Category Archives: Inspiration From Unlikely Sources

2011 Year in Review Goal 2: Be Happy

As we finish 2011, I could not possibly be happier! I married the man of my dreams. I’ve got my health. I live in a beautiful home. I can wear pajamas to work and my “co-worker” Noah just sleeps most of the day. Life is good! But how did I do on the sub-categories??

Goal: Be happy.

  • Take more pictures
  • Share pictures and stories via blogs.
  • Make a homemade dinner at least four times per week.
  • Pay it forward at least once a month.

I did a slightly better job taking pictures this year, but I sure got a lot of help from friends, family, and wicked good photographers for the big stuff. As for sharing them, well…you better be my friend on Facebook or in real life. I plan on adding more pictures  to blog posts in 2012.

I’m proud of the documentation of our honeymoon. Hopefully y’all were able to play along from home pretty well. I didn’t do the best sharing the rest of the year, but I’m sure we can all agree I over share and you feel like you know plenty about my 2011.

A homemade dinner four times a week may not seem like that big a stretch for some of you, but with all of our extracurriculars and our how much we like to go out to eat, Randy and I weren’t eating a non-cold-sandwich meal at home very often. I can’t tell you specifics, but we did get better in 2011! Many thanks to our CSA, Springdale Farms, for providing us with abundant produce, the #mkefoodies group for inspiring me to freeze a lot of things in the summer, and my favorite food blog loves  for providing me with inspiration. I found a really cool calendar for 2012 to help me plan out fresh, healthy meals. Check it out here.

I made a very conscious effort to “pay it forward” in 2011. The whole point of this exercise is to be a humble person helping out their fellow man, so I won’t give you specifics. I’ll just say I did it. Happily. Hopefully this exercise becomes habit and I’ll continue this practice for all years to come.

In 2012, I hope to dedicate more time and communication to specific charities. I think I have found my home in a couple of local nonprofits. I look forward to getting more involved in the new year. If anything, I think I might over share vs. not tell y’all enough, so the blogging might stay the same or happen a little less. I’m also hoping 2012 is a little less eventful than 2011. This was a crazy year!

Do you volunteer? Do you prefer one-time opportunities or a year-long commitment?

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Walking Along the Lonely Street of Dreams

“I don’t know where I’m goin’
but I sure know where I’ve been
hanging on the promises in songs of yesterday.
An’ I’ve made up my mind, I ain’t wasting no more time
but here I go again, here I go again.”

-Proverb by Whitesnake

Last week I spent a lot of time thinking about my decision to go to University of South Carolina. I never understood why people couldn’t grasp the concept of going away to school. Heck, why weren’t they doing it themselves?! My parents told me they were proud of me. My friends were happy for me. My boyfriend used it as an excuse to break up with me. But no one really got my decision. Even my guidance counselor suggested I just attend MATC to save money and the fear of the unknown. (Ah, my first disheartening coworker…) Of course I was scared and cried 450 of the 900 miles down to Columbia, but I never wavered. I knew college in SC was what I was meant to do. Little did I know that would turn into one of the best decisions I ever made. I learned SO much. I made such great friends. I grew up. I had experiences. I got wise.

It’s time to make a wild choice again.

As of Monday, November 28, Mark the Occasion Designs is going to be my only job. With the unbelievable support of my wonderful husband and a mom and friends who have told me they believe in me, I am going to give entrepreneurship a full-time whirl. I have a plan, but that didn’t keep me from waking up at 3 am last night to debate the risks. A good night’s sleep may be a thing of the past, but I cannot tell you how excited I am! As we have discussed ad nauseum, my first show is this weekend. It will be a learning experience (as everything technically can be!), but it will also be the event to fund this venture. I’m not taking out any loans…I’m only giving myself this profit to work from. I’m sure my first $100,000 won’t be far behind. That happens in the first month, right? (Kidding!)

This time around I’m getting a lot less blank stares. “Courage” is being thrown around as much as “congratulations.” I hope I have your support, too, but if I don’t, perhaps this blog can now be a place to teach you to have your own courage. Do something because you want to, not because you should. If you have your mind set on something and know you can make it work, you can!

We have lots of time for me to sell you wedding flowers and for you to give me advice, but for now let’s give thanks to those that believe in us. You can’t ask for a better gift. And reader, I believe in you!

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Day 29: Digging It

I took the last three days off of the day job to test out working from home on Mark the Occasion Designs stuff. Here are some lessons learned.

1. This is going to be a lot of work!
As I’ve talked about ad nauseum, I’m going to be in a craft show November 19th. That was the real reason for the time off; I’m so afraid I’m not going to have enough pieces to sell! To that end, I worked, worked, worked on flowers. I’m still not where I hoped to be even though I sat down and worked for at least 8.5 hours each day. That’s not a little work here, a little Facebooking there…that was straight work. This included no marketing time or administrative work. I’m going to have to prepare for long days if I make this a thing.

2. I can take breaks whenever I want!
I was much more strategic about my time away from my “desk”. Truly, I only stopped to exercise, make dinner, and shower. There was one coffee date in there, but that was a networking activity. So bonus – I may have to start at 6:45 am or go until 9 pm, but if I want to hit up 9am pilates, I can!

On the flip-side, I didn’t have as much time to focus on dinner, throwing in the laundry, or other tasks I thought I might. This could be a function of a looming deadline or it could be reality. This is one for the “con” column as it was an expectation of working from home.

3. I might go stir-crazy.
By Friday I was guilty of taking pictures of the dog and texting Randy a bunch of times. Being in the house without any true people interaction will make for long days. I think this can easily be remedied though. Folks in my classes at the gym seemed chatty and I wasn’t with my normal internet connections. Add in a couple of coffee or lunch dates per week and I think I’d be ok.

4. Make-up might become a weekend-only thing.
The fanciest I dressed the last few days was jeans and a sweater. And, oh was it glorious. In my current life, I change into pjs the second I come home. (Noah hair is a close second to warm and cozy in the list of reasons.) I did make a conscious effort to shower and put on real clothes each day. I made no promises when it came to blow-drying my hair or putting on the full ‘war paint’, but Randy said I was still pretty. Guess that permanent smile made up for the lack of under-eye concealer.

5. I love it. I want it. I need it now.
Bloggy friends, I can’t tell you how much I loved picking what I would work on next. Even as I sewed the 8,000th (ok, the 150th) flower, I still was excited about what I was working on. I loved having Noah as my co-worker. I loved the responsibility for the task at hand and knowing that what I was working on would bring happiness to someone. I loved working in slippers. Just like Mitch in City Slickers, I found my thing. And I didn’t even have to go to the Rockies to find it.

Yeh!

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Fall Fun – Events in Milwaukee I Can’t Go To, But Wish I Could

Fall is supposed to be the time when Milwaukee’s social calendar starts quieting down. Not this year! Either the city is finally getting hip or everyone knows I have put myself on self-imposed exile until November 19th to get ready for my in-person debut. I can’t attend these events, but that doesn’t mean you can’t. Go for me. Have a beer or some soup or a fancy, dry-ice-covered cocktail that’s been whored out in baseball playoff commercials. (Seriously, I think there are only like four commercials over and over again…)

Art Milwaukee/Newaukee/Spreenkler Meeting/Everything Cool Grand Opening
Thursday, October 6 6 – ??
Looks like Grand Avenue is coming alive all at once thanks to these great networking groups and new businesses. This seems like THE place to see and be seen for a creative small business owner and anyone who considers themselves a Milwaukee hipsters. Find your best ironically hued business attire and check it out!

Milwaukee Young Professionals: Ballet and Brew
Friday, October 7 5:30 – 8ish
Attend this event for a backstage look at a dress rehearsal of Michael Pink’s Dracula AND a brewery tour at Milwaukee Brewing Company. This seems like the best date idea ever. You both get what you want and you’re in the neighborhood for dinner at La Fuente just as the crowds would be dying down. Win/win.

Rain Forest Night at the Domes
Friday, October 7 6:30 – 9
Tour the Domes in the dark!! Make a sundae using tropical ingredients. Learning and chocolate. What more do you want on a Friday night? Great event for those with kiddos.

Empty Bowls
Saturday, October 8 10:30 am – 2 pm
This event, which supports a great cause to feed Milwaukee’s hungry, gives you the opportunity to get a new earthenware bowl and taste test some of Milwaukee’s best soup from restaurants, caterers, and nonprofit groups. Go early, stand in line often. I went last year and it was packed. The event manager in me was wigging out, but the foodie liked it. Thank God for smartphone apps to keep you busy.

Foodie Tweet-Up at Beta by Sabor
Wednesday, October 19 5 – 7:30
One of my favorite groups of Milwaukee peeps, found on Facebook as MKEFoodies, hosts monthly(ish) events at new and unique restaurants around town. I’m sure I’m not the only one intrigued by the repetitive Beta by Sabor commercials. The people are always fun at these events and the food is bound to be fantastic this time.

Enjoy!

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Big Push to the Finish

I’ve done pretty good with my 2011 New Year’s Strategic Plan. (What, you only have resolutions? Well, pshaw… I’ve got a whole plan. P.S. You love me and my nerdy ways.) I’ll save the full recap for the month of December, but all in all, goals are being reached. “Be healthy. Be happy. Grow.” Not bad for a year’s work. (Or a gym’s mission statement, but whatevs…)

That said, I could use a big push to help me finish the year strong so I’ve decided to add a few sub-goals to October.

October Unprocessed Month1.  #NoProOcto© – Per Eating Rules suggestion, I’ve pledged to go through October without any processed food. This means I’ll have to find substitutes for my Fiber1 bars and Hershey sauce, but overall, I think this is a diet (and by diet, I mean selection of food, not restriction of food) that shouldn’t be too hard to follow. For me the definition of “processed” is anything I can’t make in my kitchen. (Ex. Fiber1 bars with their corn syrup deliciousness out. Outpost fresh granola made of oats, dried cranberries and all-natural peanut butter in.)

To start, I’m only allowing myself one exception – diet coke.  I recently tried to quit soda and just can’t. Sure, this probably proves that soda is the thing I need to focus my attentions on, but I don’t want to fail in the first week. Instead, I will try my best to cut back and at the most allow one per day.

2.  Hopefully #1 will lead to more blogging as I report in. If you don’t hear from me here, here, or here, feel free to harass and make sure I’m on track. Things should get interesting as we get closer to trick-or-treating time.

3.  Under the “be happy” category, I’m going to spend time this month sloughing off the unnecessary bullshit that surrounds me. I have forced Randy to indulge Weepy Maggie way too many times over the last couple of months. If I have time (after completing the 8,000,000 flowers I need to get ready for this) I’ll blog about this, too.

4.  Do I need to make another goal to rid myself of unnecessary punctuation in my life? Jeez, there’s a lot in this post! Nah.

So stay tuned. Should be an interesting month!

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