Friday, December 18, 2009

39 and Counting

Loads of Facebook messages last night and this morning. Extremely useful gifts from the gals in my department that I absolutely love. Is it sad that white out makes me happy? Oh, that little container on the left is hand sanitizer. Yep. Love that too.

Cupcakes from the baker in our group.

Fighting off the stupid office dog in defiance as he tries to take stuff out of my trash and steal my cupcakes.

So far I feel the same as I did last year and the year before that and the year I turned 30. But I am well aware that I will be entering new territory next year because something about 40, even 39, just feels so....mainstream. I am old enough for everything, except retirement, and no one is even questioning if I can buy alcohol or cigarettes, not that I'd want to. Yuck. No one looks at me twice if I say my kids are young or if I said I had teenagers. I could easily go either way. I am old enough to have graduated college childless and now be the mother of a college graduate. Wow. Gotta get off this train of thought.

Counting. I have a good husband (I am helping a friend to move to her own apartment this weekend because her 3-year marriage is just about done. Mine ain't perfect but I ain't miserable and I still like him so thank you God). Two pretty perfect kids in light of the brats who have crossed my path over the years. A job I still love and that pays me as well or better than I would have hoped to be making by now, but I wasn't sure what that would be anyway. I am, after all, in the topsy-turvey, financially unpredictable world of writing and editing. I have a home I love. I am in touch with all the important people from 1st grade on. I have local friends I can count on like family and family who know the meaning of the word. I need to lose weight (as usual) but despite that (and the eczema), I don't have one health issue worth losing sleep over and not one doctor is telling me I'm the borderline of anything. I belong to a church that doesn't make me feel unworthy or like I am still missing something and even though it is a large church, plenty of people know my name. (I can't remember all theirs though. That's another issue.) I know my spiritual gifts and my passions and I exercise them daily. I can drive. (I couldn't do that until I was 21.) I'm not afraid to be alone. My regrets can still fit on less than 5 fingers. I have hope for all sorts of things yet to come.

I'm sure there are more blessings to count, but I think this should tide me over for the day. Thank you God for another year. Ah, sweet 39.

So, um, God? Take your time with 2010, OK? Thanks!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Hair-Raising Behavior

Didn't I tell you the black community has issues with hair? Clearly not everyone is heeding my warning about where not to tread. If you are not under a rock, you have most likely heard about the teacher who cut a 1st-grader's braid because she would not - breathe deep, Monica - stop twirling it. The CHILD. was TWIRLING. her hair. And that warranted scissors, it seems.

I was trying really hard to push this to the back of my mind, but it's everywhere and even Essence jumped on it, which is akin to Oprah calling a special meeting of the sistahs. (Note the url that calls the place "crazytown.") Nordette wrote about this with a little more depth than anything I first read so take a look at her story here:

I knew the little girl was black. What I did not know at first and honestly tried so very hard not to think about was whether or not this teacher was white. Dang it, she was. Seems to me she was either looking for a racial incident or she's the most sheltered teacher in America. Now before I go on, I've been reading what people have to say about this and one person who agreed this woman was nuts also wanted to stress that this is not a color issue, wishing that black Americans didn't have such knee-jerk reactions. The statement was made by a black woman, but I am guessing not a native American and that does make a difference. If you have never been abused (or lived in the midst of it), you cannot judge the self-preservation actions taken by the one who has. So let me clear this up now. No one wants it to be a color issue. But our race as a whole has PTSD (or maybe PSSD would be better) and it's not going away any time soon. When bad incidents happen, Black Americans in general pray every time that color isn't involved or that it's not a black person having an issue with a white one. We collectively hold our breaths. We are let down most of the time. So when it is a black and white person involved, we hope against hope it's not racially motivated. We don't all choose to have a knee-jerk reaction. It is the PTSD and it can't be helped. Please don't be so naive and stop trying to dismiss it.

Back to the teacher, I'm sure there have been blacks who have also maliciously cut some kid's hair who is not their own (Nordette mentions one case), but I am also sure any black person who does this knows precisely the implication of their action. It's a form of feminine castration for many black women.

I told you - the hair is sacred.

It's ingrained in us like the urge to fly is in a baby bird. No one is immune. Not even me. Reading this story got me PISSED big time and it happened so fast I didn't know what hit me. I immediately thought of all the teachers surrounding my children and the couple of times I have had to tell a teacher that my son, for instance, is not perfect at all times and his "change in behavior" after 6 months in school from quiet and obedient to a little talkative is not a sign of trouble at home. Instead it is a sign of them not knowing him like they thought they did. And how could they? They don't stay with him past that one grade.

Cutting that girl's braid is a sign of that teacher either not knowing the children she teaches - mainly black children, it is said - or just not caring. But if my daughter came home telling me that story, I can't promise I wouldn't get in that teacher's face. I would insist my husband come with me as we talk in front of the principal not because it's the adult way to handle the situation but because even now I can just feel myself choking the person who dared to lay a hand on my hair-twirling child in this most brazen way. I tell you, I was truly livid for this girl whom I don't know. How up in arms do you think I would get to find out it happened to my own?

You can take probably every culturally psychological issue we have as a people and lay it at the feet of slavery. That is likely the start of the self-esteem getting entwined in our hair and we simply have not dealt with it or refuse to believe there is a connection there. But even if you don't think the root of the hair problem is slavery, one thing is for sure - while we don't go looking for this, the majority of us do wrestle with a hair issue.

Maybe we want it straight because we want to be like white women. Maybe we are determined to be natural in order to spit in the face of that other thought. Maybe we want to braid our hair but there are still companies and careers where natural African-American hairstyles are considered bad form. (Oh yes. Those places do exist.) We have challenging hair, it's no lie, so we do what we can to make it easier to handle. I like braids and twists not because it's cultural but because it's just easier - get up and go! Plus, my hair grows better when I simply leave it alone. Thankfully, I am black and no one looks at me twice if I braid my hair. (Well, they do, but usually because they like it and it might even mean me going into teaching mode about my hair. Sigh. It does get a little tired.)

For some of us, those natural curls of ours are less a source of pride and more an embarrassment. But these and many other issues are owned by us, whether we want to own them or not and we go into defense mode when someone touches our issue - just like anyone of any other culture would. If a non-black person says a word about our hair or touches it or tries to just ask why we do what we do, it's like a sonar going off among nearby black women and every one of them will run to your defense, even if you personally aren't offended. "Its NONE of YOUR business! We can do what we want with our hair!" Don't tell your hairdresser there was talk, either. There will be consequences. And please, don't be a non-black parent with a black or mixed race child and not take care of their hair. There is a special prison where we lock you up for that offense. If that is you, just ASK FOR HELP. You won't find a black mother unwilling to help you beautify that child because, as as I said, our hair is sacred and so is the hair of every big and little sistah (or brotha) we see. There is no excuse for letting a child go wild.

It's a sensitive issue. You can't wish it away or joke it away or try to make black people feel badly for reacting the way we do. It is what it is. This teacher was foolish to do what she did. I don't necessarily think anyone should be required to learn the culture of another, but if you are going to work heavily with a population, it would behoove you to get a clue about the things they value and the things they take issue with. That teacher is naive to think people should not be upset (if she indeed thinks that). I still want her fired but I can't tell you yet if my logical, fair side is even in the conversation. A $175 fine for a teacher in Chicago probably does hit the wallet (good) but it's not enough. I'd even accept cultural sensitivity training (on top of the fine AND firing) and that to me is usually a lame thing to do.

I'm still angry. Truly. I want to hear this woman is gone. Just like Erin Andrews' stalker will hopefully get jail time for peeping at her and posting embarrassing pictures of her on the Internet, I want this teacher to face some kind of punishment for going one step further and laying a hand on the head of a child in front of all of her peers, equally and unnecessarily embarrassing her. But I also hope all this cutting behavior will mean some real discussion between the races about how to respect each other and within the race (black Americans and blacks from other countries) about the length of our hair issues. In the meanwhile, my daughter and I have hair appointments this weekend. You can bet the shop will be hopping mad.

Christmas Gripes

OK. I want to say something. I just read a little of this:

Christian Group Launches New Attack on Christmas Commercialism

If it's December, then there must be frost in the air, gingerbread in the oven, and ... right on time, Bill O'Reilly and the other defenders of Christmas bemoaning the prevalence of "Happy Holidays" - rather than "Merry Christmas" - greetings.

There's a war on Christmas, O'Reilly recently reminded viewers, driven by those who "loathe the baby Jesus." This season, a holiday-dÉcor company is marketing the CHRIST-mas Tree, a bushy artificial tree with a giant cross where the trunk should be. And the Colorado-based Focus on the Family is continuing its Stand for Christmas campaign to highlight the offenses of Christmas-denying retailers. The campaign was launched, according to its website, because "citizens across the nation were growing dissatisfied with the tendency of corporations to omit references to Christmas from holiday promotions."

See the rest of the story here:

Here's my laywoman's take on the whole thing and it may not be popular with some of my brothers and sisters in Christ. But I'm going to put myself in sacred shoes for a brief second. My birthday is in December. (No, really. It is.) Now, I already told everyone that it's not the day of my birth that I want you all to celebrate. I want you to celebrate maybe whatever good I do. Maybe my life after I die. Maybe nothing at all! I'm just trying to live as God wants me to, after all. (in Jesus' case, we should celebrate his death AND resurrection which is how we got the gift of eternal life.).

Now, no one really listens to me about that and they decide they really want to celebrate my birth anyway. But instead of doing it when I was born - December - they decide that it's warmer in June so let's make it June instead. And the celebrants want everyone on board so they make sure everyone knows, "We are celebrating Monica's birthday in June! GET ON BOARD!"

Now this is just me but why would I be thrilled with that? Still, I don't protest necessarily because it's always nice to be loved and honored. But really, does the whole thing not seem a little off?

The birth of Jesus is clearly important, lest we have no Savior. The death of Jesus is clearly important, lest we have no way to heaven. But the focus is not supposed to be on BABY Jesus because he's not a baby anymore, folk. The focus is not supposed to be on Jesus on the cross because didn't you hear? HE GOT UP! He's not on the cross anymore. The time to celebrate is Easter, when He showed the world who He was and is and covered all our sins for eternity (IF you accept Him, that is.)

I honestly don't get the commotion. We insist on sticking Jesus where He wasn't in the first place and get mad when the rest of the world doesn't conform. No, we don't want to hearken back to the days of idol worship - ohhhh wait. That IS these times still, isn't it?

So Christmas, the celebration of Jesus' birth, becomes this us-against-them mess when it most likely was church officials once upon a time deciding to sanctify some pagan holiday and force Christ on non-believers or at least people who didn't openly profess Christ. Frankly, when you can't control something, you get mad about the things you think you CAN control. Might this be one of those times?

People, people. Jesus never forced himself on anyone. He didn't ask us to either. He told us to be lights, cities on the hill. To let our Spirits speak for us. To let our actions tell to whom we belong. And yes, sometimes you must be very vocal, but really God needs no help. He can show Himself quite easily, thank you. We are told to talk about him but if people don't listen to you, shake the dust off your feet and move on.

I don't personally believe it's my believing in his birth that will get me through His gates. It's His death and resurrection. That's what He said. Everyone learned it at least once in Sunday School. "Whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life." Believing in Him isn't just believing Jesus was born. It is believing IN Him and what He said, understanding that God and Jesus are one. "Romans 10:9 - If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord AND believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you shall be saved."

There has to be a reason you don't find the day of his birth in the Bible yet you do find this:
Mark 14: 1 Now the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread were only two days away, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some sly way to arrest Jesus and kill him. 2 "But not during the Feast," they said, "or the people may riot."
Note the specific time of year is included here.

Mark 15:1 -6 Very early in the morning, the chief priests, with the elders, the teachers of the law and the whole Sanhedrin, reached a decision. They bound Jesus, led him away and handed him over to Pilate.

2"Are you the king of the Jews?" asked Pilate.
"Yes, it is as you say," Jesus replied.

3The chief priests accused him of many things. 4So again Pilate asked him, "Aren't you going to answer? See how many things they are accusing you of."

5But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed.

6Now it was the custom at the Feast to release a prisoner whom the people requested.
Again, time of day and time of year mentioned. I could go on but what you will find is more mentions of time of year and day. Clearly, TIME was a factor and it was important that everyone know it. His birth? Well, Luke talks about it for 20 versus. Matthew at least gave it a whole chapter, though he started off talking about genealogy first and it all totals 25 verses. Mark and John? They start off talking about the divinity of Jesus and he's all grown up here. And yes, I do know about the canon and the books of the Bible that weren't included (Master's classes in Religious Studies weren't for naught) but I just can't allow my spirit to get all frustrated and entangled in all this. God said, "Call to me and I will tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know." So don't be confused and crazed - ask God and let Him give you the peace that passes all understanding about this topic.

Don't get me wrong. I didn't say toss Christmas. We are a people of tradition and that's why it takes so long to change things, even for the better. Kids love it and we love giving them this fun time of year. Tradition tends to get in the way of common sense sometimes, however.

We can enjoy the season and say He is the reason for it and it would be true in a creation sort of way - God DID make all the seasons. We can decide we just want to make this the time of year to say Happy Birthday to Jesus, even if he was possibly born in late October like some scholars say. We can give gifts to each other and say it's all in His honor (starting to stretch things a bit here). But can we just stop fooling ourselves? We do this because WE choose to, not because God asked us to. We want to really show our Christmas spirit when we should be showing our Christian spirit all year, but hey, a little once a year is better than nothing, right? We want to thank God for Jesus when again, we could do that all the time. The non-Christians take this moment to show they aren't pagans after all and they too think about God and that's good, but God wants YOU all the time, my friends. You'll have to talk to Him, however, about what that means in your life specifically.

I just don't want to get offended when people say Happy Holidays because there is more than one holiday going on this month. I don't choose to get offended if you say Merry Christmas to me because I know Jesus is OUR reason, but I seriously doubt He's as caught up in all this as we all are. I also don't care what you think if I choose to say Merry Christmas because I live with the traditions too.

I've said it before and I 'll say it again, I think we are ALL going to be very surprised one day to find out what DOES matter to Him that we didn't know or chose to ignore. The things He doesn't say that day will probably befuddle us all - "God, you didn't care about that? But we fought for it in your name!"

The world can try all it wants to but I just don't see it banishing God no matter how hard it tries. If those of us who love Him and follow Him can just do that - love Him and follow Him - He is sure to go nowhere. If we don't, He's still here but it's on our heads if we didn't share Him. We can do that on December 25th..and 26th...and 27th...and June....

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Secret Santa Meets Spock

This is what I found on my desk this morning from my secret santa:

This is gift 3. Gift 1 was Rudolph's Rockin' Raspberry Lip Balm. Hmm. Someone knows I am addicted to chapstick but the world can tell that.

Gift 2 is when I knew my SS was asking someone what I liked. I found chocolate covered cherries on my desk yesterday. No one outside of my department would know I love those as much as I do. AND they got the kind with the clear liquid, not the milky stuff. Kudos to them!

Today, gift 3, it's Star Trek, and Spock no less, who has always been my favorite. Don't recall telling that particular detail to the elf helping my Secret Santa so if he or she (I think it's a he) is guessing, then it might be a little scary. Especially if the person is who I think it is.

Thursday shall tell all!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Children Say the Dumbest Things

I was born and lived in southeast D.C. until I was 9. I went to a private school, where the teachers sometimes let you spend the night at their homes. (It was indeed a different time.) My best friend at school was one of the most popular kids in school even though we were on the younger end of things. We mostly got along with the older kids, though, simply because they adored my cute and friendly best friend so life was good.

I lived on a REALLY long street (at least that's how I recall it) where you could literally see the financial differences between the homes as you drove from one end to the other. I was in the middle. My best friend's house on my street was pretty much as far as I could go on one end. It was headed toward the rougher end. Maybe that was partly why. We had block parties and everyone played together. I was even Miss B Street one year because of my grades. Life was good there too.

Right before 5th grade, my family and I moved to Philly. That's when life became a challenge. The kids in Philly had a knack for knowing I wasn't from there because I spoke "proper" or "white." (My private school was all black, by the way, including most if not all of the teachers.) If you don't know what speaking proper means, it means I use nouns AND verbs and some of my words may be more than 2 syllables. I'm sure any African-American can tell you the deal with this particular issue. It's right up there with the light-skinned/dark-skinned and good hair/bad hair crap we still struggle with today. (Oh yeah. My hair was long too and so in the early days some kids believed it was fake even when it was pinned up.) Basically, this is all stupid. But it's still very much alive and ruining lives on a daily basis.

I eventually found my people in Philly and by high school, found some relative peace. But you never forget the dumb things kids say to each other. As much as you hate to let it get to you, you know you are shaped by it for life.

That's why it slightly pains but mostly angers me when my kids come home with the latest grievance.

Today from 4th-grade Son: "Today I was mostly ignored. I spoke to them but no one really spoke back."

Yesterday from Son: "Mommy, some people told me my eyebrows make me look angry. When I raise them up, I look friendlier. Can I make them thinner?"

Last week from 1st-grade Daughter: "Today I was drawing and (Nameless Child) told me I have no imagination."

Last month from Daughter: "Mommy, ever since I started wearing glasses, people don't speak to me anymore. The only ones who speak to me are the other kids with glasses."

My response to every one of these? "Are you alright? Did that hurt your feelings? Well, do you know why that happened?" Generally, they say they are OK and they didn't know why the kids said what they did. After I see they aren't literally crying over it and feel certain they aren't going to have a break down or start trying to be different, I tell them that "friends" don't talk to friends that way. I tell them they can feel free to say, "Why do you feel that way? Yeah? Well, that's just stupid and you can keep on walking."

I do not love children. I love MY children. Big difference. So "stupid" is not a word I want to teach my kids but mainly because I want them to respect each other. They are the only siblings they have. I tell them not to use that word on each other but I'm short on patience so when I hear this, I tell them that kids sometimes just say stupid things to each other, like that black people aren't "s**t," (uttered by a Jamaican child), but they can't let it ruin their day. As long as THEY don't agree and WE don't agree, then nothing else matters. In the words of Mariah Carey, we gotta shake it off.

"Daughter, your glasses are super cute and you are super cute in them, I tell you. I never wore them but they look GOOD on you, girl! (They really do.) You tell them if they don't want to be your friend because you wear glasses, then they are ridiculous and you don't have time for it. Not talking to someone because of glasses is just DUMB. You tell them that, Daughter."


"No, Son, I am not going to let you make your eyebrows thinner. Your eyebrows are perfect. In fact, they are MINE (before I started getting them waxed). And anyone who knows you knows you are not angry. You tell them that's just the silliest thing you've ever heard and you keep on going."


Son already has to deal with the foolish friends who tell him that he's "big" while they are skinny. Um, yeah, silly ones. His father is 6' 3", you little loonies. His cousins are drafted for pro basketball. Stop trying to make him feel badly for being a developing child. One day you'll strain your neck looking up at him.

I hate to see them getting their feelings hurt over things they have no control over or that simply aren't true but the little tykes are too limited in their world view to know it. I hate to keep telling them their so-called friends are silly and maybe they need to rethink their definition of a friend, or at the very least teach those kids how to treat them - give respect, get respect. Give nonsense, get the back of the head as you walk away. (Fingers together. Let us chant - We will not resort to smacking people. We will not resort to smacking people.) I suspect one day they will say exactly what I said and then we'll have all this politically correct crap to deal with, but I'll be all too happy to show my color then and share with the school admins/parents that my children are my primary concern, not their need to placate everyone.

I am SO glad not to be growing up at this time. The stupidity just flows from old to young to younger to youngest. My son's sensitive nature makes me concerned for him. He internalizes and keeps it there but he still tells me about it - for now. My daughter tends to wear her heart on her sleeve too but her hurt turns to anger and eventually she shakes you off, but all the world will hear her shaking you off. My concern for her is that someone ELSE will get hurt one day.

They tell me these things and I get thrown back to my own childhood every single time. I come back verbally swinging and hand them the bat, but yet trying not to make these things into baggage they will carry one day. I may not be winning that particular battle. But for now, we'll keep on cleaning Daughter's glasses, rubbing Son's eyebrows in the mornings so they lay straight and telling them they are the coolest kids we know - because they are.

Coming to the Finish/Starting Line

It's feels good to finish things. I've got two pressing unfinished projects in my life that I know I will complete eventually. For now, I've allowed myself to be consumed by Village Works and that's OK because there have been lots of things to start and complete there too. It's been funny, though, because out of the three completely sets of jobs we have pressing right now, 2 of them are not complete because of outside forces - one printer screwed up and now we're waiting on the fix so our customers will get their greeting cards before they start singing Auld Lang Syne. The other is one last person waiting to receive their custom puzzle, which seems to be AWOL. Thankfully, we never do just one of anything and a replacement was easy to send off yet again. Still, this particular job was already held up by - you guessed it - issues with the printer, a different one from the one just mentioned above.

Bizzy Girl and I started this year saying it was a do-or-die year. We knew what we wanted to do and simply needed to get ourselves there. We knew what we wanted to earn but it wasn't really about the money just yet. It was about creating the space to have the success we know we can have. She and I teamed up with Graphic Guru and together we planned out the year, month by month, sale by sale, greeting card by greeting card. Even though Graphic Guru had her own budding business, we wanted to work together to help each other - she helped us develop a new line of greeting cards and we took her wherever we went vending and the like. We also needed new greeting card jigsaw puzzles. But first our focus this year would be the website.

It was a do-or-die year, a year of life-altering changes. And now, 23 days away from a new year and 1 project away from wrapping up this season, Bizzy Girl and I took a quick moment to realize it was a very good year.

  • Lots more consistency with our newsletter and special offers.
  • Bizzy Girl's summer program that took her away for months is now no more (but this was also one of our best clients so it's a mixed blessing).
  • We did our first big 2-day expo and met all sorts of great people.
  • Graphic Guru finished the business workshop that Bizzy Girl and I completed some years back and now she's ready to step forward.
  • Graphic Guru also had to lay to rest a marriage that never quite got off the ground and by 2010, she will be literally in a new space ready to breathe again.
  • I don't know yet how many custom jobs we had this year but more than ever before.
  • Did I mention, THE WEBSITE IS REVAMPED AND READY FOR ACTION! This means in 2010, a whole new focus on marketing.

It's all good. Great, even. When we thought about it, we realized we were truly nonstop there from September until now. I've barely written about anything else because I am inhaling and exhaling Village Works. And there is still so much more on our list of things to do. Since we're not yet profitable, you'd think this was really a year to give up. But how can we? We learned we were capable of so much more than we knew or wanted to admit.

Growing a business when you have a family and full-time job is not easy. at. all. If you a super-disciplined person who can stay on course no matter what, you might have some of what you need to get to your goal. But it won't be easy for you either. Sacrifice is a part of this and something or someone gets shortchanged in this process. It may be us not being our healthiest or doing the little things here and there that make us feel good. It may be our kids who, in my case, stay up late a little too much waiting for me to come home to check homework and do all the before-bed rituals because daddy just doesn't do the homework thing. It may be our homes, like Bizzy Girl who has been organizing her office bit by bit for more months (years?) than I care to recall, or mine that still looks like we just moved in a month ago (well, just downstairs which is what everyone sees first). It may be our relationships, which Bizzy Girl isn't really seeking as long as her daughter is young and I can't complain about given how well things flow for Mr. T and me but do we see each other long? Well, his schedule is as much to blame as mine. It could be our jobs but Bizzy Girl and I have been blessed with jobs that we pour ourselves into and when we need to pull back, we have some room to do so. Still, how long can one do that before it's time to figure out a real schedule to balance the job with the business until the business can take over?

Sacrifice is what makes the process take so long for us. We simply aren't willing to take the all big steps we need to at the moment people tell us we need to, at least not all at once. A few late nights for my kids are just golden opportunities to goof off but I won't keep them on the back burner. Sometimes they have to wait. Sometimes the business has to wait. Sometimes I need time to convince Bizzy Girl to just pick up her fears and let's go! Sometimes she has to tell me to slow down. Sometimes the money goes to VWE. Sometimes it goes to our own needs. It's a bus probably riding its brakes a bit too much but we're all going to get their, families, futures, ourselves intact.

I was afraid we might have to make this our last year. Bizzy Girl and I, as different as we are in how we handle things, came out in the same place once again - you ain't seen nothing yet.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

It's All About the Business

I didn't do it. I didn't even try. Well, I WANTED to try so I signed up. But NaNo was a NoGo this year. I didn't write word one. It was all about the VWE website and let me tell you, it was truly all consuming. Calling the company during the day when I could to ask a question here. Logging on to the online support at night to ask a question there. I now have a favorite support person, I have contacted them so much. Her name is Hazel (I really think they are using pseudonyms) and she is on at 6:30 in the morning. Hazel is one smart cookie and the only one I would truly believe if she said there was no way to do something I wanted to do. Everyone else - just about - has proven to me that if they say it's not possible and if I even suspect it might be, then I am right, they are wrong and all I have to do is keep studying the problem. I can think of a least 2 times when someone said I couldn't do something, then as they continued looking for the answer or verifying it with someone else, I figured out the way around it. Yeah. I'm pretty proud of that. If you could see all the button and links and fill-in-the-blanks I had to deal with, you'd be proud of me too and doing the happy dance with like we were Pigpen's long lost cousins. This website project proved one thing for sure - that I am primarily a big picture person. I need to know the details AFTER I know the overall goal. But inside the working of a website template, all you see are details. It's a puzzle with no boxtop to guide you.

Thank God I love puzzles.

You see, our website is powered by StoresOnline. I won't bore you with the details of how we came to work with them but I can tell you this, we do not regret signing up not one little bit. We LOVE it. Now, that being said, it is a TON of work to get your website up with them because after all, unless you pay them to do it (and you can if you have a small fortune), you are the web designer and developer. So you better bring your imagination, your time and your patience or you better not come at all. I didn't watch TV for about 2 weeks during the most intense part of this thing, except to watch Nip/Tuck. Had to keep up with my show. But otherwise, my DVR overfloweth.

The things we can do with this site are more than what you see online right now. Have you seen it? Yeah, baby. I'm plugging away because that site represents about 2 months, late nights, early morning, lunchtime phone calls and loads of juggling my job and my website work to keep it all going because the site had to be done the day before Thanksgiving.

There were way more pictures to find and resize than anticipated. Lots of copy to rewrite because suddenly it just wasn't good enough. Lots of people to solicit for testimonials, which we should have gotten when we first did the jobs for them. (Those are slowly trickling in as we talk to people one on one.)

There was inventory to figure out and math - yes, math - as we worked on the pricing and payment methods. If you can see it, read it, click on it, my hand was in it some kind of way in order for it to be there. Sometimes, there was frustration and hours just doing one seemingly little thing. Sometimes I hummed along checking off one thing after another as the site started to take shape.

Part of the reason I am particularly thrilled with this site is because this was truly sweat equity. The price we paid to have this service was the sweetest ever. And it's far from done on that front because the homepage is not the homepage that will eventually lead you into the site. What I have there now is my own doing because I refused to let my deadline sweep by, but there is a graphic designer working on a special homepage that will allow us to have something a little less busy and a little more visually interesting for people to see. She is a very busy designer, however, with the added skill of teaching and she has been very much in the world of teaching so that my homepage has had to take a backpage until she is free again.

But that's OK. I'm still happy.

And now we have the work of maintaining the site and growing it from there. As we do that, there are more custom jobs we are working on and as we do that, we are finally prioritizing our creation process. Things simply are not as streamlined as I'd like them to be and it's time to get the wrinkles ironed out. I want to say what I mean and mean what I say and drop the stupid added explanations of why we can't do things the way people would like us to. That means Bizzy Girl having some meetings on her free Mondays. That means me better organizing our customer information as new people take us on and others become repeats. That means us taking more risks and even finding out about one risk that's not risky at all. If we get a shot at doing that one, I will happily blog about it and share it with the world.

This year, Bizzy Girl and I said this was a do or die year. Something changed in us and we have been more driven than ever. I suppose we simply aren't going to let things die because it took so much of our life to create it in the first place. And it feels good. The business is picking up and the dream of doing this full-time (aloing with my writing) becomes even more real to me.

And now, I need to get to my office and package up the most recent set of completed puzzles so their owners can get what they have been waiting for. After that, the next round of puzzles wait for me to get them going. Oh, and the church newsletter isn't going to edit itself. Don't I still need to get the greeting card order filled? I need some sleep.

I had a dream that a recent vending event would net us three new custom jobs.
We got three new custom jobs.

I told a friend in her first trimester that she would be having a girl because I wanted that for her.
She told us today that she found out it's a girl. (Yes. She wanted it for herself too.)

If you say it AND believe it AND work for it, it can happen right? Right.