 of the men were Caucasian, 1 was Asian, 1 was Black. And he chose the gay couple. Hurray for that. But why didn't he choose to reflect the makeup of the population that is almost 50% of Californians -- Hispanic? Diversity is interesting.
We pose about diversity but do we really seek it? At the end of the day, diversity is much more than photos can reflect. To me, diversity means seeking a broad range of styles and characteristics beyond skin color. For me, it has meant hiring and surrounding myself with people who are a diverse bunch -- charismatic or analytical, assertive or passive, tactful or blunt, seasoned or new, highly educated or self-trained, big pedigree or big aptitude, old school or new school, a native of the state or just off the boat from another country. I revel in diversity. But it takes a commitment to encouraging, supporting and enduring that diversity. A key member of one of my staff was brilliant but blunt. He couldn't brainstorm but he could quickly analyze whether something would work or not and the structure required. He spoke his mind. It never got him in trouble with me, but it curtailed his career in mashed potato corporate America. Unfortunately, human nature tends toward whatever norm exists in its comfort zone.
I'm reading Robert Coram's book on Boyd, the Fighter Pilot who Changed the Art of War. One of the things I am struck with is the fragility of brilliance. Not the fragility of the brilliant but of those who must surround, support and enable the brilliant. If it weren't for a few along the way who valued Boyd enough understand and shine on the reviews and to tolerate the eccentricities that accompany true brilliance, Boyd might not have had the impact that he did. He would still be brilliant but his candle wouldn't cast as broad a light.
Whether it is Boyd or Picasso or Stephen Hawking, we must encourage, support and enable diversity. Without it, we'd stall in our comfort zone and never be graced with the full spectrum of light.

September 03, 2004

baseball

Thought for the day: Baseball breaks your heart. It begins in spring, blossoms in summer, fills balmy afternoon and evenings, and then as soon as the chilly rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone. (courtesy Bart Giamatti and my fave baseball fan, GBC)

But it is still lovely to watch the Giants try to win the NL Wildcard Race and to take a break from work for a warm, sunny holiday weekend! (Picture is one I took of Barry during the SF Giants Annual Photo day where fans like me with lots of camera get on the field to greet players!



August 31, 2004

one of them

... and then suddenly, I became one of them. You know them -- people you hear about, people that get your empathy vote. People fighting cancer, in poverty, without health insurance. Without health insurance ... how did that happen? Start your own business and realize that you are no longer one of thousands working for large corporations with cafeteria-style health plans. It happened in a moment when Gregory sent me an email telling me that, at the small company he now works for, it is $45 a month for healthcare insurance for him but $426 a month to cover me.... hellow? At that cost, I splashed into pool of 45 million uninsured Americans. Big club I never wanted to belong to. I'm one of the lucky ones in the pool. I can get out of it by lots of research and comparison and earning enough in my new little business to pay for my own insurance at less than $426 a month. It won't cover vision and dental. It comes with hefty coinsurance & deductibles. But if I end up in the hospital or with a life threatening illness, I can limit my exposure to $3,500 a year. When you join 45 million Americans you didn't use to relate to, socialized medicine in France and Canada doesn't look as weird as it used to.

August 13, 2004

simple yet elegant

It seemed like a simple assignment. Nothing ever is. Reshape an 18yr old company with new branding, marketing strategies and communications. The first thing desperately needed is a compelling and polished corporate pitch. The CEO, after all, wants to give it on Monday to a prospective client executive.

So, I immerse myself in all the recent iterations of presentations they've given. Sponge their business model and processes. Interview individuals who will give this presentation to gather their input. Draw out the pictures they are trying to paint. Unravel what has "sold" clients on their company. Lie awake at night with 48 hours to come up with a catchy acronym to trademark their unique business process. (Gawd, all those days at Dell coming up with acronyms sure come in handy).

Then it's there. The content zips and zings. Should make a prospect salivate and ask where to sign. Then the powerpoint maven kicks in. Custom animations and transitions that deliver the content in a way that keeps the listener captivated (hope so) on the point the presenter is making. Then scour the internet for the least expensive, best quality royalty-free photography for that subliminal punch.

I declared it good and went to the CEO's office to let him review. His body language as I drove the slide show said it was good, very good. Then he called everybody within earshot in. I haven't seen people huddle around a powerpoint slide show like this in years. A few yelps later, it was declared very, very good.

As I returned to his office this morning with the color, spiral bound accompanying handouts for his trip, he stood up to greet me. "No one has ever walked into my company and made such an impact in just a few days. My team loves you." He reached into his wallet and pulled out a $100 bill, "Take your husband out this evening on me".

I had forgotten the impact of this simple thing. The simple thing wasn't the presentation. It was engaging the team in its creation. Caring about making them look great. Giving them something that reflected their input and showed off their culture, their passion, and their services. Simple yet elegant. It was a very, very good day.

August 12, 2004

mrs kitty

"Hello Mrs Kitty" she called out as she whizzed by on her bicycle followed by the summer tribe. I've learned this is the affectionate nickname they've given me because I like cats as much as they do. Summer is a time for kids to race on bicycles, draw chalk pictures on sidewalks and flag down the ice cream truck for a popsicle.

And so, having my own business makes me a participant in theirs. As I come and go from this home office, I am cheerily greeted by these tiny neighbors. How come you are all dressed up? See my new haircut? I just got back from swimming, where did you go? I wouldn't trade a single one of these moments for those glazed overloaded looks from a neighboring cubicle occupant trying to slog through unread 48 emails for anything. I rather enjoy dodging myriads of crab apples dotting the sidewalk much more than dodging another meeting invite on another overbooked day at the corporate mill of grind.

Mrs. Kitty wouldn't trade places for all the crab apples in the world.

August 10, 2004

tilting at windmills

I'm ready now. That is my answer to the question I am most asked this past week. Why didn't you start your own business sooner? As my friends, husband and family watch my joy outpaced only by the growth of customers and engagements, they chide me (as they have so freely for years). I didn't get smarter or wiser or more confident. So what's the deal?

I'm ready now. I obliterated my farcical ceiling. That virtual acoustical tiled monstrosity that prevented me from taking the leap up out of reporting into somebody else beside me. Vacated that belief that I might not be able to cope with generating my own infrastructure, business development, identity and business plan.


Perhaps to be too practical is madness. To surrender dreams—this may be madness... and maddest of all, to see life as it is and not as it should be. -- Don Quixote, author Miguel Cervantes

In the cookie cutter of meglorporate job classifications and stratification, I was finally ready to ascribe my future to the success or failure of my own efforts, my own identity.

And this new mold I am forging may not have a big safety net but it definitely doesn't come with a ceiling.

August 06, 2004

possibilities

Quote of the Day: At the height of laughter, the universe is flung into a kaleidoscope of new possibilities.

Today, as I engaged in vibrant dialog with a business associate I was meeting over coffee for the first time, the creative energy flow was palpable. It wasn't the caffeine and it was fanned by our laughter. It was marvelous as we explored possible synergies in a working partnership.

I thought about how great possibilities seem in the explorative stage of a project or relationship or business engagement. The less one has ventured in, the less doors have shut, fewer ideas have been quashed, and less passion has been squandered. Conversely, the more experience one has with a thing, the more expertise on a topic, the more safe and stodgy one tends to becomes. Safety kills in marketing.

I started Fresh Air Studio because all my life, I've been able to do what I'm passionate about. That passion is fueled by seeing alternate possibilities in the way marketers interact with customers. That passion is sustained by never being afraid of fresh thinking and consideration of fresh ideas whether they are mine, someone else's or never been done before.

That's why I chose the tagline: fresh ideas - fresh approach - fresh results. Because on the other side of possibilities are fresh ideas realized, breakthroughs, and high-impact results. That's my vision. It just happens to be my passion, too.

August 05, 2004

top 10 list

From the home office in Des Moines, Iowa, the top 10 reasons to try working from home:

10. It's fun to read the comments the cat has added to your proposal after she stepped slllowwwly across your keyboard.
9. You can finally drink 8 glasses of water a day because the bathroom is just one door down from the office.
8. The cute Indian children next door jabbering in Hindi are almost as intelligible as that market researcher droning on and on about their data collection methodology.
7. No one pops their head in your cube to ask you to turn down CNN.
6. You can paint your fingernails and review client material at the same time.
5. You never lose your place in the "corporate parking lot" when returning from lunch.
4. No one complains that your Farside calendar or the taped-up Boondocks cartoon is not politically correct.
3. No mega-monstrosity-printer paper jam holding your report hostage in the stapler, sorter, collator thingamajiggy.
2. Your can get both business and personal email without any corporate snooper snooping in on the fun, and
1. When you spill salsa on your pants at lunch, you are just steps away from a clean pair.

Yet, despite all these great reasons, I shall footle the day away as I celebrate the outright courage of turning 46! (Word of the day courtesy my wise friend Scott. Isn't it scary what HR guys know?!) Wanna know what footle means? Click on the hyperlink, I say. Otherwise, web footle is best found at Footle.com: an index of user-written reviews, views and comments about books, film, music and cool things web. Ciao!

August 04, 2004

slide and glide

As I feel conviction, creativity and confidence pulse thru, I am reminded that if you do what you love, you will love what you do. I love the life energy that flows when a few time "compartments" dropped off the map. There isn't a time to get ready for work, commute time, endless meetings time and personal time off. I have a whole, integrated life. I love my home office. I don't begrudgingly step into a laminated cubicle with corporate cafeteria coffee, I glide on my purple goody goody shoes (#1181) and start the day with my favorite ritual -- Henry's coffee, shot of Toriani Hazelnut, steamed milk, splash of cinnamon and swirl of chocolate.

My time slides purposefully. I can work on a client proposal at 8pm, take a shower at 11am, pickup groceries at 2:30pm and meet a client at 4. I can wear shoes that don't match my shirt in the office. Okay, so it feels great right now. Someday, I'll feel stressed out with a deadline or too much business (or too little) but what I love about it, it's MY life. Not my job. I'm doing what I love.

Today, that means I have to figure out how to structure a retainer agreement with a new client (yippee), price a proposal and determine how much of my time I should devote to a cool opp to work as an associate with a great SF marketing consulting firm. Yeah it's scary qualifying clients and opportunities for myself and not for some MegaEmployer. It's personal. But I don't dread any bit of it -- business development, proposals, execution -- it's all in one happy daily flow.

It also means this is my goddamn P&L -- for better or worse. It goes in my business checking, it goes out. I'm kinda proud of my discipline in keeping upfront expenses in line. Printing brochures on my printer "on demand" instead of upfront production. Forgoing Quickbooks (for now) while using Excel in a manner my husband marvels he has never seen. I'm thrilled my accounts receivables for work in July are already all paid except for one invoice (may THAT luck continue!).

Word of the Day: So (take note Scott) today's word courtesy Scott Johnson @ feedster.com is: neo-maxie-zoon-dweebie meaning the highest notch on the comparison scale. As in, I'm having a neo-maxie-zoon-dweebie day!

August 03, 2004

here it goes

Blog this, I kept telling myself. I usually capture the fabric of life thru poetry and photography. It seemed too sappy to write poetry about starting my own business. Short of a webcam showing the incredibly boring detail of cats at my feet while I design business cards, brochures and do business development -- a blog seemed the best way to capture the raw sinews of this endeavor. After all, this isn't a private event. Trusting myself enough to hang out my own shingle -- sell me, create my own business model, pricing, and services isn't something that will be successful in a vaccuum. I want to shout from the rafters, I'm here here, are you ready for me?

I designed my logo along with my biz card, brochure, letterhead, contracts and all the other documents I'll need to interact with clients. I wanted the logo, colors and tagline to convey creativity, structure and to imply you can be confident in doing business with me. Hope it kicks butt.