Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Ode to IT

As I contemplated becoming a small business owner, I knew—before I hit that submit button—that I would be responsible for all aspects of the business: product development, public relations, marketing, fundraising, accounting, human resources, contract negotiation, etc. While I wasn’t proficient in these areas of business, I knew enough to manage and felt confident in my abilities to learn. 

Well ... in all areas except one—Information Technology (IT).     

For decades I have described myself as 'technologically challenged.' While this label probably contributed to my IT deficiencies, I stuck with it because I always had an IT department to back me up.  While I anxiously paced back and forth behind my desk, an IT team member would patiently assure me that everything would be alright. Sean, Mike and Sara excelled at keeping me calm when I lost a file or couldn’t synch my office calendar to my phone. Using melodic voices, they would hypnotize me into a quiet state while they solved my problem—they were the IT whisperers.

Oh, how I missed the gurus of technology as I struggled to create webpages, blogs and all the other 'techy' stuff I needed. I tried to read books on the subjects, but they only frustrated me.  I attempted to follow directions on-line, but they lacked detail. I even called the website company and they informed me they were only a host—whatever that meant—and I was on my own.  I had to work in isolation, even from my family, fearing my five-year old might learn some new colorful metaphor and take it to school for show and tell.  

Over the past few weeks, I immersed myself in a technological hell, drinking too much coffee and eating way too much fast food.  I struggled to learn a new language filled with widgets and abused my computer’s backspace key, screaming “Why is there a rice bowl with chopsticks on my webpage? I’m not a restaurant! DELETE! DELETE! DELETE!” 

Eventually, I hit enough buttons to rid my page of that bowl of rice, and I am excited to announce the arrival of

By the way, if you happen to notice problems with the site, then feel free to NOT contact my IT department, as it is on permanent vacation!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Time to Find the Boom Bands

“All you have to do is click ‘Submit Here’ and it’s done,” I said to myself, staring at the computer screen.  Letting out a deep sigh, I pushed back my chair from the desk, rose from my seat and walked out of the room.  Unable to click the button on my computer, I chose instead to push the one on my Keurig. The last thing I needed was more caffeine, but it was a good distraction. Listening to the water heat up, I reflected on the last two year of my life and how I had come to this moment.

               I had quit my job to be a stay-at-home mom and pursue children’s book writing. While I enjoyed balancing my time between creative writing and spending quality time with my daughter, feeling thankful Matt’s position allowed for such luxuries, I had begun to miss the working world and longed for a professional adventure.  Not yet wanting another 9-5 job, as I wanted to continue volunteering for my daughter’s Pre-K class, I considered upping the ante with my writing by starting my own literary business. I had been told I had a talent for writing and editing, and wondered how I could turn these skills into a viable career.

               For months, I waffled—researching ideas, outlining business plans and tossing them in the recycling bin. I poured over my ten-page curriculum vitae, looking for transferable skills from the only business I have ever really known, Higher Education. When I had entered Higher ed, I knew exactly what I wanted to be, but now I was starting all over again, entering uncharted waters. I was swimming through ideas with absolutely no direction, drowning in possibilities. 

               One day, at my weekly writers’ meeting, one of the members shared his success with school visits. School visits? I had no idea writers could get paid for presenting workshops AND receive help from the school selling their books.

The ‘AH-HA’ moment happened on my way home and the epiphany was so powerful I pulled into a Walgreen’s parking lot. “You have two degrees in Education, Amanda,” I said aloud, shaking with excitement. “You’ve got 15 years of workshop facilitation experience. ...” I looked at myself in the review mirror. “Your book is the perfect combo of what you love to teach: science and multiculturalism. This is it—your golden ticket!” I grabbed a scrap of paper off the floor of my car and wrote my business plan right there in the parking lot.

Two days later, there I was, staring at a coffee maker, avoiding the flashing ‘Submit Here’ button that would seal my parking lot plans. Hitting those neon green words, permanently transferring my $500 to Legalzoom, would commit me to a contrivance I had written on the back of a discarded grocery receipt.  

“Just breathe, girl.” I stirred some cream into my coffee. “You can do this.”

Back in my make-shift office, formerly a storage room for a treadmill, I took a sip of my coffee and looked at the icon, still blinking, waiting for my move. My mind wandered to the book I had read to my daughter the previous night, Oh, the Places You’ll Go

I was stuck in what Dr. Seuss called “The Waiting Place.” Waiting for someone to make a decision. Waiting for the winning lottery ticket that would pay for my dream. Waiting for someone to write a book on how this is done. Just waiting in the waiting place, drinking way too much coffee.

               Somehow you’ll escape
               All that waiting and staying.
               You’ll find the bright places
               Where Boom Bands are playing.
                                                            --Dr. Seuss

“No more worrying and wondering,” I said to the blinking icon, rebuking it with my wagging finger. “No more planning and revising. No more what if-ing. No more waiting!”