Friday, July 31, 2009

Stepping Up My Technical Game

I am a blogger. Yes I am. But I am not heavy duty. I don't vlog (yet). I don't carry a little camera everywhere I go so I can take great photos to share with you. Wait. I have a cell phone so yes! Yes I DO carry a little camera everywhere I go. Score one for me! So I guess I just need the ability to easily video tape now and I can add a little spice to my blog's life. Kerri said I must go to BlogHer next year because it's in NY and so, I will try because she's right - I should go. Because I am a blogger - allegedly.

I will get the blog look updated too. Hopefully before October and that will help keep things fresh and me interested in what I am doing. (I do bore easily so I need things to at least look different from time to time.) Yes. These changes are planned but not before I finish paying for recent car repairs. And not before I buy a new cell phone a whole 6 or more months early. (Think I'm going with the LG EnV3 this time around but color choices are pathetic so if I can't do better than slate blue by October 4th, then slate blue it will be and I'll have to get covers for the variety of it.)

Now what will I vlog about? Hmm. I don't have a cartoon life like some people I know. (They know who they are.) Nothing really happens to me that leaves you going, "What the heck?! That really happened?" I don't think I'm a particularly strange person. Controlling? Yes. Opinionated? Very. Overall, I think I'm a nice person with a mean streak when I'm really annoyed. And I am a perfectionist. None of this makes for interesting video fodder. Thankfully, I have very entertaining children. That does help. But basically, I'm

Today, for instance, I am going to leave work and go to another mall to return a top I got that I was hoping matched a purple gypsy (prairie, call it what you will) skirt. It's one of those skirts where the color is light at the top and gets darker as it goes down. I adore the skirt and of course the color because I can never have too much purple in my life, but I couldn't find anything to go with it when I bought it at that wonderful sale price. "Aw, I'll find something." It's been a hunt every since and I HATE shopping (as I get older, my tolerance level for this activity drops more and more.) so this has been one big pain in the butt. If you did not know this already, not all purple is created equal. I think summer white is the only thing you can buy in pieces and know it will work with another summer white piece. Anything else is a crapshoot. So would this be worth vlogging about? Eh, maybe. If I took you shopping with me so I can torture you too while I find purples that don't go with what I have. But that would just make the experience last longer, so I guess you'd have to wait until it was over and I told you whether or not I succeeded.

OK, ok, ok. I got a litle sidetracked. The other technical thing I'd have to do after I finally get a video camera (I already know what to get. I have techies all around me with suggestions.), is figure out the uploading part but I'm not a novice. I'll figure it out. I just don't feeeel like figuring it out. But I do feeeel like making things a little more interesting around here. So I guess I'll go on a little Internet hunt for other little things I can do to make you, my precious reader, oh so happy to come visit me every once in awhile.

And when I get my EnV3, I should be able to take those waiting-room moments to visit all of you a little more regularly too. Because being online all day and all night is just not enough, eh? I must share allll of my life with you! Well, some more of it maybe.

Anyway, got any techie tricks you'd like to share? I'm all ears. But for now, I'm going to go sit in traffic and wish I had a camera so you all could watch me doing nothing but complain about traffic. Oh happy day!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Buying Black

I don't know if you know about Maggie and John Anderson. They are the Chicago couple who have dedicated their money to black-owned businesses for this entire year. It is called The Empowerment Experiment and they are half-way through. I knew about them some time ago but I wasn't keeping close track. However, the idea of keeping black money circulating within black businesses is as ingrained in me as buying American as much as possible or recycling. The couple came back to mind yesterday on the CBS Early Show, probably because it's really close to August, which is Black Business Month according to @ajlovesya over on Twitter and that one was one I didn't know about.

If you missed them on the show yesterday, here's the video, which will hopefully stay available for awhile:

Watch CBS Videos Online

Now, the one thing Maggie Anderson didn't say in response to Larry Elder that I would have said? "Are you freakin' kidding me?" I mean really. If anyone is naive enough to think that Jews don't spend with Jews and Asians don't spend with Asians and Hispanics don't spend with Hispanics then please, go off to some mountaintop to live alone with your ignorance. Of course they do! And no one is calling it racism when they do. They simply understand the value of culture and supporting their own. I am certain many of them and others of different groups at a minimum look to do business with their own first. Of course they do! It's like choosing someone over your own family to not do it. The difference is they may not make a public announcement they are doing it like the Andersons have and so no one calls them on it. Women are publicly supporting women, as we should and as I do, but I haven't heard cries of sexism. What pisses me off is when black people choose to do something others have been doing for a lifetime, suddenly we are being racist, sexist, elitist, whatever.

Here's the thing: What the Andersons are doing is very difficult. The fact is black-owned businesses are not one every corner. Hair dressers and barbers, funeral homes, churches - those are black-owned/run in abundance. Most other businesses/institutions are not. The Andersons at least have a black-owned grocery store in the vicinity. If there is one in CT, I couldn't tell you where it is. So you see, it's a big, not-so-cheap thing to do this experiment. A very big thing. And to do it is not to say they choose to sacrifice quality or customer service or anything a good business should have. Instead, I'll bet you it forces some black businesses who aren't already operating that way to get their acts straight because they are getting attention and it's good for business.

Bizzy Girl and I absolutely seek to work with our own as much as possible. In some places we've been successful. In other places, it didn't work out. So we look until we find the people - of any race - who we feel we can work with. We happily work with a variety of people but in our business and well as in our personal lives, when choosing who you will associate with in any manner, there is an order and you can't tell me it's not the same for everyone - black, Christian and female are top three for us and this order can change. Barring those categories, we want to work with American companies and keep things as close to home as we can. Family friendly matters to us as well. It's not unheard of to be selective in this manner, so why try to make it sound like the Andersons are doing something that will divide people?

As I know I've said in the past, the black race is a fractured, wounded group. We must uplift each other whenever we can. We are so far removed from the greatness we hail from that even ancestral memory is lacking and getting back that former glory must be an intentional action. We have a black president now to help remind us of this. We have people like George Fraser who have been pushing for years for us to understand the power within ourselves, advocating multiple streams of income and business ownership. The Andersons are just one of many people doing what has been the mission for as long as I can remember. Instead of criticizing this - especially black people. Come on now, black people, don't choose to malign your own. - we can choose to celebrate this not just as a race. Every race can choose to uplift their own and we can also choose to uplift each other as Americans. No one needs to be excluded. This is simply work on self that needs to be done. You know how they say you can't love others until you first learn to love yourself? Charity begins at home? That is what this is and there is no reason to apologize for it.

If you have not yet watched the CNBC special Black in America Part 2 (I don't think you can see it online yet), it would behoove you to do so and remember the power of the people.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Blurred Vision

I've been pondering the whole see-it-say-it-create-it belief system. I do believe in it but I think it has some caveats worth paying attention to. I was talking with a friend one night last week about how much clearer things are for me these days - I can see the life I want better than ever but it's not entirely in focus yet. It's enough for me to have something to build on but it's not yet crystal clear. It's like standing at Penn Station (or a million different places in D.C.) and clearly seeing the Washington Monument. But there are streets to navigate and a whole mall in between, as well as lines to wait in. It's not necessarily a straight shot to get there once you arrive at that train stop and start heading in that direction.

My friend thought it wasn't a good thing to not see it clearly. I understood why she said that. A lot of people say it, after all. Normally you need to clearly see your vision in order to obtain it. The more in focus it is, the better your focus can be on the goal. But I had to think about that a second. I had experience with focusing on a vision and I knew that at least once in my life, I had passions and desires to do a myriad of seemingly random things that may have appeared to others to be me simply occupying my own time in a strange city I did not grow up or attend college in. When I first started work on a master's in Religious Studies my father asked me what I was going to do with the degree. "Beats me. I only know I can do a chaplain internship through this program and I'm going to pay for it all myself, one class at a time." Eleven classes and I don't know how many years later, I got to the point where I needed to write my thesis and be done. One day I'll do that. But I got what I wanted - the chaplain experience.

At the same time I was volunteering with AmeriCorps and worked for a social service agency during the day while I was working my regular, full-time night job as a copy editor. I was the editor of and one of the writers for my church newsletter for five years during this time. "What are you going to do with these things?" is a question I got a lot. I'd only smile and say, "beats me. I just know I want to do this." But here's my question back: Why does one always have to know what they are going to do?

Passions are there to help propel you to a greater goal of which you know nothing about. Only God knows. I believe that following your heart/passions is always worthwhile, even if you can't always see where you are going and even if it seems like a really pointless pursuit to the rest of the world or even to yourself.

So I thought about my friend's comment about a clear goal and I finally surmised that a clear goal can sometimes work against you. I think if you always know the exact end, you may possibly be a little lazy in the work to get to that end. I mean, if you knew the end, risks wouldn't be risks but sure things and isn't the excitement in the risk sometimes? If you knew the exact end, wouldn't the road essentially be easy, not the obstacle-ridden path that builds patience, character and wisdom? If the end is always clearly in view, would you even go the direction that has those unexpected sidetracks that lead to something unexpectedly fruitful? And then, consequently, if you're so busy knowing the end and not working toward the unknown, can you ever get to that end?

I'm thinking you have to have a vision, it just doesn't always have to be a clear one. But having that vision isn't enough. You have to be willing to follow your heart's map to get there and open to dealing with the surprises along the way. About 11 years after I started doing those myriad of things that never quite flowed together on a resume, I learned of a job with a start-up company that made my eyes go wide as I read about the job duties and type of person they sought. Everything I had done up until that moment had come together in that one position. I couldn't have purposely prepared for it if I tried. The start-up has been my best job venture to date (It's been 4 years now) as it not only utilizes all the things I love to do but I watch entrepreneurship at its best as I continue to build my own business.

Right now I can still see generalities when it comes to my future, though some specifics have gotten very clear this year. I still don't know exactly how I'm going to get to the Promised Land and admittedly, the desert is a scary place so I may be intentionally closing my eyes to some things. But I know I will get there and I know blind trust is a huge part of how I'll get there and I'm OK with that.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Can You Stand to See More?

I love to watch Clean House. I don't know how they do it - see the huge mess and not get overwhelmed. Maybe because they have each other to spur the process on. It's always painful to change and purge but so far I can only think of one really odd woman who hated the whole thing and wanted to go back to her mess.

At the end, when things are clean and the family has seen the first room and nearly fallen out from the transformation, the host - Niecy Nash - usually asks, "Can you STAND to see more?" I love seeing it every time. So that's my question to the world right now - Can you stand to see more?

I went looking at my old posts, worried that I has not written my prediction for the year thus having no proof of things to come. But I did! Whew! I did say something in my Dream Weaving post back in January. For more years than I know now for sure, I have been telling my friends - one in particular who lives in this weird world with me - what kind of year was ahead. I might say it in December. I might say it in January. I just wait for the feeling to strike and so far it has. Numbers play a role in this. Like 2007, for instance. 7 means completion, biblically speaking. Did anything finish for you in that year? And in 2008 we have new beginnings. I have a friend who asked, "Can a beginning be anything other than new?" Well, technically, I suppose not, but consider the times when you THOUGHT you had ended something and it came back. That would not be a new beginning. But when it is done, really done. That is the new. Anything new start up for you in 2008?

Then there is this year. The 9 is about judgment and finality. My own spin on it is that this is the year of life-altering changes. The kind of stuff that leaves you catching flies with your mouth. (Gross!) The kind of stuff you hoped for but never thought would happen. The kind of stuff you hoped would never happen but consequences must always be played out. There is no getting around it. So this is that kind of year where you reap what you sow and you better hope it was good stuff you sowed.

What's happened so far? Well, just look around you! Did you really predict icons like Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett dying on the same day? (By the way, this is one of the pictures of MJ that I prefer.) Ed McMahon earlier that week? I thought it was done because it was 3 after all but loads of people knew Billy Mays too (you know, the OxyClean guy?) and he was a shocker as well.

I have a friend whose husband sold a movie script. It had been a long time coming and she was truly hanging in by being the one with the job with the benefits and still doing her personal pursuits while cheering him on while he did his more theatrical ones, all while working wherever he could (he's not lazy, ya'll). And after who knows how long of giving his due, he finally got what he deserved and I can only imagine the life changes that will come out of this for them. I couldn't be more thrilled. I have another friend - the one who lives in this weird world of numbers with me - and her place of employment is undergoing major layoffs. She's not worried. She's been dealing with major injustice on said job for years and it's all coming to a head when? This year. I have a co-worker who just got engaged to another co-worker and I don't know if she saw it coming - because we all certainly watched it all happen (breakup included) and were still shocked to hear the news - but this certainly counts as a major change in her life this year.

I'm sure everyone has their story. Me? My irons are still in the fire and lots of stuff is still simmering but we have 6 months to go so I'm not worried. We've been building up the business to the major expo we are doing in September so that's where I'm looking for change, but this year has indeed been our best ever for the business and we are really happy about it. Overall, it's been fun just watching the stuff going on around me.

So what's the plan? What is it that you are still waiting to hear about? What is it that's happened to you this year that left you stunned in a good or bad way? What are you still praying about? There are still six precious months to go and that's a long time yet. Can you stand to see more?