May Deal – Pay What You Think Is Fair

A couple of weeks ago maybe, as I was sitting in my office staring out the window, I was overcome with how much my life has changed and how overwhelmingly grateful I am for so much.

A couple of years ago life was upended. All at once. As is life’s prerogative. Initially, this was not o.k.

Not. O.k. At. All.

I was fond of saying “It’s fine if my work life is chaos as long as my home life isn’t.” And vice versa. This was not that. This was all chaos all the time.

A couple of months ago, the last of that chaos worked it’s way out of the picture.

And that’s how I came to be looking out my office window a couple of weeks ago. That office, that window, that view, are the end result of all that chaos. And the view feels good.

HeyAmyLou came to be during all that chaos. And now is the time to celebrate.

So, HeyAmyLou is making May Pay What You Think Is Fair Pricing Month for our newsletter production and design services, mailing list development and maintenance, or website development services.

You tell us what you think is fair pricing. HeyAmyLou will  give you the same great service, product and attention you always get.

HeyAmyLou is a company built around ethics, respect, family, and fun. We take pride in the ability to meet our client’s needs. Pay What You Think Is Fair Month is our virtual cake and candles celebration. A big WHOO-HOO! We MADE it!

We want you and your business to make it, too.

© copyright HeyAmyLou 2017 – All rights reserved

*image created with Canva.

My Word(s) For 2017

I like words. Mostly, I like them in the form of books, articles, and lyrics. Then, I read an article (see!) about choosing a word. One word. To guide the whole year, I was intrigued. And appalled. ONE word? I like words, plural. Lots and lots of words. Just one?

Turns out, lots of people do this choosing of one word thing. Chris Brogan writes a lengthy blog post about his (he chooses three. Still, though.) Elise Blaha sent out an email mentioning hers, the Huffington Post even wrote and article on it.  And once I got going, I found all kinds of websites (here, and here  for starters) devoted to the process of picking one word. Oh, and the Oxford Living Dictionaries even got in on it, although their process is arguably a bit different.

It sounds cheezy, I know. And admittedly, I didn’t do any of the prep or soul-searching recommended. I sat down one morning in late 2015, took a look around and decided that in 2016 I wanted EASE. That’s it. EASE.

So, starting January 1, 2016, I wrote the word at the top of each weekly page in my calendar, and any time I found myself barreling toward a situation that was lining up to be anything other than easy, I repeated the word over and over to myself. And I took time each week to write down a couple of ways in which my week had included EASE. 90 days in, I started noticing a shift. EASE was more prevalent in my daily life. And, in those instances where EASE was elusive, the realization that it wasn’t necessarily me who was making the interaction hard was quite useful.  As was the reminder that in situations lacking EASE I didn’t automatically have to contribute to making things more difficult.

So, I’m doing it again this year. And again, it was pretty spontaneous. I auditioned quite a few words throughout the year and when it came time to choose, I chose none of them. Instead, I went with a word that I think will serve me just as well as EASE did last year.

2017’s word is REJECT.

As in:

  • I reject false conclusions
  • I reject being drawn into other’s drama
  • I reject complacency

You get the idea.

I think, though, that REJECT needs balance. So I’m also choosing WHOLE.

WHOLE reminds me that in REJECTing there is room for replacing, rebuilding, and reconnecting.

© copyright HeyAmyLou 2017 – All rights reserved

cross-posted to IrishYogaChick

The Things That Made My Year Great — 2016 edition

 

Shamelessly stolen from Austin Kleon, who can list out 100 things.

______________

people who share

black eyed peas, collard greens and corn bread on new year’s day

yearly book challenges

weekly playlists

audiobooks

washi tape

The Eagles

lists in the back of books (Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend)

honey vanilla chamomile tea

A Year Of Living Your Yoga

my public library

soy sauce

painted garage windows

the days I accomplish everything on my to-do list

moving big projects forward

spring planting

wax seals on handwritten letters

Mental Health First Aid

voting

saying goodbye to the probate court

knitting

tax refunds

Michael Franti concerts

farmer’s markets

new business cards

taking risks

easy fixes

slow Sunday mornings

kitchen gardens

neighbors

creating systems

teaching yoga

24in48 book challenges

book stacks on Instagram

alterations

Pokemon GO

Finding lost dogs

compassionate pest control experts

clean sheets

cool August summer mornings

the sound of a fan

toad / frog relocation

planners

The Youtube 8-hour fireplace

“A Year In The Life” (Gilmore Girls Revival)

selling a house and not spending another minute on Angie’s list for at least 6 months

cutting the cord in favor of Roku. Best decision ever.

ditching the smart phone for an old-fashioned flip phone. Another good decision.

Judy and Loretta at Mills Record Company

Good Reading
The Story of a F##k Fund – Billfold

Artists Aren’t Afraid Of Doing Things Badly – Jonathan Fields

Why I Gave Up a $95,000 Job to Move to an Island and Scoop Ice Cream – and the follow up  — Noelle Hancock

This Is What Happened When We Posted Monica Lewinsky’s TED Talk – Nadia Goodman

I came Undone: One Woman’s Horrifyingly Real Experience With Burnout — Glynnis Macnichol

Good Books

Tribe: On Homecoming And Belonging – Sebastian Junger

You’re Never Weird on The Internet [Almost]- Felicia Day

Furiously Happy: A FunnY Book About Horrible Things -Jenny Lawson

Wishful Drinking – Carrie Fisher

Hope In The Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities — Rebecca Solnit

Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers – Robert Sapolsky

The Nightingale  — Kristin Hannah

One Second After – William Forstchen

The Accidental Alchemist, Pirate Vishnu and Artifact— Gigi Pandian

All The Light We Cannot See — Anthony Doerr

Good Movies and TV  

Hundred Foot Journey

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Jimmy’s Hall

The Lunchbox

Rebellion – TV Mini Series

Sports Night (seasons 1 & 2)

The Martian

Making lists– My favorite blog posts authored by me

A Different Kind Of Post For A Different Kind Of Election

How, And More Importantly, When To Delegate pt 1 and 2

Busy

Voting

And any of the weekly wrap ups.

Other People’s Lists – my favorite blog posts authored by others

Let It Be Sunday – Joy The Baker

I Love Lists – Shutterbean

Inspiring Simplicity – The Minimalists

*This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I may receive a small commission (at no cost to you) if you purchase something after clicking one of the links in this post. I only link things I have used and can truthfully recommend. Purchasing from these links helps me keep business costs low for my clients and that’s what HeyAmyLou is all about.

© copyright HeyAmyLou 2017 – All rights reserved

cross-posted to IrishYogaChick

A Different Kind Of Post For A Different Kind Of Election

I’m not here to talk politics beyond saying that I hope you’ll vote.

I’m here to talk about stress. A recent article in the Washington Post used the term “election stress disorder”. Whatever you call it, stress is real, and it takes a toll on us physically, emotionally and mentally.

I’m encouraging you to actively plan for and support your mental health over the next 24-48 hours, and offer suggestions that might get you to thinking about ways to take care of you.

Take additional stress out of your day. If you don’t live in a state with early voting chances are you’ll already be standing in one line tomorrow. Consider avoiding additional ones.

  • Schedule 15 minutes today to fill up your gas tank.
  • Set aside some time before tomorrow to pick up your groceries and run any other errands.

Work to avoid the 24 hour “breaking news” cycle and constant Facebook commentary.

  • Temporarily mute the device notifications from news and social media apps. You decide how your news is delivered, not the manufacturers of your phone, tablet or other devices.
  • Turn off the tv. The New York Times is lowering their paywall from November 7-9. Maybe choose to actively read the election results according to your schedule instead of passively having them shouted at you throughout the day. Your local tv stations will post election results, too.

Remember your health.

  • Tara Stiles is offering 50% off all of her downloadable yoga videos. With the discount, her 60-minute videos are $7.50 and her 30-minute videos are $5.00. Use the code VOTE2016 and make sure your discount is showing before checking out. Or, head to your local yoga studio for a drop-in.
  • Dan Harris has created a page with links to several great election stress meditations. My personal favorite is “Powers of 10” led by Jeff Warren. It’s approx. 10 minutes long. If you aren’t familiar with Dan, he wrote the book 10% Happier and developed the app “10% Happier: Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics”.
  • If meditation isn’t your thing, consider a couple of 15-minute walks throughout the day, without the headphones or other distractions.

You’ve voted and decided the constant stream of “expert commentary” is more than you want to invite into your day. Go a different route and skip the drama.

  • Consider learning something new. MIT offers a wide-ranging catalog of free, self-paced coursework including photography, art history, and Italian, in addition to their standard engineering and mathematical coursework.  Coursera, and Skillshare also have a wide variety of offerings, although there may be costs associated. If you’re looking for something more hands on, Creativebug offers classes on knitting, sewing, art and design. There’s a free 7-day trial, too.
  • Podcasts; I dig ’em. Consider tuning in to Thrilling Adventure Hour, NPR’s Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, and The Lapse. Or google “podcasts and [insert your favorite topic here]”.  Warning, there is probably swearing in each of the podcasts I just recommended.
  • The library. My favorite place in all the land. Download audiobooks, ebooks, and music to pack your devices with distractions. Or, go old-school and check out a bunch of movies on DVD. Order a pizza and invite some friends and family over. Instant mental health boost.
  • Take the same pizza and friends/family combo and throw in some board games. Also a terrific way disengage from “election stress”.

Full disclosure: As I’m typing this I realize MSNBC is on in the background.
I assure you I have my own work to do to support my mental health.

We are all in this together.

Want to know more?

Curated Emails
Did you find this email helpful? I’m considering doing more of them for those that are interested. If you are, share your email here.
Mindfulness
If you’re interested in my upcoming mindfulness trainings, share your email here.
Life Mapping
If you’re interested in my upcoming life mapping trainings, share your email here.
Routines and Rituals
I’m expanding my trainings to include the science of routines and rituals, how they positively impact our lives, and why they can be so difficult to maintain. If you’re interested, share your email here.
Emergency Preparedness
I’m expanding my emergency preparedness trainings and including preparedness for small business owners. If you’re interested in my upcoming emergency prep trainings, share your email here.

© copyright HeyAmyLou 2016 – All rights reserved

cross-posted to IrishYogaChick

How, And More Importantly, When To Delegate (pt. 2)

Click here for a free download.

This is the second of a two part discussion on delegating. And It’s backwards from the title. To read pt 1 “The When”, click here.

It’s time to discuss the “How”. Delegating can be (who am I kidding? For small business owners like us, delegating IS) scary. Deciding what to hand over to someone else is one thing. Deciding who to hand it over to is another thing entirely.

I recently had an unsolicited email from someone looking to “partner with” me to “enhance” my business. I’m using quotation marks here because I consider those words and phrases to be red flags. My choice of a “partner” in my business is wholly my decision and certainly won’t be made based on an unsolicited email. And anyone who wants to “enhance” my business with no concrete follow up on how (see what I did there?) they plan to do that hasn’t researched my business. At all.

Which this person hadn’t. After a little back and forth it turns out this person wasn’t aware of my website, my blog (I have two), my fairly robust Twitter and Instagram presence (although lately both have been taken over by Pokemon Go) or my weekly client newsletter (all things this person wanted to charge me heftily to implement). And, as an added extra bonus, after I politely stated  I wasn’t in the market for any new employees at this time the next (very lengthy) email I got was an aggressive, argumentative still-unsolicited commentary on what I was doing “wrong”.

I’m super thick-skinned, so it mostly made me laugh. Until a couple of days later when I started thinking about how other small business owners would handle an aggressive, ego-centered, cookie cutter approach to out-sourcing.

Here are my tips:

  1. Skip the elance-type online freelance market. There’s rarely any actual relationship-building. Why would you trust any part of your company to someone who will always be a virtual (no pun intended) stranger. Instead, opt for referrals. Talk to your friends, family, the people you see at yoga class or your cycling peloton. Chances are they know someone who does the tasks you want to delegate.
  2. Meet with them. In-person. A real sit-down-and-let’s-talk meeting. Not at a networking function or while walking to your car after a super-sweaty workout at your shared gym. A scheduled meeting devoted to discussing your needs and their skills.
  3. Do your homework. Know what you want them to do for you.
  4. Pay attention to how they respond to #3 above. Do they immediately launch into a pitch offering you a “suite” of services? Walk. No, run, from that. This is someone who didn’t hear much of what you just said in favor of trying to sell you a typically high-dollar low return package of services that you pay for whether you use or not.

    There is no cookie-cutter approach to your business. I cannot stress this enough. 

  5. (this is actually 4b) The correct answer to #3 above usually goes something like this: “I’ve researched your company and I’ve noticed x, y and z. Here are some of my ideas”. Followed by a fairly in-depth analysis of their findings that incorporates what they just learned about you when you told them what you want them to do for you. This is telling in two ways: First, they did their homework. They’re interested in getting to know you and your business. That’s a good sign. Second, they’re good listeners who are willing to mold their expertise to fit your needs.
  6. Always, always, always skip the freelancer with the aggressive, high pressure pitch. It’s a good sign that how they act during your first meeting is how they will always act. Do you want to invite (and pay for) that kind of pressure into your business?
  7. If, after all this you still can’t find the right fit for your business, contact me. Seriously. If we don’t work together I’ll make sure you have resources to keep you moving toward finding the person you do want to hire.

And, one other note. It’s not ok to ask a freelancer to do free or spec. work as a “try out”. It’s disrespectful. If you like them and want to work with them on a temporary basis to see if they’re going to be a good fit in the long run, say so. Then give them a short term paid project.

And now, as promised, a free download of the first draft of my newest time management tool.

© copyright HeyAmyLou 2016 – All rights reserved

 

How, And More Importantly, When To Delegate (pt. 1)

Sneak peek of my newest time management tool.
Read part 2 for a link to download it.

This is the first of a two part discussion on delegating. And it’s backwards from the title. Today the “When”. Next post will be the “How”.

So many small business owners I meet with are overwhelmed. Most are trying to Do. It. All. and they are floundering. Too much time spent on administrative time sucks and not enough time actually interacting with clients, which ultimately results in not enough cash coming in to sustain their small business.

It’s a true statement that the value of your time is exactly the same no matter what you are doing.

For instance, you’re a photographer who gets paid $175 per hour to shoot photographs. The value of your time is $175, whether you are shooting photographs or you are posting a status update on Facebook. Whether you are editing a shoot or writing a blog post. Whether you are advising a client who is setting up for a shoot or managing your newsletter mailing list.

Here’s the question: Did you start your photography business to take photographs, or did you start your business to post Facebook status updates, write blog posts and manage newsletter mailing lists?

My guess is you started your business to do what you love to do and the social media, marketing and other administrative tasks are necessary evils. Here’s the kicker: as a small business owner who thinks it’s up to you to do it all, you are getting paid the exact same hourly rate no matter what you are doing.

Why not actually earn money doing what you love to do and delegate the necessary evils to someone who gets paid to do what they love to do. Quite possibly it’s a true statement that you have the skills to update Facebook, write blog posts and manage mailing lists.

It’s also a true statement that just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

While you are doing those things, who is out taking photos, editing shoots, and advising your clients? Not you.

And then there’s this:  Who is paying you to do what you love to do? Your client. Who is paying you to post Facebook status updates, write blog posts and manage newsletter mailing lists.?

YOU are.

You are paying yourself the exact same $175 in lost revenue that your client could be paying you in actual cash. Is it cost effective not to delegate?

Here’s a pretty nifty exercise. It’s the exact same blog post with a “fill in the blanks” option. Click this link and fill in the blanks with what it is you do and the hourly rate you get paid to do it and then re-read and see what happens.

© copyright HeyAmyLou 2016 – All rights reserved

Busy

From a recent blog post by Kate Northrup

Are you addicted to being “crazy busy” and praying for more days that feel out of control?

Or are you curating what makes it onto your calendar and praying for more days that feel spacious?

As I’ve mentioned before, I believe when someone says they are “so busy” or “too busy” it’s usually code for “[fill in the blank] is not a priority for me right now and I just don’t know how to say that.” And I’ve noticed for some people, their identity seems to be tied to being able to repeatedly recite how busy they are — in the not too distant past I was probably one of those people. I try to be empathetic. Saying “no” is hard. At least it can be for me.

So when I read “curating what makes it onto your calendar” I immediately wanted to dive more deeply into what that might mean.

Curating is such a buzzword these days. It’s almost cliché. Except that in this instance I think it’s the exact right word to use.

(I’m going to do that overused, slightly irritating thing here were I provide the definition of curate as a way to transition into my next thought.)

Curate (v): To take charge of (a museum) or organize (a photography exhibit). dictionary.com

Our life is ours to take charge of, or curate. Why is it so many of us, myself included sometimes, allow others to suggest, manipulate and/or dictate how we spend our time? And why is it we feel guilty about that, as though we need to apologize for the fact we can’t fit it all in when, if we’re being honest, some of what’s currently on our calendar isn’t what we really want to do anyway?

Curate (read: take charge of) your life. When we really are too busy doing things we want to do, let’s stop apologizing for not being able to fit in one more thing. Let’s stop using “I’m too busy” as an excuse to avoid owning up to how it is we really want to spend our time. Let’s make space for that by crowding out all the stuff that really isn’t a priority.

If I were a betting woman I’d put money on the idea that just by being more mindful of curating our life we’d stop having to say “I’m too busy”  to the people and experiences that  truly are a priority.

Link to Kate Northrup’s full blog post here.

© copyright HeyAmyLou 2016 – All rights reserved

Unplanned Themes

Full disclosure: The newsletter comes together each week because I bookmark everything I come across on the internet. There’s never any planning as to how it will come together, or what will be included, right up until the minute I open my “bookmarks” folder in Google Chrome and click on what looks good right then and there.

So find it fascinating when an issue like today’s comes together.

Late last week I stumbled upon Escape From The Internet, by Virginia Sole-Smith, about the owners of the blog Young House Love. I read that particular blog infrequently. Although, I do remember the rather intense dust-up when they announced they were shuttering it in 2014. So the behind-the-scenes read on what led up to the decision promised to be interesting.

What I got was so much more than I expected, both as someone with a blog and someone who spends quite a bit of time reading the blogs of others (Seriously. It’s built into my Sunday morning schedule.) On it’s surface, it’s about the struggle to determine what we owe our readers.

Factor in the unintended consequences of building a career around the details we’ve decided to share, the reality that what we share never really gives readers a complete understanding of who we truly are, even though said reader may think of us as their “friend”, with all that entitles simply because they spend so much time (albeit online, behind a computer screen) with us and ta-da! As they say in the article, the lines between blogger, customer and best friend get very fuzzy.

Examining it from the other side, that of the reader, is no less complicated. Some of the anecdotes shared in the story, mostly comments from readers, were disappointing at the very least.

“You make big bucks from this blog and IT’S YOUR JOB.”

“I bought you your house.”

I’m not a commenter and I have more than a few reservations about comments in general. What makes people so brave, and often so mean, when safely sheltered behind some sort of computer screen? Well, apparently there’s a lot that goes into answering that question.

We Are Hopelessly Hooked by Jacob Weisberg points out that in our “always on” society, where the bulk of us check our phones an average of every 4.3 minutes, we’re truly never alone anymore. Solitude is what allows us to see each other as separate, as independent. A point quite possibly proved by Mike Murphy’s article (and subsequent “test“) suggesting that Facebook has decreased our six degrees of separation to roughly 3.57 degrees.

All of which contributes to a loss in our ability to empathize with others.

At some point during the previous week, I came across a Brain Pickings post on David Foster Wallace and was reminded of his commencement speech to Kenyon College in 2005, which I frequently play on on loop in the background while I’m working, hoping to retaining the wisdom of it through osmosis. Being accidentally exposed to that that video again, after having read all of the above somehow seemed fated.

That’s also about the time it occurred to me that this particular newsletter is about more than sharing trends in the industry, tools to make us all better entrepreneurs, and goofy stuff that might, for a second, provide a much needed break in our jam-packed days.

As my clients will attest, I’m a big believer (some would say nag) that we don’t depend exclusively our platforms to communicate with our clients. Offline interactions will always matter more than most anything we do online, because that’s where the real people live.

Be kind.

© copyright HeyAmyLou 2016 – All rights reserved
cross posted to Irish Yoga Chick

Ten Digits

[Update 6.14.2015: Phone number remains. So grateful to Cassie for all the work she did to make it happen.]

I’m losing a phone number. A phone number that’s been “mine” almost since birth. When my parents bought the house they lived in until they died, this was the phone number they were given. I grew up with it. The first friend I ever had called me on that phone number. My first crush called me on that phone number. The first job I ever got included that phone number on the application. When I went away to college, it stayed a constant. When I bought my first, and second house, it was still a constant.

My mother was officially diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2008. After some very tense years during which she elected to use her right to refuse treatment and put herself in some very dangerous situations as a result of the disease and that decision, she was arrested. She was declared incapacitated and ultimately placed in the Alzheimer’s ward of a local nursing home. The state appointed me as her guardian and conservator.

As conservator, the responsibility for their house, and that phone number, became mine. I thought protecting the house would be the difficult task. Alzheimer’s care isn’t cheap. She paid $72,000 per year in room and board costs alone. Plus the medications, plus the doctor’s bills, plus the legal fees. It adds up quickly. It was never far from my mind that I’d probably have to sell the house I grew up in to continue to afford her care, and I made peace with that. But not the phone number. I’d keep that. I’d port it to a new address and it would remain that rock-steady constant.

Except it’s not. I fought long and hard and was able to keep the house. After her death it was deeded to me. Despite everything I did to keep that phone number, though, it might not remain.

I do that thing where you choose one word for each year and use it to inspire you throughout the year. This year, I chose “rooted”. After the last decade, the one thing I want more than anything else is to belong somewhere. To feel as though the rug isn’t going to be pulled out from under me yet again. That I won’t have to start over for the umpteenth time. That I don’t have to “grab the last knot in the rope and just hang on.” I want to be rooted.

And yes, I DO understand how privileged I am to even be having this conversation. My parents raised me in the same house from the age of two to the day I left for college. And now, I own the house I grew up in. And you’re thinking “How much more “rooted” can you get?” How many people can say they own the house they grew up in? I hear you.

It’s those ten digits, though, that make me feel connected. Those ten digits make me feel rooted. I grieve for those ten digits more than I ever grieved around the idea of losing the house.

© copyright HeyAmyLou 2015 – All rights reserved

Save Missouri Libraries

click here to learn more

[Update 4.03.2015: $43 Million now available for priorities, including libraries.]

For many years I worked in the non-profit sector, as the Executive Director of an Adult Literacy Center in Springfield and the Associate Director of Programs for an Adult Literacy Center in Kansas City.

Some of my most impactful mentors were the adult learners with whom I spent so much time. All of them were accomplished, successful, smart and determined. Most of them said the one thing they wanted to do as adult readers was walk into a library without feeling ashamed, alienated, or intimidated because they didn’t know how to read.

That’s the thing about libraries. They empower people. All people. Just the thought of being able to walk into a library and be able to get information out if it was a major motivator for these adults.

That’s my story. There are a million others: The job-seeker who uses the internet to surf job boards. The mother who takes her kids there for story time and receives a minute or two of time for herself. The teenager who checks out books on 3D animation and teaches herself how to code. The family in rural Missouri who goes to the library to stay connected to their community.

Libraries are important. Please share this around and consider signing the petition asking Governor Jay Nixon to release the other 90% of the already allocated funding for 2015.

© copyright HeyAmyLou 2015 – All rights reserved