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.

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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

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

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

Voting

updated July 27, 2016
originally posted February 15, 2016

Alright my friends, the right to vote is becoming more and more complicated and by extension, more and more ridiculous. Here’s an update:

Voting is becoming more and more a function of each state’s Voter ID laws. And voter ID laws consistently include such severely limited acceptable forms of ID that it disenfranchises thousands of legally registered voters (Kansas, anyone?). Be advised, rarely are voter ID laws really about fraud. The ACLU’s statement here, PBS Frontline article here, and Probublica article here.

More importantly – A legally registered 93-year old woman’s difficulties explained here, a 66-year old man’s difficulties recounted here, and, particularly infuriating, a 53-year old veteran’s story documented here.

Kansas has become particularly nightmarish, in my humble opinion. There’s an ongoing push to to force new Kansas voters to produce a passport, a birth certificate or naturalization papers as proof of citizenship in order to vote. Please note, Federal Judge Julie Robinson “found that between 1995 and 2013, there were only three instances in Kansas when noncitizens had voted.” 

It is unclear what happens to Kansas voters who were registered prior to Jan. 1, 2013, when the new ID requirements took effect. The Kansas Secretary of State’s office website indicates that “if you are a new Kansas voter on and after January 1, 2013, [you must] include your U.S. citizenship document [with your application to register].” Common sense would say that those voters legally registered before Jan 1, 2013 are not required to produce a birth certificate, a passport or naturalization documents. However, common sense seems to have become the equivalent of a unicorn, especially in Kansas.

 KCUR, a local NPR station, is doing a phenomenal job of keeping up with it all. Their primer is here.

Remember when I mentioned Texas in my original post below? Turns out making it almost impossible to vote does have consequences.  The voter ID law in Texas has been ruled in violation of the Voting Rights Act“We cannot ignore that in passing SB 14, the Legislature carefully selected the types of IDs that would be required to vote,” Judge Catharina Haynes wrote for the court’s majority. “In doing so, the Legislature selected IDs that minorities disproportionately do not possess and excluded IDs that minorities possess in greater numbers, without providing sufficient justification for those choices.”

Over in Missouri, Governor Nixon has vetoed the photo id voting requirement. It’s not over yet, though. Missouri voters will now decide in November whether to amend the state’s constitution to allow for a photo ID requirement for voting. Background here.

Remember, wherever you vote, provisional ballots are an option for all but seven states. Essentially, a provisional ballot can be used whenever there’s a question about a voter’s eligibility. And many states have made it ridiculously easy to question a voter’s eligibility. The county clerk’s offices in each state have as many as two weeks to determine the registration status of each provisional ballot. So, to answer the obvious question — do provisional ballots get counted? Yes. Eventually.

Here’s the Kansas plan for provisional balloting. It’ a short read. And scary. The reason the state can “throw out  all of the votes for state and local races cast by the thousands of voters who register to vote at motor vehicle offices without providing proof of citizenship” is because The National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (the Motor Voter law) allows people to register to vote at DMV’s without having to produce the passport, a birth certificate, or naturalization papers Kansas wants to require. It’s legal. The state of Kansas, however, doesn’t want it to be (see above), and they plan to follow their state’s proposed addendum to count ballots for state and local races instead.

Bottom line, do your homework. Now. Physically go down to your Board of Elections (no calling, no looking up registrations online) and make them tell you you are eligible to vote. Then, be prepared to have to defend your right anyway. The Non-partisan Election Protection Coalition can help.

Then, as I’ve mentioned before (see below), share what you know. Check in with someone you know who is elderly, disabled, or anyone who might have problems obtaining a driver’s license or birth certificate and offer to help them exercise their right to vote.

_____________________

After the death this weekend of Justice Antonin Scalia maybe you’re thinking I’m about to write a political piece on my candidate of choice, making a compelling (or not, depending on whether you agree with me) statement about why “my” candidate is the best for our country etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. I’m not.

I am going to tell you I’m passionate about voting, for whichever candidate you choose, and I’m going to remind you to get registered, or check your registration to make sure you’re current. To check the voting laws in your state — some states are making voting less of a right and more of a privilege — and to be prepared to take with you whatever form of identification so you won’t be turned away at the polls. I’m also going to remind you to do your part to make voting easier for everyone around you. I wrote a post about doing just that here.

A reminder to get registered in February might seem a bit premature. Except that most states have presidential primaries between March and May (hey Kansas, your legislature is working to do away with primary voting because of the cost. The state has cancelled presidential primaries going back 2o years and this year’s doesn’t appear to be guaranteed). The Federal Voting Assistance Program has a handy chart listing the dates of all primaries across the country. Missouri’s primary is March 15th and voters must be registered to vote by February 17th.

After determining the date of the presidential primary, we head on over to our Secretary of State’s website. This is where we should be able to check our registration status and find out what else we need in order to cast our vote. In Missouri, checking your registration status works like this. In Kansas, it works like this, and in Minnesota it works like this

Next, we’re off to see what we need to take with us to the polls in order to actually be able to cast our ballot. Here’s where it gets tricky. In Missouri, the requirements are pretty straightforward, even including a visual of acceptable forms of ID.  Arizona, not so much. Mix and match? Seriously? Kentucky is even worse. After 10 minutes of searching “voting acceptable forms of id Kentucky” and “voter ID Kentucky”  this is the closest I got – a brochure printed in 2014. This site is pretty sobering. If the details outlined are up-to-date, there are some state governments whose intent seems to be to make it virtually impossible to vote (Texas, we’re looking at you). If you’re using this site, confirm any information you get with a phone call to your Secretary of State’s Office, just to be sure. In my case, I’m not above printing out a screen shot of my voter registration status and taking it with me to the polls, along with a utility bill proving residency AND my state issued Driver’s license. In today’s political climate I’m not about to stand in line for hours only to be told I don’t have the right form of ID.

Sample ballots can be obtained, sometimes. In Missouri for example, there are county boards of elections. In North Carolina, the sample ballots are posted by the State Board Of Elections.

From there, it’s all about making our choice. Non-partisan websites including FactCheck.org,  VoteSmart.Org, Rock The Vote, and the League of Women Voters can provide a wealth of useful information.

And finally, my plea to you is to share what you know. Voting isn’t always easy, even for those of us without additional considerations. So share what you know about voter registration where you live, offer to drive someone to the polls, take a couple of minutes to talk voting with someone who will be voting for the very first time. And most importantly (to me) when you come across someone who has trouble reading, offer to review the ballot with them. Read about ways to help here.

Across the country, voting is being legislated into less of a right and more of a privilege. Do your homework and make sure you know the voting laws in your state and head out to vote prepared.  The bottom line is this: The more you want to know casting your vote in your state the more work you have to do. Which is why it’s crucial we don’t ever become apathetic. The harder it is to vote the more critical it is to vote. Taking a right away from people who don’t use it it much easier than wrenching it away from people who do.

© copyright HeyAmyLou 2016 – All rights reserved
crossposted to IrishYogaChick.com

 

Vanity Metrics

Yesterday, I received a lovely message from Hootsuite indicating they were removing Klout integration from their dashboard.

Vanity Metrics. That’s what this is. An algorithm that allows a platform to determine social media “influencers.” Usually measured by clicks, shares and other arbitrary online actions.

From Klout’s Website:

The majority of the signals used to calculate the Klout Score are derived from combinations of attributes, such as the ratio of reactions you generate compared to the amount of content you share.

Attributes. Ratio. Reactions. All very sterile data easily manipulated by a third-party platform that doesn’t know you and has no vested interest in your success. None.

It’s the same with “likes” on Facebook pages. I’m regularly approached by potential clients whose main goal is to increase “likes” on their Facebook pages and friends on their Twitter, Periscope and Instagram feeds. To them it’s all about the perception of numbers.

Here’s my question: Do those high Klout scores cause more people to buy your latest book? Do those Facebook “likes” translate into tangible registrations for your next big event? Do your Twitter / Periscope / Instgram friends book you to shoot their next headshot package? A Klout Score of 95 “looks” good. A Facebook page with 5,000 likes “looks” good. An honest relationship with the 50 friends on  your Facebook page you truly know and authentically engage on a regular basis results in loyalty, revenue and referrals.

That’s how to become at true influencer.

My advice? Stay away from Vanity metrics that tell you very little, if anything. Spend your precious time connecting with real people in real ways that produce real results, for you and for them. “Looking” good isn’t everything.

© copyright HeyAmyLou 2016 – All rights reserved

Now Reading

I like to call it my vacation. Although it really wasn’t. On and off for the past 6 months I’ve been rehabbing a house. Since the end of November it’s become the primary focus. And by that I mean lots of downtime spent waiting on craftspeople, trash haulers, and volunteers who are graciously hauling off donated furniture, clothing, and various tchotchkes that will hopefully bring joy to someone else’s life. The silver lining to waiting, beyond the obvious removal of heaps of trash and beautiful new hardwood floors, is lots of time to read.

And I most certainly did read. No one has to tell me twice.

Everything Is Wrong With Facebook’s Year In Review by Karen Fratti and the piece she references- Facebook Shouldn’t Apologize For “Year In Review” – You Should, For Using It by Eric Sasson.

Good read. I’m still thinking about it, almost a week later. There’s a lot to work through here. I’m sensing there will be a more in-depth post about the subject soon.

_______

Also this, on self-censorship  –  which I read independent of the two articles I just mentioned. I Will Not Post This: The Coming Age Of Self-Censorship by Dave Pell.

Best take-away line: “The Internet is like your high school cafeteria.” A significant observation given that I still see much of what happened in my high school cafeteria happen across the Internet dozens of times a day, as retweets, Facebook “opinion” posts, anonymous (and sometimes not-so anonymous) comments across multiple platforms, and worst, as videos. And yet, what would happen if we all became scared of publishing, or sharing our thoughts and opinions?

_______

And this, by the then editor of Valleywag, who retweeted the now infamous Justine Sacco tweet. (I swear this blog post didn’t set out to have a theme, although one does seem to be emerging, doesn’t it?) Justine Sacco Is Good At Her Job, And How I Came Peace With Her by Sam Biddle.

Those people I just talked about? The ones who retweet, post comments on blogs and “opinion” posts on Facebook? He admits to being one of them. And he humanizes that moment where everything falls apart in our “always-on” society. He admits he didn’t know Justine Sacco, or anything about what she thought or felt. He admits he didn’t give it much thought before he retweeted her comment about AIDS and Africa. He saw a bad tweet. Plain and simple.

And yet, when words are written by humans (as opposed to those irritating bots on my twitter feed) it rarely is that simple.

And what about Justine Sacco? How distracted was she to think that tweet wouldn’t be misinterpreted? Or did she just think that it would only be seen by the hundred or so people who followed her on Twitter. People who were surely her friends, and would get the irony of the tweet?

I have been distracted. And I’ve also believed that my Facebook Page, my Twitter and Instagram Feeds, and my email are under my control. It can be a toxic combo, and ANY of us could find ourselves right in the middle of just what happened to Justine Sacco, if we’re being honest. And, being honest, that’s exactly what did happen to Mr. Biddle.

Kudos to Mr. Biddle for using his experience to remind us that we’ve all been the one to retweet, post and comment without thinking of the human behind the words. And holy wow, hats off to Ms. Sacco for not being bitter or resentful. That’s class.

© copyright HeyAmyLou 2015 – All rights reserved

I’m Paying Attention To:

These are the things that have captured my attention lately:

I just backed my first Kickstarter.

Wounded: The Legacy Of War. Stunning photographs by Bryan Adams (yep, Summer of ’69 rock star Bryan Adams). I learned about his photos from this interview.

Also, this, from NPR.  “What Do Homeless Vets Look Like? 9 Conversations From A Pop-Up Photo Studio in San Diego.”

“Carry Me Home”. If you read one thing, let it be this. And, remember it.

Texans Slam Voter ID Laws — ‘Now That It’s Happened To Me, I’m Devastated’ ” Think it can’t happen to you? They did, too.

11-14-2014 Playlist
note: anyone have a better platform for sharing playlists? One that isn’t so full of itself?

Ferguson, Missouri
Words To Action Daily Newsletter Issue 52, November 12, 2014

Delegations from Chicago, IL and Ferguson, MO attended the United Nations Committee against Torture 53rd Session in Geneva, Switzerland on November 12th and 13th, 2014. After hearing their statements, United Nations Committee Member Mr. Jens Modvig of Denmark was quoted as saying:

“We have information on disturbing patterns of excessive force by police, especially toward African Americans and that seems to demonstrate that the current mechanisms of accountability are insufficient. How is the government ensuring effective accountability and holding officers accountable for fatal police shootings, like int he case of Mike Brown?”

Sourced from Christina Coleman, News Anchor – Reporter for Channel 5 in St. Louis, MO. in a series of tweets beginning here.  [UPDATE 11-14: Video. Mr. Modvig begins speaking at 9:37]

This is such a big deal. People, including Michael Brown’s parents, traveled from the Midwest to Switzerland to be heard because they didn’t feel heard in their own country. I’ll say it again: They felt they had to go all the way to Switzerland to be heard.

White Privilege: Unpacking The Invisible Backpack – Heavy read.

Explaining White Privilege To A Broke White Person

© copyright HeyAmyLou 2014 – All rights reserved