Tagged with " homepost"
Over the past week and a half or so, I’ve had the good fortune to attend two conferences: the first was hosted by the American Advertising Federation’s 4th District and the second by Converge Florida. I’ll be following up later this week with a more in-depth look at both events, but an interesting commonality I found between them was the idea that it’s important (both in life and the workplace) to foster an environment where it’s okay to make mistakes. (Note: Let’s be clear on the fact that it’s not okay to DELIBERATELY make mistakes.)
Ideation is a huge part of what I do and who I am as an individual. My job requires me to be innovative and creative on behalf of my clients and agency, and my inner muse demands the same things from me at home. However, an important part of that innovation/creation process is the realization that not every idea will be perfect, and that that’s okay. If I’m being honest with myself, as someone who has a tendency to be a little OCD, it never feels okay, which means it’s a concept I’m going to have to work to apply.
I think this really hit home for me on Friday during the keynote from Jessie Shternshus, founder of The Improv Effect (which is where I pulled the quote above). As part of her overall discussion, she noted that in order for creative environments to succeed and ideation to occur, the following concepts needed to be understood by the group at-large:
- Don’t be afraid to fail.
- Be self aware and actively listen.
- Mistakes are opportunities for gaining new perspectives.
- Blocking gets you nowhere. (Shutting down another person’s idea isn’t helpful to the brainstorm.)
- Say “yes and…” (Instead of blocking/criticizing a teammate or partner’s idea, take what they’ve shared and add to it to see how you can grow the idea. It says, I liked your idea so much that it inspired me.)
I work in a lot of collaborative environments: at the office, at home and with organizations I volunteer for, and this philosophy of seeing mistakes as gifts, and not being afraid to fail, is a challenge I hope to apply in the days, weeks and months ahead to take my creativity and ideas to the next level.
It may be a scary prospect to share things that are only half-baked, but as Daniel Burka from Google Ventures mentioned in another session, “You may think you’ve got a great idea, but really all you’ve got is an inkling. Until your start building it, you’ve got nothing.”
Oh my god, they’re back again…and I couldn’t be more excited. The Backstreet Boys (prefaced by DJ Pauly) hit Jacksonville by storm last night, and it was amazing. Words can not do justice to the ridiculously good time I had last night with Devon, Tyler and Desi, as we danced our butts off and sang our hearts out to the adrenaline inducing harmonizing of the Backstreet Boys. To make the night even better, we bumped into our friends Kendall and Shannon at the show, effectively turning the concert in a mini-AAF Jacksonville outing.
Things I Learned
- Devon is (and always has been) a Kevin Richardson fan
- Desi likes them all as long as they’re harmonizing (but secretly has a thing for AJ)
- Brian (my fave Backstreet Boy) and Kevin are “cousins from Kentucky.” (Thanks for that random trivia, Desi.) :)
- I really should pick up their latest album – they’ve still got it.
- And apparently, Brian’s son will be following in dad’s footsteps. He kicked off the show by singing Mariah Carey’s Fantasy, and did an AMAZING job.
What were some of your favorite bands/groups from the late 90s early 2000s?
The last couple of weeks have been a little more stressful than usual due to a perfect storm of proposals, projects, and personal stuff. And because I have a tendency to internalize my frustration and stress, this trifecta really took a toll on me both emotionally and physically, and I swiftly found myself running on the dregs of my usually indomitable enthusiasm. But as often happens, I was reminded of a song, which set me on the path to getting myself sorted out again.
Believe it or not, it was actually the chorus from En Vogue’s “Free Your Mind” that went skittering through my thoughts, sending me down a path of introspection about what it means to “free your mind” that helped me get back on track.
I think it’s easy to fall for people to fall into patterns of thought and even easier to move from those patterns into making assumptions about life, the universe and everything. Because your life has a certain ebb and flow, a routine – you take some things for granted, because you experience them every day. They’re a constant, and so they occupy very little of your conscious thought.
Need an example? How many times have you been on the road, lost in thought, and when you become aware of your surroundings again, you found you were much further along or heading in a different location than you last remember? Your mind turned on cruise control, and you were just along for the ride.
Cruise control can sometimes be a handy thing. It allows you to free up and focus your attention on tasks that require more attention to detail, but it can also blind you to some warning signs that you’re heading off in the wrong direction. For me, it wasn’t until Chris called me out for being uncharacteristically negative in a situation where I would have usually responded with empathy that I realized that my pattern of thought for the past month had been taking a more pessimistic bent. And because your brain is trained to pave larger paths to the things you’re thinking most often (it tries to be helpful like that), thinking negative thoughts leads to dwelling on negative thoughts leads to being infused with negativity overall.
Thankfully, once aware of what I was doing it was pretty easy to take steps to “fix” myself. I spent this past weekend convalescing – both physically (I wasn’t kidding when I said the long hours and stress had taken a toll), as well as emotionally. My weekend’s accomplishments included spending time with my family (and niece!), reading two books, and finally playing a game I’ve been dying to get my hands on for months – Ni No Kuni: The Wrath of the White Witch.
The result? After a weekend of focusing on the positive, my spirits are up, I feel better than I have in over a month, and I’m ready to tackle whatever comes my way. After all, at the end of the day, you can either focus on what’s tearing you apart or what’s holding you together. Your attitude and approach are what make all the difference. So friend, this week I challenge you to free your mind. You’ll be glad you did.
My dad, sister and I have a joke about the fact that we think differently than most people. Whereas most people’s thoughts logically progress from Point A to Point B and then to C, D, E and beyond, we’re more like a stone that you’ve skipped across the surface of a pond. While we cross over those same points as everyone else, we only touch the surface every other point or so, which sometimes makes it difficult for others to follow our thought progression. I only mention it because the manner in which tonight’s art project unfolded serves as a real-life example of that process of thought progression come to life.
When it comes to home décor, it’s probably safe to say I have an eclectic sense of style, which probably explains why I’m so drawn to the home accessories (and to be perfectly honest, EVERYTHING else) at Natural Life. I pop into their store semi-frequently and often stalk their social channels and website to check out their latest stuff. One of the things that I’ve really had my eye on lately is the wall art pictured below. (It will be coming home with me soon – it just doesn’t know it yet.)
(In love with this as much as I am? You can get it here.)
Earlier this week, I finished a crochet project (yes, it does occasionally happen). The project stemmed from a pattern for an infinity scarf that I’d “pinned” early last month. Last night, we re-watched the Hunger Games, and I took the opportunity to finish the pattern. It’s teal, of course, in honor of my beloved Jacksonville Jaguars. I’m hoping it will come in handy during some of our winter games, although in Florida, one can never tell how winter weather will be, but I digress.
I also made time to draw a little bit this week and worked up a quick sketch of an owl (only my second ever drawn to-date) with some new Crayola colored pencils I picked up during this time of year’s legendary back-to-school savings. (See, you don’t have to have children of your own in order to get excited. Go running down the aisles and pick out your own BTS stuff. You’ll be glad you did!) :)
But getting back to the subject of this evening’s project, I knew I wanted to do something crafty, but was at a loss for what to do. Then I remembered the rustic print from Natural Life, was inspired by its charming quote, and decided to try my hand at making my own bit of wall art (although narrowing down a single quote to use for the painting was tough).
- Used canvas from an earlier failed art project (you can always recycle them, if things don’t work out!)
- Craft Smart acrylic paints in purple, black, white and neon pink
- Alphabet sponges (picked them up ages ago from the Dollar Tree
- Paint brushes
- Clean palette
- Jar (to hold water to clean my brushes)
- Lots of paper towels (I tend to get paint everywhere.)
- To kick off the project, I grabbed the above-mentioned used canvas and painted a purple base coat over its predecessor.
- While I was waiting for the base coat to dry, I amused myself by making a little nonsense video and posting it to my Instagram account.
- Once the purple coat was dry, I used a rough brush to add a neon pink coat, and before the paint was dry, took another rough brush without paint to texture the surface and blend the two coats.
- Using a small brush, I painted the edges of the canvas black, then splattered white paint across the top of the canvas to add some interest to the purple/pink background.
So what about the quote?
Here’s where we get to the “geek” part of the post. In thinking about what I wanted to place on the canvas, I began reflecting on some of my favorite quotes from movies and books I feel in love with during my childhood. Given the size of the canvas (and my letter stencils), I knew it would have to be something short and to the point.
My favorite quote from Buckaroo Banzai: Across the 8th Dimension, “No matter where you go…there you are.” (A close second would’ve been “Everybody Need See Buckaroo,” but I didn’t think it had the same inter-dimensional appeal, although if you haven’t seen Buckaroo Banzai, you REALLY should.)
“Who is this Buckaroo Banzai?” you ask. Excellent question. The multi-talented Dr. Buckaroo Banzai is a physicist, neurosurgeon, test pilot, and rock musician, who has to save the world by defeating a band of inter-dimensional aliens called Red Lectroids from the Planet 10. The novel and movie fuse the genres of action/adventure with science fiction while weaving in elements of comedy, satire, and romance.
Of course, the story would be incomplete without the Hong Kong Cavaliers, Buckaroo’s trusted team and band (pictured above). They are:
- Rawhide, Buckaroo’s lieutenant who also plays piano.
- Reno Nevada, who plays saxophone.
- Perfect Tommy, who plays rhythm guitar, and is generally accepted to be perfect. (My favorite, btw.)
- Dr. Sidney Zweibel, aka “New Jersey,” a neurosurgeon, and a colleague of Dr. Banzai’s from Columbia. He sings a little, dances and plays piano. (Played by Jeff Goldblum in what I believe to be one of his best roles.)
- Pinky Carruthers, one of Buckaroo’s Blue Blaze Irregulars who also plays bass guitar.
If this description has just confused you more about why you should care, you could always check out the movie’s trailer below (although to be honest, unless you watch the movie, I’m not sure it helps):
And because, I’ve probably kept you long enough – the finished work! I was pretty happy with how it turned out, although if I do another quotes canvas, I’ll likely make some tweaks to the process. It could be fun to do a whole series using my favorite quotes from Moonheart, Lord of the Rings, Doctor Who, Harry Potter and more. Which begs the question, actually, what’s your favorite quote?
I’m going to lead this post off with an assumption (dangerous, I know) that I’m not the only one who occasionally googles my name to see what comes up in the search results. I was doing that very thing this evening and was dismayed by the results. On pages 2 and 3 of the results, I found a string of Internet orphans – blogs and websites I’d abandoned (some which had been dormant since 2004).
A deeper dive into the results showed a total of four blogs that had been lost to time (posts covered topics like fitness, my creative writing program at FSU and preparing for my wedding), as well as a poetry site I’d set up during my senior year in high school (there were some embarrassing gems on that site, let me tell you). The evening’s scavenger hunt yielded an important lesson and reminder, that just like the real world, it’s a good idea to do a thorough scrub of your online presence every once in awhile.
I’ve been a ravenous consumer of online content since the ripe old age of thirteen (bringing us back to 1998 if you’re keeping score), which has given me more time than I care to think about to grow my digital footprint. Couple that time spent online with the natural pull I felt to social applications on the Internet, and that leaves an impressive wake of old data lying around the interwebs for anyone to find.
So what did I do with the Internet orphans who’d found their way into my search results? I welcomed them back home, which ended up being no easy feat. Each of the blogs that I’d created were keyed to a different email address with passwords long forgotten. Though it took me awhile to crack my past self, I eventually came up with the passwords for each of the sites, and promptly archived old posts to my computer for safekeeping. From there, the blogs were deleted one by one.
The poetry site I stumbled across ended up being a tougher nut to crack. As I mentioned, my profile/site within the site was created back in 2002, and the email and corresponding password used to set them up were no longer in existence. Couple that with the fact that this site was built before “recover your password” prompts, and I was in a serious pickle. After ten minutes of fruitless password combinations, I blanked my mind in an attempt to let the old password float to the top of my thoughts. I’m happy to report that my jedi mind trick worked, and I was able to remember the old code. After backing up 51 poems (most of which I fervently hope never resurface), I promptly deleted my profile.
The whole experience tonight actually ended up reminding me of an article I read back in 2011 about protecting your digital afterlife. While it sounds a little macabre, your online presence could very well outlive your corporeal existence (sometimes to you or your family’s detriment) unless you take steps to be a better steward of your digital self and assets. Thankfully in my case, it just ended up being an interesting (and occasionally embarrassing) trip down memory lane.
Have I inspired you to do your own digital excavation? I’d love to hear about what you uncover!
As a serial animal rescuer, the issue of animal welfare in the Jacksonville community is very near and dear to my heart (just ask Jackie, TicTac, Pixel, Aries, Sushi or Kyo – they’ll back me up). I’m a strong supporter of the Jacksonville Humane Society and First Coast No More Homeless Pets (and their support of Animal Care & Protective Services), and thankful for their efforts to move Jacksonville toward the goal of being a no-kill community by 2014.
Through their dedication and efforts, Jacksonville has made huge strides toward becoming a no-kill community over the past few years. In November of last year, we achieved a no-kill rate of 92% – a huge milestone for our local animal welfare community. However, with recently proposed budget cuts to Jacksonville Animal Control & Protective Services (JACPS), that forward progress is at risk.
Our local non-profits, such as the Jacksonville Humane Society and First Coast No More Homeless Pets, are already subsidizing JACPS, and they cannot afford to increase that subsidy. A couple of quick facts to chew on:
- Over the last five years, the JACPS budget has been cut in half. Under the proposed budget cuts, JACPS will no longer accept animals from people who want or need to surrender their pets or strays that are brought in off the streets.
- Animals will have 14 days to get out of the shelter alive before being euthanized, which will result in approximately 3,000 additional animals being killed each year.
- Due to proposed staff cuts, up to 900 animal control complaints will go unanswered each month, which will result in an increase of free-roaming animals and would threaten public safety.
Additional Issues to Consider:
The Jacksonville community’s efforts of becoming a no-kill city would not be possible without generous grants provided by organizations like Best Friends Animal Society. Between grants to JHS and FCNMHP respectively, Best Friends provided over a half a million dollars to our city this year. However, in order to continue receiving those sources of funding, we as a city have to show that we’re committed to providing our own financial support to the cause. It’s likely that additional budget cuts will result in the loss of these funding source in addition to the proposed cuts. (Get more information about the grants from Best Friends Animal Society here.)
Jacksonville also has one of the lowest per capita budgets for animal welfare in Florida (even though we’re the largest city in the state). We allocate just over $3 per resident annually toward animal welfare services. Other cities in Florida allocate $5-6 per resident. (National averages fall somewhere in the $5-8 range.)
How You Can Help
Turn Facebook Orange. Head over the Jacksonville Humane Society’s Facebook page and download the “Save Our Shelters” profile image and cover photo to add to your personal Facebook profile. (I added the following cover photo to my personal FB profile and the Facebook page I created for the blog.)
Sign the Petition. Head over to First Coast No More Homeless Pets’ webpage devoted to the “Save Our Shelter” initiative to download the petition. Pass it around to friends, families and neighbors.
Wear orange on August 22nd. The financial committee meeting is slated to take place at approximately 10:30 a.m. on August 22nd (JACPS is slated to be 7th on the agenda. If you can attend, AWESOME. Wear orange, make a sign, and come join the crowd of local animal supporters. (You can find event details here.) If you can’t attend, still wear orange and share your photos on the City of Jacksonville Facebook page, so that city leaders know you support animal welfare.
“Like” the Save Our Shelter Jacksonville Facebook page. Supporters of Animal Care & Protective Services have created a Facebook page to help share information about the proposed budget cuts. You can “like” them here.
Spread the word! Send an email/letter to our city council members. Share information about the “Save Our Shelter” initiative on your social media channels. Email friends and family to let them know that our local animals are at risk.
Thanks everyone! You rock!
Rays of sunlight
gently awaken the sleeping vixen
from her den of sensuous slumber.
Slowly opening azure eyes,
she gazes upon the being
that so utterly transported her-
holding her hostage in that
primal realm of desire and lust.
Capturing the moment,
stealthly fragments of sunshine
skitter across the sheets
highlighting the golden hues
of her love’s silken locks.
A whisper of sound
across the room.
splash of color
splatters across the wall,
sharp gleaming contrast
against stark white paint.
Tendrils of light illuminate
cold, handsome features
of her torpid bedfellow,
revealing the passionate mouth,
all too eager to tease her
into sweet submission
the night before.
An irritated sigh escapes rosebud lips.
What a waste, she thinks,
silently wiping his blood
from her face and fingers.
– Summer of 2005
From elementary through high school, I was one of “those kids” who actually enjoyed our summer assigned reading. One of my absolute favorite parts of summer was curling up in a sunny spot and racing through story after marvelous story.
In keeping with that reading list tradition, I try to always keep a short list of books/series I’m interested in and would like to read/re-read. Having a list comes in really handy when you consider the fact that I work right next to a library and used book store, although despite my best efforts, I never seem to keep up with said list as often the simple act of walking through either place adds a dozen or more titles. I’ve included some of the titles on my summer reading list below. What books are in your “To Read” pile?
Owlflight series (part of the Valdemar series) by Mercedes Lackey & Larry Dixon:
The Mortal Instruments Series by Cassandra Clare:
City of Bones
City of Ashes
City of Glass
City of Fallen Angels
City of Lost Souls
- Clockwork Angel
- Clockwork Prince
- Clockwork Princess
The Grey Wolves Series by Quinn Loftis:
Prince of Wolves
Just One Drop
Out of the Dark
Beyond the Veil
Fate and Fury
The Maze Runner series by James Dashner:
- The Maze Runner
- The Scorch Trials
- The Death Cure
Grey Griffins Series by Derek Benz & J.S. Lewis
The Revenge of the Shadow King
- The Rise of the Black Wolf
- The Fall of the Templar
J. R. R. Tolkien
Alaya Dawn Johnson
Back at the beginning of the year, I put together a list of goals I’d like to accomplish in 2013. Not resolutions per say, because I still feel as though that term has negative connotations, but rather a list of activities that I thought it’d be fun to tackle throughout the year. I’ve made a headway on that list, but one of the items featured (the first one, in fact) was the goal of running a half marathon – something that’s been on my life ambitions list for awhile now.
When I was in junior high, I ran cross country (even though my team was too small to officially compete) to get ready for basketball season. During the conditioning process, I hated my daily five-mile runs with a passion, but always ended up feeling grateful once basketball practice started, and I didn’t feel like I was going to toss my cookies after running bleachers or grueling set after grueling set of wind sprints.
Flash forward to grad school, where I met one of my future besties, Emily, who’d actually gotten a running scholarship for her undergraduate program. She and I immediately hit it off, and it was she who insisted that I run a 5k with her when I mentioned that I’d never participated in any races after junior high. Our first race was the Tallahassee Run for the Cookies 5k benefiting the local Girl Scouts chapter in March of 2008, and I remember feeling both exhilarated and horrifically out of shape. That race (and my impending wedding) led to a series of an additional four races: the Gate River Run (15K), the Minnie Marathon (15k), the Outback Distance Classic (6k), and the Gator Bowl 5k.
Prior to running the Gator Bowl 5k in 2008, I got injured (strained/pulled my hamstring) which made training really difficult. 2009 was a whirlwind year with our wedding, moving to St. Augustine, Chris graduating from grad school and me getting my first job in the advertising industry. Long drives into the office (at least an hour each way) made it hard to stay motivated to either get up early or stay up late to run, and I got really discouraged. However, I continued to muscle through and have been running intermittently since 2010, but it seems like every time I gain momentum, something happens – either I get injured (thanks old sports injuries) or life gets crazy in general.
In January of this year, I was tired of the excuses and decided to make tackling a half marathon (the first step of my ultimate of goal of running a full marathon) a goal for this year. I’ve been asked “why” more than a few times when I mention my goal of running a half marathon, and struggle every time not to respond flippantly with “why not?”
The truth of the matter goes so much further beyond that. Back in 2007/2008, I was battling some pretty hardcore depression. Not going to air the reasons for it in this post, but let’s just say that something I’d been battling most of my life was finally getting resolved, and the process of purging that particular negativity from my life was wreaking havoc on my sanity. My nerves were hanging by a thread, I’d been to counseling which had only succeeded in exacerbating the problem, and I was finally referred to a doctor. He prescribed some medication that made me lethargic and apathetic, and after three weeks of being blah-incarnate, I decided that I had to find an alternative approach to “curing” my depression. Enter running.
2008 was a transformative year for me once I got back into running mostly because there’s something almost meditative about running that helps you focus on the here and now – the rhythm of your breathing, the cadence of your footsteps, the music pumping through your headphones – it all helps you tune out to the stress of your daily routine, and find your zen. It may sound a little new-agey (cue Imagine Dragon’s “Radioactive), but it’s true.
As with most exercise, the worst part is always getting started. Training for me is always pure misery until I work up to running a 5k. Once I’m able to run a 5k without feeling like a snail, I tackle 5 miles, and then while adding miles after that isn’t what I’d call easy, it’s manageable. The half marathon I’ve set my sights on is the Subaru Distance Classic (formerly the Outback Distance Classic), which takes place every year on Thanksgiving. To help keep me motivated and on target, Chris and I have signed up for the Run Jax Labor Day 3.5 Mile, which we’ll likely follow-up with the Pumpkin Run 10 Mile. To get us up to 5k condition, we’re following the Couch to 5k plan, but will be transitioning to Hal Higdon’s Half Marathon Novice 1 Plan after the Labor Day Race.
Every now and again, I’ll check in on the blog with my progress – using tools like Nike+ and my new FitBit Flex. In the meantime, I’d like to know what races or fitness plans you’re planning to tackle, if any, or what you do to help you find your zen. Let me know in the comments below!
And until next time, Carpe Viem (Seize the Road!)
With the hard decision (choosing a landscaper) behind us, Chris and I moved quickly into the next stage – finalizing our design. After a couple of text and email conversations, we set a date to meet the guys from Horizon Landscaping of Jacksonville at a local nursery to make some final decisions on plant selections.
Question to answer during our trip to the nursery:
- Podocarpus (yew) or osmanthus (tea olives) to add height to our front beds? Tea Olives
- Color variation/height of liriope? Dark green (no accent color) / medium height
- Color and quantity of drift roses? Coral / Six
- Boxwoods or burford holly for the back hedges? Burford Holly (I hate boxwoods.)
- Dusty millers as the second plant to co-mingle with the caladiums for the new tree beds? Yes, if available. If not, white caladiums.
- Preference on mulch type? Pine bark
- Espalier magnolia – yay or nay? Yes, please!
From there, we just needed to get a date on the calendar. Summer is a pretty busy time of year to get your yard landscaped (go figure), so we had to set the date a few weeks out. After a little bit of back and forth, we settled on July 12 as our big day. Brian, from Horizon, asked that one of us plan to be available during that day so that they could mock up where the plants would be located after installation and get approval before going through the effort of digging all the holes. I told Brian I would plan to work from home that day, since between Chris and me, I was the one most likely to have a strong opinion on placement (surprised, am I right?) ;)
On July 12, Brian and his crew showed up at 7:30 and wasted no time in getting to work. They had sod, soil and plants unloaded faster than I could say, “Good morning! Thanks for coming . We’ve got water and gatorade in the pink cooler for you guys if you get thirsty.” Seriously, Brian’s crew moves quick!
Before we move into the shot-by-shot before and after photo montage, I’d like to remind you of how our yard looked before. Not a very welcoming look as you approach the front door, right?
Before I knew what had happened, Horizon had completely ripped out the random plant life that had been such an eyesore, leveled out the bed and added soil to prep it for its new inhabitants.
When it came time to clear out the right front bed, Brian and his team actually added some subtle interest to the layout by adding rounded edges and curvature to the bed, with awesome results.
The guys also dug out brand new plant beds around the two trees in my main yard, and that’s when we hit the one minor hitch. Apparently July is not a great time to be planting dusty millers, and the nursery was out of white caladiums, which bummed me out because I really did want a white plant of some sort to offset the bright pinks and reds of the caladiums. Thankfully Brian came to the rescue with the recommendation of adding white pintas, which I ended up LOVING.
Chris and I got pretty lucky that our scheduled day ended up when it did – Horizon was able to send two teams to our yard, so the project moved really quickly. While one team was working on digging out the beds and getting their new occupants arranged, another crew was mapping out which areas of our front lawn could keep their sod, and which areas would need to be dug out and the sod replaced.
From start to finish, it only took Horizon four and half hours to complete our lawn makeover. I was floored when Brian knocked on the door to let me know that everything was set. (They’d even adjusted the spray setting on my sprinkler system and raised the height of my flower bed sprayers to ensure each plant got proper coverage.)
To say I was thrilled with the results of our lawn makeover is an understatement. Horizon’s team did a great job, and compliments from our neighbors are still pouring in more than a week later, so I’d like to give a shout out again to Brian and his team for being awesome, and to Tyler and Jules (The Boys From Cherry Street) for passing them on as a recommendation.
What yard projects are you planning to tackle this summer?