Less Is More

Less Is More

First of all, if you didn’t start singing the Charmin song when you saw the title of this post, we can’t be friends. Now that that’s out of the way…. Recently, I’ve been evaluating my priorities and commitments and have come to the decision that for me, less is more. I’m manifesting less in my life. I want to really streamline my life in every way: emotionally, physically, professionally, interpersonally… all of it. For the longest time, I’ve felt really proud of all the things I’ve managed to keep on my plate. But guess what? I’m burnt out.

Last night, I was finally able to put into words what I have been feeling in my heart for quite some time: I would much rather do a few things with excellence than many mediocre things. The days of me bragging about holding down 3 jobs are over. Trying to be friends with as many people as I can make time for is done. Overcommitting myself is out. I’m done with all that. Less is more.

I keep bringing myself back to one question as I’m planning my day, my week, my month, my life:

What do I need less of?

Seriously. You ever catch yourself saying “man, I don’t need this.” Or something to that effect? Well… what is “this“?  That’s where I’m at right now. Identifying all of the “thises” that need to be cleared from my life. Here are some of the things that I’ve started to purge.

My Hair

Yeah. I cut off about a foot of my hair. It was still healthy and lovely but taking care of it everyday was such a hassle. I’m a messy sleeper and the whole thing gets tangled and knotted and just frustrated me to try to deal with it. I brought it down to a bob and I actually really dig it. Guess what else? When my hair is short, I have to wash it more often. This has lead to an improved personal hygiene routine. Not the goal but an awesome side effect!

Someday Stuff

Whether we’re talking clothes or project supplies or just random tools around the house… I have far too much stuff that’s taking up space and serving no function. I’ve started inventorying the things in this category of value and listing them online for sale. I went through and purged my dresser of clothes that don’t fit properly anymore or that I just don’t really wear. The kids have done the same and now we have 3 full garbage bags ready to be donated.

Bills

This one sounds silly, I’m sure, but I’m so serious. I went through a giant pile of mail I had on my desk and found every last old bill and invoice that I had open with someone and just turned it into an actionable list. As I went through these things, I found subscription services I had signed up for but wasn’t actively using (like this great Leggings of the Month club where I was starting to get duplicates of the leggings I already have…) price checked all the essential services I wanted to keep and even found some better values for myself out there. I left Verizon and T-Mobile and consolidated to one bill with Xfinity for home internet, cable TV and mobile phone. My cell phone bill is 1/3 of what it was with T-Mobile. My internet plan is $10 cheaper with just as good of quality and comes with a small cable package. Literally guys, less is more.

Emails

I spent the better part of 2 hours going through my personal email inbox to methodically clean it up. I started with just under 800 unread emails and cleared my inbox down to zero. I set a few guidelines in place for myself to make it work well. First, unsubscribe from newsletters. There’s an easy button on the bottom to do it with, so just unsubscribe. Copy the “from” address on the email and put it in Gmail’s search box. Select all from that sender and bulk delete. Bam. Down a handful of emails. Rinse and repeat until you’re unsubscribed from all the garbage. If something is worth keeping, it’s worth sorting. Using the label feature, I broke down the reason for why I was hanging on to a particular email. Was it an important receipt or log-in information? Something actually useful? Label it.

I’m working on getting myself back up to peak performance. But I don’t thinkI’m going to achieve that goal by keeping my plate overly full or by ignoring the pile of things that need to be tackled. What do I need less of?

Less mess. Less stress. 

Retailer Review: DressLily

Retailer Review: DressLily

This post contains affiliate links to DressLily.com. This means if you click a link, especially if you make a purchase of some kind, I may receive a commission, product, service or bounty for your engagement. This does not add any extra cost onto your purchase but it does help to keep my blog running. Thanks for your support! 
Let me start by saying I love my job. I do. I love the work I do. I love the products I promote. I love the challenges I get to tackle. I love the people I work with, even when we don’t see eye to eye. One such area is the dress code. My employer is a little old-school and is of the belief that tattoos are unprofessional and the dress code reflects this belief.

When I first reentered the workforce, I had to figure out what my professional aesthetic was going to be. I discovered the most flattering look for my figure was consistently dresses. For over a year, I basically never wore pants. Pants are prisons! I found that mixing dresses, cardigans and leggings in whatever combination was most weather-appropriate let me have a consistent wardrobe year-round. Dresses FTW.

For the past year or so, I’ve been slowly but steadily dropping some weight. With the change to season around the corner and my wardrobe becoming increasingly difficult to make compliant with the dress code at work while still making me feel like a person. And I don’t know about you, but I like feeling like a person.

I’m a creative, funky, low-key eccentric kind of person. Aquarius problems, amirite? Facebook ads know all about these Aquarius problems. About a week ago, I was fed an ad for a dress that looked uncannily like it came straight from Ms. Frizzle’s closet  and had had just enough whiskey to know I had to have it. If you’re anything like me, you can’t just buy one thing online. You gotta go window shop. And you tell yourself, maybe just one more thing…. then you add 50 items to your cart, see it has an entire retirement fund worth of merchandise and do either one of two things:

Close the page in horror to keep yourself from temptation.

or

Delete items until you get your cart to a justifiable total.

On this night, I chose the latter. I trimmed away at items that weren’t my top picks and narrowed it down to four dresses. Each selection looked like it could have been found in a trunk in the back of the Magic School Bus. To be fair, these clothes could be described as arguably silly. But they met all of my needs.

They meet my dress code requirements and effectively cover my tattoos.
They are modest with low enough hemlines and high enough necklines to make me feel comfortable in the workplace.
They let my personality shine in a small way.

What Made The Cut

On this night, I chose the latter. I trimmed away at items that weren’t my top picks and narrowed it down to four dresses. Each selection looked like it could have been found in a trunk in the back of the Magic School Bus. To be fair, these clothes could be described as arguably silly. But they met all of my needs.

  • They meet my dress code requirements and effectively cover my tattoos.
  • They are modest with low enough hemlines and high enough necklines to make me feel comfortable in the workplace.
  • They let my personality shine in a small way.

Honest Opinions

Shipping

Shipping happened MUCH faster than I expected. Considering these were coming from China, I expected a 3 week wait. I selected (free) 3-Day shipping and to be honest, they weren’t far off by comparison. It took a few days to process my order but when they did, on August 11, it took 4 days to get to my house.

The packaging was easy to open and everything came in its own ziploc bag which seems to have kept the clothing smelling fresh on it’s journey across the globe.

Product Quality

There is no hiding the fact that allllllllllll of these items were made with synthetic fibers. However, it seems to be the type that isn’t going to wrinkle up on me, has really rich colors and feels very nice on the skin. I’m concerned about breathability and will revise this to elaborate after I’ve had a few wears with each dress.

One dress arrived that made me feel like an idiot, to be honest. When I took it from the bag, I noticed that the collar was completely detached from the dress, however, it was definitely done by design. I went back and looked at the product pictures and realized that the dress was, in fact, identical to the picture on DressLily. I had simply failed to realize the style choice as the piece connecting the collar to the dress was black against a black top of the dress, making the design far less apparent.

I’ve read so many horror stories about clothes shipped from China being poorly made, not like product pictures and often not delivered at all. I definitely had my trepidations but DressLily delivered exactly what they said they would and at a damn good price.

Returns

I really wasn’t happy with the weird collar dress, so I went to the website to see what I could do about it. Requesting a return was easy; just fill out a form explaining why you wanted to return it. I told them I didn’t realize how the dress was designed and wasn’t happy with it and within half an hour, I had a reply for my ticket. As is customary, they asked for pictures, order number, etc. I replied and again, received a prompt response. DressLily was happy to let me keep the dress as a courtesy and refunded me in store credit. Because I was so happy about the other dresses and certain I wanted to order from them again, a store credit worked perfectly. They even gave me some extra rewards points for the inconvenience.

Closing Thoughts

DressLily is awesome. Their customer service is on point. The products match what the look like online. Sizing seems to be pretty standard. I’d highly recommend giving it a try. They have an awesome selection of styles to choose from so you’re bound to find something you love. If you start your browsing using any links in this post, you’ll help keep The Drowsy Mama running by earning me a small commission.

Winter Break 2017 Auto Responder

Winter Break 2017 Auto Responder

I started a tradition last summer after hearing a really interesting story on NPR. In short, I like to share a lot about my life and love for family by way of my auto responder. I don’t generally vacation in the traditional sense. Instead, I tend to do stay-cations and work-cation. This year, I’m going to get to enjoy a bit of both.

In case you haven’t had a reason to email me, I wanted to share the most recent edition of Auto Responder Chronicals.

 

Season’s Greetings,

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! These are the busiest two weeks of the year for me. My darling children, Arbor and Alistair have been looking forward to winter break since school started in September. From Monday, December 18 to Friday, December 22, we’ll be enjoying some time catching up with each other, making cookies and appreciating having another holiday season to spend together. If you’re feeling generous, my daughter is hoping to get as many of the Pigeon books as possible and my son is hoping to expand his Duplo collection. What’s your family’s wishlist look like?
From December 25-December 31, I’ll be in New Jersey and New York enjoying a work-cation. On the list of things I’m hoping to experience, an authentic New York bagel with an excessive amount of cream cheese, and working in the New York Public Library. I’m a big ol’ nerd at heart and the idea of setting up camp in the NYPL is what dreams are made of. If you have any recommendations for places in the city to grab lunch or a good cup of coffee, please let me know! I’ll be sharing my experience on my blog, DrowsyMama.com and across social media. Please be sure to like my Facebook page and follow me on Instagram.
During this time, I will not be accessible via phone. Please send all inquiries by email and they will be responded to as promptly as possible. 
 
This time of year is so beautiful and magical to so many people but for many, it’s a dark and isolating time. Please be sure to check in with your loved ones and make sure they’re doing okay. If you’re having a hard time, please reach out to someone. I’m more than happy to talk with you if you’re feeling alone. If you or a loved one is having suicidal thoughts, please call 1-800-273-8255. If you’re doing okay, please consider sharing this message with others so they know they’re not alone and that you’re happy to help them through a difficult time. We’re all in this together. 
Happy Holidays,

Carlene Delane

Digital Marketing Specialist, Carlene Can, LLC.

(804) 299-9241 | carlene@carlenecan.com | CarleneCan.com

I hope you have a great week and enjoy some quality time with the people who make your life beautiful.
xoxo
Carlene
Five Reasons to Wake up at 5:00 am (Or Earlier!)

Five Reasons to Wake up at 5:00 am (Or Earlier!)

Let’s get a few things straight. Motherhood is exhausting in its many forms and waking up any earlier than the tiny humans do is, well, less than appealing. There are a million and one reasons why I go by the drowsy mama and of course my constant exhaustion is one of them. Now that those disclaimers have been made…. Waking up hella early is the best thing that’s happened to me this year.

Last year when I lost my job, I decided to go full speed ahead on my digital marketing business. I was inspired and motivated to get stuff done! I’m naturally a night owl, so I started off working really late at night. After seeing some Gary Vee video about waking up early to rise and grind, I decided to flip my schedule and discipline myself into early wake ups instead of late nights. Time passed, and I fell out of habit. So the closest thing I made to a New Year’s resolution for 2017 was to get back in the 5:00 am habit. I couldn’t help but notice that this time, the transition was WAY easier, as if my body had muscle memory of getting up before dawn. This morning, I even beat my alarm clock!

I’ve been bragging on Facebook about the little perks that I’ve been seeing out of getting up two hours early and wanted to share my top five reasons to wake up before 5:00 am. If reading is not quite your jam, check out the Facebook Live I did to discuss this.

Five Reasons to Wake Up at 5:00 am (or Earlier!)

  1. Start your day with a small win. I say “small” win but this is actually huge! If you’re like me and maybe kind of in a funk this time of year… this time of life… whatever… getting up before you HAVE to is a metaphorical Gold Star for you. It feels incredible to tell yourself, “I’m going to get up early tomorrow” then actually follow through on it. The tone for the day has been set with an underlying “I decided to do something, then I did it.” Just imagine what you could accomplish if everything was as simple as deciding to do something and doing it. Power of positivity right here.
  2. Some days, you can catch the sunrise. Maybe this is just my crunchy granola side showing but there’s something magical about having the sun wake up and see you instead of the other way around. As if the sun beams slowly creeping over the tops of the houses on my block are delighted by my presence. It’s like meeting a friend for coffee and their face when they see that you’re already there and got a table. Not to mention, sunrise is beautiful. If you take a few moments to go outside or open the blinds on an east-facing window, you can see the magic first hand.
  3. Coffee before kids. Assuming you have little ones and those little ones don’t get up at 5:00 am, you now have the opportunity to caffeinate before the kids get out of bed. I have a great little coffee pot that I can schedule to brew so I get the added pleasure of waking up to the fragrance of fresh, hot coffee. There’s no one demanding anything from me, I finish my first cup without it going cold, and I feel energized and ready to face the day before the tiny humans are bringing their first set of demands to my feet. This tends to segue very nicely into my next point–
  4. You can have a morning poop in peace! Nothing like a good cuppa Joe to get everything moving in the morning. Now that my kids are older, there’s less banging on the door screaming for mommy and a lot more “oh, mom’s not in here, let’s pick a fight with each other for no reason other than it’s Wednesday.” I know that at least once a day, I get to have a nice, long (or short, whatever) sit without worrying that my kids have created a verbal Guillotine for each other when I’m just trying to take a dump in peace.
  5. Get bonus hours to dedicate to your passion project. Now here is the single most important one, to me anyway. With the way my kids’ school schedule is set up, I only get about 4.5 hours during the day that the kids are in someone else’s care. This severely limits my ability to get a lot of work done. Okay, so I can’t go early morning Uber while the babies sleep but I can get 100% caught up on emails, knock out some graphic design, curate some content, schedule some posts, update some websites… you get the idea. I have 2 hours of time, if I plan correctly, to work on growing my small business while the world is still sleeping. I don’t bother with getting dressed or doing my makeup at this time. Nope. I can do that while the kids are getting ready. I can’t be productive on work while I’m trying to wrangle the kids for their school day. By working in my robe with a cup of coffee, I’m maximizing my available work hours by nearly 50% without increasing any of my childcare costs.

 

Unemployment Bucket List

Unemployment Bucket List

When I decided to go live with my blog a month ahead of schedule, I had pre-written a month worth of posts. I wanted to share with you the strategies I was implementing to make our life keep working when I no longer was. Apparently… life had other plans for me because every single post now seems suddenly irrelevant. More than a few of my plans have changed. I had initially prepared to work from home, take my kids out of daycare and become the frugal penny-pincher we all know I am. Over the past eighteen months, I got an incredible life experience that has helped to shift the way I view my home, my life and the world at large. With some business experience under my belt, I’m approaching everything as business. How do we optimize? Invest? Grow?

Two Big Changes to Plan

I’m making two major investments in my family and my career. The first of which, is the decision to keep my kids in daycare. This is a financially significant investment, to the tune of a few hundred dollars every week. So how do I make this happen? Well, first is fighting for my unemployment benefits. They issued me information on what I’m eligible for but later this week, I have a phone interview to determine if my departure from the company makes me truly eligible. If I am, which I truly believe myself to be, then this is just enough money to keep my kids in daycare. This offers them the stability of maintaining their routine and offers me the time I need to keep working on my business and pursue other opportunities as well.

The second investment very much relies on the first– I’ve decided to return to school. I dropped out of college when I was promoted at work. The demands of parenting and career left little time or energy to finish my associate’s degree. This time investment will allow me to move forward with obtaining a bachelor’s degree– something I had planned on having earned by now– and opens many career doors for me upon its completion. Last week, I settled an old debt with the community college, met with my adviser to confirm I only had 3 classes remaining to graduate and finally, got enrolled. Although I haven’t yet logged in to start the process, I’m already feeling like I’ve accomplished something. So I sat down and had another one of those deep, introspective conversations with myself. What else do I want to accomplish while I’m in that weird place between employee and feeling truly self-employed? So I made what I am calling an unemployment bucket list. The rules for what can make it on the list? It needs to be some form of an investment, optimization or growth. With 26 weeks of available unemployment benefits, here’s my 26 item unemployment bucket list.

The Unemployment Bucket List

Unemployment Bucket List: how I'm making good use of my time between employed and entrepreneur. Get the full list at The Drowsy Mama.

  1. Get my associate’s degree. Get more client testimonials.
  2. Exceed my sales goal for a month.
  3. Sign 10 new clients.
  4. Join a BNI chapter.
  5. Get an office space or co-working membership.
  6. Complete 24 blog posts.
  7. Improve my credit score.
  8. Pay down my credit card debt.
  9. Enroll in a 4-year school.
  10. Get my GPA up to a 3.0+.
  11. Hit 100,000 page views on my blog.
  12. Read 6 books for pleasure.
  13. Find a sport or exercise to get reallllllly into. Maybe bicycling because running sucks. Hush brain. You’re going to offend the runners. Screw the runners. A bike can go faster than their angry mob. Hush brain. Hush.
  14. Get health insurance.
  15. Find a cleaning routine that I can stick with.
  16. Complete Google Analytics Certification.
  17. Complete Google AdWords Certification.
  18. Get Google Partner Certified.
  19. Make peace with my body. Love it or lose it.
  20. Take a vacation.
  21. Clock some volunteer hours.
  22. Launch the resume program. (Details to come!)
  23. Switch to decaf.
  24. Help someone in a big way.
  25. Get a really good job offer.
  26. Every time I cross something off this list, add something new.

So that’s it. That’s the plan. The goals I’ll be chasing for the remainder of year 25. Be sure to check back for progress updates and while you’re here, drop a suggestion in the comments for things to add to my unemployment bucket list as I complete other tasks. 

The Good Fortune of Unemployment

The Good Fortune of Unemployment

The Good Fortune of Unemployment: How a fortune cookie changed my career. From The Drowsy Mama.

In the rural-ish community where I work  worked just outside the city where I live, there’s one Chinese food restaurant where my boss and I used to grab lunch every month or two. Over time, I’d learned to really look forward to conversations with this man I am lucky to count as both a mentor and a friend. Half the time we’d talk about work, whether that be my position as the Director of Key Accounts or as the entrepreneur behind Carlene Can. The other half, we’d talk about life, the universe and everything. Several months ago, we went to our Chinese spot for lunch. The conversation flowed. We mixed and matched our plates to get a little bit of everything and we, as always, enjoyed each other’s company. The only thing that had changed was, well, the company.

The First Cookie

Back in January, I learned a bit prematurely that our five-location franchise was being sold to a new owner. Eventually, Bill, my then-boss, told the rest of the staff, we met the new owner and the paperwork closed. At this one particular lunch at Yu’s, it was still our little secret. And in that secret, he knew I was terrified of the change that was coming. Despite his reassuring that this was going to be a wonderful thing for us, I was still anxious. I made it a point to apply to jobs regularly, interviewed a couple of times a month and probably turned down as many job offers as there were companies who decided to “go with another candidate.” Nothing was quite the right fit. We touched on my interest in keeping doors open for myself but as always, he was reassuring that everything was going to work out in the wash.

As our lunch came to a close, we both selected our fortune cookies from the check. I couldn’t tell you what his said but I know as clear as my children’s birthdays exactly what mine told me:

“Trust your gut in the coming days.”

"Trust your gut in the coming days." The Good Fortune of Unemployment: How a fortune cookie changed my career. From The Drowsy Mama.

Wow. I usually don’t put much credence in silly little fortune cookies but this one just hit a nerve. So I slipped it into the clear plastic cover of my half-sized binder/planner to keep it as a clear and present reminder. Trust your gut. Trust it! But I have an awful gut! If there’s anything I’ve learned from years of impulsive teenage and early adulthood decisions, if there’s one thing NOT to do, it’s trust your gut. But apparently it was time to get over myself and learn to accept that my instincts are good ones.

Over the next several weeks, the phrase “trust your gut” kept coming up. Over and over with different people who never saw my planner or heard about my silly fortune cookie. Maybe it was just another case of being acutely aware of something as soon as you’re exposed, like pregnant women noticing other pregnant women, but to me it was a regular affirmation of what I already knew to be true. It was time to heal and learn to believe in myself again.

The Second Cookie

Friday, July 15 was my last Friday at work. I had been given four weeks notice after the sale closed and had failed to find another job before I was notified of this fact. Four weeks had gone much faster than expected on the job hunt front and I was still without a viable full-time position– even one that would require a pay cut. To celebrate this final Friday, so to speak, Izzy came to the country to take me out for Chinese food at my work spot. We enjoyed good conversation, good food and when our lunch came to a close, good fortune cookies.

Over the preceding several weeks, we had come to the decision together that it may be a good idea to use this period of unemployment to really push full speed ahead with my small digital marketing company. Without 40+ hours a week dedicated to selling for a different business, I would have the time to go sell for myself and service my own clients. Entrepreneurship is terrifying to me but, as they say, no risk, no reward. The sleepless nights, stomach aches and truthfully, moderate depression symptoms have been taking a toll on me, and this is only the beginning. Maybe this isn’t for me. Maybe I need to stop tinkering with all of the back end work of running a business and dedicate those hours to filling out applications and sending off my resume. Maybe I’m not cut out for this.

I hadn’t had Chinese food since that lunch with Bill. I held my unopened fortune cookie in my hand as I told the story of “trust your gut” to Izzy, my hand fiercely clutching it, as if to will a good follow-up onto the paper inside. I broke it open,

“You are heading in the right direction.”

"You are heading in the right direction." The Good Fortune of Unemployment: How a fortune cookie changed my career. From The Drowsy Mama.

This. This was exactly the fortune I needed. Vague as it might have been, in the context of everything, positively everything happening with me, this fortune was exactly perfect.

"You are heading in the right direction." "Trust your gut in the coming days." The Good Fortune of Unemployment: How a fortune cookie changed my career. From The Drowsy Mama.

The Drowsy Mama is back after an eighteen-month hiatus. I hope you’ll come back to follow my journey with entrepreneurship, motherhood and how I’m applying some of the great business skills I’ve learned to running a household. Please subscribe to get updates on new posts as they publish and feel free to comment with your own experiences and feedback.