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Brave: My word for 2013

standard January 3, 2013 8 responses

This past month, between flights to Toronto and back, flights to Chicago and back, and lots of downtime in between I’ve plowed my way through more books than I think I read in all of 2012. One phrase in one book caught my eye and has been playing in my head ever since.

The gist of the phrase (forgive me for not finding the exact quote, there really were quite a few books it could have come from) was this:

Being brave doesn’t mean you’re not afraid to do something. Being brave means you do something despite being afraid.

People all over the Internet (ok, fine, all over Facebook) are picking their word for 2013; one word that they hope will inspire and infuse their year with meaning.

In hindsight 2012’s word was clearly “recover.”

2013’s word came to me this morning as I quaked at the thought of all the goals I’m setting for myself this year.

I am petrified. And yet I’m going to push through.

2013, your word is Brave.

This year I vow to push through my fear and see my novel published.
This year I vow to push through my fear of leaving Blogger and to finally migrate this blog to WordPress so it can grow into the vision I’ve dreamed for it for the last year.
This year I vow to push through my fear and embrace the goals we’ve set for Splash Creative Media.
This year I vow to push through the fear that life will come swipe me off my feet whenever I start to make progress.
This year I vow to push through the fear that no one will be there to help me see my goals to fruition.
This year I vow to shush the voice that whispers in my ear to not even bother to try because there’s no way I won’t fail.

This year I vow to be brave.

College Savings; the ultimate holiday gift

standard November 29, 2012 3 responses

At dinner the other night, C peered at her fingers, counting up something that apparently needed intense concentration. Triumphantly she looked up and said “In 10 years I’ll be 17!”

Her point — that she’d be old enough to babysit then — was utterly lost on her father and me. All we heard was “10 years” and “17” and our hearts skipped beats. Of course at that moment she rolled her eyes at us proving effectively that she’s well on her way to teenagehood.

10 years, you say, that’s aeons away. Plenty of time!

But anyone who’s a parent knows, 10 years flies by in the blink of an eye.

And why is it such a big deal?

Well, I can’t speak for M, but for me, 17 was when I…

went off to college. (Oh get your head out of the gutter. Where did you think this was going?)

OK fine. Technically I graduated from high school when I was 17. A month later, weeks before college started I turned 18, but it’s close enough! And no, I’m not worried about C not doing well in college. That kid could go tomorrow and she’d probably teach her dormmates a thing or two about how to follow rules and how to try harder. It’s just that college in the US isn’t quite what it is in France.

Let me put it this way. Annual tuition at my school was… wait for it… $200.

No, that’s not a typo. I went to a state funded school, which over there means a sight more than it does over here.

I lived at home, I majored in English Lit so my textbooks were just… well… books… and even our cafeteria was state funded.

I put myself through school by babysitting and being a booth babe at tradeshows. I graduated with a Masters, no debt to speak of, and an interesting assortment of weirdly colored lipsticks. (Don’t ask. It’s a booth babe thing.)

So here we are, Stateside, with two daughters who are bright, but not quite geniouses. They’ll eventually go to college. And, even if we convince them that it’s Super Cool! to go to community college for a couple years before transfering to a 4 year college to finish their degrees, we’re still looking at exorbitant amounts of cash needing to be shelled out in, well, apparently 10 years.

Yes, clearly we could move to France in the nick of time, but I’d have to start speaking a little more French at home and really, since I’ve been meaning to do that for 7 years now and haven’t quite gotten around to it, odds are that isn’t happening soon.

And since I’ve just realized that my rather sizable Kindle book collection and stash of oddly assorted yarns won’t be worth much more in 2022 than they are now, we really need to make some headway when it comes to saving for college.

We’re in good company. Most parents don’t start saving for college as soon as their children are born even though studies show that starting to save early works. “California Parents who have been saving more than 10 years have set aside an average of $25,193. That compares to $14,733 for those saving 6-10 years and $4,663 for those saving five years or less.” (Source: ScholarShare California Statewide Survey, 2012)

The other night, at a dinner hosted by Scholarshare, California’s 529 college savings program, someone mentioned that they don’t believe that they’ll be able to save enough to entirely cover their children’s tuition, but they feel good about lowering their kids’ future debt by whatever amount they can.

It was like a lightbulb went off in my head. The most daunting part of saving for college for me has always been the feeling that it had to be all or nothing. And all is a lot. The realization that what we save, any amount, will be helpful, was a relief.

In California, recognizing that a staggering 83% of the population believes college to be “very important,” but 53% are concerned about their ability to pay for school, Scholarshare is doing their best to help families set up savings accounts.

ScholarShare 529 College Savings Plans makes it easier than ever for parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles to melt their financial stress away with a quick and simple gift that is sure to be used years after you give it – the gift of a college education. ScholarShare makes last minute holiday gift giving easy and painless.  Through the “Give a Gift” option on its website, www.Scholarshare.com, any gift giver can open an account for children of all ages for as little as $25. And if your favorite loved one is already on the path to college with ScholarShare, you can contribute to an existing account with the “Gift of Education Certificate,” allowing for a personal message to be included for the beneficiary.

 $25 can get your child a cool new Wii game, but it can also set her on the path to graduating debt free from college and starting a life off on great footing. Makes you think, right? And when you consider the tax break that you’ll be getting come tax time, it seems like a win/win kind of holiday gift to consider.

(Not in CA? Find your state’s 529 plan here.)

Please note: I am being compensated by Scholarshare to share this information with you. The money will most likely go straight into the 529 plans I will be opening for both girls this holiday season. The stories and opinions contained in this post are mine and mine alone.

Off to camp we go… this summer

standard May 12, 2012 Leave a response

OK, so that last post about camp? Where I said I was signing up the girls? Yeah, I got sidetracked and I didn’t. Then the weather turned nasty and I completely forgot that summer was just around the corner.

Guess what?

Summer is just around the corner.

I think I’ve decided that we’re going to take a whole lot of down-time this summer. Instead of a summer filled with plans, activities, and things to do, I want the girls to have a summer filled with bug catching, digging in dirt, and letting their imagination roam free.

How lucky for me that my procrastination is going to help them get lots of down-time?

Lucky for them I’m not the only slacker mom who’s taking her sweet time getting them signed up for fun stuff. I was able to sneak them into the Camp Galileo session I wanted them to attend.

Why a week of camp in the middle of a low key summer? Easy, even the most adventurous and imaginative kids need to have their imaginations fueled a bit. (Plus, I’m going out of town for part of that week and I’d rather think of them having fun and learning than moping and wishing I were home. Whatever. Details.)

The girls will be attending one of the Leonardo’s Apprentice weeks. I think it’s a perfect fit for Little L who spends her life asking “How is that made?” and C who loves nothing more than to create art out of… anything. (Yesterday she incorporated a doorstop in a diorama. Yes. A doorstop. It was the sun.)

I got them signed up with an easy phone call and experienced the most amazing customer service when I ran into some technical issues. If the camp staff is half as dedicated and enthusiastic as the office staff proved itself to be, the girls are going to have an amazing week which hopefully will fuel a whole summer of self-made fun!

Are you as much of a procrastinator as I am? GREAT NEWS. It’s not too late for you either. Check out the Camp Galileo openings and hop over to the Galileo Learning Facebook page to join in the pre-camp fun. See you there in just a few weeks!

My compensation for this post, the last one, and one to come is that my girls get to have fun at Camp Galileo for a week. We are all grateful… probably for very different, if equally valid, reasons.

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!