Slacker Mom Vacation Wins

standard February 20, 2015 3 responses

This week was “Ski Week” in our school district, a bizarro break that can always be found somewhere between Winter Break and Spring Break, rumored to have started back when families would literally just head for the hills as soon as the snow got good and the schools started closing to pretend that they were controlling the situation. (OK, I admit I might have started that rumor.)

It’s kind of a joke these days because snow, like rain, has been rather scarce around these parts for the last few years.

In any case, god forbid the children ever have to go to school for more than 6 weeks at a time, and so Ski Week still exists.

And, while last week I had virtually no work to do, this week I was absolutely slammed. Which is awesome when you have two children begging to be entertained.

Even better, after two days of working like crazy and periodically yelling “I sure hope you guys aren’t on the computer again” out of my open office door, C and I came down with a small stomach bug.

She spent an evening throwing up, I spent almost 24 hours sleeping. Which was great, because of all the deadlines I somehow had to meet. For a whole day I alternated between intense writing and equally intense napping.

And that was the day I stopped asking them if they were on the computer or wondering just how many TV shows they’d watched.

Guilt gained ground as the nausea and sleepiness relented and I found myself lamenting my less-than-stellar vacation orchestrating to a friend the next day.

Her reply?

“You know, they’re still better off than the kids who are working in the fields.”

I stopped my whining and thought about it.

Two kids, playing educational games on computers and watching truly harmless TV shows, running around in the sunny backyard, no pressure, no schedule, just unstructured free time. For a week.

If you ask the International Unofficial College of Super Judgy Moms I have completely and utterly failed my kids this week. No educational day trips, no intricate crafts, endless hours where I completely ignored my kids…

If you check my Facebook stream, we have completely and utterly missed the point of Ski Week. Clearly we should have either been on a ski run or on a sandy sunny beach.

But if you ask me or my kids? I think we did this vacation just perfectly. I met all of my deadlines beautifully and my kids are relaxed and recharged and just about bored enough with each other’s  company to almost want to go back to school.

Almost. But they shouldn’t worry too much. They’re off again in 6 weeks and I’m sure I’ll be just as lax about planning anything for them to do and just as busy then as I was this week.

swinging

2015 Your Word is: Cry

standard February 9, 2015 Leave a response

January slipped by in a haze of carefully crafted headlines, subheaders, body copy, and million little or big edits to those same carefully crafted words.

I wrote little else last month. Advertising is fun, but it’s definitely eating up huge chunks of my days and even bigger chunks of my head space.

Instead of wandering around my days imagining smart, insightful blog posts or pondering deep thoughts about worldly issues, heh, instead I wander around noticing all the banners and headlines around me.

Some impress me. Others, not so much.

And so, a whole month slipped by without me really giving any thought to what my word of the year should be.

I thought for a bit that I’d just skip that this year. I fell flat last year. I haven’t embraced a thing. Instead, I think I spent a large part of the year doing the exact opposite. I feel like I’ve been fighting my way through my days, through the choices I’ve had to make, though the situations thrust upon me.

And I’m tired. Really, really tired of fighting.

Exactly the same way I was last year, only more so.

I sat down last week, in the middle of a tiny lull, and pulled out my Leonie Dawson workbook. It’s hoakie, and pretty, and cheesy, and everything I love. The goal of the book is to help you close out the previous year and prepare for the following one. The business aspects don’t 100% apply to me because I don’t have a product to sell, other than my words and my expertise, but the personal life stuff? It’s spot on.

I didn’t over think it. I didn’t analyze my answers before committing them to paper. I let myself be vulnerable and honest, secure in the knowledge that no one would ever read what I wrote.

And when the workbook asked me what I wanted to open myself to in 2015, even without realizing it, I wrote

“I want to allow myself to feel all my feels.”

I am the queen of masking my feelings, of denying them, of walling them up, burying them deep, and turning my back on them before they can cause a chink in my armor.

As one friend has recently pointed out. I have mastered the art of grinning and bearing.

I am strong. I endure. I get on with my life.

Feelings just get in the way of that.

I think part of the reason I’m so tired, so drained, is that I’m losing the battle with the feelings. There are just too many. Too many demanding to be felt.

I think it might be time to start taking down the wall, time to acknowledge the feelings behind it.

I cannot think of anything more terrifying than that. I worry that the ocean of tears that lies inside me will drown me if I let it. I worry that all those denied feels will each extract their pound of flesh as they make themselves felt.

And yet, I’m more worried about what will happen if I keep denying myself the luxury of wallowing in my hard earned emotions.

In the past I’ve strongly adhered to the notion that it simply takes less energy to not fall apart than to fall apart and then have to rebuild yourself.

But in the past I didn’t have the support I have today.

I have a husband who keeps proving to me over and over that he’s there to help me. That he wants to help.

I have amazing friends who not only watch me cry without judging, but who have come to my rescue when I’ve been at my lowest, feeding me exactly what I need to feel strong enough, supported enough to be vulnerable.

I have family who is always there, loving me for who I am, proud of who I have become, silently and not so silently supporting me in every way, and reading between the lines of what I write to see what I really need.

In the past I always worried I’d have to rebuild on my own, and I always knew I wouldn’t have the strength required to do it.

Today I know I’m not alone. I know I’ll have help.

So, my word for 2015 will be Cry. Which I know sounds really sad, but is really a strength. I will feel the feels. I will embrace the emotions. I will let myself be vulnerable.

It won’t be easy, and it sure won’t be pretty. And I know that I’ll be scared to let it happen. But I think it’s necessary. Because maybe the reason I failed at embracing everything last year is because you can’t embrace what hasn’t been felt , what hasn’t been named.

But scared is just another emotion to embrace, right?

Getting better one challenge and frame at a time

standard January 20, 2015 Leave a response

I love my camera. I love taking it out to see the world through its lens. I love the feeling of invincibility I feel when it’s in my hands. And I love, love, love when the photos I take come out looking exactly the way I thought they would come out.

Nikon D3200 red body

That last bit sadly isn’t exactly consistent.

So, one of my goals for 2015 was to find ways to work on my photography. To that end I joined a great group of avid photographers called 52 Frames.

52 weeks. Each week presents a new photographic challenge. You get 7 days to respond to the challenge and you can only submit one photo at the end of the week.

I swear, choosing what photo to submit is by far the hardest part.

This week’s challenge was “Lines.” The goal was to find creative ways to incorporate lines into the photographic composition. Bonus points for using multiple leading lines.

How many times had I thought about lines or leading lines before last week? Exactly zero. How many times do I think about it now? Pretty much any time my eyes are open.

Lines, lines, everywhere!

This is the photo I submitted:

Dog on the bench

This is the photo C wanted me to submit:

Boy on Bike

This is the shot that M wanted me to submit:

Empty Lunch Tables

 

You can see the entire group’s submissions here. It’s amazing to see all the different ways we interpreted the prompt.

The next challenge is “complimentary colors.” Another eye opener that’s bound to make my photos just a bit better.

 

13 years later and the circle closes

standard January 14, 2015 7 responses

Back when I was in college I babysat for a woman who worked in advertising. She was hands down the coolest person I knew. Possibly the most unstable, but definitely the coolest, so when I found myself needing a summer internship, I begged her to let me interview at her agency.

This led to my most painful interview memory ever, where, after I had GUSHED about how much I just LOOOOOVED ads, she asked me which were currently my favorite and I completely blanked.

“Uh… the one with… the plane….” I stammered, making a pathetic initiation of a plane flying with my hand.

Incredibly enough I got the job. Hard to turn down virtually unpaid and willing help. And so began my love affair with all things advertising.

I spent that summer filing things, watching endless bits of competition reels, helping them move, from one office to another, and doing basically anything they needed me to do.

The next summer I got another internship  (much better paid, as in, I got some money rather than none) in New York City. I lived in the stark and rather depressing Barnard dorms, navigated the seriously overwhelming and expensive Big Apple as best as I could, and loved every minute of it. It was a smaller agency and I actually got to do some advertising work.

Then I met the love of my life and threw caution and dreams to the wind and moved to Boston instead of going home to finish school.

I hadn’t given up on advertising, I was just willing to let it slide for a bit as I attempted to obtain a Masters while living an ocean away from my school and my teachers, at a time when people were just barely starting to use the Internet.

It took me a few months of working at a daycare center by day and doing class work at night to realize the situation was untenable. I ditched any hope of finishing my Masters like that and found myself an ad agency that would hire me.

Because ad agency.

This was my first real stint as an actual employee of an ad agency rather than just a summer internship. I lapped up every minute of it. The client pitches. The cantankerous creatives. The fun we had even when we were beyond exhausted. I loved the challenge of translating client requests into language the creative teams could use, and then translating the creative teams’ work for the clients. It was hard work, but it was fun.

So, it stood to reason that I was determined to work in advertising after finally finishing my Masters.

Life’s funny though; it never quite goes how you plan.

We moved to California in October 2001. The world around here had essentially skidded to a halt. Marketing budgets had been cut right and left and there were no marketing jobs to be had anywhere. There was one interview that could have gone my way, but something about the team rubbed me the wrong way and I didn’t push for the job. There was another interview that for some reason just didn’t work out. And that was it. The doors had shut in my face and I found myself changing tacks.

So here I am, thirteen years later. I’ve made a name for myself as a writer. I’ve published a novel. I do a lot of consulting. And I truly thought my ad days were in my past.

Until a friend offhandedly asked me if I would ever consider copywriting.

In all my years working, living, breathing ad stuff, and later all my years working, living, breathing the written word, it had never occurred to me to blend the two.

I said yes without a moment’s hesitation. Went to my first meeting hoping against hope that no one would guess I was faking it with all I had. Aced my first project. Aced the second. And now find myself once again immersed in the fantastic world of advertising.

People, it’s fun.

Every new project leads me to having to learn something new. Want to know anything about solar power? Flash technology? Data storage? I got ya covered. 

I’m working with creative people. I’m exercising a part of my creative brain that hasn’t had a chance to play much in recent years.

I’m allowed to be as punny as I want. It’s even encouraged. Swoon.

Even better? I’m good at it. Better than I ever was on the client side of things.

Do you know how good it feels to feel good at something? Damn good, that’s how.

They may not be words I’m writing for me, but they’re fun to write and it’s amazing to be working with people again. And who knows, maybe one day, someone driving down the highway on their way to work, will get a laugh out of one of my tag lines.

That’s almost as good as becoming a best selling novelist. Almost.