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.
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 collectio
n. 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.
I hope you have a great week and enjoy some quality time with the people who make your life beautiful.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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–
- 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.
- 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.
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
Get my associate’s degree. Get more client testimonials.
- Exceed my sales goal for a month.
- Sign 10 new clients.
- Join a BNI chapter.
- Get an office space or co-working membership.
- Complete 24 blog posts.
- Improve my credit score.
- Pay down my credit card debt.
- Enroll in a 4-year school.
- Get my GPA up to a 3.0+.
- Hit 100,000 page views on my blog.
- Read 6 books for pleasure.
- 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.
- Get health insurance.
- Find a cleaning routine that I can stick with.
- Complete Google Analytics Certification.
- Complete Google AdWords Certification.
- Get Google Partner Certified.
- Make peace with my body. Love it or lose it.
- Take a vacation.
- Clock some volunteer hours.
- Launch the resume program. (Details to come!)
- Switch to decaf.
- Help someone in a big way.
- Get a really good job offer.
- 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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.