Mama’s Favorites: This Week’s Best Content (Week of 10/3/16)

This is a weekly collection of content that I found valuable, interesting, entertaining – or all three! Topics mostly center on freelancing, marketing, and parenting with occasional wild cards thrown in. If you like what I’m sharing, follow me on Twitter for more content suggestions.

Freelancing

Caroline Beaton discusses her journey from full-time employee to full-time freelancer. She made a series of smart, strategic moves to ensure that she could always support herself.

Ryan Robinson shares his tips on how to write an effective pitch for a freelancing client. These suggestions secured him a $500 per post gig!

Julio Vincent Gambuto wants you to be a freelancer who actually makes money. He has some fantastic ideas for how to stay lucrative.

Marketing

Your customer has 30 different needs, does your product or service meet them? Larry Kim talks about the attributes driving customer purchases. Which ones can you tap into?

Email marketing has many benefits including boosting your website’s SEO. Jayson DeMers explains how regular email communication can improve your rankings.

Kevan Lee walks through the process of getting verified on Twitter. A verified account can boost the perception of your online presence, but you need to be a somewhat public figure to be approved.

Parenting

A round-up of 45 hilarious “parenting tips” ‘from Twitter. “Never take a toddler’s word for it” was one of my favorites.

How do Jewish mothers approach parenthood? The Chicago Tribune has four suggestions and I love the one about encouraging geekiness.

Hobbies

Cat Noone talks about how she got started hand-lettering. This is a skill I plan on learning.

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What We’re Into: Summer 2016

Summer 2016

The summer of 2016 was a mixed bag. In the spring I suffered a miscarriage and assumed I’d be pregnant again by summer’s end, but I’m not. My childhood friend, and maid of honor in my wedding, was killed in a boating accident in June. I struggled with my grief compounded by the fact that I hadn’t spoken with her in years. Her death opened my eyes to our time not being guaranteed. Since then, I’ve tried to be more present in my life, make amends with people from my past, and be more appreciative of what I have.

While there were some supremely negative events this summer, we also had a lot of joy. Norah turned two! We spent the summer taking her to swim lessons and play dates. This was our first summer in our new house and we thoroughly enjoyed our big backyard. We had lots of ice cream (Norah had her first cone!) and s’mores. We took a day trip to Madison, Wisconsin that included a visit to Henry Villas Zoo. We attended a few picnics, farmer’s markets, fairs and outdoor events in Rockford including a kid’s concert.

Family at Henry Villas Zoo
Our family at Henry Villas Zoo in Madison, WI. Taken with a selfie stick!

The summer is typically a slower time for business and I enjoy that, but I look forward to things ramping back up and working with new clients! If you know anyone who needs copywriting, content, or social media work done – let me know.

Here are some things we loved this summer:

Erin (32 years old)

Stranger Things

This show hit all the right notes for me. I love horror and coming of age stories and I have the biggest soft spot for nostalgia. Stranger Things perfectly encapsulated the 80s, had a great storyline, and was sweet and scary at the same time. I absolutely loved this series and cannot wait for season two. You can catch this series on Netflix.

The Fireman by Joe Hill

This was my favorite book of the summer. I love Joe Hill almost as much as I love his father, Stephen King. This was an epic pandemic story about a virus that causes people to burst into flames. If you want to see what else I read this summer, follow me on Goodreads.

Meditation

After all of the negative things that happened this summer, I wanted to refocus and get some inner peace. I read several self-help books including Mastering Your Mean Girl and The Charge that helped me get my head in the right place. Every self-help book I’ve ever read talks about the importance of a meditation routine. I finally started using Stop, Breathe, & Think app for near-daily meditation. I have noticed a calmer mind and less anxiety. It also helped with my grieving process.

Daily Journaling

I’ve taken to writing in a journal daily about how I’m feeling and what I’m grateful for. It’s been helping me process my feelings and start the day with a clear mind.

Norah (2 years old)

Bombpops

Easily one of Norah’s most requested items. After almost every dinner she asks for a bomb pop. The traditional red, white, and blue popsicles were a staple in my house growing up, but with four kids the box didn’t last for more than a few days. We don’t let her have one everyday, but she gets them for dessert fairly often. The struggle is convincing her to wait until after dinner instead of giving her one when she first requests it which is usually five minutes after waking up in the morning.

Playing outside

Norah loves to push her ride-on car up and down the driveway and run down the large hill we have in our backyard. She received two bikes for her birthday and has been practicing using the pedals. She doesn’t quite have it, but probably will by next year.

Gardening

This summer we did some bucket gardening and Norah loved it. Every day she helped water the plants and pick the ripe vegetables. In the process, she ate about 100 cherry tomatoes. We had good luck with romaine lettuce, green peppers, and cherry tomatoes. Our strawberries produced about 10 berries and then stopped growing and our cucumbers never became ripe and rotted on the vine. We’ll try bucket gardening again next year and think about dedicating a plot in the yard in the future.

Bucket garden
Norah in front of her bucket garden

Fall is my favorite time of year and I can’t wait for all of the good things coming our way including trips to Edward’s Apple Orchard, having our first bonfire in our firepit, and taking our daughter Trick or Treating for the second time. Until next season!

Are You a Multipotentialite?

Multipotentialite

When you were a child how did you answer the question,

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Were you quick to answer “veterinarian” or “ballerina” or were you part of the group that couldn’t decide? From the first time I was asked that question until now, I’ve wanted to be a marine biologist, a writer, an archeologist, a journalist, a teacher, a mother, and a business owner.

If you have a lot of interests and talents, should you double down and focus on one to the exclusion of others? No way! You just need to learn a new term for yourself, you’re a multipotentialite.

Being a multipotentialite means you have multiple skills and many interests. You may have numerous careers in different fields throughout your lifetime. If you’re a Millennial, this is almost a guarantee. The new normal is four job changes by the time you’re 32, according to CNN.

I recently watched a great Ted talk on being a multipotentialite. The speaker, Emilie Wapnick, talks about how she’s had many different interests throughout her lifetime. She didn’t want to be limited by the “what do you want to do when you grow up?” conversation. Instead, she believes that her varied interests give her a competitive advantage.

She talks about how she would find a topic she was interested in and spend a lot of time learning about it. When she started to master the topic, it would become boring and she’d want to move on to the next thing. I’ve experienced the same thing throughout my life. Each new thing I learnt would completely captivate my attention until I felt comfortable with it and then it would lose its shine. Soon after, I’d find something else to focus on.

These interests have overlapped to make me a more well-rounded person. For a long time, I felt like my passions were random and unrelated. I still haven’t integrated everything that I’m passionate about into my daily life or my career. I want to do more with nonprofits and become more involved in my local community. I enjoy public speaking and want to have more opportunities to do it. I’m also passionate about education. Some of these passions are active in my day-to-day while others may come into play in the future.

As a multipotentialite how do you approach life?

  • Keep pursuing whatever strikes your fancy. Follow any leads! Research your interests, get involved, and keep adding to your list of passions.
  • Don’t get overwhelmed by all of your passions, instead, focus on one thing at a time. For a few months, concentrate on the passion that makes you most excited and gets you motivated to put in work. Follow that thread and it will lead to other passions. You may not be able to see how things will connect, but eventually, they will.
  • Appreciate your unique point of view and zest for life. You are a lifelong learner and will never be bored.
  • If you can find the intersection of your passions, you’ll find a career that will be fulfilling and very successful. Not looking for a new job? Think of ways you can incorporate your passions into your current career. Could your report writing be more creative? Could you get involved with a special interest group within your company? If you have spare time after work, could you start a hobby or side hustle to pursue your passions?

Let me know, are you a multipotentialite? How do you combine your passions into one cohesive life?

What We’re Into: February 2016

As a family, we have eclectic tastes and love trying new things. We’re always reading, (binge) watching shows and movies, and listening to podcasts and webinars. The amount of content we consume each month is staggering. Our daughter is also a voracious “reader” and as she enters toddlerhood, her interests are becoming more pronounced. She will tells you exactly what she wants and when she wants it – “String cheese now!”

At the end of each month, I’ll share a list of things that we were into over the past ~30 days.

Erin

This month it was all about food and audio experiences. I’ve spent a lot of time listening to music while working, driving, and doing errands around the house. Norah loves to dance and watching her spin in circles makes me happy. My birthday was this month and my husband and I had a great day going to the natural history museum and having my favorite food – sushi! I’ve always been a low-key person, but since I became a mother, I just want to spend quality time together making memories as a family.

Surf and Turf sushi
This may be the happiest mistake we’ve ever made. During a sushi run, my husband tried to order an entree of Surf and Turf for himself, but instead brought home the most delicious sushi roll I’ve ever had. The restaurant’s website says the roll is marinated steak and crab fried in tempura. There’s also some sort of delicious brown sauce on top. This roll dethroned our previous favorite, The Godzilla.

Music that sounds like it’s from another era
I have a few dozen Pandora stations that I cycle through, but right now, I’m really digging alternative music that sounds like it’s from a different era. Most of these recommendations came from my Young the Giant station. The first one is Fleet Foxes, who have a ‘70s sound. My favorite songs are He Doesn’t Know Why and Mykonos. I also like Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats; they have a funky mid ‘60s vibe. I’m loving S.O.B. and I Need Never Get Old. My last great find is Rocky Votolato who’s channeling ‘90s emo godfather, Elliott Smith, in his song White Daisy Passing.

Brain.fm
Sometimes I’m very task oriented and other times I can’t stay on one webpage for more than five minutes. When I need to focus on something, I use Brain.fm. The ambients sounds are created to improve concentration and focus. I liked it so much, I bought a full year membership. I use it for at least 30 minutes every single day and it continues to work wonders. If you’re interested in buying the service, here’s my referral link.

Michael

My husband, Michael writes a blog about solving problems, productivity and ideas. You can read more at Your Fool Laureate.

February is always a weird month for me. I can sense winter coming to an end, and we’re getting closer to one of my favorite times of the year—March Madness (more on that later). However, it’s still bone-chillingly cold here in the Midwest, and 9 times out of 10, there’s snow, so there’s still that winter malaise hanging around one’s shoulders like a long and heavy existential shawl. So more than ever during this time of year, I turn my attention to welcome diversions—those creature comforts that help resuscitate some of that warm feeling from spring and summer that I know is just on the horizon. I read, I listen to things, and I eat and drink.

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
This book was just recently published in January, 10 months after the death of its author. Dr. Kalanithi was a neurosurgeon at Stanford, but was steeped in all the things I hold dear: philosophy, classics, religious studies, art, etc. This book is a memoir about his life as a thinker, a doctor, a husband, and a father, up until his death from stage IV cancer. It’s a really great read—filled with great musings on the bigger questions in life, but also warm accounts of lessons learned by being there as people died. While Kalanithi’s account of his own journey toward death is moving on its own, my usually stone cold heart was nearly melted by the epilogue, which his wife, Lucy, wrote after his death. The epilogue is an account of Paul’s death, and how Lucy experienced it. It is gripping, but told in such a way that you really feel what it must feel like to be in your final moments. It’s a fantastic book.

Blanton’s Bourbon
I have been into whiskey for a couple of years now, and I’ve tried to sample new bourbons, ryes, and scotches whenever I get the chance. Recently, I found myself far away from the home base—in exotic Woonsocket, Rhode Island, on business. After a long day of work, a few higher-ups from the customer I was visiting accompanied me to dinner. When I expressed my preference for ordering a bourbon with dinner, and that it just might be Blanton’s, one of them exclaimed that it was his absolute favorite. Apparently, there are seven different variations of the stopper for the Blanton’s bottle, which is a jockey riding a horse. Each variation represents the different stages of a race. The recommendation was a solid one. Blanton’s is a damn good bourbon, and may have usurped my favorite bourbon, Four Roses Single Barrel. I plan to pick up a bottle soon, but probably nearer to the warm part of spring. Bourbon (at least to me) is a warm weather drink, one to sip as the sun sets over the green (or greening) trees.

Back To Work Podcast
I have been listening to podcasts since waaay back in 2006, before they began booming. It’s really the only thing that I got in on before it blew up, so I’ll sing that song to anyone who will listen (lucky you, dear reader!) Since that time, I’ve cycled a lot of podcasts in and out of my regular rotation, with some being long-standing ones, and others being flashes in the pan. Back to Work has proven to be the podcast that once in my stack, never left—and for good reason. The hosts, Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin, have a great rapport. But what really makes the show is the sincerity and candor with which Merlin works through problems that nearly all of us face. While the show is nominally about productivity, it runs the gamut, touching on a wide variety of topics, and handles them all with a wonderful touch of humor. The podcast was good from the start, so if you are inclined to check it out, begin with episode 1, and enjoy a really good ramp-up to episode 7. Also very worth checking out is the three-part series on David Allen’s Getting Things Done, beginning with episode 95 – “She’s Five for a Living”

Norah (21 months old)

Daniel Tiger
Almost every morning, the first request Norah has is “milk,” the second is “Ugga Mugga”. We try to limit her TV consumption, but she watches 1-2 episodes on most weekdays. She loves the show, interacts with the characters, and tries to sing the songs. She has four Daniel Tiger stuffed characters that accompany her on most of her adventures. Some children’s shows can be annoying, but I find this one sweet and nostalgic, the characters are all descendents of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood puppets.

Potbelly’s
We got out to eat more than we should, but we’re working on adding a budget and meal plan into our repertoire. When we ask Norah where she wants to eat, she almost always says “Potbelly’s!” She loves the chicken and cheddar melt with avocado and the sugar cookies. She can be a bit of a picky eater, but she always finishes her half of the Big size.

Playdates
Prior to this month, Norah had only been on one play date, but this month she had three. As she nears two years old, she’s much more interested in being around other kids. This month we went to the natural history museum, the children’s museum and an indoor playground. Her favorite activity was splashing in the giant water table at the children’s museum. Her least favorite activity was getting stuck in a tube at the indoor playground. We’re looking into signing her up for gymnastics and swimming lessons in the summer. It’s so fun to watch her personality blossom.

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