List 3: Music My Kids Must Experience

Music My Kids Must Experience

When I think back about the things that have impacted my life, it’s kind of weird to say that music is right up there.  Many of life’s important occasions, whether it be my wedding or celebrating my daughter’s birthday are punctuated by very distinctive background music.  There are also certain bands and songs that take me right back to a specific time and place.  Like when I listen to Rusted Root, I’m immediately transported back to the summer of 2001, riding around town in my best friend’s Jeep.

Growing up, I was surrounded by music.  My dad used to sing me to sleep every night and Sunday afternoons were fully devoted to dance parties where we would blast Supertramp and Lionel Richie and then calm things down with some Simon & Garfunkel or James Taylor.  It was amazing and looking back now, I realize how lucky and blessed I was to have such a rich, lovely childhood.

Now that I have children of my own, there are certain things that I want to pass on to them and one of those things is a love of music.  I definitely wouldn’t consider myself to be a music snob – I actually feel like all types of music have a place in this world.  My musical mentality tends to lean more towards the “If it feels good, listen to it”, hence why I like to listen to a little bit of everything.  Life is just too short to listen to music that you don’t love.

So today’s list focuses on the music that I love and that I want my children to experience.  The list is by no means a rundown of the greatest musical acts in history (although some of the best are assuredly on this list) and it is in no way shape or form a complete or finished list.  This list is more a compilation of the soundtracks that have helped shape my life.  If these musicians can help to shape the lives of my kids too, then that’s one more link that we’ll have and I’ll have passed something delightful on.

List #3: Music My Kids Must Experience:

Illustrated list of great music

  • The Beatles
  • Elton John
  • Bob Dylan
  • Beethoven/Mozart/Chopin/Hayden/Bach/Debussy…Classical Music
  • Carole King
  • Sublime
  • Rolling Stones
  • Louis Armstrong
  • Cake
  • Aerosmith
  • Garth Brooks
  • The Eagles
  • Chicago
  • Supertramp
  • Billy Joel
  • Elvis
  • The Temptations
  • Billie Holiday
  • Black Sabbath
  • Jim Croce
  • James Taylor
  • CCR
  • Johnny Cash
  • Radiohead
  • Dave Matthews Band
  • John Mayer
  • Taylor Swift
  • ACDC
  • Sting
  • Blues Traveler
  • Hootie & The Blowfish
  • Britney Spears
  • Eric Clapton
  • Al Green
  • Queen
  • Pink Floyd
  • Janis Joplin
  • Jimi Hendrix
  • Van Morrison
  • Paul Simon
  • Madonna
  • Michael Jackson
  • Smokey Robinson
  • The Who
  • Rusted Root
  • U2
  • Marvin Gaye
  • Stevie Wonder
  • Led Zeppelin
  • The Beach Boys
  • Weezer
  • Bob Marley
  • Ray Charles
  • Aretha Franklin
  • James Brown
  • Lady Gaga
  • Andrew Lloyd Webber
  • The Supremes
  • Journey

List 2: My Business Goals

Business Goals List

I’m just going to put this out there – posting your business goals out there for everyone to see is ridiculously scary.  Once it’s out there, it just feels so permanent and so public that if you accomplish anything less, you’re going to be considered a failure.  It’s almost one of those things that you want to throw out a softball for just so that you can have a nice, tidy little public victory.

But here’s the thing – no one ever accomplished big things by setting small goals.  Yes, small, achievable goals will get you someplace in the end, but it’s not going to generate the powerful motion you need to make a real sea change in your business or in your life.  If you want to make big changes, you’ve got to set some big goals, and that’s what I’m doing with my second list.  This list is all about the things that I want to accomplish for Pink Bulldog by the end of 2014.  Some of these goals are more achievable than others, but they are all important to me making a big change for my life.

List #2: My Business Goals for 2014:

Business Goals list

Pardon the handwriting (and the doodles).  If you don’t want to take the time to make sense out of my messy handwriting, here’s what it says:

  • Create at least 100 high-quality graphic prints
  • Set up a website and a blog where I post at least 4 times per week
  • Launch an Etsy shop
  • Grow website traffic to at least 1,000 uniques per month
  • Generate at least $1,000 in sales per month (1st tier of success)
  • Launch social media for Pink Bulldog to help support/drive traffic
  • Create a brand and business that I am proud of and that my family will respect

Like I said, it’s not going to be easy and it’s going to take time, but I also think that with the right level of commitment, it’s all totally doable.  Watch for List #3 coming at you tomorrow!

List 1: Things I Love About My Husband

List 1

So for those who don’t know my husband (and let’s face it, most of you don’t know my husband), he’s kind of amazing.  When I tell people that I am a lucky woman, I’m one of those people who mean it with all sincerity because he’s one of those guys who you want in your corner every time.

Now I’m not saying that there aren’t things that drive me crazy about him.  You just can’t be in a real relationship and be married for any length of time and be 100% enamored with your spouse all the time.  Believe me when I tell you that I could do a list just of the things that drive me crazy, but because I like to think of myself as a positive person and because it is our anniversary (5 years today!), I’m going to take the high road and my first list in my 30 Lists in 30 Days Challenge is all about Mike.

And while it seems like an unnecessary step, I’m also going to write each list out by hand.  I know it seems a little stupid, but I feel like it makes it more personal for some reason to see my handwriting there.

And so, without further ado, here is List #1: Things I Love About My Husband:

Written list - Day 1

For those who can’t read my chicken scratches, here’s the typed version:

  • His laugh – literally the most infectious thing you’ll ever hear
  • The way he adores his babies.  BestDadEver.
  • The way he cooks dinner, and lunch, and breakfast.  So good!
  • The way everyone drives him crazy, but his heart is so big, he can’t help but be nice.
  • His brain.  He’s a really smart guy.
  • How hard he works.  He’s a guy who can’t help caring and he works really hard.
  • He’s open to adventures and new things – it’s so much fun to try new things with him.
  • That he claims he doesn’t like snuggling, but I know he secretly likes it a lot.
  • The fact that he’s an adult, but he still knows how to play.

There are many, many more things I could have added to this list, but that could end up being a really long post.  In closing, I’d just like to say thank you to my awesome hunk of man – you are the best partner a girl could ask for.

Mike and Sara

Happy Anniversary!!!

30 Lists in 30 Days

30 lists in 30 days

I know that I have a lot of work to do to get this blog up and running the way I would like.  The thing is, I know it’s not going to grow overnight and I know it’s not going to happen if I don’t put the time in, so I wanted to jump back in with kind of a fun project that I think will help me form some really good writing habits.  Starting tomorrow, I’m going to be embarking on my 30 Lists in 30 Days challenge.

The lists will be about any and everything and some will be personal in nature, while others might have more of a business or artsy slant.  The point is, I’m going to be publishing something every day for the next 30 days and I’m really excited about it.

Why lists?

Why not?  Lists are awesome and they serve my personal (and human) need to categorize and make sense out of this chaotic world.  Plus, I just really like making lists, so it’s an easy and fun way for me to get in the habit of publishing something every day.

Why 30 Days?

They say it takes 28 days for an action to become habitual, so it would reason that if I can write and publish consistently for 30 days in a row, it should become an ongoing habit, which would be great.  One of the issues I think I have is that I tend to worry so much that the quality is not up to par that I stop myself short of posting something or I hold myself back from actually launching an online shop.  Committing to a 30-day goal should help me overcome some of those hurdles.

So wish me luck as I embark on my latest challenge – this is one I’m looking forward to!

Productivity – Or how not to be a lazy piece of crap

I’ll admit it – I love me some TV watching.  I love plopping down on the couch, snuggling down in a blanket and vegging out for hours on end.  I love Netflix binging and I love watching whatever schlock we have taking up space on our DVR.  I love all kinds of TV too – sitcoms, dramas, histories, biographies, dog shows and even a little reality TV from time to time.  I am well aware that television and reality TV in particular is rotting my brain, but there is something about the fact that I can check my brain at the door that I just love.

Now that I have started this post with what amounts to a love letter to television, I understand that I may not be the best person to be giving advice about productivity.  The thing is, it’s because I’m constantly walking the line between accomplishing what I set out to do and slipping into the abyss of time-wasting that make me the absolute right person to give this kind of advice.  So with a better understanding of where I’m coming from, here are a few things that help me get the job done:

1. Make a plan

I’ve said it before, a to do list is your friend!  If you start each day with a clear vision of what you hope to accomplish, you will be so much more likely to make it happen.  There is no way you can live a productive life if you don’t know what you’re working towards and your to do list helps give your day direction.

2. Develop a routine

I consider myself  fairly “go with the flow” type of gal.  That being said, with two kids under the age of 2, I wouldn’t get anywhere if I didn’t have some sort of a routine.  I’ve got our morning routine down to a science so that I can have myself and both the girls dressed, fed and out the door in about 45 minutes.  If I didn’t have a routine to follow, we’d be all over the place and it would probably take me twice as long.  Routines take the guesswork out of your day and they really do save time, not to mention that having a good routine is pretty much essential when you’re raising children.

3. Embrace the art of multi-tasking

This is one that it took me awhile to learn and I would say that I’ve only gotten good at this fairly recently.  Multi-tasking is this amazing little thing that allows you to accomplish multiple things at once and then at the end of it, you get to cross a whole bunch of crap off your to do list.  Kind of amazing-face.  My favorite things to multi-task on usually involve our almost 2-year old, Adele.  I’ll clear the dishwasher and throw in a load of laundry while we’re practicing her ABC’s.  Or we’ll pick up toys while the cookies are baking.  Whatever it is, killing two birds with one stone always feels great.

4. Treat yo’ self

This one is such an important motivational technique for me.  Sometimes I literally have to bribe myself to get things done.  It sounds kind of lame, but it works for me.  For example, I’ll tell myself that I can watch an episode of Top Chef after I clean the kitchen and if I fold the laundry while I’m watching.  Or I can have a Diet Coke after I vacuum and dust the living room.  I fully understand that it seems silly to have to bribe oneself to do what needs to be done, but honestly, these rewards are one of the biggest reasons I get anything done at all.

5. Eyes on the prize

When it comes down to it, the art of productivity boils down to desire.  What do you want more?  Do you want to lay on the couch and do absolutely nothing from the time you get off work to the time you go to bed?  Or do you want to actually do something with your time?  What kind of person do you want to be?  Do you want to be a person who is content just biding their time, or do you want to be the kind of person who is out there creating something amazing and making connections.  Keep your eyes on the prize and know what you want and it will help you make the decision to veg or not to veg so much easier.

Is there anything new to create?

In the immortal words of the Barenaked Ladies, “Woo hoo hoo.  It’s all been done before.”  Whether or not that is actually true, I’m not sure, but I found myself thinking today about the uniqueness and individuality of creative works.  Most of the time I find that when I look at a piece of art or listen to a song, it all seems so familiar.  Like I’ve already seen it or heard it even if it’s something entirely new to me.  And that familiarity led me to the question, “Is there anything new left to create?”

I mean, have we tapped the limit of what is left to be new and different?  After all, there are only so many colors in the spectrum and notes in the scale.  Is there a limit to the combinations of what we as human beings can put together?

There is a really cool theory that was first put out there by Carl Jung called the Collective Unconscious.  The basic gist is that all the experiences and everything that is created and put into the world become part of the collective unconscious of our species.  The effect is that even if we have not had any direct experience with a particular song or story or piece of art, the fact that it is out there and we are human means that we are connected to it in some way, shape or form.  Because something exists, it is innately a part of who we are and will influence how we think and thus influence how and what we create.  And if that is truly the case, then we are all impacted by what came before us and doesn’t that mean that nothing is truly unique?

Now I don’t know if I buy into the idea of a Collective Universal Unconscious, but I do believe that everything we see, hear, feel and experience stays with us.  Even if you don’t consciously think about it, that experience is cataloged and stored somewhere in your brain and will influence what you do and create.  And I’m not sure that’s a bad thing.  I think that the things that resonate most deeply with us usually have an air of familiarity.  It may bear a new and unique twist on an old idea or concept, but it’s grounded in something that we can relate to and can innately understand.

So I guess what I’m saying is that I don’t believe that anyone can create something that is 100% new and different.  To an extent, everything truly has been done before.  What we can do is take what’s been done before and add our own personal influence.  We can take our own experiences to change the outcome of the creation and make it our own.  The fact that it is still connected to what has come before shouldn’t be a reason not to put something out there.  The connections and similarities in our art just reaffirms that we truly are all connected.

These words of advice will make you want to keep going

Ira Glass, the This American Life presenter had some powerful things to say about pushing through the creative barrier and how long it takes.  Photographer Daniel Sax was so inspired by what Ira had to say that he created a rather remarkable video to showcase Ira’s words of advice against his own medium.  All in all, it took him a full year to develop the concept, film and upload the video and I for one, absolutely love the result.  Bottom line: if you think you’re not good enough, or are struggling to get to the next level, watch this:

Pretty powerful stuff, huh?  I feel like this is a message that applies not just to creative people, but to anyone who is just starting something and trying to get to the next level.  Feelings of inadequacy and of not being on the same level as others bog most of us down at one time or another, but it’s so important to realize that success does not come overnight for anyone.  Persistence and hard work is the key to making it in any industry.

5 Ways to Find the Inspiration

So I’ll be the first to admit that occasionally (quite often), I’m at a loss for what to write or what to create.  Sometimes the blank page just stares back at me and it’s like it’s crying out for me to do something, but I’ve got absolutely nothing to give.  I think everyone goes through this and it is incredibly frustrating.  So here are 5 quick ways to get inspired if you’re feeling creatively challenged:

1. Change your scenery

If you’re stuck in a rut, one of the best things you can do is go someplace new.  Go for a walk outside, go watch people at the mall (but don’t be creepy about it), go to a park and swing for awhile.  I swear it’ll improve your mood and you’ll probably get some fresh ideas just by moving to a new location.

2. Change your perspective

This one is something that I’ve tried and it can be so much fun if you let it.  What you do is you put yourself in the shoes of someone or something else to see what the world looks like through their eyes.  For instance, if you have a dog, try looking at the world for his perspective for a few hours.  How much does the home you see every day change when you’re looking at it from a new perspective?  Just getting a new angle on the everyday can easily start that creative spark.

3. Play that funky music

…white boy.  Just kidding, but in all reality, music can be so inspirational and can impact your mood in a major way.  If you’ve been playing the same old tracks over and over, change it up.  Listen to a genre or an artist that isn’t really up your alley.  If you’re into the emo scene, maybe try a little old school jazz, or if you are a classical buff, put on a some classic ACDC and rock out for awhile.  You may find that you still don’t really like jumping into a totally new genre, but then again, you may surprise yourself.

4. R.E.A.D.

Ok, I really didn’t need to put the periods in there, but I think it is so important that reading deserves to be bolded and capitalized.  If your inspiration has run dry, go read something.  Read a blog, comb through Reddit, read some inspirational quotes.  Even better, hop on Wikipedia and read about the lives of creative, successful people.  While reading isn’t overly visually stimulating, it’ll get your brain moving and thinking in a different way, which is just as important.

5. Frame it up

There is this scene in the movie Sabrina (the one with Harrison Ford and Julia Ormand) where Sabrina is talking about why she loves taking pictures.  She explains that when you look at something through a lens, you constantly find yourself in the middle of a story.  For instance, if you frame up a lighthouse, you could find yourself asking, “What kind of a man takes a job in a lighthouse?”  When you look through a camera lens, it automatically puts you in an open frame of mind because you are actively trying to see the world around you.  So often these days, we’re completely absorbed by our technology or our busy schedules that just taking the time to open your eyes can give you all the inspiration you’ll ever need.

 

Snow Day Productivity

So today did not go as planned.  It wasn’t a bad day at all, it just ended up being completely different than I thought it was going to be.  First of all, school was cancelled due to the snow and so daycare was closed as well.  This meant I was home with the girls today, which was kind of a fantastic Wednesday surprise.  I was looking forward to spending some time snuggling and dancing and just hanging out.  I was also looking forward to spending some time finishing some new prints and moving closer to launching my shop on Etsy.

Then the laundry beckoned.  And the dishes.  And my 3 month-old’s closet, which I’ve been meaning to update for at least 3 weeks.  So instead of working on my little business, I did the laundry and I did the dishes and I reorganized Everly’s closet.  It wasn’t quite as rewarding and I still wish I would have found time to knock out a few prints, but the upside is that the house is in good shape and I got to spend the day dancing and cuddling and bonding with these cutie pies:

Little Diva Adele (she totally posed like this on her own):

Diva Adele

 

Mini-diva Everly, who fell asleep in the bumbo at dinner:

baby asleep in bumbo

 

And Manny, our bulldog and company mascot:

Bulldog napping

So I guess the moral of the story is that while I didn’t get everything done that I wanted to, I did get a lot of important things accomplished.  And even better than that, I got to spend some quality time with some important people.

Daily Inspiration – Grecian Blue

Today’s inspiration comes courtesy of  my dad, Dave.  He took this shot a couple of years ago while he and my mom were on a cruise in the Mediterranean.  This particular image was shot on the Greek island of Santorini and if you’ve seen pictures of Santorini before or if you’re lucky enough to have traveled there personally, you’ll instantly recognize the white and blue color scheme.

Maybe it’s because it’s snowy and cold here in Nebraska today or maybe it’s just because I love the colors in this picture so much, but this is one of those images that really resonates with me.  From the detail of the old, broken-down boat to the wide expanse of blue sea, the image is bursting with energy.  Just looking out over the horizon into the water makes me feel like there is a world of possibility and opportunity.  Thanks for the inspiration dad!