Tuesday, August 23, 2011

social media: adapt or be left behind

You all know I'm a social media enthusiast. Not only is it my job, but I'm constantly watching my feeds and engaging. I've attended two seminars and one webinar in the last month where a lot was said about the importance of social media shifts in companies. We've discussed how company culture needs to change and the fact that social media isn't simply another campaign but a complete overhaul of how a company should communicate with its audience.

I've been putting a lot of thought into how this applies to personal life. I have many friends who have taken the bull by the horns and are continually active on social media sites, but I still know many who "reject" this obvious culture change.

I am always connected to my social media outlets through my iPhone. That doesn't mean that my full attention is constantly invested in them. I use my accounts for news, both on a personal level and a national/international level. For example, my Twitter feed runs constantly on my phone. Every now and then, I check it out. I know immediately what's going on. During the Indiana State Fair stage collapse and today's east coast earthquakes, I found out in real time from real people what was going on. I didn't have to wait for a reporter to put together a story or newscast and find the right people to interview. I heard it right from eyewitnesses as it was happening. Who would want to miss that?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

My Father

I know my Father's Day post should probably wait until Father's Day, but I'm feeling inspired now. I am proud (and lucky) to be able to say that I have an AMAZING dad. And, when I say amazing, I really mean it. He's the whole dad package - loving, hard-working, giving, understanding... and, unfortunately, not as appreciated as he should be. Today, I heard a song (I'll admit, I cried a little when I did) and felt so lucky that I could sing every word of that song about my father. I take that for granted sometimes. Here are some of the lyrics:

I'm five years old, it's getting cold, I've got my big coat on
I hear your laugh and look up smiling at you, I run and run
Past the pumpkin patch and the tractor rides, look now, the sky is gold
I hug your legs and fall asleep on the way home

I don't know why all the trees change in the fall
But I know you're not scared of anything at all
Don't know if Snow White's house is near or far away
But I know I had the best day with you today...

And now I know why the all the trees change in the fall
I know you were on my side even when I was wrong
And I love you for giving me your eyes
For staying back and watching me shine
And I didn't know if you knew, so I'm taking this chance to say
That I had the best day with you today

My dad continues to teach me what devotion and love is with his dedication to our family. I love you, Daddy. Happy (early) Father's Day!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

I (we) took the tattoo plunge!

Laura (my good friend & co-author) is now also my tattoo sister. With the completion of our manuscript getting closer and closer, we decided to commemorate this amazing moment in our lives... permanently.

We got tattooed. What started out as a talk about getting matching jewelry quickly turned into something much more lifelong. We chose the phrase "One soul. Two bodies." It's a variant of the Aristotle quote "Friendship is a single soul dwelling in two bodies." Laura wrote it inside the first book she gifted me (very symbolic for both of us).

I'm proud to have a matching tattoo with one of the strongest, smartest, and most talented women I've ever known. I'm honored to have her want to do this with me, and I can't help but smile when I look at my sore but pretty foot.

But, the quote goes beyond the two of us. It's a reminder of what friendship is. As we grow older, we don't seek someone to simply sit beside us in class; We look for that one person who awakens our soul. The person who did what Laura did for me and said, "Let's stop sitting on these dreams and make them happen, no matter how scary and hard."

When I look at my tattoo, I want to always be reminded to surround myself with people who help me approach myself and the world better than I would without them. I'm lucky to have a lot of those people in my life right now. I have had many toxic "friends" in the past, but time reminds you that life is too short to hold on to what hurts.

"One soul. Two bodies." Friendship is having a person to walk beside you through thick and thin... and hold your hand when things get rough (like when a needle goes into your foot). And, of course, to push you through those times when dreams seem out of reach, but they aren't.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Back on track

My co-author and I have been slacking a lot on writing. We've been letting the stresses of things far less important than lifelong dreams get us down and the novel had been put on a temporary hold. Luckily, tonight, we were able to start over with overwhelming motivation, leaving us more excited than ever to complete the books and, ultimately, the series.

We took a couple steps to restore motivation:

1. We didn't work in either of our homes (where distractions live). We headed to a Starbucks, where there were no dogs to care for, dishes to worry about or noisy televisions.

2. We free wrote. We stopped thinking so much about the plot and where things fit in. In fact, tonight, we wrote the ending. We have a very long way to go before we actually NEED an ending but that was exactly what we needed to feel rejuvenated.

When the two of us first started writing together, we were often afraid to offer suggestions, write over what the other had written, etc. Now, we're seeing that as a strength. Sometimes we disagree (kindly) but, of course, the readers are the ultimate audience and if the first reader (the co-author) isn't getting it, it needs to be reworked. Oftentimes, it turns out better with a little bit of both of our writing styles mixed in.

I'm so excited to see where this project goes. I have a lot of faith in it and, once again, am ready to work hard to make it all that it needs to be. I'm glad we've gotten back on track because how soon not now becomes never.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

quitting can be a beginning

“A dead end street is a good place to turn around”

Recently, I quit my job after just a year and accepted a new position. It took a lot of soul searching to take that step. I kept telling myself, "I'm not a quitter." I kept trying to make myself believe that where I was was where I wanted to be. It wasn't. After discussing my options with those who love me and being presented with an amazing opportunity, I had to go. After being at my new job, it's dawned on me: I didn't quit something; I started something.

Sometimes rushing at full speed down a dead end road is not being devoted; it's being scared. Life is about taking risks and getting out of situations that you know will get you nowhere. I woke up every day unhappy and unfulfilled. That isn't what I had in mind for my life & career, so I simply couldn't continue. What's worse is that I was in a job that others might need or want when I had other options.

So, I chose something else. It's going to be challenging, but I feel accomplished each and every day. When I wake up in the morning, I feel like I have a clear purpose. And, I get to use the skills that I feel have gone overlooked because of the position I chose.

The road leading nowhere isn't always a job. It can be a relationship, an investment, or simply a hobby. It's not the end of the world to say, "This isn't for me. I have to go." People will probably be mad. You might even have someone tell you that what you're doing is wrong, but I've found that the people who truly care about you recognize when you're making the choice that's right for you. That support is enough. It's not the end and you're not a quitter. It's a new beginning, and you'll feel braver than you've ever felt before.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Don't Imitate. Innovate.

Working in many marketing environments, I've learned this: a lot of people just want to keep up. They don't want to move ahead or push the envelope.

For example, when doing agency work, I noticed that a client would see a campaign of a competitor and instead of bringing a new vision to the table, they would want the same thing the other organization had. "Change the photo and text, but I want a design like that."

That leaves me wondering why. Why would anyone want to look like a competitor when what those in marketing are supposed to do is stand out, brand organizations and be the first to come up with great ideas? A competitor's work shouldn't be a template; It should be inspiration for others - inspiration to keep growing new and better ideas. Those in a creative profession have the ability to conceptualize and bring their ideas to life. What a truly amazing job! Imitating defeats the entire purpose of being in a creative arena. Some marketers are searching for a formula, but marketing is anything but routine.

I'd like to believe that most people entered the field because they wanted to make something out of nothing. Marketers should have the desire to see new ideas brought to life. And, maybe, be the innovator that everyone else wants to imitate.

Monday, March 21, 2011

When writing, the little things bring motivation.

Me and my co-writer reached a point in our novel where we needed organization badly. It was important to see what we had so far and map out where we're going. We spent about three hours putting together bits of the book that we had in multiple documents (there's no time for organization when inspiration strikes). Simply seeing the manuscript in linear form made us feel more connected to the work and excited about its potential.

Then, we moved on to write chapter titles. Seems like a small part of writing, right? Not for us. Chapter titles helped us summarize what happened in each chapter, creating an outline for the story that helped us plan for the rest of it. Now, we know what we have and where we're going. Writing a chapter title also showed us very quickly if a chapter didn't have enough in it to qualify as a chapter (or if it's just too long).

We had a great time piecing together the manuscript. We're now more pumped than ever to move on with our writing.

"Creativity represents a miraculous coming together of the uninhibited energy of the child with its apparent opposite and enemy, the sense of order imposed on the disciplined adult intelligence."

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Fear-Based Choices

Today, I heard something that hit home: 99.9% of the time, choices made out of fear aren't the right choices. By nature, I'm a fearful person. I'm contolling, like to have tons of information before I leap and have turned away from things (and to things) because I'm terrified of taking the other path. I thought of some decisions I've made that way: all of them put me in a tough situation down the line.

Today, there are quite a few choices I'm facing. Where we ultimately live and what we envision for the rest of our lives is at a crossroads. My natural reaction is to make the fear choice. I want to choose things that are familiar and steer clear of the path I know deep down I'm meant to follow (because that path is scary and uncertain).

I don't have good advice to offer on this subject because I'm struggling, but I am definitely going to try to leave fear out of my decision-making, face challenges and live the life I know I'm meant to instead of the one that I feel comfortable in.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Stress: The Anti-Creative

I get a lot of my inspiration for writing from everyday events. I'll even admit that I do some of my very best writing when I'm feeling a down. But, the everyday stresses and annoyances of life really get in the way of my creativity.

Lately, there have been a lot of things on my mind. From the ice storm to tax season, I never feel like I can pour myself entirely into an imaginary world. Once I begin the creative process, I feel like my ideas are locked in a cage. I'm assuming this is because I feel that stress has locked me in a cage.

Here are some things I've tried to release myself from the prison of my own mind:

- Reading. A well-constructed piece of literature always inspires me to make what I'm writing better.
- Being around/talking to people who inspire me. I find that I am more excited about projects when I talk to others who are excited about their projects as well.
- Thinking. I don't always have to be writing when I'm working on my writing projects. Some of the best stuff I've written has come after a brainstorm with myself or my writing buddies.

Any other tips, creative folks?