Refreshed and Rested and Ready to Go

Vacation

There is nothing like an actual vacation where you get to have a nice balance between doing things and doing nothing. Our vacations are often filled with activities – family, adventures, traveling – and do not often leave time for relaxing or chilling. We had one of those early in the summer and it was fun, albeit exhausting in it’s own way. I wrote about the Tools I use for travel planning and how they helped me get my head around a 12 day vacation. I haven’t had a trip of longer than 8 days with my husband since our honeymoon. I have traveled for longer solo, but that is a different beast.

Vacating

We chose a cruise to Alaska with a few days before to explore the Pacific Northwest. We were originally going to spend a night in Port Angeles, Washington (for the lavender), two nights in Victoria, BC (for the tea and gardens), and one night in Seattle (for the coffee.) Family requirements, however, surfaced that caused us to change our plans and head to Portland before the cruise. No worries, we rented a car and drove from Seattle to Portland as it was much too expensive to change our flight, not to mention we’d have to fly to Seattle in order to fly to Portland on our airline anyway. The family portion went well – rose garden, Japanese garden, birthday party..until the day after we left when they lost their beloved dog. He led a good life, was a sweet soul and will be terribly missed.

Vacated

By the time we got back to Seattle, we were ready for some chill time. Enter the Starbucks Roastery. On Sunday morning, before we boarded the Ruby Princess, we went to the Roastery. It’s like Willy Wonka’s factory for coffee and tea lovers! They roast the reserve batches right there…best coffee I’ve had in a long time. That started off a lovely trip that just ended two days ago. It’s bizarre to be on board a vessel so near to the United States yet have no cell service and to have to pay for internet (hence the hiatus for two weeks.) Also, I enjoyed not having requirements on my except what to wear to dinner and the few shore excursions. We read, watched lots of The Love Boat…it was a Princess cruise after all, ate amazing food and truly, really and truly relaxed. So much so it’s taken me two days to get back into the swing of the real world.

Observations

The world goes on. For us, it paused while we were on board. But, no, it didn’t really…it went on. Blogs were posted, comments made, lunches consumed, lives changed, and so on…all while I rested. And now, I’m back. I’m ready to go and ready to make some sweet strides in the name of growing a business and welcoming in opportunity and abundance.

PS

Just got word that the performance space for the Wildflower Ensemble has been approved! It’s happening! I’ll keep you posted.

When was your last vacation where you really got to do what you wanted, when you wanted and could take a nap if you felt like it? Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

The Adventure Continues

It’s taking shape

This past week has been a whirlwind of activity for the Wildflower Women’s Ensemble artistic team. We’ve scouted locations, built a baby website, got started on social media, and held auditions/first company meeting. All while working at another Shakespeare festival and holding down a 40 hour a week job. There were times when I thought I couldn’t handle this much, but I love it when I prove myself wrong. Grant it, I’ve done a bit more nothing these past couple days because I needed to. I’m ready to get back in the thick of it!

First Company Members

On Saturday, we held an invited audition for our first production, Henry V. It was invited because we need specific abilities and skills based on the type of production this first one is. I’m so excited that 14 women showed up as I was hoping for 10. The best part was the excitement and enthusiasm they brought. As I continue on this path, I am learning how important it is to have this company, dedicated to expanding the opportunities of women on stage, here in my city.

Nina Dramer, Samantha Hannum, Emily Labowitch, Shelby Saumier and Faye Taylor.

Nina Dramer, Samantha Hannum, Emily Labowitch, Shelby Saumier and Faye Taylore.

First Meeting

There is something intriguing about seeing “founding member” on someone’s resume or biography. I now get to put that on mine, Founder – Wildflower Women’s Ensemble, something that makes me crazy proud. I also plan to make the 14 women who showed up founding associate artists! This makes me crazy happy.

Back to work

As I sit here, I realize my “break” is over and I want to get back to work. Until next time!

The Next Adventure Begins

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Wildflower is Born

Today, I went on an adventure to help bring about the beginning of a brand new all-female Shakespeare company called Wildflower Women’s Ensemble. In previous blog posts, I’ve hinted at the creation of this, and now it’s becoming real.

The Work to Do

I knew that starting this would take work. I think I even knew it would take a lot of work. But as I dig into the Articles of Incorporation, tax-exempt status and business licenses, I realize that I need to be more organized at getting all this done. I have 18 windows open right now and can’t remember where I started. But it’s an exciting process and I can’t wait to take the next step.

Coming Soon

We scouted for a location today for our first play which will open in Sept. We started in one direction but ended up on the other side of the river, in a spot that will work beautifully if the city allows it. Next, we announced auditions to a small group of women. In the next 8 weeks, we have to audition, rehearse, incorporate, apply for tax exemption and secure our location. Not to mention the crowd funding campaign that should start in about a week. Whew! But it’s all accomplishable…and mind boggling!

Wildflower

If you’d like to see the baby steps of this new company, visit us on the web, Facebook , Twitter and Instagram. We’ll be posting updates there (and I’ll be keeping you all up to date here.)
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Thank you for reading!

Tools for Travel Planning

Want to take a trip

I am not a professional travel agent (nor am I sponsored by any of the sites listed below), but sometimes I think I should have been. When it comes to travel planning, I love it! I may not use my time as efficiently when planning as I should but I get it all done and I enjoy the process. But I am also always on the look out for tools to help keep it simple and/or make it easier to book extensive plans without a professional travel agent.

Where to start

I start with the destination. Between Google maps and Trip Advisor, I get a feel for the location. I’ve also used Facebook to ask the locals where to stay, what to do and how to get around. They are the best source of information. Next, I approach how to get there. If it is by car, I review my vehicle and it’s capability. I rely on my husband to map the route as it is a passion of his. If it is to be by plane, I start with SkyScanner. This handy little app and website gives me an idea of ticket prices if my days are flexible. As they often are flexible within 2-3 days, this helps me narrow my travel dates. Once this part is done, however, I switch over to Kayak to search fares. Most of time, I find the lowest fares then go over to that airlines website. 95% of the time the fare is very similar, and sometimes lower. I have frequent flier accounts at a couple of airlines – Southwest, American and Delta – which covers most places that I can get points due to partnerships.

Once I get the flight booked, next stop is lodging. As a time-share owner (Disney Vacation Club and Wyndham), that is my next stop. If I cannot book through them, I use Booking.com to find hotels. I also use Google Maps and their “find nearby” feature, especially if I know that I want to stay in a particular area of the city. I just did this for Seattle and found a gem that wasn’t coming up on the booking sites.

Next is transportation. I have used Kayak and CarRentals.com for cars, but usually just go to the sites directly (Alamo, Enterprise, Avis.)

My favorite itinerary tool

My favorite itinerary tool

I think the best thing that I’ve found to help me keep organized is TripIt. This is a travel itinerary application and website that automatically imports my email confirmation into travel plans. It helps me keep all my confirmation numbers in one place and shows me the daily itinerary for anything we’ve booked. I just reviewed my intinerary for that upcoming trip to Seattle and it’s a busy one! But there is peace of mind knowing it’s all in one place. I have also had to use TripCase because of a travel agent connection. It does a similar thing but I like TripIt better.

What do you use?

Do you have any suggestions on a ways to streamline this process? I imagine many people use only Kayak or Booking.com, which I always consider. Are there any brilliant tools you’ve discovered? Thank you for sharing.

Choose a Path

Choose a path?

I wrote last week about finishing the blogging challenge and being excited about next steps. Then a myriad of things happened, least of which is that my internet is down today due to a deliberate cut in our mainline fiber of our ISPs network. But, I will not be deterred. I have a dream…a dream of working from my home or on the road, not being tied to a corporation and doing what I love. While I like what I do now, I’m getting pretty burned out.

Choose a path.

The challenge still sits in my mind with some follow-up to do. But I have three other, no wait, make that four other, books calling my name right now:

  1. The Desire Map
  2. The One Thing
  3. Money: A Love Story
  4. The Women’s Small Business Start-Up Kit

And not to mention two writing books that I’ve been reading a chapter at a time to help me craft my words into blogs and books (NaNoWriMo is closer than it seems). But where to start?

Choose a Path!

That is where this blog comes in. I think I have a plan for tackling this journey and these books while still enjoying the process. Each of these books has tasks or ideas that can be undertaken at a given point – some chronologically through the book, others I can pick and choose. I plan to undertake one section of a book at a time. For example, I am just about to finish reading and start writing in The Desire Map, so I will do a section at a time. I often like to start these great projects, work at it tirelessly for about a week, then get bored and move on. If I plan to work on smaller chunks, I feel much more confident that I will achieve the small milestones which will lead me to the larger milestones.

Path chosen.

Divergent Quote

From Four, Divergent by Veronica Roth

Shadow Hunters: The Mortal InstrumentsSome of you may say this is too much. Some may say it’s just right. Other may think I’m crazy to approach this in this manner. Excellent! For a quick bit of background, I have at least 8 books going at one time. Some will never be finished (i.e. Game of Thrones, Book 1), some I like to savor a little longer (the final Mortal Instruments book), some I get lost in and need to get out of for a bit (SoulSpace), and others I devour in two days (Divergent series.) So having this many books in progress is not unusual at all for me. What’s unusual is that I have a plan this time for making the most of this information in a manner that (I hope) will work for me.

Share.

Do you have a plan for growth? How do you handle a pile of books that you really want to get through but do not seem to have the time needed?

Next Steps

Day 15 is finally here

This challenge has changed my life in ways I never thought possible. Because Natalie Sisson took the time to put this challenge out and I bravely took up that challenge, I have written more blogs than I thought I could. I have also made connections with other amazing bloggers and entrepreneurs, people who have generously taken me into their groups and helped me along.

My favorite

Natalie wants to know what my favorite lesson was from the challenge. There were about five that really resonated with me – key tools, habits, the one thing, plan your year and outsource. I have given more thought to these since the challenges were issued and while my business is still in the incubation phase, I feel more powerful and focused than I thought I could. Like I mentioned before, I am busy – just like all of you. I like being busy, but it does mean that I don’t always achieve my goals for the day or week. But I now have a system for keeping track of what needs to be done (Asana) and it reminds me, gently, that there are tasks for me to accomplish. My over all favorite lesson was Day 8 – plan your year. I have planned big benchmarks for my business that I never dreamed of putting on paper so soon. By looking at my year, I have also realized how important it is to plan my time off. I still have a day job that requires advanced planning for vacations, and because I’m in California, I don’t lose my vacation at the end of the year like my Arizona colleagues do (they often procrastinate planning until they realize they are all going to lose their vacations in August and frantically ask for time off for August in June.) In order to ensure that I get my vacations on the books, I need to plan it out well in advance. My husband and I have taken this challenge – we recently discussed travel plans for Summer 2017! This little change has given me control over my calendar. Not only do I know what needs to be done, I know when the breaks are!

Not really over

While the official 15-day Blog Challenge is over, my challenge is just beginning. I have lofty goals, some that need to be realized before October, and I know that I have a way to make that happen. I plan to continue blogging and learning about this online world, and I hope you will join me!
Thank you, Natalie!

Next stop: Freedom Plan

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Tidying Up

Too Much Stuff

Over the years, I have accumulated stuff. Books, clothes, appliances, movies, etc. The list goes on. Recently, we bought a new house! And recently we’ve faced this stuff with newfound ruthlessness to keep only what we love.

The Art of DeCluttering

I have followed FlyLady. I’ve started The Life-Changing Art of Tidying Up book. I’ve watched Clean Sweep, How Clean is Your House and Neat. I’ve given what amounts to truckloads away to charity and second hand shops. And yet, it weighs on my shoulders. I’ve always been a bit messy. My mom used to hire our neighbor a couple of times a year to help me clean my room. I know how to clean and keep a neat house, I just don’t do it sometimes. Like right now. We just got back from a trip and have been too uninspired to cook. The dishes are piling, the stuff from traveling still where we left them when we unpacked, the travel books for upcoming trips stacked up. Why can’t I do it?

Tidy Up

I know this is a simple problem. I know it takes 15 minutes a day, but when I don’t make the time, what then? Back to the book? Back to FlyLady? No. I just need to do it. And I think I know how. It takes scheduling my day. Like all of you, I have a full day every day. It’s how I like to do things. But that also means, I am surrounded by “shiny” that can distract me into hours of searching for airline tickets or dining reservations for our next trip, time that does not need to be spent there if I just structured it a little more.

Back to Paper

I plan to work on keeping my office clean and clutter free. I may have been messy, but a clean space is still key to my productivity. I tend to pile stuff on my desk. My goal for the next week is to keep it clean and clutter free. This may mean purging, packing or storing. I may need a space for the current set of reference materials. That’s all doable. What is not doable is when I cannot get to my keyboard. Below is how I want to keep it. It’s calming. It’s creative. It’s CLEAN!

Day 12

This challenge has changed so much more than my blogging. It’s changed my life. I feel confident in undertaking new projects that will release me from some of my day-to-day work and I’m damn excited about that. Thank you, Natalie Sisson!
My Desk