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Summerfestive

Every year, we are lucky enough to have the Summerfest family festival explode in our front yard. This year’s theme was Cruisin’ Back to the 50’s. Booth owners (non-prof) all try to outdo each other with their themed decorations.

 

My husband and I were asked by the lady running the show to help hang ten original concert posters in a storefront window. And he to stage manage Friday night at the main stage. We’d do anything for Sue.

There’s fire engine rides and bouncy rides and pony rides. Three different stages, a sand sculpture and play area, and plenty of food and political parties hawking their candidates. Plus cool old cars and fireworks to cap off the end of the festivities Saturday night. All of which I can hear and see from my house here on the Green.

 

The weather was so incredibly mild this year that the attendance was actually down. And on Sunday, Ms. Sue comes knocking on our door for a cup of Joe and retrieves my child. It’s his yearly job to destroy the sand sculpture before the backhoe gets there. And we got fresh free sand for the sandbox.

So on Sunday, Fiona and Eamon and I hung out on the now emptied Green and played with sidewalk chalk and climbed trees. It was a lovely weekend in the neighborhood. It was Summerfestive.

My First Ask : 50 Asks Project

I endeavored to make a list of life and blog goals this year, here and here. And consequently, I was kickin’ some creative butt in the early months of this year. There was the We Are The Contributors project and the painted Rocking Chair. I took a branding course and planned my attendance to the Blog U ’14 Conference. Plus all the lovely little Instagram challenges and relationship I was creating, I was happy and happening.

vintage cigar boxes and farmer's market flowers for My First Ask on Shalavee.com

But the one goal I wrote down privately that I’ve been very keenly aware I have not even begun to achieve is my desire to increase my blog readership by 100 people by July. Now I know that people read stuff online in a myriad of ways. And the subscription number is not an accurate reflection of how many people are actually reading. But fiddle faddle, a goal is a goal. And by golly, with the power of my 50 Asks project driving me, I am ready to ask for what I need.

My First Ask is of you dear readership,

Please help me reach my goal of 100 readers by July 1st.

Share me and encourage others to read my heartfelt well intentioned blog posts.

People can unsubsribe at any time. Just not until I’ve reached 100, OK?  I had never asked for anything here until last October when, while I was putting on a month’s straight of consecutive posts, I found out I was entered into the Circle of Mom’s top 25 Mommy bloggers that blog about family life contest. Craziness. And I asked and asked for support, unsure if anyone really cared at all about me. And I ended up in like 35th place. I was more thrilled people showed up for me daily. And at one point I said, it’s all good people, you can stop voting if you want because I am just glad to know I am loved by so many. That knowledge made the stress entirely worth it to me.

Charlie Fisher-Price floats in his boat from Shalavee.com

Now I would like to increase my numbers to create an online resume of a sort. That if I am perused by someone looking to offer me a job opportunity or a future book deal because it seems that a lot of people get what I’m about, well than good for me. And when I do decide to author a book, which seems like one of those inevitabilities, then my readership will already know it’s coming. Discounted advanced sales !!

Nostalgia and #RaggedyAnn from Shalavee.com

I have an immensely hard time asking for help. Asking you to like me and friend me and follow me is excruciating. So help me make it easier to do this and show me I’ve had nothing to worry about so I’ll wonder what took me so long. Enter your email address in the sign up box to the right to receive my tri-weekly (that’s Monday, Wednesday, and Friday of every week) posts of varying inspirational and entertainment values. And ask your friends to do the same. Pretty Please with sugar on top.

If you enjoyed what you read, subscribe, via the subscription box in the sidebar, to my thrice weekly posts via your emailbox. And visit me on Instagram to see my daily pictures, friend me or like my page on Facebook. Or come find me on Twitter or Pinterest too. I am always practicing Intentional Intouchness so chat at me please. I live for conversations.

And, as always, Thanks to you for your visit.

Blog University Conference ’14

Back in January, a friend sent me a link to a blog university conference ’14 happening in Baltimore in June. There was really no way I could say no. It was in my hometown so I could drive there. And I have done a lot of talking about moving onwards, making the blog more of a career and professional endeavor and less of a personal whatever sort of blog. So this conference would be just the right choice to make towards that goal, right? Expectations will mess you up people.

Comfort Inn room for Blog U on Shalavee.com

I chose to sleep at a hotel instead of bunking in the dorms. I had expected to just enjoy the time away from my children and be alone. But the week of the conference consisted of the viewing and burial of my sweet father-in-law Terry Peach. And on Friday, I’m driving up to Baltimore with what ended up as a nasty head cold from my son. Needless to say, I was sick and not sleeping well either.

Alonso's in Baltimore on Blog U on Shalavee.com

I changed into my first dress and met a group of conference goers at Alonso’s/Loco Hombre’s on Cold Spring Lane. Ironically, I worked there in my 20’s. Looks different except maybe the package goods area in the front where we used to get our underage alcohol eons ago. Chatted with two other late coming gals for a while there and then off to what I used to know as a college but now has become the Notre Dame of Maryland University.

Notre Dame of Maryland University from Blog U on Shalavee.com

Notre Dame of Maryland University from Blog U on Shalavee.com

This all women institution is slam next to Loyola , what is probably a University by now too, on a really really beautiful patch of land. The concept of the event and the women who made the enormous effort to pull it off were just as lovely. Blog U ’14 was founded to support other women bloggers in finding their tribe and their community. And to help us garner knowledge about making our blogs better businesses, educating us on writing for money, or being better social media users. They stressed that there should be no knowledge that people hold onto and don’t share. The world of the internet is far too large and the concept is slightly silly.

Notre Dame of Maryland University from Blog U on Shalavee.com

I came to the conference telling myself the following things. I needed to move on. Don’t stay at job too long and when you’re overdue for a bail out, it’s sad for everyone. Being a stay at home baby’s Mama offers up all sorts of reasons to not risk change and just implode. The longer you’re out of circulation, the more you feel like maybe you can’t anymore. Great reasons for change. Need to progress and not regress my career.

On the "porch" of the sign-in building at the Maryland University of Notre Dame on Blog U from Shalavee.com

But there I was at the sign-in knowing no one and feeling so much like a fish out of her ocean. I couldn’t find my name tag at first. I would eventually end up leaving it at the hotel room for the conference day. Symbolic much?

While excited women chattered to each other, I grabbed a Berger cookie and killed time taking pictures.

Respite at the Notre Dame of Maryland University from Blog U on Shalavee.com

I was lucky enough to sit on a picnic table directly under a robin’s nest full of baby birdies whose mama was feeding them. I called home as this woman was doing. Her little one had been to camp and they were doing face-time together. So cute.

Instagram from the "porch" of the sign-in building at the Maryland University of Notre Dame on Blog U from Shalavee.com

So there I was, all dolled up in my very bestest clothing and shoes and my new card carrier to show everyone I meant business. Except I was ill prepared. (And apparently ill.) For many reasons, some being the funeral and some being silly me, I hadn’t really made any real people connections beforehand. And I felt wholly disconnected when I stepped into the registration building and then the gymnasium for the opening ceremony. Lucky me, I then got picked to read one of my blog posts out loud. And they posted me doing it on Twitter.

Me reading a piece to Blog U gymnasium via Twitter on Shalavee.com

I had total readers remorse that night. I’d picked the wrong reading. Mine was way too long and I was so nervous, I lost my mojo. I read Bras or Bust but I really should have read Gathering My Lessons : Lesson #153. What was done was done. The best part of the evening was getting acquainted with two women who sat down next to me. Emily and Lillian were so supportive and approachable and they would end up being my takeaway prize-winning tribal moment. Days later, Emily still insisted I read well, bless her heart.

Thanks for sticking with me. I’ll finish up my long-winded tale on Friday and do a brain purge on Monday.

Instagram happy

As I’ve written before, I love me some Instagram. What began as a just a “you look at my cool pictures and I look at your cool pictures” has become much more. It’s about storytelling for me. But it’s also about knowing other people’s stories. And it’s also about improving my ability to capture and spice up and frame an image for the storytelling.

I like the engagement more than I do the numbers. Whereas many people hashtag (make it searchable by others with a key word) the heck out of their pictures to garner more likes, I would rather have people come and like it enough to tell me they do. To engage me.

I truly like being involved in others’ challenges/projects and people’s interactions and interpretations of the picture prompts. And I was part of an ongoing pictorial collage project recently for Nothing’s Ordinary. When I saw their fabric prompt, I went back and  hashtagged my image of a fabric stack from a previously taken challenge photo and they chose it to use in this collage. I had maybe entered their challenge twice. So I was tickled to have it chosen. My picture is on the top right.

Here’s some other pictures that I have posted within the past month.

self portrait with rose from Shalavee.com

thetide is rising inside the tv and vcr repair shop from Shalavee.com

 

dairy farm from Shalavee.com

what am I doing now, watching her sleep from Shalavee.com

country road from Shalavee.com

Discovering other people’s beautiful visions while poking at my fiddle phone just seems like a simple honest pleasure. When I only have a half hour of coffee time to do what I want in the AM.

If you have an interest to keep an eye on what I’m up to, follow me on Instagram, twitter, or Facebook from these links or via the icons in the sidebar. And engage me. We’ll talk.

Proactive Versus Reactive

I’ve noticed the theme of proactive versus reactive popping up in my life regularly. I mentioned it a couple posts back in passing. And since I keep noticing it, it’s time to take a harder look at what this means.

Every action that’s taken is proactive or reactive. Let me show you what reactive looks like. In finances, you can just pay the minimum balances, wait until you’re threatened with legal action, and checks are bouncing before you take care of your financial obligations. This causes a lot of stress and I’ve been there. It’s no fun crying in the bank. Reactive financial management isn’t a good thing and tends to make one feel bad.

carnations and mums from proactive vs reactive on shalavee.com

You can wait until your family looks at you with hungry eyes to start thinking about dinner. Or until you are wearing your last pair of clean underwear before you do the laundry. Or wait for the call from the neighborhood association to ask you to move your dead bus from the place it has sat in front of your house festering in the sun for over 10 years.

When I haven’t acknowledged my power in my life then I’ve spent a lot of time waiting for others to make decisions for me. And probably resenting them for it. Sometimes letting it happen to us is passive aggressive and sometimes it’s just the lack of true understanding that we have the power to choose.

carnations and mums from proactive vs reactive on shalavee.com

I love to quote Rush, a band from the 90’s. “If you choose not to decide you still have made a choice”. We are never truly victims to the world when we have so many many choices and options at our disposal in our modern, and my North American, society. What works and feels better for me is to start being conscious of being proactive.

Proactive involves a little extra effort and always pays off with less stress, provided you want less stress. It feels like winning a scratch off lottery ticket to be happier, more productive, and a better mother. All good. Esteem boosting is just a to-do list and pro-action away.

carnations and mums from proactive vs reactive on shalavee.com

I do understand that sometimes the way you always have done things is hard to change. Resistance comes from inside and outside. My low self-esteem had me a victim of a lot of people, places, and things people. When I recognized my ability to make a choice, I flipped a switch. And another. And another. And another.

Then, as I’m perusing my email this afternoon, I read this gem from a creative website I receive emails from and I immediately knew I needed to write something. ”Essentially, reading emails first thing in the morning triggers your reactive self. Instead, we need to get that proactive side of you turned on more often to see great things happen in your business.”

carnations and mums from proactive vs reactive on shalavee.com

Before this year, I never wrote out life or career goals. Because I guess I always figured life was something that just happened to me. I do write budgets sometimes but since the baby’s arrival, I’ve had a harder time keeping up with bills and certainly not ahead of them. That’s about to change. Because every day is another chance to start over, that’s why.

Pro-activity starts with wanting something better. And I’m finally allowed to have that.

I invite you to sign up to subscribe to receive my posts , see my daily pictures on Instagram , or like me or my page on Facebook if you want to stay in touch. Thank you as always for your visit.

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