Saturday, January 30, 2010

All the World's a Stage

Admit it.  You've read Crush It in the past few months (guilty as charged).  And if you're in Atlanta, you've probably heard Hollis Gillespie speak, or maybe even attended one of her blog writing workshops or webinars (and don't get me wrong--I ADORE Hollis.  She's an amazing storyteller).  Lately, though, it seems like everyone has jumped on the blog bandwagon.  And not for the reasons those of us who jumped on it a few years ago did--to express ourselves, to share our lives and commentary with friends and family, to practice the art of writing.  No, these newcomers seem primarily motivated by the almighty dollar.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.  When I originally started this blog (my fifth in about as many years), it was anonymous.  I thought it would be a place for me to vent about work and the unglamorous side of public relations.  And sometimes, it still is.  But I also write about running and food and body image and business growing pains.  If this increases my visibility or adds some credibility to my business, all the better.  But it's not my primary goal.  Hence, why this account is separate from my company's web site (which, like this blog, also needs a makeover)!

I write primarily because I love it.  Because I'm a girl who loves words, who needs a space to ponder and explore and dream.  It's not strictly business, because that's not who I am.  And because, quite frankly, there are dozens of people out there who do that and do it better than I ever could.

Which brings me back to the blog bandwagon.  I have nothing against blogging for self-expression.  I think we all could use a bit more creativity and whimsy in our lives.  And if you're blogging to grow your business, and doing the right things--adding to the discussion, fostering conversation, creating community--good for you.

But if you're doing it because you think it will make you a millionaire or land you a book deal--your time may be best spent elsewhere.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

My Name is Laura, and...

They say admitting a problem is the first step toward recovery.

Hi, my name is Laura, and I'm an entrepreneur.

Hopelessly creative. 
Stubbornly ambitious. 
Occasionally manic. 
Always dreaming.

I've been through a bit of a blue spell lately, the kind I think we all go through when doggedly pursuing our dreams. The crazy long hours. The endless self-promotion. The financial uncertainty. The fits of self-doubt.

But at the end of the day, I persevere because I can't imagine doing anything else. Because it feeds my mind and my soul. Because I am resolute in my dreams. Because I can't imagine returning to cubicle hell.

But most of all, because I can't imagine doing anything else.

I AM an entrepreneur.  Are you?  And what are you going to do about it?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Why Less is More

While I've never had the illusion of privacy on social networks, I realized recently that my Facebook page is out of control.  While I do use the term "friend" liberally, I'm not quite sure how my Facebook friend count swelled to more than 1,100 earlier this week.

Okay, maybe I do.  Like my friend Gini wrote in her piece about Social Media Boundaries, I'm nice.  I want people to like me.  I can't say no.  And most of all, I like people, from my childhood best friend to the person I met last week at the coffee shop. And I really believe in the potential of these connections, large and small.  For not only friendship, but partnership, collaboration, mentoring, knowledge.  In fact, many people I only had chance encounters in with life pre-Facebook have become some of my closet friends and most loyal clients.

But I'm reconsidering my Facebook "open door" policy, especially now that I've become more visible in the community.  It's not that I have anything to hide--I like to think people connect with me and hire me because of my personality, so I don't mind talking about how I hate mornings, enjoy my evening wine and get the occasion blues.  But I DO mind friend requests from people I've never met or interacted with, endless invitations to join Mafia Wars or 50 different fan pages and countless status updates about your child's potty training activities.  But most of all, I just want Facebook to be what it used to be for me--a place to engage, to connect, to build lasting relationships with quality people.

So, I defriended about 100 people today.  And it was quite liberating.  And if you made the cut--congrats!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Bucket List

I was wondering what in hell I was going to blog about today (especially since I've set some random precendent of two posts in a row-gotta keep the momentum going), and I stumbled upon EPW's bucket list.  If you don't know EPW--Elizabeth Potts Weinstein--you should.  And not just because she's the queen of fabulous Twitter hashtags.  Don't believe me? Follow her.

Since I've been a bit bogged down with business budgeting and planning, I thought now would be the perfect time to dream.  The bucket list isn't about accomplishments--it's about experiences.  The unforgettable moments and memories that make a life truly well lived.  

On my list?

  1. Meeting Dolly Parton.
  2.  Belting out a show tune on a Broadway stage.  Or maybe just a stage.  I've always been the chorus girl--just once, I'd like to be the star.
  3. Qualifying for and running the Boston Marathon. 
  4. Learning to play the guitar or the cello.  Or both.
  5. Traveling to Europe to witness the summer sports trifecta--Wimbeldon, the British Open and the Tour de France.
  6. Writing a book. Preferably one that people buy and read, and that makes the New York Times bestseller list and lands me an interview with Matt Lauer (swoon).
  7. Speaking fluent Italian.  Or enough to get around Italy for a while.
  8. Living in a foreign country for at least six months.
  9. Getting a tattoo.
  10. Owning an apartment in Manhattan and a house on the coast near Charleston, SC.  Or at least regular trips to each destination.
  11. Taking a ballet class and performing in a tutu and ballet slippers.  Even if I'm 60.
  12. Learning to shag and dancing really well at someone's wedding.
  13. Talking writing with Anne Lamott.
  14. Having my vote for President count in the state of Georgia (wishful thinking).
  15. Buying a pair of Louboutins.
  16. Getting paid some sort of money or winning a makeover/photoshoot/free clothes for looking like Sarah Jessica Parker.
  17. Teaching a college class.
  18. Becoming a certified Pilates instructor.
  19. Attending the NCAA Final Four.
  20. Eating at a five star restaurant and tasting everything in front of me.
  21. Raising $100,000  for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
  22. Getting rid of STUFF--and living a full life in a one bedroom apartment, with just my husband, a couple of pets and our collective bucket lists to fill the rooms.
What's on your list?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Martha, Martha, Martha

When I left you, dear readers, I was wandering around Manhattan with a buttonless coat, a half-torn contact in my eye, a blister and a dying cell phone.

But enough about my drama--you want to hear about Martha!

Martha, Martha, Martha.  I just love how one day, she's in the slammer, and the next, she's donning a sunny yellow cardigan and prim khakis and beaming through our television screens like the perfect housewife next door. 

I know Martha is the arbiter of all things good.  I know she's idolized by many.

But I just don't get it.

Maybe it's because I don't have the patience for anything involving glue guns and glitter.   Or maybe it's because I can't even keep a houseplant alive and consider boxed macaroni and cheese a complete meal.

Whatever the reason, the truth is that I've always found her pretentious.  Condescending.  Annoyingly perfect--with the exception of that prison term, of course.  

So, I'm not quite sure how this decidedly UN-Martha blogger got invited to attend her show.  But I wasn't about to pass up a chance to expense a trip to New York City and observe the creature in her natural habitat.

Which was warm and cloyingly cute.  Kind of like the bright colors they forced us all to wear (I settled on a cobalt blue dress and turquoise tights--that's as bright as I get, folks) and the squealing mommy bloggers who packed the audience.

There were the requisite cooking segments.  Pad Thai with @chezpim and orange almond cakes with Jeff Blumenkrantz, who stole a page from Julie & Julia and wrote a blog about cooking Martha's recipes, which of course led to a cookbook and will invariably make it to a theatre near you (after all, Blumenkrantz is Broadway actor--can the Martha musical be far behind?).  

The other guests included Martha's extremely frosty daughter, Alexis, who looked beyond pissed that her mother had interrupted her morning of bossing around servants and shutting down city streets to deliver her furniture to come to the studio to chat about blogging; the very likeable Jennifer Koppelman-Hutt, who played the recorder and joked about surfing porn  online and seemingly had nothing in common with her blogger-in-crime, Her Highness Alexis; and semi-stalker Andrew Ritchie, who has a blog all about Martha, which naturally led to an invitation to be on the show and participate in some tedious yarn craft.  So, if I start a blog about Dolly, will she invite me to sing on stage with her?  A girl can dream.  (by the way, Happy Birthday, Dolly!  I love you!)

In spite of my growling tummy (even with the abudance of food, no one offered to share with the hungry masses) and my complete inability to sit still for longer than fifteen minutes at a time, I really enjoyed the experience.  Martha was very engaging, and you have to admire anyone who can not only rock six inch Yves Saint Laurent heels, but survive a public scandal and land right back on the top, with grace and ease.

So, thanks for the memories, Martha.  And click here for my one second of fame (opening shot, on the right, less than a second in)! :)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Work, Interrupted

Late one night last week, as I was managing 25 open windows, three Twitter accounts, the neverending stream of email and somehow deluding myself into thinking I was "working," my friend Chris Brogan's latest tweet popped up.  It read something like "we live in an interruption-based society."  Somewhat ironic, given that the tweet itself is the very type of interruption of which he was speaking (but only because I have my TweetDeck set to “interrupt” me with messages like that—essentially, my own damn fault!).  But I’ve been pondering his comment for the past several days.

While those of us in the communications business have a professional obligation to stay connected to the virtual world, I think we are guilty of being more "busy" than truly engaged.  When does our compulsion to multi-task, to be constantly connected, for immediacy and instant gratification just become a fruitless exercise in unfocused activity and excess noise?

I'm currently jotting down this blog on a scrap of magazine paper using a borrowed pen, on a plane en route to Atlanta.  AFTER I finally finished the website copy and company boilerplate I've struggled to write for months.  It seems all I needed was a two hour plane ride with—you guessed it—no interruptions.

So, I’m vowing this week to take control of my schedule.  I’m committed to spending one hour per day without interruptions.  No television, no iPod, no cell phone, no Twitter, no Facebook, no email and no IM.  Just me and the task at hand.  Care to join me?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Misadventures in Manhattan

It's not a trip with me unless there's some drama.  I'm an expert traveler--I navigate security with the best of them, I can shove thirty pound bags into the overhead with ease and stuff more liquids than you would think humanly possible into that quart sized Ziploc. 

No, the drama is usually of my own making.  And mostly induced by my complete inability to plan.  

After my Christmas travel fiasco (which involved me taking two bags because I was too tired and rushed to edit my wardrobe and accidentally putting my liquids in the non-checked bag--oh, and did I mention that I never check bags, but again, I was too frenetic to deal with packing), I was determined to plan better for my New York City expedition.

It started off well.  I packed in plenty of time.  I even got in a run.  I arrived just in time to board and managed to get tons of work done on the plane.

And then I landed at La Guardia.

And my phone battery was fading quickly.  And I couldn't locate my charger.

Frantic, I plopped down in an abandoned concourse and starting tossing belongings onto the floor.  Jeans, scarves, and yes, even my skivvies were on full display as I searched in vain for the charger.  Meanwhile, my phone was making loud, gasping noises, and I had no idea what hotel room I was staying in or where I would be meeting my friends for dinner.

Brookstone to the rescue.  I finally broke down and bought an overpriced charger, knowing full well I'd find mine in the bag as soon as I got to the hotel (wrong: charger was actually on my kitchen table, along with my Cliff bars, so if I faint during Martha, you'll know why)!  I sat down, drank some water and let my phone charge enough to get me into the ride into the city.

But the fun wasn't over.  As I boarded the bus for the city, a button popped off my winter coat (the second to fall off that day), which basically means I couldn't close it and protect myself from the freezing cold.  And there were random threads hanging out everywhere.  Uber classy.

All was well until I got off the subway at Times Square and realized I'd developed a huge blister on my left ankle.  And my stuffed overnight bag was starting to feel really heavy. I limped the two blocks to the hotel, where the lovely desk clerk gives me a bandaid.  Another crisis averted.

Until later that night, when in the middle of dinner in Soho with good friends, my contact tore in my eye, and when I went to the bathroom to try and pull it out, I realized that I only have one earring in, because I've apparently also managed to drop that along the way (and my sister gave me those as a bridesmaid's gift, so they're quite sentimental).  The contact was still lodged in my eye, so I returned to the table, mascara smeared, eyes red and blurry, rocking the 80's earring look and just had to laugh.  It was just so me.  To the outside world, I look like I have it together, but in reality, I'm walking around Manhattan with a buttonless coat, crazed, bloodshot eyes and a big zit in the middle of my chin, hoping I blend in with the masses.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Me? Martha?

In case the squeals of delight have somehow escaped your ears, you know that me and three other local bloggers--Shameeka Ayers, aka "The Broke Socialite," Tami Hardeman of Running with Tweezers (named 2009's best blog by the AJC) and Ashley Leckey of IceMilk Aprons--are headed to New York City tomorrow for Thursday's taping of the Martha Stewart blogger show.

The four of us sat down last night in Shameeka's "studio" to chat about the show for an episode of Gasp. Swoon. Faint.  And it occured to me that I was woefully out of place.

I am so NOT Martha.  I rarely cook.  I have no home decor to speak of.  In fact, I'm kind of a slob.  I don't do crafts.  I can't even sew on a button.  Like any good Southern girl, I do have monogrammed stationary, a full set of china and decent linens, but I can't remember the last time I used any of the above.

But hey, I like pretty things as much as the next girl, and I'm not about to pass up a trip to New York City to see an American icon.  So, as long as I can find something suitable to wear, look for me on Thursday!

It's a good thing.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Size Does Matter

I did something yesterday that I hadn't done since last spring.  I stepped on a scale.

For some people, this is a daily occurance.  In my case, it was an obssession.  So, I tossed the scale and just lived.  I let go of "rules."  I ate better; I trained harder.  And the result?

I gained ten pounds.  TEN pounds.

As I stood there bundled in my winter gear but feeling completely naked and exposed, I stared at the number.

Is this a mistake?  Even if I removed three layers and took off my shoes, that wouldn't account for ten pounds.

And then I turned around and looked in the mirror.  And I thought of all I have accomplished with those ten extra pounds.  Strong marathon training.  A 14 minute half marathon PR.  A three minute 5K PR and a 4th place finish in my division, just three weeks post-swine flu.  The energy to get through almost every day without a nap.  The ability to cope better with my depression.  An interest in quality food.

So what if my thighs and hips are a bit bigger and my old jeans are a little tight?  I feel amazing. My husband thinks I'm hot.  And best of all, I'm healthy.

And for the first time in my adult life, I didn't think "I need to lose ten pounds."  I thought "wow, think of all I could've accomplished with those ten pounds years ago."

Sunday, January 3, 2010

2010 Theme Song

 (no head--you can't prove it's me!)

Some people have words, some people have goals--I have theme songs.

I'm a total music geek.  I spent my high school years decked out in green sequins, dancing jazz squares, sporting the cheesy perma-grin and singing show tunes.  Loudly.  Everywhere.

I think I listened to the Les Miserables soundtrack at least twice a day.  Long before Susan Boyle popularized the tune, "I Dreamed a Dream" was my theme song.  Like my petty troubles were anything compared to those of a French prostitute during the Revolution, but yeah, I was always a bit of a drama queen.

So, it should not surprise anyone that this year's theme song is a show tune.  It's a song that's always moved me, but has taken on new meaning in the past couple of weeks as I think about the future of my business and my brand, particularly the line "close your eyes and leap."

"Defying Gravity" 

Something has changed within me, something is not the same
I'm through with playing by the rules of someone else's game
Too late for second-guessing, too late to go back to sleep
It's time to trust my instincts, close my eyes and leap

It's time to try defying gravity
I think I'll try defying gravity
And you can't pull me down

I'm through accepting limits, 'cause someone says they're so
Some things I cannot change, but 'till I try, I'll never know
Too long I've been afraid of losing love I guess I've lost
Well, if that's love it comes at much too high a cost
I'd sooner buy defying gravity
Kiss me goodbye, I'm defying gravity
And you can't pull me down

So if you care to find me, look to the western sky
As someone told me lately, "everyone deserves the chance to fly"
And if I'm flying solo, at least I'm flying free
To those who'd ground me, take a message back from me
Tell them how I am defying gravity
I'm flying high defying gravity
And soon I'll match them in renown
And nobody in all of Oz , no Wizard that there is or was 
Is ever gonna bring me down 
(C) Stephen Schwartz, 2003

So, my friends, be bold.  Take risks.  Trust your gut.  And fly.

See you in the sky.


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