Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Years!! A few hours early;-)


Hello to all. I'm excited to hear what the New Year will bring you and what your goals and dreams are.

I was looking back to my set of goals, which I created October 5 as follows.

Monday, October 5, 2009
Nightly update - only 364 more to go;-)
So the goals are set, hopefully some of you are joining in spirit or letter. I will tackle each of these at least a tiny bit each day for the year. This nightly update is just to keep myself honest. I'm not sure how much help it will be to others. The only times I won't update are when I'm at my parents' computer free household.

1. Make my already happy marriage even stronger. I called my husband today to ask if there was anything I could do today to make his life easier or better in any way. And I told him he would be getting 364 more such calls. His answer made this one rather easy. He just wanted to be able to come home and eat dinner tonight and chat. Usually he's met at the door with kids anxious to play football, a wife asking among other things if he's put salt in the water softener lately, a pile of mail, and often leftovers that need to be reheated if he's running late.

2. Enjoy my kids more, be there in the moment with them, and nurture their individual development. Tonight that meant watching part of a video on Patton (from a PBS special) as my older son is way into WWII, moving on from the French Revolution and knights. I took my younger son to toss rocks into a pond even though I was running late as I know this is one of his favorite activities.

3. Get my book published. Much of the material in the posts here on my blog will hopefully be reworked into a book format so I consider each day's posting a step in the right direction. I also emailed a friend who is a published author for tips on selling a book idea to a publisher.

4. Have my business producing a profitable product. In these early stages it's an educational nightlight of sorts. I tracked down a mentor program here in WI that has retired executives and entrepreneurs who will help you look at a business idea. I plan to set up a meeting for next week once I go through some basic business plan questions.

5. Spiritual/friend/extended family/community - sort of a catchall here. Just to be a better person and to laugh more and to help others more. Oddly enough, I found myself laughing rather hard at Patton's post WWII speech. An aside, this is the fourth of a set of PBS videos that I got for a song (50 cents) that Kirk and I have watched. What is really interesting is how many of these great generals died within a very short time of the war ending. It make me think of Viktor Frankl's book, Man's Search for Meaning. In it he discusses his experiences as a concentration camp survivor and his theory that those who survived the horrors often had a big goal, a dream, a duty that they had not yet accomplished and this kept them alive. And I wondered if these great generals fell in to that camp and that once they had seen America safely to the other side, they were ready to go on?

6. FI - make big strides toward. Today, looked at options as our Money program is about to no longer be available. Posted on a forum for advice and Quicken got good reviews.

7. Finish Main Garden - By this I mean the great wilderness that still exists of two of the four sides of the acre of gardens. The five acres of woods will remain wild, but I would like a more polished, groomed (if a cottage garden can so be) in the back yard area. Today I planted my bargain $4.99 clearance lilac bush along the lot line.

8. Health/beauty. Would like to be healthier, a bit more stylish, and put more of an effort into my daily appearance. One goal is to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables each day and I made some strides today dumping in an entire packet of frozen peas into the tuna casserole and having unsweetened peaches for dessert. Probably more level of detail than any other person could ever want to know, but as I say, this section is just to keep myself honest;-).

So 364 more updates and hopefully a better person to emerge 364 days from now;-).

Eileen


I'm quite pleased at my progress. There have been some changes. My business has taken on much more focus and the book on frugality has now been shelved for a book written by me or another to accompany the historic action figure toys. Looking over the list, the three areas I've made the most progress are the business, being more in the moment with the kids (though I still struggle here), and our finances (though I must acknowledge that is more due to Greg's good thoughts on investing than my being as diligent as I could on savings).

Going forward into the New Year, I'm recommitting to these goals - we have less than 300 days to go from the initial start date!

1. Marriage - Continue to strengthen my marriage. Action steps: Be appreciative of all of Greg's great qualities, try to do at least three acts of love/kindness each day to let him know how much I appreciate him.
2. Parenting - Continue to work to enjoy the kids, their individual personalities, and to really listen to them rather than talk at them. Action step: Spend two hours each day 100 percent focused on them, in the moment, and encouraging. No email, phone calls, t.v. during this time. (We'll obviously be together more time than this, but two hours will truly be theirs)
3. Business - Produce income this year with our action figure/book sets. Action steps - Finalize writing decisions, manufacturing decisions, web site development, etc.
4. Books - Have first trilogy published by July 1, 2010. Action steps - contact potential authors, finish my outline, contact agents, publishers, etc.
5. Increase our net worth by 25 percent. Action steps: Stick to a budget in 2010, increase our income, decrease our expenses.
6. Spirit/catchall - Find joy in each day. Share joy each day. Develop as a human being. Be a good friend, daughter, daughter in law, sister, etc. Action steps: Continue to "feed" myself with positive thoughts, stay in touch with family and friends, take the improvisation class I signed up for, continue my support of Room to Read and Women for women. Follow a vegan diet at least 80 percent of each day.
7. Garden - Have an open house this June where at least 30 people enjoy the gardens. Action steps - coordinate this with my neighbors - it will be a neighborhood garden walk.
8. Health/beauty - Be healthy, look and feel beautiful in my own eyes each day. Action steps - Train with my friend Petra the next 10 weeks, commit to yoga for posture and flexibility at least three times a week on the fit channel television show. Achieve 127 pound weight within about 15 weeks, which would be mid April. I'm 142 lbs. now. Keep my food diary on Self magazine's website, restarted my profile today and eat an average of 2000 calories a day/vegan.
9. House - Keep the house tidy and organized - always a struggle here - at least the downstairs. Action step: Follow fly lady at least 4 days a week and recommit to finding five items to donate/toss each day, for a total of 1825 items out the door this year.
10. Business vocabulary - Expand my business acumen. Action steps - learn at least 730 new terms.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Day 299 - Nightly update



The poster above is on our fridge, but it is hard to read in the photo. Here's the text.

Nature is the one place where miracles not only happen, but happen all the time. Thomas Wolfe

If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would be as it is, infinite. William Blake

Every moment Nature starts on the longest journey, and every moment, she reaches her goal. Goethe (I don't get this one at all, so if you do, do share.)

We must never lose our sense of awe at the magnificence of our planet. Anonymous

When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe. John Muir


Though the poster has been on the refrigerator for awhile, it seems extra apropos as I saw an interview of Johnathan Safran Foer NY time bestseller, on his book, Eating Animals. He discusses the horrors of the meat industry (factory farming, not free range) and how we do more harm to the planet through our diet, than any transportation issue. He mentions people comparing a Hummer to a Hybrid, and that that decision will have little impact on the planet compared with the food we choose to eat. And also that we sort of don't want to know what happens before we get the neatly wrapped packets of meat at the store, which I think is true.

I fast forwarded through the horrors part - I've been a vegetarian over 10 years now and don't even want to know that sort of thing. But he did stress some of the cruelest practices were to laying hens. I now buy organic eggs that are stamped "Certified Humane" by the Humane Society, but I wonder what the standard of humane is. He talks a lot about figuring out for yourself your ethical stance on the whole issue. So I'm wondering if the fact I "like the taste" of milk and cheese is ethically enough - what if I liked the taste of dogs? I wouldn't even consider killing a dog to eat it, so why taking eggs from a chicken that will only be kept alive two years or so when her laying ability is high, then killed?

Anyway, lots of thought here. There are a LOT of vegan protein sources, including nuts, tofu, soy foods, whole grains, especially quinoa, beans, legumes, etc. My goal for the new year is a vegan diet. I've tried and failed at this several times, but one thing I've learned is I seem to need to try something several times before I succeed at it fully.

Marriage - Check.
Parenting - Read a bit in Redirection Children's Behaviors. The first chapter is about the importance of self-care in the parent. The more rested, relaxed and happy you are (i.e. taking care of yourself) the better able you are to then try to redirect your children's behaviors....makes sense.
Business - Organized sheets and sheets of notes from brainstorming sessions into some semblance of order.
Book - Some research.
FI - Updated accounts
Garden- Plan to peruse a garden book at bedtime.
Spirit- Nice chat with a good friend.
Health - 30 minutes cardio
House - Tackled "the corner pile" the place everything is dumped daily, which gets crazy within any given 24 hour period;-).
Bus. Vocab. law of diminishing returns, acceleration principal, working capital, 403(b) plan.

Good night and good wishes!! We're closing in on 2010!!!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Day 300 - Big Milestone - 1/6th of the way through!!! How's it going everyone?





Happy day 300!! We are a bit over 65 days into the journey as I took some days off and you may have as well. It is nothing short of amazing how much has happened in those 65 days. So let me give you an update, starting with the company.

The universe smiled today, day 300, I think as the delivery of the possible action figures for the Lewis and Clark series arrived at the front door. They are great and I'm looking forward to meeting the designer and talking more. The figures are sitting on my family room fireplace in the photo above, only the horse was borrowed from other toys.

Greg and I finished our overall action plan with dated milestones also this evening and will be emailing it to all my mentors for the January 4 meeting to get additional input and suggestions on how to proceed.

As to the book, you will see from the other photo that I'm becoming a walking encyclopedia of Lewis and Clark. I'm outlining the story and leaving open the option of hiring an established children's writer if I can't make it great, but I'm giving myself a bit of time to see if I can.

As to marriage, I know that I've been blessed to be married to the best guy I could ever imagine and that I truly owe him so much for the happiness I feel in life. Greg - you are the best. I love you so much!!!!

As to parenting - I continue to learn and grow. I'm reading a book on behavior issues (my two year old is "a pistol" at times as the saying goes) and also working constantly to be in the moment and find the humor in situations as much as I can. I know I have wonderful kids.

As to FI, we are closing in on another big milestone, for which I'm grateful. We don't know yet how much we would be putting into the company so it's nice to know there is a cushion there to help it get off the ground. We've been working to be more frugal of late and even Greg is becoming more conscious of day to day expenses.

Spirit - I find myself more peaceful than I was at the start of this journey. That might be a sense of calmness that comes with clearly defined goals and a lack of dithering. It may be positive thinking books, subconscious tapes, or just little reminders all over the house in the form of posters, magnets, plaques and embroidered pieces to enjoy the journey, count my blessings, and stay the course. Walking through my house these days is a bit like walking into a Dale Carnegie book....lots of positive thoughts at every turn;-).

Garden - Hard too see lots of progress in December in Wisconsin, but I'm sure come spring, my gardens will have lots of wow power.;-)

Health/beauty - Have stepped up my exercise and signed up with my friend who is starting a business as a personal trainer. We did one session, then had to take off 2 weeks for Christmas break, but will begin again the week of January 4, so that's exciting. I've also been reading a lot about keeping a food journal. I think this would help not just with calorie awareness, but also nutrition.

House - Maybe the weakest link at the moment;-). Could use a major declutter session, but all in good time.

Business Vocabulary - This I find a bit of a pain, but I'm committed to seeing it through for the year. I would say I'm a bit more knowledgeable in general as each new term I study broadens my mind a bit.

Sending you all lots of good thoughts! I would love to hear any bits of progress you'd be willing to share. We are one sixth the way through!!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Day 301 - Nightly Roundup



Week one into two week winter school break and we're maybe getting a wee bit of cabin fever. This is a lot of together time;-). I'm not sure how those early settlers in one room cabins, sans a central furnace, a basement with 2000 toys, Curious George cartoons, a fridge stuffed with snacks, and a telephone to stay in touch with family and friends ever made it through those long, cold, Midwestern winters. I am in awe of them sometimes. Now as I'm researching Lewis and Clark, I'm even more amazed at the general physical toughness of our ancestors. Patience must have been a more common virtue.

One issue I struggle with is feeling I'm "getting nothing done" all day. The house ends up a mess, there are dirty dishes, toys everywhere, and just when I think I'll have time to sit down and enter some bills into the computer, someone will be hysterical that big brother took his toy or baby brother broke a snow globe.;-). One of my true intentions for the new year is to see that just spending time with my kids is "getting something done", and I would love to hear little mind benders any of you use to bring that message home on a daily basis.

I had a lovely surprise recently when I noted a new icon on my web page and realized it was Elizabeth Tarpley, whom I had written about in November. I found an article about her in the October 2009, Forbes magazine and been inspired when I read about her founding her own company, Integrated Solutions, Inc., which has developed a kid's keyboard that enhances children's cognitive abilities. And to top it off, it's spill proof - great for toddlers! When I went to her site she mentioned coming across mine and left a message that she had indeed "hunkered down" and worked very hard for her success. Thanks so much Elizabeth for continuing to be a role model to all women (and men too) to follow our dreams!

Tonight's roundup.

Marriage - check.
Parenting - We did get outside to walk the dog. Kirk brought along his sword, which is now a light saber as he saw Star Wars and has requested I refer to him as a Jedi Knight. Under great duress, he began writing his thank you notes.
Business - We contacted someone who might be able to make the action dolls! This would be wonderful. Still working out things like wholesale costs, margins, manufacturing, etc. but it still feels like great progress.
Book - Worked on chapter one, read it upon completion and thought, this is really, really, really bad;-). Still thinking of hiring someone, but my dear friend and husband have confidence I can do it so we'll see. Read a fascinating article about how much writing pays, and it was a bit disheartening as I think really good writers are a gift to us all. Here's the link.

http://www.genreality.net/more-on-the-reality-of-a-times-bestseller

FI - Mostly a no spend day. Got all the library materials back on time to avoid fees and did spring for one Dr. Pepper and two small bags of chocolate covered raisins (bribes for the kids behaving at the library).
Health - 30 minutes cardio - with numerous stops to help Kai when his truck was stuck, Kirk when he couldn't find his light saber, let Brandi out when she started to suspiciously sniff about, etc.
Spirit - Saw Barbara Streisand on Oprah (a taped older show) and she talked about manifesting reality. She told Oprah she believed we manifest our reality and when Oprah said surely Barbara hadn't thought she'd be where she is today, Barbara disagreed, saying it kind of was what she'd imagined. I took it to mean she had sort of visualized herself to the point she is today -and that was very encouraging. It was a good reminder to keep my thoughts on what I want and not on fears, irritations, etc.
Garden - Got a wonderful gift from my in-laws that I plan to spend on plants next year - and will have a lovely time plotting and planning this during the winter.
House - Got some of the Xmas decorations down.
Bus. Vocab. - quality loss function, short term debt, comparative advantage, copyright.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Christmas 2009!!!




Today was a lovely day! Kai helped me cook. My brother helped the kids put together their toys. Kai and mom's dog watched the squirrels. We had a wonderful meal with my parents and brother here and happy time spent together. Tomorrow Greg's family will be here so more happy times ahead. Kirk chirped this morning, "I've waited ALL year for today and it's been awesome!".;-) Hope as we close in on the end of 2009, you all are enjoying a wonderful holiday and looking forward to an amazing 2010. Last night Greg and I stayed up late with the tree and for every bubble light (about 25) we each had to think of something we were grateful for, and not surprisingly, we could have easily gone through many strands as we have a LOT to give thanks for. Looking forward to a wonderful New Year.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Brief holiday break in store;-)


It's getting a bit crazy with the holidays and parties and new deadlines for my first meeting, so I'm going to take off a week or so and just focus on enjoying the moments as they come along. Be back on line soon. Hope you all have a fantastic holiday and that your progress on your goals is exciting and inspirational. Thanks for the encouragement you offer here! Best wishes. Eileen

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Day 302 - Nightly Roundup


Marriage - Check.
Parenting - Lots of playtime and a long trip to the grocery store, after which I wouldn't have minded a nap;-).
Business - Worked a bit on the Governor's business plan competition. The original entry is limited to 250 words, divided among four categories: product description, customer definition (their needs/my solution); market description (size and sales strategy); competition (identify possible competitors).
Book - Will read a bit more about character development tonight.
FI - Though mighty tempted to get two cooked turkeys from Whole Foods (I'm a vegetarian and have never cooked a turkey and have two big holiday dinners back to back Friday/Saturday), when they quoted the free-range, already cooked, organic turkeys at close to $80 each, I took a pass. So wish me luck. That one choice about covered the cost of the entire meal.
Spirit-Just enjoying the holiday spirit in general and the decorations.
Health - 30 minutes cardio.
Garden - Set out some traded seeds (birdhouse gourds and something autumn sun) to sew tomorrow for solstice.
House - Tackled the paper pile again - school notices, real estate taxes, dentist bill, reimbursement for travel for jury duty.....the list goes on and on;-)
Bus. Vocab. Conglomerate, constant dollar GNP, consumer goods, consumer price index.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Day 303 Nightly Roundup



Marriage - Check
Parenting - Lots of play time today. We got out the old Fisher Price town pieces that I've collected at garage sales through the last few years. I loved these sets as a kid and it's fun to use them again with my kids.
Business - Making quite a lot of progress here. We've got the trademark registration and searches being done, formed our LLC, and created an initial timeline of milestones and dates.
Book - Will work on this more tonight.
FI- This was a sort of no-spend day. We did spend on something for the company (an old action figure from Amazon to use as a model) but no personal spending.
Garden - Monday is winter solstice! Looked a bit through the Jung seed catalogue, though I will probably just trade this year and not buy new seeds. Still, it's fun to see what's new in the annuals and perennials.
Spirit - Got a Buddha head statue from a thrift store and every time I see him, I remind myself of the value of a calm mind, peaceful thoughts.
Health - Will do a bit of yoga tonight.
House - Did a tiny bit of decluttering today - four puzzles that the kids didn't use much.
Bus. Vocab. fair market value, equity, commodity, common carrier

Friday, December 18, 2009

Day 304 - Nightly Roundup



Hello and Happy Holidays!

Marriage - Check.
Parenting - Kirk had his big "Broadway Debut" at school today and the grandparents came to watch with us. It was fun to see his excitement.
Business - Working on an action plan of steps with deadlines.
Book - Reading some more on character development.
FI - Spent a long time chatting with my older brother, who is very frugal, and we did some note comparing for ideas.
Spirit- Time with the kids and in-laws, and my mom, and Greg today. It was nice to all be together.
Health - Stocked up on a lot of fruit for the weekend and gave away a lot of cookies so I wouldn't be so tempted;-)
Garden - Spent a bit of time on Gardenweb.com for wintersowing. Monday is winter solstice, so it's time to start thinking about getting some winter sowing done - how fun!!
House - Is truly immaculate (for guests) today. That will last about another 12 hours at best;-).
Bus. Vocab. best efforts, domestic rate, cause and effect analysis, capped-style option.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Nightly Roundup



Our first ambulance trip yesterday so no update. Very, very scary. Kai had what turned out to be a febrile seizure (fever convulsions). He was watching Curious George and running a temperature, so we'd just laid low all day. All at once his body started convulsing, I picked him up, terrified and called 911, and he went completely limp. The ambulance arrived and they tried to reassure me that it was probably this febrile seizure, not uncommon with fevers for children under five, with no long term negative affects, but riding along to the hospital with my little guy completely out of it, I was not too comforted. The people were all wonderfully kind and helpful and Kai is 100 percent fine and I am grateful beyond what words could express and thank God every moment that the kids are okay. Today was a pretty slow day and I didn't get much done, still in a bit of a recovery mode myself. I will be up and at 'em tomorrow. Best wishes to you all. Eileen

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Day 305 - Nightly Roundup


Marriage - check.
Parenting - Played a fun new game from a thrift store today called Hi ho Cherry-O, which lets the kids count. Kai doesn't quite get it, but Kirk loved it. We've been trying to play one game with each dinner.
Business - Had a lovely long meeting with another woman entrepreneur also in the education field and enjoyed hearing her ideas.
Book - Will read a bit of character development.
FI - Our waffle/pear/banana dinner came in under $3 for all of us;-).
Garden - Got out some photos of my garden in summer to give myself a winter boost.
Spirit - Kirk and I were reading about Sitting Bull and Kirk finally asked me to stop reading as it was too sad at the end (the government's treatment of the native Americans). To this day, I have a cousin who works with kids on some reservations in northern WI, and it's still a very sad situation. I wonder what it will take to remedy some of this?
Health - 30 cardio.
House- A bit of work organizing the basement.
Bus. Vocab. - Purchasing power parity, margin call, hedging, cyclical industries.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Day 306 - Nightly Roudup


Presentation went well and I was assigned three mentors!! I asked for mentors with experience in manufacturing, marketing and publication, and while I do not yet know who will be on the team, there are a LOT of amazing people in the organization so I'm pleased as punch and grateful as can be! Sending good wishes to each of you starting new ventures this year and hoping you are also finding helpful role models.
Marriage - check.
Parenting - We put up the tree - Lots of "help" from my two and five year old, which made it more fun and more challenging;-).
Business - Big presentation to the 50 mentors.
Book - Will do a bit of work on the Lewis and Clark outline tonight.
FI - I was tempted to treat myself to lunch out, but came home and had leftovers, which were just as good and easily $10 cheaper.
Health- Did my trainer/friend's regime - truly I'm not yet used to it and not really enjoying it, but hopefully the results will keep me motivated. She's a three time iron woman - get the idea of her training philosophy....not for wimps;-).
Spirit- Found a great way to be "in the moment" as every philosopher in all time has always recommended. I may have written about this earlier, but the best means which I've found and had read about, is to focus on your other senses to "get out of the monkey chatter in your mind." So when my mind is racing, I'll focus on the feel of the floor under my feet as I walk, or the sound of a bird chirping, the taste of iced tea, you get the idea. Doing this, you are truly "in the moment" which is lovely.
Garden- Perused Parks seed catalogue and dreamed for a bit today.
House - Am getting a pile of Xmas ornaments and decorations ready to donate.
Bus. Vocab.- captains of industry, cesar chavez, compound interest, constant dollars.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Day 307 Nightly Roundup


Hope everyone had a great weekend! I'm excited about my presentation tomorrow to the complete group of mentors - 50 in all - and can't wait to meet with my team to hear ideas. Hope all your plans and dreams are making progress and that the trip is making you an even stronger, happier person.

Marriage - check
Parenting- Can I admit here I offered Kirk $1 to "play nicely" with Kai (I called it babysitting him) for 30 minutes so I could rest after church (I had a rare headache). Usually they play quietly for all of about five minutes before someone is shrieking, then go back to play fairly well for five minutes or so, and then it's like a loop. Amazingly, for a buck, Kirk was the ideal big brother and really hustled to make Kai happy offering to play hide and seek, share his toys, make a block tower, and play trucks. He set the timer in the kitchen himself and when it went off, told me he had set it for an extra minute (31) because I seemed tired, but he wouldn't charge me;-).
Business - Practiced my presentation.
Book - Wondering if the Washington trilogy is too violent. I want the kids to learn the history of the American Revolution but not glorify war. I did some research and learned the British soldiers had a pretty tough time of it themselves, and many were amazingly brave. I'm not sure how to work compassion into the story, make it "anti-war", but at the same time acknowledge that without the soldiers, we wouldn't be here today. Open for suggestions on this.
FI - Got a $35 Christmas tree, despite tales that there was nothing out there under $50. And it's quite a nice tree.
Health - 30 minutes cardio.
Garden - Watered all the overwintering plants, which get incredibly dry indoors.
Spirit- Will read a great book tonight.
House - Worked on a wood chest full of puzzles, magazine clippings, book tapes, etc. and cleared out quite a bit.
Bus. Vocab. - Capital, capital expensiture, capital formation, capital gain.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Day 308 - Nightly Roundup




Marriage - Check
Parenting - Ups and downs;-)
Business - A tiny bit of work on plan.
Book - More work on basic concept.
FI-Last giant pile of receipts entered - we are updated!!!!
Garden- Brought in about 8 of the hyacinth bulbs I had potted up earlier. They should smell heavenly when they bloom, assuming they do;-).
Spirit- Nice evening out with Greg.
Health- Some core work per my personal trainer's plan.
House- Very tidy! Continue to organize and declutter.
Bus. Vocab - bilateralism, blue chip stock, bottom line, bounty

Friday, December 11, 2009

Day 309 - Nightly Roundup



Marriage - Check.
Parenting - Lots of quality time together - with only two melt-downs from my two year old;-).
Business - Worked on presentation.
Book - Started getting in samples from prospective writers, but so far no one seems just right. Greg keeps telling me I should write the books myself, but my background doesn't include work in fiction and I frankly don't know if I have it in me to do the whole job. But I guess I'll never know with out pounding the keyboard.
FI- Entered some receipts.
Spirit- Good chat on the phone with a friend who just returned from a much needed vacation.
Health- Did my friend/personal trainer's workout.
Garden - Will read a book about building a bird friendly garden tonight.
House- Cleaned off one of the shelves in the fridge. I do give us a lot of credit that since we tracked it, we now throw out very little food. And the kids now eat two fruits and two veggies with each supper (very small portions). The pay off is that if they eat it,they can have one small piece of candy as a reward. I have read that you shouldn't reward healthy eating with dessert as it sends the message one is a chore and the other a treat, but I have not otherwise gotten my kids to each veggies so much and so enthusiastically, so it's working thus far - about two weeks in.
Bus. Vocab -bottleneck, bourgeoisie, bull market, buyer's market

The poster above is the one I just got for 50 cents at a thrift store. I think its message is powerful. It reads:

"Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness, concerning all acts of initiation (and creation). There is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too, all sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance which no one could have dreamed would have come their way. Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now." Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Day 310 Nightly Roundup



I mentioned that we watched the Little House on the Prairie movie yesterday. Here is a picture of the boys who visited one of the Ingalls actual homes in IA, where they were for only a year. This is the actual size of the wagon they traveled in! Imagine putting all your household goods in this and traveling from WI to Kansas, then Minn., Iowa and later I think South Dakota. Tough folks indeed!
Marriage - Check
Parenting - One of those great days where I just loved being a mom. We played "alligator" which is sort of a game of tag (mom is the alligator), we read several stories that Grandma had sent in the mail, the kids tidied up all their toys with not too many complaints, we watched a Leapfrog video together, talked to the other grandma on the phone and generally had a good time.
Business - More work on the whole concept over lunch with a notepad and pen.
Book - Decided to add Christopher Columbus to the 100 greatest mind series.
Health - Had my first session with my friend who is now a personal trainer.
FI - Did a bit of thrift store shopping and found some great puzzles for the kids for Xmas.
Garden - Will read a bit in a garden book tonight.
Spirit - Found a great inspirational poster, the contents of which I'll post tomorrow.
House - Tiny, tiny, tiny bit on loose paper pile.
Bus. Vocab. - low tax jurisdiction, contingent order, bear market, bilateralism

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Day 311 Nightly Roundup


More snow than I think I've ever seen!

Marriage - Check.
Parenting- Snow day with a five and two year old full of highs and lows;-).
Business- Tiny bit of work on a flow chart for Monday's presentation.
Book- More "thinking" time with my characters.
FI-No spend day!
Garden- A bit of time going through next year's seeds.
Spirit-Watched a Little House on the Prairie movie with the kids and was once again amazed at what tough people those early settlers were and how much we owe them.
Health- 30 cardio
House- Tackled the scary loose paper pile;-)
Bus. Vocab. appropriation, assets, balance of payments, balance sheet

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Day 312 - Nightly Roundup

Hope to have photos back by tomorrow. I think I've got the new camera figured out.
Marriage - Check.
Parenting - Pretty rushed today, not the best quality time, but we're getting 12 inches of snow tonight so tomorrow will be a stay at home, snuggle, and play day.
Business - Went to a wonderful event in which women owned companies present for financing. Lots of inspiration in all different fields.
Book - Played around with various options for the characters meeting the famous people for the book series.
FI - Combined errands to save gas money today.
Spirit- Met the founder of Michelle's Miracle, "Discover the Power of Cherries" and was inspired. She has a great story and has had great success.
Health - Got a clean bill of health in all areas at the doctor's office today - always glad to have that yearly appointment behind me;-).
Garden-Plan to bring a garden book to bed tonight and just dream spring.
House - General tidying - need to restart the overall organization schemes.
Bus. Vocab- block trade, annuity, agribusiness, novation

Monday, December 7, 2009

Day 313 -Nightly Roundup

It's after 10 and I'm exhausted, so this will be very short. I did get my $40 new digital camera but have no idea how to run it;-). Expecting up to 12 inches of snow tomorrow - yikes!
Marriage - check
Kids - Good playtime, puzzles, dinner, reading.
Business- Worked a bit of practice for presentation.
Book - Will do a tiny bit in character development book.
FI- Maybe the $40 camera vs. $150-$200 new and the kindness of the Craigslist person who agreed to meet me at her work to save on driving costs.
Garden- A tiny bit of reading in a garden book (2 pages)
Health- Walking the dogs
Spirit-Nice long chat w/DH
House-General tidying up.
Bus. Vocab. - Going to give myself the night off here;-). Goodnight!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Day 314 - Nightly Roudup

My five year old dropped my digital camera, cracking the case and rendering it unusable, so no photos. I did call about a used one for $40 on Craigslist that I'm going to look at tomorrow.

Marriage - Check.
Parenting - Lots of good quality play time.
Business - Still working on the business presentation.
Book - Will read a bit tonight on character development.
Spirit- Lovely long chat with a good friend on the phone.
Health- Walking dogs with neighbor.
Garden - This may be a bit lame, but I watched about 15 minutes of a garden show while I did the elliptical machine, enough to make me eager to spring.
FI - Doing fairly well keeping grocery costs low.
House - Three more minutes of the photo drawers, which are beginning to show some slight progress.
Bus. Vocab. Vision, word of mouth advertising, wear out, word painting

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Day 315 - Nightly Roundup



Greg and the boys got our tree today - Thanks!
Marriage-Check
Parenting - Did a pretty good job again today just being in the moment.
Business - Worked a bit on a flow chart for my presentation.
Book- Will read more of character development.
Garden- Watered some overwintering plants.
FI-Continuing to update accounts. Plan is by Jan. 1 all accounts are updated and we have a new budget in place.
Spirit- Put up a few more inspirational posters/pictures - my house is beginning to look like the inside of a Dale Carnegie book;-)
Health - 20 minutes Pilates
House-Continuing to sort the photo drawers and separate out old cards, letters, and picture frames.
Bus.Vocab. -Time value of money, values and lifestyles research, vehicle, vertical publications.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Reality Check



Last night I started reading a wonderful book called Moments In Between - The Art of the Quiet Mind by David Kundtz. One mini-essay was entitled Reality Check and I'd like to share it here as I found it helpful.

Reality Check

It will never rain roses: When we want to have more roses we must plant more trees. -George Eliot

Occasionally someone will say to me, "Just sitting and doing nothing seems to be running from the real world, hiding from what you don't want to face." My response is to reiterate that intentionally doing nothing is indeed the opposite of running and hiding. This is because it brings you face-to-face - even to the point of embracing-the most important and challenging aspects of human life, those based on your meanings and values.

As Eliot says, if you want roses, plant trees. What doing nothing can do is help you know what you really want - is it roses, or gladiolas, or redwoods, or none of those? - so you don't end up with a beautiful garden of what you didn't want.

The English novelist quoted above, George Eliot, speaks these words from personal experience. Born Mary Anne Evans into a male-dominated Victorian world, she led her rich and complex life successfully competing in the theological and literary worlds of her time. Her masculine pen name increased the power she needed in order to be all she wanted to be, not running and hiding, just embracing life as she saw it, in the era in which she saw it.

No waiting for a rain of roses for her.

End of quoted mini-essay.

As a passionate gardener, I liked the analogy to planting what you want to get. And I appreciate the concept that you need some down time, some quiet time, to decide what that is. This also goes back to an article I quoted from some time ago about being busy/lazy. That one rushes about in a dither, because one doesn't want the work of figuring out the exact path to take. I see myself in all of this and did take some time to do nothing, at least for five minutes today;-). Wishing you a productive do nothing session tonight. Best wishes always. Eileen

Day 316 Nightly Roundup


Today was a very productive day, always a good feeling. The meeting with the researcher went well and I did a lot of work on the company's philosophy/mission statement. I was truly in the moment with the kids, helped by an article I read last night that I will post here. Hope you all had a happy Friday!

Marriage - Check. Picked up milk;-)
Parenting - Really in the moment today with the kids.
Book - Organizing a flier to distribute at the University for a team of writers to help with the series.
Business - Worked on revising my second presentation.
Garden - Brought in some amaryllis bulbs that I hope to pot up tomorrow.
Spirit/catchall - Will read a bit more in Moments in Between tonight.
FI - Used up lot of left-overs.
Health - Walked dogs around the block.
House - A bit more work on a drawer stuffed with photos. One bonus, found a wonderful wedding picture of my great-grandparents that I hadn't realized I had. Thanks to my mom for putting names and dates so I could figure it out!
Bus. Vocab.- Marginal cost of capital, haircut, target audience, unique selling proposition

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Day 317 - Nightly Roundup



A very hectic day and I still need to create a list of questions for the researcher to look at for next week. I meet him tomorrow morning. I hope to have the information back by Friday to use in next Monday's presentation. A friend suggested the Rescue Heroes might be a similar model to my 100 greatest mind story/action figure series, so I have a bunch of questions about their business development. And then because the person I hired, a freelance journalist, is also a huge history buff, a few hours of specifics on Lewis and Clark from that period, clothing, transport, food - details that will give the story historically accurate details.
Marriage- Check.
Parenting- Some good play time.
Business- Working tonight on a list of additional questions for the researcher to help with for another 10 hours. This will be the second ten hours of paid research to help with the business plan.
Book- A wee bit more on character development.
Garden- Watered a few more plants.
Spirit-Feeling a bit down at the mouth as my grandpa used to say. This is likely due to a combination of being in a steep learning curve for my company, Greg having to work crazy hours lately, lack of sunshine, cold, and today snow. I planned to read Moments in Between by David Kundtz before bed.I just thumbed through and found the perfect quote on page 22.
Sometimes I go about in pity for myself, and all the while a great wind is bearing me across the sky. Ojibwa saying.
FI- Another fairly big spending day - getting in some bad habits lately with eating out, hitting various thrift stores when I don't really need anything, a parking fine for overstaying the parking meter, etc. On the plus side, I am continuing to record every penny and still thinking through a new budget for the new year.
Health/beauty-Tag on to today's price tag, foiled highlights;-).
House-A tiny bit more on the photo pile.
Bus. Vocab - Total return swap, grant, slogan, subliminal perception.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Day 318 - Nightly Roundup


Busy day today so not as much accomplished in any one area, but a happy day too.

1. Marriage - check.
2. Parenting - Took the kids to meet some good friends at the library's play area, then we went out to dinner and went to see a big Christmas light display.
3. Business - Had a wonderful meeting with the founder of Posi-pair and she once again was an absolute fountain of ideas. I have learned to take a notebook when I meet with her so I don't miss anything. She told me about several grants that are available to apply to as a new business at both the state and federal level so I'm excited to look more into this.
4. Book - Just a few pages on character development.
5. Garden - Watered some of the overwintering plants.
6. Spirit/catchall - The friend we met today has long wanted the older boys to help serve meals at a homeless shelter that is set up for kids to help. So we stopped by there tonight to find dates and times to help out and will try to do that in the next few weeks.
7. Health/beauty - The same friend is now a personal trainer just starting out and so I signed up for once a week training for 10 weeks to help her get her business off the ground and hopefully become a bit more svelte in the process;-).
8. FI - Spent quite a lot today so this category was not the best, but I will start rereading the Tightwad Gazette II tonight to get back on track. One of the things I really admire about Sarah's company (Posi-Pair) is how incredibly, admirably frugally she is doing it. This woman does not spend money she doesn't need to and I want to follow that model in my own company. I told her she should write a book about getting a company launched on a shoestring and I hope she does, or at a minimum, an in depth magazine article.
9. Home - Did about 3 minutes on the crazy and I do mean crazy piles of family photos organizing and tossing.
10. Bus. Vocab.- Dividend per share, fixtures, selling orientation, strategic market planning

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Day 319 - Nightly Roundup


The presentation today was a big milestone and I was so happy! It was only ten minutes, followed by five minutes of questions, but if I'm accepted into the program, the mentors represent an amazing breadth of business experience that would help enormously as I develop the company. I couldn't sleep last night for nerves and will be so glad to head off to the land of Nod tonight!

Marriage - Check

Parenting - Had a great time playing blocks. After all the self-induced anxiety over the presentation, I was thrilled to come home and build block towers and do other in-the-moment activities in my own security zone;-).

Business - Presentation and answering questions. I brought various dual use educational household products to show them what the marketplace would consist of as well as future product ideas. Part of me feels the more I get the idea out there, the more momentum it builds.

Book- This has gravitated toward the story line that will go with the series of the brothers meeting the 100 greatest minds/explorers rather than a saving money book. So while the goal remains to publish, what I hope to publish has changed.

Garden - My good friend/neighbor brought a bunch of winter berries, evergreens, and red twigged dogwood to do two arrangements for the antique green urns on either side of the garage. I will post a picture tomorrow. They are quite lovely and she pointed out that in our WI climate, these will last longer than any summer basket of petunias or impatiens.

FI - Spent about an hour on the phone with my insurance company trying to figure out if there is a cheaper way to do labs (long story) but I did not yet get a definitive answer.

Health - 30 minutes of cardio.

Spirit/catchall - Long chat with a dear friend who at last found Mr. Right at age 41 and is now getting married and even thinking of starting a family - with great joy.

House - One shelf of one cupboard

Bus. Vocab - Joint venture, basis swap, pupilometric, range

Monday, November 30, 2009

Day 319 Nightly Roundup


Hope you all had a lovely holiday weekend. I was happy to take a complete four day break. Today I was practicing tomorrow's presentation for the mentor group when Greg announced with heartfelt enthusiasm, "You've really come a long way with this business idea!" That was nice to hear and it is amazing what 46 days (365 to 319) can accomplish. I'm wishing all of you milestones as well and would love to hear on day 300 (19 days from now) any progress that you've seen.


Today's 1o goal round-up.


Marriage - check.

Parenting - Got the kids a $6 guitar at a thrift store today and we all sang (off key) a number of kids songs, between an enormous number of angry jealous bouts about who was going to hold the instrument......Yin and Yang;-)

Business - Practiced tomorrow's presentation to the mirror, to Greg, to my five year old (who didn't make it the whole 10 minutes) and in the shower.

Writing - I had to go in for jury selection today. I wasn't chosen but had quite a bit of down time and continued to read the book about creating characters from Orson Scott Card. It's quite an endeavor and seems almost impossibly difficult. Then tonight, when I was walking the dogs with my friend she mentioned an author named Stephanie Meyer who wrote a series called Twilight. It was an intriguing story, so I googled her and found her personal tale. Apparently she didn't read a lot of character development books;-).


Stephenie Meyer's life changed dramatically on June 2, 2003. The
stay-at-home mother of three young sons woke up from a dream featuring
seemingly real characters that she could not get out of her head.
"Though I had a million things to do, I stayed in bed, thinking about the dream.
Unwillingly, I eventually got up and did the immediate necessities, and then
put everything that I possibly could on the back burner and sat down at the
computer to write—something I hadn't done in so long that I wondered why I
was bothering."
Meyer invented the plot during the day through swim lessons and potty training, and wrote it out late at night when the house was quiet. Three months later she finished her first novel, Twilight. With encouragement from her older sister (the only other person who knew she had written a book), Meyer submitted her manuscript to various literary agencies. Twilight was picked out of a slush pile at Writer's House and
eventually made its way to the publishing company Little, Brown where everyone fell immediately in love with the gripping, star-crossed lovers.


Garden - Potted up about a dozen hyacinth bulbs for winter bloom for the house and for gifts.

Spirit/catchall - Lovely, albeit short chat with a good friend.

Health - Walk around block will have to do.

FI - Parked about six blocks from the courthouse to get free parking, and got some exercise to boot.

House - My mini- Christmas village is now all lit up in the bay window. It dates back to before I was married, when Mom and I shopped all the Walgreens in downtown Chicago to collect the set and then dragged them home on a train on a FREEZING winter shopping trip that was our only one to date in the windy city so it has good memories.

Bus. Vocab. -Focus group, asking price, factors of production, Committee on Uniform Securities Identification Procedures.





Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!!! Off to Iowa tonight.


Happy Thanksgiving! I am truly thankful to each of you who are sharing this year's journey. Your presence means more than you know. Best wishes! Eileen

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Day 320 - Nightly Roundup


Marriage - Check.
Parenting - Book reading, but I must acknowledge that I wasn't in the best mommy mood tonight. The house is a bit of a disaster and my neighbor will be coming while we're gone to use the oven for her big celebration and watch Brandi. So I've been trying to tidy up. When I asked the kids to help, Kirk whined/cried for about 15 minutes that it wasn't fair that he had to do more than Kai (who is two) and Kai preferred to just keep climbing into the block bin and jumping on mommy hollering "Rock a bye Mommy!!" Note to self, messy house = WAY less tolerance in general and my nerves do better with some sense of order, especially with a deadline;-).
Book - Greg gave me an interesting book written by Orson Scott Card about developing characters which I am starting to read as I organize the 100 greatest minds boys' book series.
Business - Completed the revised application for the mentor program. I will present it next week.
Garden - Added to the compost pile.
FI - Worked out the first draft of a revised budget to help lower our household costs to account for extra business costs of the Curiosity Cottage.
Spirit- Going to see a movie late tonight with a friend about Coco Channel- very much looking forward to this!
Health/beauty - 30 minutes cardio.
House- Fixed a cabinet door that wasn't closing properly.
Bus. Vocab - Product life cycle, product positioning, promotion, promotion mix

Be Happy In 30 Days or Less - For Free!



I put this together as a reminder to myself as I tackle my book and business ideas and feel a wee bit of stress creep in. I drove past a funeral yesterday coming back from a meeting and seeing all the black clad attendees standing around the funeral home, with a few kids running about the parking lot and two service people in their dress uniforms was moving. It was a beautiful day and the thought of these people's loss was sad.

Later that day when I went to meet my friend/neighbor to walk our dogs, it occurred to me as I strolled up to the front door that in several hundred years, neither of our houses or gardens would likely still exist. And yes, this writing is going to go from a bit morbid to happy;-).

So where does this get us? As our time here on this beautiful blue planet is brief, surely we are meant to experience and give joy and spread goodness of some sort while we're here. I really believe we are meant to be happy and help others to be so as well. And it's a lot easier to spread happiness when you're happy.

The following program uses different techniques I've picked up in 20 years of self-help reading;-). I've used each of these to good success. I'd say 90 percent of my waking hours I'm happy and as I wrote several months ago, getting to that point was a long journey.

So here are the best of the best tips that you can use to enjoy each day. Each one is free and takes only a few minutes an hour. Maybe print this out and keep it on your fridge for the month of December and see if by the 31st, you're even peppier than usual.

How to be happier in 30 days…or less.

12 hour day.

8 to 9 a.m. Act happy, even if you don’t feel it yet. Imagine if you were just tickled pink, how would you stand or sit, what would your face look like, how would your mouth curve, what would your shoulders feel like? Then pretend you're an actress being paid thousands for a happiness scene. Just OOZE happiness for two minutes.

Research that acting happy makes you happy is well documented. Smiling releases endorphins, which help you feel better and loosen up. Here is one interesting study on the "act happy" system.

In the 1980s, psychologist Fritz Strack asked one group of participants to hold a pencil between their teeth, but to ensure that it did not touch their lips. Another group supported the end of the pencil with just their lips, but not their teeth. Without realising it, those in the ‘teeth only’ condition had forced the lower part of their faces into a smile, whilst those in the ‘lips only’ condition had made themselves frown. Everyone then judged how funny they found Gary Larson’s Far Side cartoons, and rate how happy they felt. Participants tended to experience the emotion associated with their expressions. Those who had their faces forced into a smile felt happier, and found the Far Side cartoons much funnier, than those who were forced to frown. Other work has demonstrated that this increase in happiness does not drain away the moment people cease smiling. It lingers, affecting many aspects of their behavior, including interacting with others in a more positive way, and being more likely to remember happy life events.


Strack, F., Martin, L.L., and Stepper, S. (1988). Inhibiting and facilitating conditions of the human smile: A nonobstrusive test of the facial feedback hypothesis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54, 768-777.
Schnall, S., & Laird, J. D. (2003). Keep smiling: Enduring effects of facial expressions and postures on emotional experience. Cognition and Emotion, 17, 787-797.

________________________________________


9 – 10 a.m. Do something for someone else with no plan to be rewarded. This could be opening a door, helping someone carry something. Maybe it's jotting a quick thank you or congrats note. It could be letting a driver ahead of you, smiling at your kids, or being kind to yourself. Or do something for the earth. Maximum time five minutes.

10-11 a.m. Identify one goal you want to achieve this year and visualize your dream already accomplished. You can do this in two minutes. Create that image in your mind and visit it and feel like it’s already done and feel the feelings of joy. Goals give you energy and direction.

11-12 a.m. Take one tiny step toward your goal. Maximum time five minutes to goal. If it’s writing a book, do this during your lunch hour. You could use your whole hour or just five minutes. If it’s getting in shape, take a five minute walk or use the five minutes to jot down everything you’ve eaten and calories. This journaling has been shown to work wonders. If you’re creating a business, do five minutes worth of your business plan. If your goal is to meet someone, brainstorm 30 ways to do so.

12 – 1. Do one thing differently. This could be tying your left shoe first, eating with your left hand, taking a new route to work, eating or drinking something new, signing up for a class or planning to go to a pet store and petting a snake. The idea is that when we do something new, we are in the moment and life expands, new synopsis are formed in your brain and you get more out of life.

1-2 p.m. Read something happy. You can read one good quote, lots of inspirational quotes are available for daily delivery via email, or if you have time, read a few pages in an inspirational book. Maximum time five minutes, but you could do this in 30 seconds.

2-3 pm. List verbally or in writing five things you are grateful for. Maximum time two minutes.

3-4 p.m. Smile at five people. If you’re alone, smile to yourself five times. Maximum time 30 seconds.

4-5 p.m. Think about one quality you admire about yourself. Maximum time 30 seconds.

5-6 p.m. Think about one quality you admire about your spouse, significant other, children, parents, friends, family, coworkers – focus on the positive. Maximum time 30 seconds.

6-7 pm. Do one thing for your body. Eat something healthy, walk five minutes, do five minutes of stretching, take a vitamin, drink water. Maximum time 5 minutes.

7-8 p.m. Stay connected. Send out one email or voicemail or face book announcement or short letter or phone call or set up one lunch or coffee outing or movie – staying social makes you happier as a person.

8-9 Play some sort of subconscious tapes that feed your subconscious with happy and positive thoughts. I use them all day. The ones by Steve Halpern area especially good.


Go to sleep and know you've done a LOT this day to be a happier person and to help others be happy too.


Day one

8-9 a.m. Act happy. _______ check 2 minutes
9-10 a.m. do one thing for someone else or the earth. _______ check 5 minutes
10-11 a.m. visualize your dream as already accomplished _______ check 2 minutes
11-12 a.m. Take a tiny step toward your goal. _______ check 5 minutes
12-1 p.m. Do one thing differently. _______ check 2 minutes
1- 2 p.m. Read something happy. _______ check 30 seconds
2-3 p.m. Think about or write down 5 things you’re grateful for.
_______ check 1 minute
3-4 p.m. Smile at five people. _______ check 1 minute
4-5 p.m. Think of or write down one quality you admire about yourself.
_______ check 1 minute
5-6 p.m. Think of one quality you admire about someone else.
_______ check 30 seconds
6-7 p.m. Do one good thing for your body. _______ check 5 minutes
7-8 p.m. Stay connected to friends, family, neighbors, coworkers, etc.
_______ check 5 minutes
8-9 p.m. Listen to some subconscious tapes. _______ check 5 minutes

Monday, November 23, 2009

Day 321 - Nightly Roundup


Marriage - Check
Parenting - Played monster trucks for close to an hour. That may accord for mom sainthood....;-)
Business - Had a wonderful meeting with the investment banker. She could not have been kinder and more helpful. To recap, I'm not at the stage of looking for funding, but she agreed to meet me to talk about the concept and her ideas were very helpful.
Book - Another chapter (they are only about five pages long) in Chapter after Chapter.
Health - 10 minutes yoga.
FI - Continuing the updating of accounts.
Spirit- Going to read a chapter out of The Soul of Success which has a quote from Deepak Chopra on the bottom stating "This beautiful book shows us how glorious life can be when we go within to find the deeper aspects of success."
Garden- Bloomingbulb.com is having its 60 percent off sale, so I'm putting in an order and dreaming of spring;-).
House- Another trash bag of 15 or so summer sandals out of the front closet to store in the basement.
Bus. Vocab - Parity products, patronage motives, penetrated market, per inquiry

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Day 322 - Nightly Roundup




Marriage - Check;-)
Parenting - We rode our bikes to get bagels, then went to a park, then home to play outside, so lots of fun time together, topped off by pizza for supper. Kirk earned a nickle helping carry out the recyclables.
Book - Read another chapter in "Chapter After Chapter" by Heather Sellers.
Business - Began reading through the research that the person I hired for 10 hours of research came up with. I'm learning a lot as I go through it.
Garden - Filled a cracked clear container with dirt as a mini-greenhouse to get ready for winter-sowing.
FI - Continuing to update accounts.
Spirit- Will read more of the Power Of Now tonight.
Health- 30 minutes cardio.
House- About three minutes and a decent size box of donations cleared from the basement.
Bus. Vocab. -Nominal scale, Norms, Objectives, Observation

You Must Be Small To Be Great - Tama Kieves


A tree that can fill the span of a man's arms grows from a downey tip....a journey of a thousand miles starts from beneath one's feet. Lao-Tzu

From the free library magazine exchange bin, I pulled out the Oct. 19, 2009 edition of Forbes magazine, among others. An article entitled Inspirational Entrepreneurs talked about Elizabeth Tarpley's company Targeted Technology Systems which includes a keyboard for kids. In the article she states, "Seeing the MYPC keyboard being sold at places where I actually shop for my daughter was one of my biggest "wow" moments - seeing my vision travel from an idea to reality."

She goes on to say "I am a much stronger woman than I was three years ago....You really have to say to yourself, "Don't give up" and you have to stay firm on your dream and your goals. These have probably been the hardest three years of my life, but also the best years. I continue to get stronger and stronger."


When I read about women who've achieved a great deal, I have mixed emotions. Part of me is inspired, part of me is almost discouraged. It somehow seems even more impossible when you see the gleaming final image.

Tama Kieves addressed just this in her book, "This Time I Dance." She writes, "My writing sounded like a kindergartner's compared with Barbara Kingsolver's or Pat Conroy's, so I figured why bother.....Comparing your business potential or art to those who have already established themselves is cruel and pointless. Nobody starts out a gold medallist. Nobody begins at the Grammys."

She goes on to talk about reading everything she could get her hands on by John Steinbeck. "
And here's the amazing thing. His first novels were okay, but nothing to write term papers about....even John Steinbeck didn't write like John Steinbeck in his new-kid-on-the-block years. If we can't allow ourselves to be bad, we will never allow ourselves to be good......If we can't allow ourselves to be awkward and inept, then we will stay nothing but awkward and inept in one of those thin, dim hallways of creative purgatory."


And so I remind myself Elizabeth Tarpley didn't start out seeing her company's goods at the stores she shopped in, nor did Martha Stewart or anyone else. I'm going to guess there were some business plans along the way that needed some serious refining, but the thing is they hunkered down and kept at it. Best wishes to all of us in our awkward days;-). Eileen

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Day 323 - Nightly Roundup


Marriage - Check
Parenting - Football time with my kids and four neighbor kids who came over to join us. Kirk was in his glory.
Book - Read a bit more in Chapter after Chapter.
Business - Went to the Women's Expo and got ideas for a future booth.
Garden - Used our dolly to haul some giant pots into the garage.
Spirit- Reading a book so funny I laugh aloud by Sophie Kinsella entitled Twenties Girls....sort of laugh candy.
Health- New rule at dinner for mom and kids (Greg is usually working) is that we have to eat at least two fruits and two veggies with each supper or no post-meal treats.
FI - Downloaded a coupon for the expo for free admission, then walked a ways to avoid parking charges. So other than one Dr. Pepper, it was a no spend day.
House - Tackled another kitchen cabinet - making progress here.
Bus. Vocab. - NAD, Narrowcasting, National brand, Ned unduplicated audience

Friday, November 20, 2009

Day 324 - Nightly Roundup.




Greg and the kids doing the morning bus routine. You can see Kai carries his own transport;-).

Marriage - check.
Parenting - Lots of time at the park today.
Company - Set up a meeting for Monday with an investment banker who very graciously agreed to give some feedback on the concept.
Book - I'm rereading a book my published friend highly recommended and gave me as a gift called Chapter after Chapter, and it's as wonderful as she told me it would be. One phrase I read tonight (about 2 minutes reading) was 'Writers get stuck because they haven't been writing. But they think exactly the opposite. They haven't been writing because they are stuck." And this reminded me what I'd read in This Time I Dance, that the work itself IS the way out. How's that for multiple messages from the universe all in one day?;-)
Health - 30 cardio
FI - Continuing to update our accounts now that we've got Quicken installed. It's a bit dismaying to enter so many receipts and realize how much those bagel and other outings add up when at a day's glance, so little seemed to have been spent.
Spirit- Connected with some long lost friends and relatives via Facebook
Garden - Brought in a tiny sweet alyssum that was still flowering along the front walk and it smells great!
House - 2 minutes on the front hall closet, enough to bag up about 15 pair of an insane number of summer sandals to store in the basement until next year;-).
Bus. Vocab. Marketing mix, marketing research, media strategy, motivation research

Showing Up Always Shines - Are you "busy-lazy"??;-)



As if you could kill time without injuring eternity. Thoreau

Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresea, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.
H. Jackson Brown, Jr.



I'm reading a wonderful book called "This Time I Dance" by Tama Kieves. Tama was a Harvard educated lawyer who left a big firm to write. She had no safety net, no family support, and yet she did it. Reading her book has been like drinking some sort of vitamin cocktail that nourishes my very hopes and dreams. Here is an excerpt from the chapter titled, "Showing Up Always Shines". She talks about writing her book, but her thoughts encompass any endeavor, building a business, going back to school, or becoming an artist.

If there's one conversation that I've had with myself a hundred times, it runs as follows: "I'm afraid to sit down and write because I'm afraid of flat and limp words, crappy sentences, writing in need of an emergency room team. I hate to see failure before me." Suddenly I want to brush again my already bald cat or catch that sale on men's socks at Target except I don't know a singe barefooted man. Evidently I want to flee. It's not exactly fun to face your own sense of powerlessness.

Here's the thing, though. Facing powerlessness gives you power. "Sit," says my inner guidance. "Showing up always shines."

....Only the work heals. The work will make you feel like working. Do the one thing. Face your work. Small deeds build strength. Take the tiniest step you can imagine toward your dream and you're back on track. Even five minutes can wheel destiny around.


When I read this, I thought of Trent Hamm's blog, The Simple Dollar, in which he wrote busyness is laziness and I saw the connection. The "busyness" is brushing the already bald cat or shopping at Target when you have nothing to buy. It is killing time to avoid studying for a test, starting your book, or beginning a business. And we keep busy to avoid doing the thing we fear, but that thing just keeps lurking there, or hovering, waiting for us to simply pay some attention. And when we finally do, we always feel better.

So may we all keep showing up this year, and keep taking the tiniest steps, and find ourselves too busy pursuing exactly what we want to be caught in busyness....

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Day 325 - Nightly Roundup


Tapped out today and really just want to crawl under the covers and snooze. But I feel like I took off three days for the book signing, so baby steps I WILL do! And a quick shout out of thanks to Antoinette for the encouragement on those daily steps! Greg gets home tonight after four days in D.C. That will be awesome! Above is one of two giant oaks we lost to oak wilt. Thankfully we had takers from Craigslist who want a lot of the wood, but I think there will be plenty of mess left to clean up before that beautiful, groomed bird sanctuary becomes a reality;-).

Marriage - check.
Parenting - Volunteered in Kirk's class today, which helps me better understand the dynamics of his day.
Book - About two minutes.
Business - Half an hour on the revised business plan.
Health- 30 minutes cardio.
Garden - Yet another ivy geranium making its way indoors from the garage.
FI - Sold a snowsuit for $5 on Craigslist, then as always, cash in hand, wanted to conserve it by turning off extra lights and packing away any uneaten food to avoid waste.
Spirit- Reading a wonderful book called "This Time I Dance"
House - 2 minutes on the basement.
Bus. Vocab. - Lifestyle segmentation, List broker, Loss leader, Loyalty index.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Day 326- Nightly Roundup


1. Happy marriage to Greg. check
2. Enjoy and nurture the kids - We met my parents halfway tonight for Kai to come back from his visit. He had a hard time saying goodbye to Grandma, but we were thrilled to have him home.
3. Build the Curiosity Cottage into an extremely successful educational company that helps many people. Started keeping records of costs such as having my business cards made, the conference, and paying the person for the initial 10 hours of research. This should help during tax time.
4. Successfully publish my book. About two minutes of adding to chapter one.
5. Spirit/catchall - Reading a wonderful book called "This Time I Dance" and watched a bit more of Ellen today - she definitely makes me laugh!
6. Be and feel healthy and beautiful - 30 minutes cardio - So glad we bought the elliptical when our health club closed down five years ago. It's been worth every penny and handy beyond belief when you can exercise in your pjs.
7. Create a beautiful, groomed, bird sanctuary - Started rounding up seeds for winter sowing, which will begin on the solstice.
8. FI in 2010 - Spent lots of time updating our accounts now that we finally have the Quicken program working.
9. Create and organized, beautiful home. When through a big stack of papers and mail and made considerable progress.
10. Become an excellent business woman in part due to an excellent vocabulary - cumulative voting, keeper, key success factors, leave behind.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Starting a Company. Questions 101.


According to the entrepreneurs conference, the first step in starting a business is consumer/market research. The message pounded home in about 8 sessions was: KNOW YOUR CUSTOMER.

As a reminder, my company is called the Curiosity Cottage. I wanted to create an educational company that would help kids learn, and eventually I narrowed this down to a story line that would incorporate history (my son's favorite topic) in a way that was fun and interactive. I thought it would be cool if kids could "play history".

So it will be a series of stories of three brothers going back in time to meet the 100 or so greatest minds. There will be a set of action figures to accompany the books. In addition, my original idea of learning products for the home will be incorporated. If the story line is about a famous mathematician, we will also have the towels, cups, plates, etc.

And so I begin. I made a list of questions that I thought would help. I gave them to a freelance writer/researcher on Monday and hope to have some answers by Friday. Since then, I have had other responses back from the Craigslist ad from students and others offering to do further research using "Qualtrics" and analyzing data using "chi square test and conjoint analysis". Needless to say, my vocabulary skills in this area need some work.

Here's my question list, really based on just my own thought processes. I'd love to hear suggestions you might have to add to the list, either in the form of questions or answers.

1. What is the size of the market - boys aged 6-12?
2. What are the most popular current boys' toys for that age?
3. What is the most effective way to market to that segment?
4. What is the closest product on the market now to this for boys?
5. What was the very, very, very early development of American Girl? Was most of their customer base people who bought multiple dolls or just one?
6. What is the current "pain" in the market for parents of boys? We were told again and again if we couldn't prove there was a problem, then we had a problem;-).
7. How much do parents spend per boy per year on toys?
8. How important is education in the toy market to parents?
9. What is the sales model for Magic Treehouse and Rescue Heroes? How many books do you need to sell to even start to make a profit?


Best wishes to those of you starting your companies. This is a fun and interesting journey. Eileen

Day 327 Nightly Roundup





Learning as I go! I find if I don't post this and just try to keep a checklist, I'm not as dedicated;-). So I am back to the old system.


Happy marriage to Greg. Check.

Enjoy and nurture the kids - Kai is at grandma and grandpa's until tomorrow so Kirk and I played hockey, did some math homework (measuring using pennies), worked on our art skills, and read books, a great time!

Build the Curiosity Cottage into a highly successful educational company- Contacted a person about doing market research. On a suggestion from a fellow entrepreneur at the conference, I posted an ad on Craigslist for an initial ten hours of research. I had about 15 responses. The person we chose will submit research on Friday and that will give us a starting place to look at the viability of the model (I'm getting this business lingo down. Note I did not simply write - we'll see if this bird could fly;-).....

Publish my book in 2010- Five minutes on outline.

FI in 2010 - Posted another item on Craigslist. Updated my Amazon account to collect for books sold.

Create a beautiful, groomed, bird sanctuary in the yard. Gave all my overwintering plants a good drink.

Spirit/catchall. Give and receive joy, be in the moment, laugh at least 20 times per day. Watched the Ellen show today - and definitely got in some good laughs. That was the first time I'd seen the show, after I saw her interviewed on Oprah and that may be an easy way to jump up to the laughter quotient;-). Thanks Ellen!

Be and feel healthy and beautiful - 30 Minutes cardio.

Create a beautiful, organized home that adds to our happiness. - 10 minutes on the chaos that is also known as our basement.


Be an excellent businesswoman, in part due to an extensive business vocabulary. Cash and carry trade, Hawthorne effect, team, leveraged loan.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends......




Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends....Mm, Gonna try with a little help from my friends! The Beatles music is hopefully accompanying you in your mind as you read this.;-)

It was a lovely weekend. I got to meet my girlfriends who have been friends since fourth grade for our friend Kathy Orton's book signing. In the picture, we are at our hometown's Pizza Hut where we spent many an hour growing up. Often, we were using quarters to pay and hoping we had enough. This past Saturday, the waitress, aged 18, could have been one of our daughters. Life goes on;-).

Kathy's book, Outside the Limelight - Basketball in the Ivy league, is a moving look at a group of players and coaches who often don't get the publicity of the Big Ten. During the book signing, she talked about how she was drawn to the stories of perseverance and dedication in a group who knew they wouldn't be going on to the NBA, but wanted to excel, even outside the limelight.

And as I listened to her presentation at the library, it occurred to me she was probably drawn to those stories because she herself has those same attributes. She told us about how hard it was to get a publisher, the doubts that creep in, the final joy of getting a publisher, the deep disappointment of being dropped from that first publisher a year and a half later, the determination to see her "baby" through to another publisher and all the ups and downs in between. She herself was working outside the limelight, while a full time writer for the Washington Post. Now that is some dedication!

I draw strength from her stories and accomplishments. And I draw strength from my friendships as a whole. I realize we are all here to root each other on, though we all have a different set of goals and dreams. When I'm down and call or email a friend, I'm always a little stronger for the chat, making a connection with someone who cares.

And I include in my group of "supportive friends" the authors of many of my favorite books. While I wouldn't dream of phoning a girl friend at three in the morning (short of a disaster), these other "book" friends are always there waiting with their own stories of accomplishments, hopes, set-backs and advice.

And those of you here are also friends and I really, really thank you for your comments and just your little icons that show up at the top of the page. That support means a lot!

So yes, I get by with a little help from my friends, and I'm gonna try to reach all ten of my goals with the help of my friends. And I hope you all are reaching out to your goals with the help of friends too. Let me know how I can help!

Eileen