Well That Didn’t Work

Every time I think I’m getting a handle on things, “life” shows up, laughs in my face, and shows me I still have a lot to learn. This week is a good example of that.

As I mentioned in my last post, this week was filled with opportunities. And it started off great. My first meeting, on Monday afternoon, was productive and successful. It was the meeting with faculty members at Avery’s school to discuss Usborne Books & More. I received great feedback, and it looks like there are definite possibilities there. I also presented one of our fundraising programs, Cards for a Cause, at the PTO meeting on Thursday afternoon. And, while there weren’t a lot of people there, I got positive feedback there, too, and another bit of hope that this ESR thing might pan out.

That was probably the only area of my life that was successful this week.

My meeting with the Friends of the Library on Wednesday night was postponed, due to the forecasted weather (though it could have definitely been held, since it didn’t even start to flurry until a half hour before the meeting was scheduled to start). My vendor event on Friday was not very successful, despite previous events at the same location that were successful. Of course I may have been a little “off” too, since I had Emily with me. And my author event on Saturday: while I enjoyed talking to other authors and a few readers, attendance was low (it was their first year), and I didn’t make much by way of sales.

That was business this week. That doesn’t touch on the personal stuff. Avery’s behavior has been a challenge, with not listening and attitude and talking back. My grandmother is in the hospital again and not doing well, though she seems to be hanging on (this is why Emily was with me at my vendor event. My mom, my usual babysitter, was at the hospital with my grandmother). And, of course, being crazy busy with business stuff is all fine and dandy — but you don’t want to see my kitchen or laundry piles. Plus, being busy has left me more tired than usual, which means I’m a bit crankier than usual — which leaves me with little patience to deal with Avery and little motivation to tackle the cleaning.

All in all, I’d say it was a very educational week. I learned a lot about what I can and cannot do, and where I need to tweak my routines and priorities. At this point I have a few options:

  1. Take a deep breath, evaluate the week in depth, and see where I can make adjustments to make it all work. Stay positive.
  2. Take a deep breath, evaluate the week in depth, and forget about some things that didn’t work so I can focus on the areas with the most potential.
  3. Shift focus this week, put business stuff on a back burner, and tackle personal life stuff. Deal with the business stuff in dribs and drabs when I feel so inclined.
  4. Curl in the fetal position and ignore all my responsibilities until I have to drop off Avery for school tomorrow morning.

I think anyone who knows me could tell you that any variation of option 4 is completely out of the question. Since when I have been one to run and hide? So that leaves the other 3, and, to be honest, I’ll probably be combining all 3 in some way to get the most bang for my buck. (But let’s be honest — it will probably be mostly option 1. I am determined to have it all, after all.)

I have already made some decisions. For example I have determined that the way I had my weekly routine/schedule wasn’t working for me. While most of it was fine, trying to pigeonhole certain tasks into specific project times wasn’t working. Why? More urgent tasks kept coming up, needing to be done first, which meant that my regularly-scheduled projects were getting pushed. This week, with its long list of pressing tasks, was a prime example of this. So I need to find some way to account for that.

I also need to find time to read the books I keep borrowing from the library. While reading may be considered unnecessary and a relaxation tool, these books were borrowed for specific reasons, usually to help with Avery’s behavior. If I don’t read them, I can never implement the ideas and see if they’ll help. And his behavior certainly isn’t improving on its own. I’m tired of getting frustrated and irritated when I know I could be learning and helping.

With regards to the rest of it? Well, I’m still figuring it all out. But I’ll be sure to keep you posted! Maybe by this time next week I’ll have a better handle on it all. Stay tuned!


Hope and Potential

Yet another crazy week awaits, but this one is full of potential. Today, as per Sunday usual, is not very exciting. It will be consumed by cleaning and errands. But tomorrow the exciting stuff begins.

Get It Started
Monday afternoon I meet with a couple of faculty members at Avery’s school, to discuss programs and opportunities with Usborne Books & More. It will be my first official meeting as an Educational Services Representative, and, while I’m nervous, I’m pretty excited about it. I think a couple of the offerings, in particular, would be great fits. I just hope they agree!

Wednesday evening I will be attending my first Friends of the Library meeting at my town’s library. While I am interested in helping the library overall, I am also hopeful it will become a foot in the door for ESR opportunities, as well (and perhaps, down the road, career opportunities). I don’t know yet if I will bring up Usborne Books & More in this first meeting; I’ll have to see how it goes. But either way it will be a good opportunity to meet others who are involved in the library, and find ways I can become involved, too.

Keep It Going
Friday I will be visiting a nursing home as a vendor, for both books and whatever baskets I’m able to scrounge up. I’ve been there before, and it’s been worth the time and effort, so I’m hoping for another successful visit. I have plenty of books to sell! And the timing may work out well for Easter (that was the plan, anyway!). Whatever doesn’t sell will (hopefully) be posted on Facebook next weekend in case anyone else is looking for Easter goodies.

Saturday I will be attending an event as an author. When’s the last time that happened? When I learned about the Read Local event back around the holidays, I was excited to get my writing “career” going again. Of course I had hoped to have recent writing projects to discuss at the event, but that hasn’t happened. Still, I’m hoping this will be a little push to get in touch with that part of myself again. I have plenty of books to bring and, perhaps, sell, so fingers crossed for a successful event!

The Big Picture
You may have noticed a lot of “hoping” in the plans for this week. And that about sums it up. I’m trying to stay optimistic, counting on something to reap rewards. I’ve decided to put most of my efforts into opportunities that actually mean something to me, rather than struggling with the dull, meaningless activities that do nothing to get me ahead. I really want to move in the right direction, not just tread water being stressed and disgruntled. And I know if these opportunities pan out, the results will be worth it. Not only will they be beneficial financially, but they will be helping me create the “brand” I want, as I discussed last week. They will actually put me more in touch with my purpose, and that can only be a good thing.

So: an exciting, busy, nerve-wracking week. But, oh, the possibilities!


Do you ever feel like you’re so focused on what you have to do that you lose sight of the purpose behind it? I think we’ve all been there, and I find myself there right now.

It’s no secret that I’ve been focused on money, or the lack thereof, for a while now. It’s no secret that I need more to continue the lifestyle the kids and I have grown accustomed to. But I think along the way the “whys” have become a secret. I don’t do what I do just to make money. So why did I start my business? Why do I want to write? Why am I creating websites? And why am I trying so hard to keep my house?

I think in my journey to create the life I want I have come across as desperate. And I think that is part of the reason I have not succeeded thus far. I’ve been so focused on what I need to accomplish, just to survive as I see fit, that I’ve dimmed the passion that should naturally be coming through. So this post is an attempt to reclaim and put forth into the world why I’m really doing what I’m trying to do. Will it help me in my businesses? I don’t know. But, more importantly, I think it will help me, to get my mindset and priorities back on track.

Why Books?

My love of books — of the written word in general — has been consistent my entire life, as I touched on in a previous post. I truly believe in the power of the written word to change lives. It’s why I’ve decided to start a new blog and will be creating a new website to go with it. So far I’ve only written the first post, but I think it will shed a little light on how much this means to me: For the Love of Books.

As I get my Educational Services Representative career going, and hopefully pursue my longer-term goal of becoming a librarian, I’m coming to realize how much I want to be involved in promoting literacy. I really want to help kids succeed, and I think this is a wonderful way to do it on a large scale. Not to be too cheesy about it, but “I believe that children are the future,” and I believe books can help our children succeed in the future. I’m not trying to minimize the power of technology, but it can never replace the substance that is a book. It can never spark the imagination like well-written words on a page. It can never truly take us to other worlds, regardless of how much CGI is used, as well as the vivid imagery our own minds create.

Why a Writer?

Perhaps in contrast to my children’s literacy goals, my writing endeavors have been geared toward adults. Perhaps one day I’ll try my hand at writing for children, but I must admit the illustrating end of things has me nervous (yes, I know I could partner with someone to do the illustrating, but where’s the fun in that?). And writing for adults helps me process my own experiences, thoughts, and feelings.

To be honest, I don’t know why a writer. It’s just something I feel compelled to do. And, unfortunately, it’s something I’ve been putting on a back burner for far too long. I’ve put it on a back burner for so long I question whether that burner works any more. Maybe it went out long ago and what was simmering has gone bad. But I’m still tempted to try it…

Why Websites?

Apparently in addition to feeling compelled to write, I’m also a glutton for punishment. Because, aside from novels, the medium that attracts me the most is also one of the least likely to bring in income: the free informational website. And that stems from my desire to help people, and to want to help as many people as possible, regardless of their ability to pay. Maybe one day I’ll actually get something in return for these sites, but in the meantime I’ll continue to try to create something worthwhile for others.

Why Keep the House?

While I must acknowledge that in many ways it would be easier to have a “fresh start,” my reasons for wanting to keep the house are multiple and complex.

The first, perhaps most important, reason is that this is my children’s home. I know kids are resilient, but they already have a lot to deal with. This is the only home they’ve known. And to take that away at what is already a fragile time is less than desirable.

The other reasons are more selfish: the sense of pride that keeping the house would provide, the determination to not lose what I’ve already been fighting for, the feeling of loss that would surely result from losing the much-desired spaces I’ve been struggling to create.

It is a challenge, but one I am not surrendering to easily. Until I decide it’s the best option to sell, I will continue to try to make it work.

Creating a Brand

In business it is recommended that owners create a brand. When someone buys something from you, they are not purchasing an item — they’re buying you, your brand. The brand is the image that you portray, what you stand for, what you offer the world. And it’s not just businesses that have brands. Everyone does. Think about the image you portray to the world: who other people think you are, what other people think you believe in and enjoy. That is your brand.

For a while now I think my brand has been “desperate and determined.” And I’m not happy with that. Would you be? It’s time to change. Because while I sometimes feel that way, that is not who I truly am. Yes, I’m determined. But I don’t want to come across as desperate (even if I sometimes feel that way!). I want to come across as open-minded and helpful, knowledgeable and happy, confident and successful. I want to be equated with books and literacy and children. I want to be the one people turn to for creative problem solving, brainstorming, and advice. I want to be seen as professional but approachable. I want to be seen as a good mom, a good friend, and a good person.

To create this new brand, I need to shift my priorities. While I can’t minimize the need for money, I need to focus more on value rather than cost. What is the value of my time? What is the best, most valuable, use of my time? I can’t believe that it is doing things I have no desire to do just to try to bring in a couple bucks. I want to do things that will bring me closer to my goals, that will be in touch with my purpose.

This week, as I juggle Avery’s half days at school, my first cash and carry book fair, Avery’s parent-teacher conference, and prepping for my upcoming author and vendor events, I will be evaluating how to get the most value for my time. And next week I hope to share my findings. Until then, wish me luck! And if you have any suggestions or feedback, please feel free to share!

With a Little Help From…

I have always prided myself on my desire to help others. I’m not perfect, but I’ve tried to help when I could. Over the past year or so, however, my ability to help others has been dwindling. I haven’t had money to donate even a few groceries. I haven’t had the time or energy or mental capacity to help on a more personal note, easing burdens or pitching in. And now it looks like, instead, I’m the one who needs to be helped.

It’s no secret as to why this has happened. When Kevin moved out, our already-tight budget got impossibly stretched. And now, with more financial changes taking place as we make things official, that budget is ready to burst at any moment. So I’ve had little choice but to seek out assistance in the one place I never thought I would need: the department of social services.

I’m not ashamed. I’m a hard-working mama who just needs some help until I’m in more comfortable circumstances. And I know I will get there. But in the meantime I’ve qualified for state-supported health insurance (which is actually a pretty sweet plan, if I do say so myself – and all of our doctors accept it, so it was a no-brainer!). And I’m pursuing food stamps, though I’m still awaiting the answer on that one.

It’s not easy accepting handouts, especially when you’ve always been the one helping. But this is why the programs exist, and I am grateful for the help. I honestly don’t know how I would have afforded health insurance for myself after the divorce. And if I don’t have to worry about paying for groceries (even though I am an excellent shopper who doesn’t spend much anyway), that’s more money that can go toward the less-forgiving expenses, like keeping a roof over our heads.

While I use these benefits, I’m still chugging away, trying to get my business and websites going strong. I’m still putting in my hours at my day job. And I’m still searching for other ways to bring in income. I’m still hemming and hawing, trying to figure out the best course of action with some things, and putting in the effort with others, hoping something will pay off. (And something has to pay off, right?)

So, that being said, it’s time to move forward. My current project? Trying to use what I’ve got to bring in the income I need. I’m going to start putting things on eBay again (a project I let fall by the wayside after a few measly listings). And I’m going to finish reviewing what I have on hand, in my personal stash and my businesses’ inventory, to create baskets for Easter and beyond. I can’t spend much, if any, money on more inventory, so I need to get creative and maximize what I already have. It won’t be easy, but I’m up to the challenge.

I expect to have one vendor event coming up before Easter that will offer both books and baskets (and whatever else I want to bring). Whatever baskets I’m able to make will be brought to this event. But I think I’m also going to revive my sad and pathetic Creative Endeavors Facebook page so I can post everything I have available without making my personal page too sales-y. If you want to want to “like” the page and hold me accountable (and give me a little kick in the butt!), you can find it here: https://www.facebook.com/MyCreativeEndeavor/.

I have a few events coming up just with Usborne Books & More, so I’m hoping those will help, too. And I’m still working hard on getting my schools and libraries division up and running. I also have to update my available inventory in my Usborne Facebook group.

The only problem with these grand plans? They all take time. And that is something I’m still working on. I’ve been finagling with my weekly schedule to figure out how to fit it all in, but it’s definitely much easier said than done. And that’s assuming I stick to my plan! If I succumb to fatigue, or get attacked with illness or very grumpy children, everything tends to slip.

So the moral of this blog post? Time and money are not my friends. But I’m doing what I can with what I’ve got. And I suppose that’s all any of us can really do!