Friday, December 5, 2008


Okay, I'm a little stressed about this unemployed business. I am taking the suggestions of one really smart lady I am so lucky to know and I'm rearranging my resume. This is not as easy as one might think - since I am looking for a different kind of job than I've had, I need to concentrate on my skills and my measurable outcomes. I've got 90 tabs of resume examples and what I really need is to go to the boxes still in my car and dig out some of my evaluations. I can't remember what the fuck I have accomplished. And I have a rule about not remembering things I can look up somewhere; I just remember where to look things up. Saves space in my limited capacity brain.

So, I thought I'd blog as a diversion. But then I couldn't really think of anything interesting to blog about. So then I went to look up my old blog on Xanga (because someone on Twitter asked if anyone was blogging in 2002 and I thought maybe I was but I wasn't - until 2003). So then I thought that maybe I'd pull some of my better, more interesting blogs from Xanga and repost them here as "blasts from the past". It was at that point that I wrote out the above introduction and decided to tell you all about my thought process and what brought me to this point.

I was going to share with you one of the most hilarious events of my life but as you can see, the introduction and the entire sharing of the thought process have pretty much made for a blog post all their own. So I will do the blasts from the past later, sometime. Probably before I ever finish the "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly" series. Sorry about that. I can't be disciplined in ALL areas of my life! I've allowed blogging and housekeeping to be my "discipline free" zones, apparently.

Friday, November 21, 2008

What Smaller Government Means to Me

It means I don't have a damned job, is what it means. Yesterday, after working for Hamilton County Job and Family Services for eight years, I was laid off. I was a layoff virgin. No more. In all of my relationships and jobs, I've been the one who chose to leave, so this is new territory for me. It's scary, with the crappy job market out there. I've gotten no new clients for my business, Web Presence diva.

Yet I am optimistic and here's why. During the Great Depression, the unemployment rate hit 25%!! That means that 75% WERE employed (yeah, I know it doesn't really mean that but I am going with it because it keeps me from slashing my wrists)! Seventy five percent is pretty good and it means the odds are in my favor.

I've posted my resume at Ohio Means Jobs. I'm LinkedIn. My job was in Workforce Development, so I know what I'm eligible for at Super Jobs. Of course, I don't know who to complain to in the event I am dissatisfied with the service I receive; I happen to know that the Complaint Officer was laid off yesterday...

Anyway, there were articles in the paper about the layoffs at JFS. People are ill informed about how their local, state, and federal governments work or they wouldn't make the stupid comments they do. JFS is funded primarily by the state and the feds. The county commissioners have no power to cut off or reduce the benefit amounts poor people get. I also know that there are some government workers who suck. But, there is a myth about government work and civil servants not working very hard and getting lots of great benefits. I've always had to work pretty damned hard and I've nearly always worked for either local or federal government. The government has been doing more with less for a long freakin' time so I don't know what all these ass hats are complaining about. Government workers are scrutinized from all angles. All those comments in the paper are usually written during the day, when the ass hats are at their demanding jobs, earning every damned dime they get, right? Do you think government workers can get away with being online and commenting at work? Well, they can, a little bit, but their internet usage is closely monitored and they'll get written up and disciplined for excessive usage. I know because I got written up for it once.

And while I'm ranting about how ill informed people are, based on the stupid things they say in their comments in the online Cincinnati Enquirer, people on public assistance have to work pretty hard to stay on it. There are work requirements and people either show up to the places where they're assigned or they get sanctioned. When they get sanctioned, they have to comply with their plan to participate in a work activity. Getting and keeping a regular job is much easier; if there are people who think they can kick back and enjoy living off the government teet, they learn pretty quick that this is a hard way to live large.

I know some people do it and I still think it's harder than actually working.

And who are all these lazy, baby factories anyways? First, some are people, usually women, who have children and have either (a) gotten a rough start to begin with, meaning they have no other support system (like parents, a spouse, committed significant other) or (b) someone who's circumstances changed rapidly from the good life they were leading, meaning their world fell apart due to some grave illness, loss of spouse, etc. Those people will do what they have to do to get on their feet and they'll move on to live very productive lives, giving back far more than they ever got from the taxpayers. I've found, for the most part, they're not very bright people. I mean that they have low IQ's, they're slow, so slow that they have a hard time functioning in the world like those of us with an IQ of 100 or better do. I've also found that there's a lot of mental illness that no one bothers to consider. It goes undiagnosed for a lot of reasons. One being that it's harder than hell to get into a public mental health clinic for diagnosis. Another being that people don't realize there's something wrong with them. And smart, healthy people seem to be really okay with people not getting diagnosed because, I believe, that if they accepted how common mental illness is, they might have to admit that they're not as fucking okay as they pretend to be either.

Our society demands a lot from people these days and it doesn't offer a lot to those who just cannot learn to read or do math or hold their temper. There aren't a lot of mindless jobs any more. And before a bunch of slow, mentally ill people come here and jump my ass, I'm advocating for you...err...I am taking up for you! So hush! I'm saying that we can't all be Quality Review Analysts or Financial Wizards or Administrative Assistants or Insurance Salesmen. Some people are best suited for "push this button when the thingie lands on the X. Count to five and then push this button to move the thingie down the line". And we just don't have button pushing, counting to five jobs in abundance any longer.

So anyway, I got laid off. I'm looking for a position that will allow me to create order out of chaos, be compassionate, analyze some data, put it in a comprehensive report, and make my boss look really smart. I want to bring a social worker's perspective to the business table. I thrive in newly created positions that allow me to figure out what my boss actually needs. I like searching the internet for the newest cool trend that works. I like to hear the ideas of others and then tell them why that won't work so they can plug those holes before they take it to the CEO; I like to make great ideas better. That's what I'm good at, that's what I enjoy doing, and eventually, I will get to do those things again for someone who will gladly pay me what I'm worth.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Oh, Hi! How've You Been?

I apologize to both of my readers; I have been long absent from the blogosphere. This is due to the Election. Rather than bombard you both with my far left liberal babble, I just didn't blog. And that's all I'd have been able to write, so embroiled I was in the talking points and insanity. So really, I've spared you! Rejoice!

I am elated at the election's outcome, that Obama will be our new Prez. I am delighted that the US has elected a black man as their next president. But that's really just an added bonus, the blackness, you know? We really chose a well educated, thoughtful, calm, and calculating man. We chose to stop being afraid, to not go with the "safe" bet and we put all our money on the smart guy. Not only is he intelligent, but he's been through much of what many of us have been through - raised by white people, a child of divorce, with a single mom. He's also been through some stuff I can only imagine - having to figure out his place in the world as a black man in a very white world, living abroad as a child, moving through a world his caretakers were not equipped to help him navigate.

I do not think he will be able to accomplish all that he campaigned on. I do think he will be able to keep the far left on a more centered path. I think he has, in many ways, given hope to many, particularly our youth. He had a lot of strikes against him and he still prevailed; if he can, anyone can! How freakin' cool is that???

So, there it is. My blog about the election. I was going to rant about the anti gay marriage stuff too but I think I'll save that for another blog of it's own. Because I have questions. Because I don't get it. I'll get to those questions soon and I'll keep looking for answers that make sense. I hope both of you are glad I'm back because I'm glad to be here!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Back from Vacation!

On September 12th, I headed south to North Carolina to visit my sisters, mom, niece, and nephew. I also got to spend an afternoon with my bestest friend!

I took The Pomeranian, Sammy Bear, with me and I was utterly shocked at how well he behaved. He rode for 12 hours (!!!) in the car on the way down without complaint. He dined on french fries, chewed ice cubes, and pooped on numerous grassy areas across five states. He raised his little Pomeranian back leg as high as it would go and marked the corners of upward of 10 different McDonald's parking lots. I was so proud!

My mom and sister live WAY out in the country. In some ways, this vacation crushed some long held dreams for me. Like my dream of living WAY out in the country. I don't dream that any more. I could not live that far away from a real grocery store. At night, there are no lights. NONE. I discovered that I require intermittent street lighting. I require some level of noise that indicates life continues despite my slumber. I need diversity and I need to be among people who do not stare with hostility at everyone who does not look exactly like them.

I drove by my old house. And felt nothing. I felt no twang of longing, no guilt, no bitterness, nor sadness. It felt like I was looking at a house I'd driven by many times but not like I was looking at a house I'd lived in for 8 years.

I had pictures taken with my sisters, I taught my niece some belly dancing moves, and I listened to some tall tales from my nephew. I got to spend a day with my mom, just me and her. I got to spend a day with my best friend and finally meet her dogs and her new husband. I ate twice at my favorite NC style barbeque restaurant.

I had a great vacation and I missed power outages and roof repairs. But more than that, I missed my husband, my house, and my other dogs. I want very much to live closer to my family but mostly, I want to be home.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

On Choosing to be a Waitress

This post is really just to give people something to think about.

Now, I've been called a liberal, like it's a bad word. I'm okay with that. I'm sorry that people are so polarized in their stances that they villainize the other side. But calling me a liberal is like calling me white bread or cracker or crazy white bitch. I just fail to be insulted because I am not ashamed of who I am.

So, there's some information for you. You're reading the blog of a stinkin' liberal, tree hugging, left wing...err...whatever else "they" call "us".

Now on to my story. Long ago, there was a group of my coworkers that would go out to lunch together now and then. Our favorite spot was a Mexican restaurant just up the street. They had great food and good service, which is important when you're going to lunch from work.

One woman in our group simply refused to leave a tip. Ever. I asked her once why she felt it was okay to not leave the waitress a tip. Her feeling was that she'd paid for her food and she wasn't obligated to supplement the woman's income. I asked if she understood that the waitress made $2.00 or so per hour. She responded that it wasn't her fault that our waitress chose to be a waitress.

Before the waitresses of the world descend upon me, let me say that I am very thankful for wait people. I've been a waitress. It can be a very tough job and expectations from your patrons, your boss, and the cook are very, very high. You have my utmost respect and I will always leave you at least a decent tip, even if you didn't meet my expectations. This is because I understand that much of your ability to perform your job well depends a great deal on things beyond your control.

So now that the waitresses of the world understand where I am coming from, I'll tell you what I told my coworker right before I told her I wasn't going to any more lunches with her.

I don't know anyone who dreamed as a child of being a waitress. Oh, we PLAYED waitress and it was fun! But we didn't dream of spending 8 to 12 mostly thankless hours mostly on our feet, running our asses off for two bucks and change an hour. We didn't study Flo on Alice, trying to pick up hints on the best way to tell patrons that the prime rib was sold out and still score that big tip. We didn't imagine our hands red and chapped, lifting 50 pound bags of milk, making elebenty billion pots of coffee, or hung over old men swatting on our asses as we passed by with a platter of pancakes.

Here's the deal, people. Not everyone makes it through high school, let alone college. Not everyone was encouraged, let alone expected, to get decent grades and get into a good school. Some of us got very little information about the possibility of college. Some of us were discouraged from thinking we'd be good enough for post secondary education. Some of us were told there was no money for such extravagances as additional education that we wouldn't need anyway because we were going to get married and have babies and support our husbands by keeping a clean house.

Among those who grew up in even the middle class, not just the upper class, there seems to be some confusion about how poor people got to be poor. That somehow, poor people really choose to be poor or they are just too lazy to do anything to change their situation. There is some belief that everyone has the same opportunities as everyone else. There's some idea out there that if you just work hard enough, you can be anything you want. And I think that is bullshit. I think until you are out in the world without a safety net, you will continue to buy into that bullshit - and I think it's because it helps you maintain the illusion that YOU could never be truly poor.

Not everyone has the money, the support, or the options that YOU have had. Some of us have had no safety net. We ARE the safety net. There are no parents with some money tucked away for emergencies for some of us. There's no house to take out a loan against. There's no savings account to send us to college or pay for our glitzy wedding or make the down payment on our first house. There's no credit line, hell, no credit! to cosign a loan.

Every now and then, one of us low lives born to poor people escapes. Sometimes it's because of extraordinary intelligence, a teacher or mentor who saw beyond our stringy hair and hand me down clothes, a fortunate mistake, or some other crazy glitch in the system. We get out of the grip of poverty - we finish high school, we manage to NOT get pregnant, we zig when others might have zagged, and we find ourselves with money left at the end of the month. And we stare at that bank balance in AWE!

But not everyone has that miraculous misstep that leads them out of their parents' fate. There's a reason why everyone doesn't hold a college degree. There's a reason some people are janitors, cooks, truck drivers, pharmacy technicians, mechanics, book binders, paper makers, golf caddies, hot dog vendors, soldiers, and waitresses.

And it may not be because they are fulfilling a life long dream. It may be that they didn't have the encouragement or the support others seem to take for granted and pretend we're all entitled to.

Be generous with your time and money and be stingy with your judgments and preconceived notions. And tip your waitress!!

Friday, September 5, 2008

The Best F**ing News Team Ever

I prefer my pseudo news low and to the left.

Be Careful What You Say

And dammit, blogger won't let me embed it here and viacom made Youtube remove it. It's the MAN and he's trying to KEEP ME DOWN!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Nostalgia - The Bad, Part II

So, on June 1st, 1985, I found myself in uncharted waters. I had escaped the fate of my mother and my grandmother and many of my numerous cousins. I was not married to a coal miner; I would not awaken long before dawn to make coffee and sandwiches six days a week. I would not send my man off into some pit or onto some mountain top all sparkly clean just to have him come home some 10 or 12 hours later, hands and face coated with coal dust, so that the whites of his eyes popped out at me.

No, I was a soldier's wife. I would awaken before dawn, squint, and fall back to sleep. I'd wake up around mid morning and wonder what I was going to do to fill my day. Sheer boredom granted me the cleanest rented mobile home I have ever stepped foot in (and I've been in some that have never even been lived in). You could eat off my floors and drink out of my sparkling white toilet bowl. I kid you not.

At some point, I got a job I could walk to. I worked at a dry cleaner's, where I learned how to sew the little tags on the Army guys' uniforms. I learned exactly where everything went on the shirts and on the Army Class A's. There's an Air Force base near Ft. Bragg so I would occasionally get one of those. It wasn't much and it didn't pay much but there was almost no pressure, no stress. I'd give it a B- as far as unskilled labor goes.

But things started happening in my little love nest. My man started not coming home. Checks started bouncing. There were bills I couldn't pay. My roller rink honey had always loved some decent weed and I thought being in the Army would cure him of that. But it's funny how all the pot heads can find each other, even in the Army. And that's exactly what happened to my honey. He apparently hooked up with every pot head in the 82nd Airborne sometime between Christmas 1984 and June 1985.

I can remember being at the mobile homes of other Army wives on Saturday nights. All of his buddies had newborns, it seemed like. We'd be playing cards and someone would light a joint. Pot has always just immobilized me; I'd get the giggles and crave Doritos but I just couldn't move. I'd watch in amazement as the Army wives changed diapers and made bottles and fed babies; I knew I would never be able to do that. I knew I couldn't bring a baby into this situation, knew that my roller rink honey wasn't going to pull it together, knew that I was going to have to find a way to pull us out of this.

So, in February 1986, I joined the Army. We desperately needed the money. I desperately needed to have a life with more in it than what we'd seen thus far. I really only meant to join the reserves. You know, maybe be a medic and be gone for 8 weeks for basic training and a couple months for medic training. Then I'd be back and we'd have this extra income every month.

But recruiters are slick, you know? I got kick ass scores on their tests; I could choose any profession I wanted, almost. So I picked pharmacy technician, I think because some girl I knew in school and could never stand was going to be a pharmacist. How's THAT for a way to choose a career path?? I'd be working in a pharmacy and she'd still be in her second year of college. So there! Hah!!

But there was a hitch, you know? If I wanted to be a pharmacy technician, I had to join the real Army. For four years. And I'd have a life long trade when I got out. And I'd have a full time job with a full time pay check. And I could come back to Ft. Bragg, once I finished training and signed a waiver saying I didn't want to go to Germany like my orders would say I was going. And I would be gone for about 6 to 8 months but that's not SO long, really, you know?

Oh, my man was PISSED!! I thought the top of his head was going to explode. But then he lit a joint and I knew I'd made the right decision.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Nostalgia - The Bad, Part I

So, a long time ago, I was in the US Army. I was only in for 4 years and I never left the country. In fact, I was practically a civilian most of the time because I was a pharmacy technician (91Q hoo-ah!). I worked in a hospital.

There was a time when I thought I would go to college and become a high school English teacher. If you've read anything I've written, it is clear to you that I either became the worst English teacher ever or the truth reveals to you that dream was never realized.

I'm not bitter about not having been able to live my childhood dream. That's probably because so many other very cool things have happened to me. I did eventually get to college and I did get a degree. I just have issues with following society's prescribed sequence of events and that's not on purpose. It's just how things shake out for me. At any rate, not to spoil the ending or anything, just keep in mind, that given all of the things that might have gone another way, I'm happy with how things have turned out so far.

My path to the Army presented itself during the summer before my freshman year of high school. I went roller skating nearly every Saturday that summer. I couldn't do any tricky moves but I rarely fell down. It was a grand summer, I recall but the details are very fuzzy. Had I known that the events taking place that summer would have such a huge impact on my life, I'd have paid much closer attention!

There was this boy at the skating rink. He was just stinkin' adorable and he could skate really well. He really preferred to play video games though. Oddly, I don't think anything happened between us that summer. I don't remember us skating together or kissing or even learning each other's names. Maybe I just stalked him. I just can't remember.

In the fall, I was anxious about going back to school. I was pretty smart and I got good grades. I thought maybe I was a big fish in a small pond and I was about to become a small fish in a big pond, if you know what I mean. So, I was worried about all that and the idea that maybe I wasn't really all that smart at all. I was also worried about being not very pretty, being incredibly shy, and now I was certain that I might not be very bright to boot. I was pretty insecure walking in those doors.

But there was this boy, from the skating rink. I was running into him all the time. He was everywhere, it seemed. And he was funny; he made me laugh. Next thing you know, I have a boyfriend! I'm dating! Well, sort of dating...we didn't actually GO anywhere but we were "going together". Maybe that was my first clue. About not going anywhere. But who could know? I was 15 and I was IN LOVE!!!

There was a lot of stuff in between that would make this story way too long (like it isn't already!). He graduated a year before me and by fall, he had joined the Army. I had a year left in school. He'd be gone. It was unbearable to consider. I thought I'd lose him to the world and I think he thought he'd lose me what, I can't imagine. Good sense?

So we did what any pair of 18 year olds would do in this situation in the mid 80's, in Eastern Kentucky. We got married. On Christmas Day. He went off into the world (aka Ft. Bragg, NC) and I stayed with my mom and finished high school. Graduation night, I stuffed the car he'd sent money for with all our worldly possessions. The next morning, I was on the road to North Carolina. A new adult life, a husband, a little mobile home waiting to be filled with towels and sheets and groceries. I was escaping and I could barely wait to get started with the rest of my life.

More soon.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Nostalgia, The Good

I am reading about kundalini meditation and the author writes about when we are children, how we experience our kundalini energy often. He encourages the reader to think back on their childhood and remember a time when you experienced this energy.

I was a very imaginative child; I was a singleton until I was five. I think because I had no built in playmate, I made up stories to entertain myself. Most of the stories I made up when I was three don't make sense to me now. I remember feeling like I was on an adventure every time I played, though.

I wish I could remember more of the details. Like, I can remember "escaping" to the park (much to my mother's dismay) and I spoke to the squirrels as I walked, explaining to them that my father was away on business (I don't recall his profession at that time but he came home every evening). Then a helicopter flew overhead and I told the squirrels, who were of course simply enthralled, that my father was in the helicopter on his way to his job. I waved to him and encouraged the squirrels to do the same.

And then Mom found me (I know the park was too far away for a 3 year old to go alone but really, you could see it from our backyard and there were no streets to cross to get there). She was very upset that I'd wandered so far. I must have scared the crap out of her! (which was also a lot of fun!)

So, it was those sorts of days that I thought of when I reflected on blissful moments from my childhood; when I felt uninhibited by society, when I conversed out loud with squirrels, and waved to helicopters. The time before responsibilities, convention, needing to explain myself or defend my thoughts. It was all very simple and rich.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Saturday Ramblings

I don't know what is spewing pollen this time of year in Cincinnati, but it is kicking my allergic ass. I have been congested and coughing for nearly two weeks! I did go to the doctor (and believe me, that means I feel like crud!) and she thought perhaps I had a sinus infection. I completed a course of antibiotics but my symptoms still persist.

This is putting a serious damper on my ability to do stuff! Stuff like, think clearly. Breathe. Not to mention sleep, sex, work - not necessarily in that order.

I am going to get my hair cut today at a salon I haven't been to before - la petite salon & spa. I hope I don't cough at the wrong time and end up having to shave my head to even it out. I'll let you know how it goes!

Then I am going to Kohl's to do some shopping. They're having a sale and hubby has a credit card there. Woot! Maybe then I will feel up to some lovin' time with hubby!

All of this is a diversion so that I do not think about all the serious stuff at work. On Monday, I will complete a matrix that details what I do all day, explain why that work is relevant and important, and whether I have capacity for more work and what I'd prefer that work be or not be. I felt somewhat encouraged that my initial response to receiving this form was annoyance that I didn't have time to fill it out because I have relevant and important work to do!

For now, I am off to guzzle some more generic Robotussin DM, shower, and hope I have something clean and presentable to wear to the salon. Have a great Saturday!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Things I Want to Tell My Therapist

So, except for some research and tweaking my website, I’m not working on my business venture until I get back from vacation in the middle of September. That leaves me with very little to blog about except for my personal ramblings and goings on.

Which is why I haven’t blogged. Because I’ve been saving up stuff to tell my therapist. But he’s currently on vacation and then booked until August 27th. That leaves me with repeating myself to my husband or sharing my inner turmoil with the blogosphere. Lucky you.

Everybody has issues, ya know? From the frivolous, blown out of proportion childhood slights to the truly life altering, high impact childhood trauma – none of us believes we’re completely normal. I’m no exception. Being married to the world’s greatest therapist doesn’t give me a free pass to normalcy.

My biggest and longest lasting issue is my inability to relate to other women except in the most superficial of ways. Once I become comfortable with women, I seem to alienate myself from them. This is because, I think, I tend to mistake complaining for unhappiness. Unhappiness bothers me, particularly now, when I am happier than I ever imagined I could be. Except for my inability to relate to women without giving them advice and urging them to do things for themselves that would seemingly improve their level of happiness. If I’m complaining to someone, I’m looking for solutions to a problem. This is simply not true for everyone. Sometimes people just want to complain; I think a huge portion of our society relates to others through shared misery. So my friends aren’t looking for suggestions; they’re just trying to relate to me. I think. I’m not completely sure, which is why I want to talk to my therapist about it.

So, I don’t know. It seems like other women are able to have friends and I have some endearing qualities that should enable me to have friends too, right? But then I hear people talking about their friends and I think, “oh…if you can’t tell her she has broccoli in her teeth, are you really friends?”. I mean, I tell complete strangers that they have crud in their teeth. I want to know if I have something in MY teeth that is so distracting that you cannot concentrate on what I am actually saying. I would expect a friend to tell me something like that. But that’s not my point, really. My point is that what I would call an acquaintance, other people call a friend. I apparently have a warped sense of what friends should be.

I blame my sisters for this. I sort of think that friends should be something like my sisters. I am great friends with my sisters. We understand each other, we respect each other, we try to help each other out. We don’t always agree but often we do. And when we don’t, we just sort of keep on loving each other, each thinking the other is stupid but still thinking they’re essentially good and when they have such and such a situation, then they’ll understand that I’m right.
So, I once asked an astrologer if there was something in my chart that caused me to clash so much with women. And when I say “clash”, I don’t mean we get into arguments. I mean there is something that I do that causes people to eventually do or say things that intentionally hurt my feelings. With malice.

But, I was talking about the astrologer and she said I have an ego as big as a room. She said I have Saturn in aspect to my natal Venus, Moon square. She said I must learn to humble myself. Is that not just disturbing? Plus, that was two and a half years ago and I’m no better than I was. So these are the things I want to discuss with my therapist. I want to connect to other women. I want to be able to have more than superficial relationships with women.

Now don’t you wish I was working on my business venture?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Sometimes Fantasy > Reality

I had it in my mind a few years ago that I'd like to own a doggy daycare. Like a mom who wants to stay home with her kids and starts a daycare, I could just envision the fun of it all! Romps in the grass, wading pools, tennis balls everywhere. I'd need to buy stock in bleach and dyson! It was going to be great!

I started working on a business plan, checking out the competition, going rates, and researching the cost of rent for a space that would house such a business. And my dream went quickly down the drain as reality took over. I couldn't make it work in my head or on paper. I'd have to hire people, offer a variety of services, and (here is the deal killer) I'd probably have to work 18 hours a day 6 or 7 days a week. For a long time. And I'd probably only pull in $10/hour for a good portion of that long time.

If I'd had the capital and the connections, it's very possible it would have worked out. I had neither at the time, nor do I now. It all quickly got too big and outside my comfort zone much too fast.

Because I'm willing to work. I'm willing to work hard. And I love dogs. I have three of my own and I volunteer for the SPCA. To get paid to play with dogs all day would just rock! But not enough to eat kibble myself and be "at work" all the time when I'm not sleeping.

So, as I have for so very long now, I kept my day job. I got a more interesting day job for the same government agency. Then I got an even more interesting day job that paid me more for the same government agency. And with that last job, I've gained something I haven't had before and something I would work for less money for, if I ever had to. What is it I'd potentially take less money to keep??


I don't have a TON of it but I do have some. It is the government, after all. But as long as I show up to meetings on time, no one hassles me if I'm running late. No one gets bent out of shape if I am at lunch longer than the allotted time. I can leave a little early to take a dog to the vet. I can even work from home occasionally. I appreciate those small perks so very much!

But what I am lacking in my job is excitement. Oh, there's the occasional wigging out on the part of somebody important that causes my job to be exciting; searching, sorting, scrambling to get some data into a presentable format to head off disaster. But I do my job well enough that those situations are rare.

So recently my life got very exciting outside of work when my husband started his own counseling business full time. My last blog was all about the stuff we did to get his name out to the community and online. So I started thinking about how much I enjoyed helping him get started. And then I started thinking how much I would enjoy doing something like that for someone else for a little bit of money. I want to get paid, don't get me wrong. But mostly, I want to get paid to do something that really interests me.

So, in doing some research on how all this might work, I found a lot of information that leads me to believe that web designers really dislike people with ideas like mine. But I also think there are a lot of small businesses that just don't have anything on the web because they don't know how to do it themselves and it's a lot like getting your car worked on when the only thing you really know about cars is how to drive - you just don't know if you're getting ripped off or not. If my idea works, I think it could get businesses to hire a web designer, when they otherwise would have never considered it.

Rather than repeat my idea, I'll just link you to a really wise, self proclaimed "geek" off whom I bounced my idea. I found Owen on Twitter. Owen has so many useful tips and gives such excellent explanations that he's worth checking out even if you aren't interested in any more of my long winded words! He is a wealth of practical, user friendly information.

Thanks for your great insights, Owen!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

How We Started a Small Business - sort of

In April, my husband left the world of public service and went into private practice. He is an independently licensed clinical counselor. Since then, I've spent a great deal of time trusting in the Universe, learning how to run a business, how to network, how to advertise with almost no money, and how to keep the faith when my bank account is very low. Currently, there is enough money. It's the timing that gets tricky.

I moved into the position of project manager, public relations specialist, accountant, web master, researcher, and secretary. I really enjoy all of my roles!

Here's what we've gotten ourselves into over the last three months:

  • Named the practice
  • Created the Website
  • Advertised with Google Adwords
  • Office
  • Furnished Office
  • Business Cards, Brochures & Flyers
  • Began Search for Printing Services
  • Speaking Opportunities
  • Joined Chamber of Commerce
  • Blogging/LinkedIn/Twitter
A couple years ago, I was blogging on a fairly regular basis on Xanga. I tried to get hubby into it but writing is not really his thing. He's much stronger at in person presentations and is a very dynamic speaker. He did do a couple of blogs though, under the name "Cincinnati Therapy Guy". I'd forgotten about that. So when we were trying to think of a catchy name for his practice, he mentioned it and thus he became the "Cincinnati Therapy Guy". I think its easy to remember, descriptive, and shows his sense of humor and humility.

So, getting the word out was my highest priority. Part of getting the word out included getting a website up and running. Since we were advertising solely online, this was crucial. People want to get an idea about who you are before they come to share their deepest, darkest secrets with you. I have set up websites before, purely for sharing my dog pictures with my relatives out of state. I had no clue about sitemaps, search engine optimization, or link bait. I'm sure a professional could do much more with the site. For now, I think it gives visitors the information they need and is simple to navigate. I used Nvu to create the site and FileZilla to publish to our webhost.

(Snag) I changed webhosts somewhere in the middle of all of that. In hindsight, I'd have made the switch in a more planful manner. As it was, I didn't have the pages ready when the new host kicked in. I've always used templates or FrontPage to create sites. While the new host has templates, the available software is very different than I'm used to. It took me a couple of days to find software I could figure out. I didn't realize it would be so complicated (and maybe it isn't but it was beyond my ability to figure out)!

Word of mouth is the best form of advertising. We have some of that, since he's been seeing clients part time for a few years. We need more new clients though! So I looked for other ways to let people know he was now available full time.

We wanted to be listed in the phone book but that was expensive and complicated. His main base of operations is our home and you cannot use a home phone number to list a business in the Yellow Pages. Not even online. So, while I think it's a disadvantage, I think it's one we couldn't afford to do anything about. Another phone line is not in the immediate budget and we already had business cards.

Google Adwords is a really simple way to advertise on a budget. You choose some keywords that describe the products or services you're selling, create some (hopefully) eye catching ads, set a budget, and begin getting new traffic to your website. This is supposed to make the phone ring. It has been ringing but I'd like a lot more ringing!!

Google has done a good job of walking you through this process, with blogs, forums, and videos. They explain how to run a good campaign, how to create a sitemap, and search engine optimization. Currently, I'm trying to decide whether it's better to use search targeted ads or placement targeted ads.

(Snag) Hubby does most of his work out of our home. We live in a crappy neighborhood though and I was concerned that people were finding the address and then calling someone else. So my feeling was that he needed an office in a better location. We found a couple that we could reasonably afford and some that we could afford and really liked. Many were far too big. The one we liked best wasn't particularly sound proof though, and sometimes people in therapy yell or sob. So we had to find something else.

He stumbled upon his current office in his travels. It is in a convenient location, the perfect size, has ample free parking, and inexpensive. I'll save the adventure of furnishing the office for another blog. Suffice it to say, it's furnished and getting that way was an adventure. :p Interestingly enough, each of his new clients has preferred to come to our house rather than his office.

Early on, he got business cards from Staples. One should be sure to proofread these before you order and when you pick them up. We returned 1000 cards once because they misspelled "counselor". When we picked up the replacement batch, they misspelled his last name! Sadly, we had both handed out tons of them before noticing.

Current advice from a number of sources indicates that business cards are no longer necessary. Perhaps that's true for a lot of industries but I think they've been helpful. He isn't selling products and his services are very specific. People don't always need his services at the time he meets them. Sometimes it's months later, or they have a friend or family member who wants to see a counselor. For him, business cards are small and discrete, which is perfect for people who want to see a counselor.

So how else do you let people know that you offer counseling services in the Greater Cincinnati area?? Hubby goes around town talking to people. He goes to New Age shops, yoga places, doctors' offices, lawyers' offices, and he spends a lot of time in coffee shops. He loves Starbucks but he is also fond of the Coffee Emporium and Take Ten. He hands out cards and we even made him a flyer. Oh, we also have bumper stickers that advertise his website. Next on our list is brochures.

Brochures are tricky because you can't really create a nice one at home. So we have been searching for a printing service. This has been more difficult than you'd think. There seem to be a lot of printers in our area. One met with him and he was impressed with their prices and presentation. But the sales person didn't show up or call at their next scheduled meeting. Eventually he spoke with her again and set up another appointment. We were running late because we were dropping off furniture at the office so I called her. Before I could explain that we'd be late, she said she'd been meaning to call because she couldn't make the appointment. I told her hubby would call her later to set up something. Instead we've been searching anew. Because if your potential printer doesn't call you to say they can't make a meeting, will they call you back when you need 1000 flyers by next Friday? I don't trust that they will. I mean, isn't this like interviewing for the job? If they will treat you poorly during the honeymoon, do they really need your business?

Dennis has spoken at a Kiwanis meeting, a civic group, and a local social club. He's been to open houses and grand openings and mixers. He joined the Greater Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce and is reaching out to local small business owners about providing an Employee Assistance Program. He's also interested in doing short presentations at brown bag lunches and speaking at events held by non profit organizations. He's volunteered to do counseling for military personnel returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and their families at no charge. He's doing a workshop on meditation later this month.

He's started blogging again and this time, he's going to stick with it. He's also on Twitter (as CintiTxGuy) and LinkedIn, as of this weekend. So we're reaching out, in every direction of which we can think. I'm reading blogs, to learn from the wisdom of others. I send him emails several times a day, with links to blogs that might interest him, blogs about blogging, articles about current news in mental health, to websites that look like I want ours to look, to events he might attend, groups he might speak with, and anything else I can think up!

We still have lots to do, lots to learn. I'm confident it will work out and pay off. Not because of all the time and effort but because Dennis is a warm, caring person; he's a good therapist. He has healthy boundaries and he takes joy in his clients' progress. He loves his work and he's very good at it. And I'm just going to keep shouting it from every mountain top I can find.

Friday, June 13, 2008

I'm out of practice

So, this is just a placeholder for when I think of something interesting to say.