Saturday, May 21, 2011

1. A massive triumph 2. An epic fail

"My very first time ever on a bicycle and I survived!"

So the Rapturists (or whatever the heck you call them) probably didn't have such a great day.

We did on one front.
Gabriel got his very first bicycle today and he enjoyed a massive triumph.

Only a couple of tumbles and each time he got right back on board.
Loved the speed.

Worked his little tiny bum off peddling up hills.
Totally rocked his world and ours.

Love you little man!
Flipper's very distant relative
I witnessed the rapture today.  It happened on my barbecue.  

I should have know better than to cook a very distant relative of Flipper.

Guess it serves me right.

But the portion of Mahi Mahi we secured from Whole Foods Market in Oakville was desperately horrid.

Just shortly after the anointed time of 6:00 p.m. the soul and spirit of this nasty piece of fish was taken from us and delivered unto our plates.  Dis.  Gust.  Ing.

Epic fail.

Thank God (if it's o.k. to still use that phrase) Gabriel saved the day with his massive two-wheeled triumph.

Life may continue.  Resume your normal activities.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Smart as a pig

You'd never know that pigs are among the most intelligent animals if you only judged them by looks and activity.

Life leaps like a geyser for those who drill through the rock of inertia.
Alexis Carrel

Ah, inertia.  That comforting disposition into which we all are tempted to fall.
Can it be a pitfall for the solopreneur?
From my experience it most certainly can.  Additionally, I have witnessed in my own work and those of others the achievement of a comfort level which leads us to rest on our laurels, churning out the same coarse concept and copy (or design or package or logo...) just because we can.
While we can sustain business for a while in this fashion, ultimately we will be found out and what I have been encouraged to do recently is to discover my own inertia and attempt to root it out like a pig sniffing for truffles.
We have a unique opportunity as independent business people to reinvent ourselves as often as we want.  Without straying too dramatically from our core competence and interest we are able to direct our attention and energy in a myriad of ways.  That's why I like Carrel's quote so much.
Sitting in a comfortable pew has very real attractions.  We feel safe.  We feel unthreatened.  We cosset ourselves in past victories and just like the sad dude in Springsteen's 'Glory Days' we never give ourselves the chance to burst free and recapture what secured us some degree of success in the past.
So if you're interested in drilling through the rock of inertia it may be important to remember that yes, pigs are incredibly intelligent creatures, but if we're creating an impression such as my friend above we can't be surprised if business starts to dry up and clients seek alternatives.
I'm committed to drilling hard now.
Are you?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Gaining new perspective

Gabriel is great at seeing life in new and exciting ways!

As we abide in sleep, intuitively resonating with the sum of all our experiences - this life and beyond - we gain refreshing perspective on our efforts and have an opportunity to remember what we know.
Henry Reed

This morning I experienced one of the great pleasures we solopreneurs get - meeting a new client face-to-face for the first time.
Now, don't get me wrong.  Sometimes this can be both energizing and enervating!  This rendezvous however was completely positive.  My client is a life coach.  After years in sales she was downsized - lord I hate that euphemism - she was whacked.  A twenty-year career of enormous success in the tubes.
So here's where perspective comes into it.  
There's an old saw that when life hands you lemons, make lemonade.  It's a great thought but much easier to grasp intellectually than to implement.  Rather than dwelling in recrimination this individual exploded with a positive outlook and with her fresh perspective realized that NOW she could take her life dreams by the throat and rocket to a new career.
What could have been a negative in her life became life affirming as she realized now, her skills, talents and interests could all come into synchronous orbit while she embarked on a new adventure.
That's I believe what Reed writes of above - when we take the time to remember what we know almost any incident can be turned to advantage.
Now, I'm no Pollyanna and all of us solopreneurs know well that  what can seem like a great idea in the middle of the night turns to poop in the illuminating light of day.  But by seeking self- or external-motivated perspective we can turn lemons to lemonade.
At least, that's what I think.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Maintaining momentum

Please come back sun.

If a man has talent and can't use it, he's failed. If he uses only half of it, he has partly failed. If he uses the whole of it, he has succeeded, and won a satisfaction and triumph few men ever know.
Thomas Wolfe

Perhaps, just perhaps, one of the toughest tasks the solopreneur (or storyteller in my case) is staying on a roll.  This is probably particularly true for those of us who work from home and who have abundant distractions available when the going gets tough.  Or when we just become overcome with lassitude. 

During this past week, one which began with my making a commitment to write on my blog every day, I:

laid to rest my Mom's husband;
participated in caring for my son Gabriel who some how found a way to contract parvo virus*;
won a nice new piece of business;
managed to get a few invoices out;
had my car experience a "system failure"; and,
just barely put off putting a bullet in my brain because of all of this g.d. rain.

So, no, I didn't write on my blog everyday.  

So, yes, I failed to fulfill my commitment to my Muses and Masterminds group. comes the but...I'm still better off than I was a week ago because I've managed to rekindle my writing spirit.  

We independents need to find sources of inspiration for those moments when the torpor of the everyday can come swirling into our offices like a miasma of thought-clogging fog.  Here's what's helped me out.

The support and encouragement of my family.
My son recovering nicely.  (P.S. more on the asterisk later.)
The gentle nudging of my peers.
The confidence shown by a new client.
The gratitude felt for a returning client.
The promise of sun by the weekend.

So, no, my talents were not wholly employed but perhaps I can look at this past week as a partial success and build upon this momentum to make next week more complete.

At least, that's what I think.

*I had no idea humans could get parvo virus.  I thought only dogs and cats got it.  It's also called 'slap cheek' which sounds kind of mean but really is a good description 'cause Gabe's cheeks looked like he'd been on the wrong side of a scornful woman's lashing out.  Anyway, he's much better today and he too is looking forward to a much better week ahead.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Keeping your sense of wonder alive

Gabriel expressing his sense of wonder with life when he was a little kid.  He's a big boy of 3 now!
Because philosophy arises from awe, a philosopher is bound in his way to be a lover of myths and poetic fables. Poets and philosophers are alike in being big with wonder.
Thomas Aquinas 

Many, many years ago when I was a neophyte copywriter and occasionally creative person, I was invited to conduct a seminar on creative writing.  Being just sufficiently wet-behind-the-ears and insufficiently self aware, I agreed. 

It sucked.

No, really.  And not just a little bit.  It was the presentation equivalent of a gaping, sucking chest wound.  The only worthwhile outcome was  my ability to recognize it's suckedness (sic).  

It didn't take me long to understand why either.  I had fallen prey to the entrancement of process, to the false comfort of policy and procedure.  I had ensconced myself in a huge financial corporation that rewarded the commonplace and eschewed out-of-the-box thinking.  God, it was about as close as I would ever become to being assimilated by actuaries!

The childlike sense of wonder that is the life's blood of creative thinking.  The ability to suspend disbelief and contemplate approaches that veer far off the road to mediocrity.  The kind of free-wheeling yet disciplined problem solving that generates genuine breakthrough results.  The sometimes silly inspiration that prompts deeper consideration.  You know, kind of similar to the thinking that the following quote from comedian Steven Wright can produce:

Sponges grow in the ocean. That just kills me. I wonder how much deeper the ocean would be if that didn't happen.

How much deeper would the rewards of our work, our family, and our life be if we were able to keep alive even a small percentage of the sense of wonder we witness every day in young children.  Children who have not yet been submitted to the crushing standardized approach to commonality that our education system is dependent upon and who are years away from drinking the corporate KoolAid that says promotion and financial reward and security (as if there is such a thing) are vastly superior options.

This sense of wonder can be brought back to life if only you pursue it with vigour.  It can be found when you surround yourself with brilliant people, when you open your eyes to the daily wonders we're all too often too busy to notice.  When you hear your child proclaim on a late-April morning "Oh BOY!  SNOW!"

I just want to thank my Muses and Masterminds group for helping me recapture this and by showing me that solopreneurs are just as dependent upon communal support and spirited conversation as those who choose to follow a more well-defined career path.

At least, that's what I think.