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What’s next? Do you know?

standard August 14, 2012 2 responses

What’s next?

Valid question right? One we probably ask ourselves countless times a day. It doesn’t usually lead to a stressful answer. Tea or coffee, lunch, nap, a walk, how about that next task that needs handling, maybe even the everlasting laundry. There’s always something next.

The question starts to get a little more daunting when you look a bit further than the next 10, 15, 20 minutes ahead. What’s next for tomorrow? For next week? For next year? Heck, how about the next 10 years?

Are you heading where you want to go? Are you on the path you always thought you’d want to be on?

It’s so damn easy to get caught in the maelstrom of the day to day chaos. So easy to get stuck in the quagmire of stuff that needs to get done now. You lose the big picture. You lose your ‘why,’ your end goal.

And how do you combine living in the now, not frittering away the tiny important moments with keeping an eye on the big picture? Is it possible to enjoy the trees while noticing the forest?

At the end of the day my goal has always been, will always be, to write novels. I’m a storyteller. I tell stories here on my blog, on Twitter, on Facebook, and yes, in books. Only the job of a storyteller has changed over the years. It’s no longer enough to just tell stories. You also have to market them. And I get lost in the marketing.

And if we’re fair, I also get lost in the quest for the ever elusive dollar.  Because storytelling, much like parenting, might be incredibly fulfilling and time intensive, but it doesn’t exactly fill coffers.

Every so often I catch myself chasing the wrong carrot, turning down the wrong path, losing my perspective.

Social media marketing is a means to an end for me, has always been so, and I need to remember that as the pull to turn it into more tugs at me. Anyone who’s ever been on Facebook knows how strong that pull can be. If you work in the space the pull is even stronger, the web even stickier.

My goals are not your goals, which are not her goals, which are not his goals. I need to remember what my goals are so I can stay true to them and to me. So I can stay happy.

I can do more than one thing at a time. But I still need to keep that end goal in mind so I remember why all of this matters. So I remember why I bother in the first place. 

From Couch to Runner

standard August 3, 2012 5 responses

I started the Couch 2 5k program a few times. Each time I got to week 6 or so, the first “long” run weeks, and I stalled. I hurt my back. My shoes would die. It would start to rain. The kids would get sick. Work would pile up.

Whatever the reason, I stopped for a day, two days, three days, a week, two weeks… until I really couldn’t claim to be running any more.

This time I almost stopped again. The moment came when I was out running one day and dislocated a rib a good twenty minutes from the house. Now, dislocating ribs is something I do with somewhat distressing frequency. It’s something two pregnancies left as a souvenir. Usually I know just how to pop the rib back and then I know to take it easy for a few days. This time I was a good 20 minutes away from the house and I had to walk back holding my arm against my chest in an effort to keep my rib stable.

It hurt.

And it scared me.

Because while I was fine a few days later, the memory of that excruciating walk home stayed with me.

But it bugged me that I’d done so well again with the Couch 2 5k program and that I was once again on the way to abandoning the training part of the way through. And I missed running. Missed the high. Missed feeling strong. Missed knowing that I was doing something great for my heart and my head.

I tentatively started walking again, even running a bit. I stayed to ‘safe’ spots, running tight loops around the neighborhood so I wouldn’t be far from home if I hurt myself again. I even started to relax a bit.

Which is when Summer rolled around, dumping the children at home, leaving me somewhat stuck there, unable to go out for 45 minutes by myself.

I did the only thing I could think of. I joined the YMCA.

The thought of running indoors made me sad, but not as sad as the thought of not working out all summer.

Isn’t it funny how life sometimes throws you a bone?

Because running on a treadmill is my new crack.

Seriously. I can’t get enough.

The treadmill offers a much softer surface for running. My knees and back are thanking me. And even though I run daily, I never go anywhere, so that fear of being stranded far from home and hurting myself has completely vanished. Heck, should anything happen, there are even trainers and physical therapists a few feet away who could come to my rescue.

With the fear gone my inhibitions about running have vanished.

And it feels so good to watch the miles tick by on the screen. So good to see how much faster and farther I can go every day. So good to know I’m getting stronger.

This week I woke up early four days so I could go run before M had to leave for work. Yesterday I slept in and took the kids with me to the YMCA so I could get in my daily run.

By now I’m running fast enough and far enough that I could have easily published a cheery “I just completed day 3 of week 9 of the Couch 2 5k app!” to my Facebook wall. The only thing keeping me from doing that is the Y’s 30 minute limit on the treadmill. (With the 5 minute warm-up and the 5 minute cool-down the last run in the program is a full 40 minutes long.) I’m OK with that. In my heart I know I’ve reached the goal. And more importantly, I know that I’m not giving up any time soon.

And that, my friends, is the only thing that matters. Maybe they should rename the app ‘Couch to Runner.” Because I doubt anyone reaches week 9 without being hooked for life.

So, What’s Next?

standard October 25, 2011 3 responses

“Be sure you have your elevator pitch ready before you come.” 

That was easy. I’ve had my book’s elevator pitch down pat for years. It’s the story of a girl who goes to Hawaii to renew her wedding vows. When she arrives she discovers that the boy she was running away from when she went to Africa and met her husband, is here, on the island. Even worse, he’s there with his kids – both of whom are named after her.

I’ve delivered that gem so often that even C can recite it.

What I didn’t prepare was my other elevator pitch. The one for the answer I found myself having to give over and over again while I was in New York.

“So, what’s next?”

I flubbed it again and again.

“I’m… ah… starting a… thing..?”

“I’m… ah… taking some time to figure things out.”

“I’m… ah… freelancing a bit!”

“I’m… ah…. ah…”

For years I had a job that really didn’t define me. But, at the same time, while I was working there, I was never in the kinds of situations where people asked me what I did, so it’s not like it really mattered.

Then I freelanced for a year.

Telling people you freelance works. It’s a bit sexy, a bit mysterious. It makes them wonder and maybe dream for a moment. In reality it’s a whole lot of work for not a whole lot of pay. It was fun for a year, but it no longer holds the appeal it held then.

After freelancing got old I took a job. A “real” job, in an office, with co-workers, and a coffee machine. And for two years I once again had an easy answer to “what do you do?”

I was, in short, the “Tiny Prints Girl.” I handled blogger outreach and social media. I was known for what I did and it helped define me, define who I was in this space. More importantly though, it was an easy answer that kept me from trying to explain the stuff I did in the 75% of my day that didn’t involve being at my office desk.

Today, since last Wednesday, that 75% is now 100% again  and while I’m super excited about “what comes next,” it’s super hard to sum it up in three sentences.

I’m freelancing… but not really.

I’m a professional blogger… but that’s not the half of it.

I’m an aspiring novelist… but that’s not how I plan to pay the bills.

I’m starting a company with some good friends… but… you know… it’s complicated and involves a bunch of moving parts and ideas as well as objectives that need to be focused a bit and oh yeah, it kinda involves this other guy and his company.

Yeah. What I said. It’s complicated.

For a while this past year — at the conferences I attended — I rebelled against being known as just “the Tiny Prints girl.” I’ve spent a lot of blood, sweat, and tears nurturing my Kikarose online presence and it bugged me that who I was outside of the office was starting to be eclipsed by what I was when I was at work.

That’s no longer an issue. This week I went back to being “just” Kikarose. I boxed up my things and cleaned out my desk. I’m moving on to the next chapter of my career, and while, as I said, I’m super excited, I’m also feeling a bit adrift.

Who is Kikarose now?

Two years ago she was a freelancer who desperately wanted to be a social media specialist for a great brand.

Then for two years she suffered from the split personality issue that comes with being the social media face for any brand other than your own.

And today?

Today Kikarose is the girl who’s going to take what she’s learned along the way and she’s going to capitalize on it while branching out and learning new things.

So? What comes next?

Thanks for asking. I’m looking for agent representation for my first novel and I’m building a social media empire with four amazing friends.

How about you?

This post is kicking off another Kick in the Blog prompt! Come share what’s next for you!

Goals, Charts, and Hopes

standard May 12, 2011 1 response

When Little L was little she was adorable and cute and tough. There was one place the kid was ever happy. One. On me. When she was separated she’d wail until I came back into her line of sight and then just whimper until I took her into my arms.

We said “it’s a phase! She’ll mellow out!”

And four years later we’ve finally accepted that our beautiful girl is just tough.

She doesn’t listen. She dances to the beat of her own drum. She’s willful. She’s mischievous. She’s adorable and when she smiles and bats her eyelashes she gets away with murder.

The hardest part of it all is that she means well. She really truly does, but she’s just off in her own world. So “talks” and “conversations” and all other sorts of communication goes in one ear and bounces right back out.

And then she smiles and says something funny or cute and we instantly forgive her for losing her shoes one more time, for not putting on her pajamas because she found a tiny toy that instantly needed attention, for not eating because a leaf caught her eye outside the window.

The only challenges that we have trouble turning a blind eye on are the night time hassles.

It’s no secret that Little L isn’t the best sleeper in the world. Her nights (and mine!) are often interrupted and bedtime is rarely a breeze. She’ll pop up out of bed for a million reasons, often only falling asleep after one of us breaks down and yells.

And really? I hate the yelling. I hate that she falls asleep with tear tracks on her face. I hate that that’s how she was ending her days.

So I took matters into consideration. Took my daughter into consideration. Remembered that she and I are cut from an identical cloth and asked myself what would have motivated me at her age.

I bribed her with chocolate.

Oh, yes I did.

One chocolate treat if she went to bed without getting up and didn’t wake up mommy and daddy during the night. My only regret is that I didn’t think of it sooner.

And then one morning (after rereading the chapter on rewarding the process rather than the result in Raising Happiness) I praised Little L for working hard to stay in bed while her sister did her own jack-in-the-box routine.

She writhed with pride. Literally writhed. And I realized that, just like for the rest of us, recognition for efforts is worth even more to her than chocolate.

Since that day we’ve had few bad bedtimes and she’s gone to bed with kisses on her cheeks rather than tears. My nights have been more restful and our mornings less crabby. Most of all it’s been amazing to see how she puffs up with pride when we notice her achievements.

To give her a concrete visual and keep the progress moving in the right direction, I took advantage of the behavior charts offered by Goalforit.com to set something up that would give her a good snapshot of her week.

This morning we sat down and went over all the goals outlined in the chart and I had her tell me if she had earned a reward for each.

My little girl, the one who always seems to have her head in the clouds and to have no idea about what’s going on around her, the one who doesn’t seem to remember anything three seconds after it happened, took complete ownership of her actions. She’s the one who said she hadn’t been good about not waking mommy up. Without my prompting.

I could have wept. But instead I hugged her and told her how proud I was that she was working so hard.

And the best part of it all? For the rest of the morning I didn’t have to repeat anything I asked her. In her mind she was already working towards picking her reward icon for good listening.

This post was sponsored by Goalforit.com and BSM Media. As always the thoughts and stories are all mine. I’m really impressed with the site and have even set up my own goals chart! And yes, I do feel all puffed up with pride too when it tells me that I had a perfect day. Go figure. Even I think it tastes better than chocolate.