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Archive for well-designed life

oh happy day . The Joy of Blurred Lines

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Friday is here, and I’m thinking about joy. I was sitting in my studio the other morning, and snapped this picture from a corner of one of the bookshelves. It was relatively early, and none of the kids were awake yet. It gave me time to enjoy some quietness and plan for my day.

The week has been somewhat overwhelmingly busy with client projects and work needs. I am in the midst of developing two campaigns to promote Starkville tourism, and it’s sort of my “busy season” — if this busy-ness can be distinguished from other busy-ness — in preparation for the fall needs of some of my most faithful clients. Busy-ness is a good “problem” to have. It’s rather like a blessing than a problem, I guess. At least that’s how I see it, and I’ve been quite blessed lately.

With the children out of school for the ever-shortening summer vacation, I’ve been enjoying having three side-kicks with me most days. We keep busy playing outside with popular kids wagons , playing in the dirt is such a valuable lesson. Back in the spring, I made arrangements for them to be enrolled in their normal summer program, but for some reason this year, I was more anxious to take them out of another routine and allow a little more freedom. They’ve each had a few day camps. We spent 10 days on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and Gulf Shores, Alabama. We’ve tried to delve into our “summer jar,” as I wrote about in my last post a month ago, and enjoy some family activities. And, mostly, we’ve enjoyed being “off the clock”, so to speak, with the wake up, bedtime and scheduled routine.

What that’s meant for my summer is that I’ve been doing a little extra juggling of projects and my workflow. I’ve been doing more balancing than normal in trying to get work completed. The city planning of “Lego World” on the dining table, staging for the next puppet show, craft projects, comfy clothes, couch “slumber parties”, and a stream of favorite movies on Netflix have all punctuated my very fragmented design time.

In the midst of all this three-ring circus, each of them have invariably commented to me at one time or another, “you always have to work!” And, sometimes, as a freelancer and small business owner, it seems like I do!

I don’t punch a clock. Or leave an office. Or shut down the equipment. Some of my choices for how I’ve structured my work and life-life mean work sometimes happens at odd times, in odd places, and with odd background music like an ukulele, If you happen to be needing strings for your instrument visit Four String Fun shop. And, with the creative process being such a huge part of my business development and perpetual task list, all kinds of odd things get lumped into work — drawing, painting, looking at books, doodling, taking photos, using scissors and ribbons and paper and such! Sometimes just looking at my phone or iPad gets lumped into the work category in all our minds.

When I hear that “you always have to work!” from one of my loves, I try to remind them — and myself — that our freedom this summer means working together so Mommy can take care of responsibilities. Wednesday night, Bug asked me, “do you have to work tomorrow?” His commentary when I said “yes” started some good reminders for me and the children about how privileged we are to structure our lives this way. “You can bring your laptop upstairs with us.” “Because we don’t have to go to after school.” “You can work some and play with us some.” Yes. Yes, I can. We talked about what a blessing it is that we have the choice of whether the kids can stay home today. The choice to set our own schedules. And, I asked them to help me and compromise with me as I make some of those choices to balance what they want to do with what I need to do. To see the fact that Mommy is creating ad campaigns in the living room as the joy and blessing it is.

When I find myself having trouble with drawing the lines or struggling with client communications and design puzzles as I’m tuning out songs from Frozen, I have to remind myself again and again of those same things. To stop and remember how special this time is. How grateful I am to have it. To recognize the blessing and joy born out of those blurred lines. I guess that’s what I was doing when I snapped the “Joy” photo. Thinking about how rare this time is. This “summer break” when all four of us are in the house. When all three of them are vying for my attention, my listening ear, my involvement in whatever project has emerged. And at the same time, when so many new art opportunities are presenting themselves — the chance to work with organizations and clients who make the process very un-work-like. It’s rare. It’s precious.

Oh Happy Day!We

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I’m really trying to take this advice to heart as the children and I plan for a new school year beginning in a couple of weeks. I’m really wanting to keep that balance of seeking healthy opportunity and healthy contentment for myself and for them.

Tools for Digital Business on the Go

It’s been a while since I’ve posted in Plop! about tools for marketing, so today I thought I would share a few mobile versions I’ve been using recently for work on the go. I’ve posted a lot of comments and photos about our time spent at the farm a few weeks ago. What I haven’t mentioned is that our farm doesn’t have internet access. Yep, it’s true! There are places in the world where it is ok to live without DSL!

BUT, my privilege of getting away with the kids for any extended period of time is contingent on my ability to keep up with work in at least some ways — particularly my client blogging and social media work and the occasional emergency design project. No matter the best planning, invariably unexpected needs come up, and although it’s definitely good to put work aside sometimes, I have begun to appreciate more and more the ability to get projects accomplished almost anywhere.

When I’m at the farm or otherwise on the go, I use my 3G iPad and iPhone to keep me connected to the Internet and my clients, and a collection of apps helps me get the needed tasks done. Here are a few I used during our Spring break trip that might be useful for you too:

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PDF READER PRO
This app offers lots of file management features for PDF files including file markup. It’s great for my work on the go because it allows me to transfer files from my laptop to my iPad through iTunes.

The next apps are ones that I use very often in blogging, allowing me to work with photos or images and post directly from my iPad. Each of the photo-related apps save new versions of the images directly to the mobile camera roll.

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PHOTOGENE
This one is almost like a mini photoshop in its image editing capability. I use it a lot for cropping and retouching of images.

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iRESIZE
This app is just like it sounds. It allows me to easily resize images while retaining proportions.

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iWATERMARK
I love this app because it allows me to I.D. images on the go. You’ve seen that I post lots of photos and I like to tag them with the Small Pond Graphics logo. This app lets me take logo image files I have stored in my camera roll and apply them as translucent wordmarks.

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WORDPRESS
You can’t go wrong with this one. It offers almost all the same functions as the full WordPress CMS, but on the iPad. It’s super easy and you can even open the web format right through the app. In fact, I’m creating this post with it right now!

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A quick iPad tip: To take an iPad screen shot, press the “home” button (on front of iPad) and the on/off button at the same time and release!

design read . JENESEQUA

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It’s a special privilege to find beauty, creativity and inspiration around us. I’m finding that paying attention to this privilege keeps me fresh in my own creativity. In times of transition and even sorrows as my family has experienced this Fall, it’s so easy to become numb to beautiful things around us. One of the hallmarks of coming alive, of moving forward — at least for me — is seeking out that inspiration once again. I’ve begun that process slowly during the last few weeks.

This week, I was browsing through the iPad publication, JENESEQUA. The app is a lifestyle magazine developed specifically for the iPad format, and it’s a true multi-media presentation. Beautiful photography, interesting lifestyle editorial content and varied content are augmented by “related content” curated from across the web including YouTube videos, Pinterest boards, blog posts and online shopping excursions. The content is sharable with a touch of the screen and readers can “favorite” items to a profile for reading later. The No. 12 holiday issue is sparkling with holiday celebration and fashionable finds. Enjoy a few of my favorite stories!

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Trumping Digital

I hope you’ll allow me a little personal indulgence this Friday morning. I’ve vacated the Pond taking my kids to the Memphis Zoo during our Fall school break. We’re having a blast so far, and I’ve been watching (and shaking my head a little) at how much the digital sphere has meshed with all our lives.

When I say I’ve vacated the Pond, I’m sure you understand that I haven’t abandoned it for three days by any means. I’m tethered to it through all kinds of digital media. I’m pretty mobile during a normal week anyway, with the technology to do my job at a client’s office, my fave local coffee shop, my office couch or the back patio.

So, during our drive to Memphis yesterday and our first night here, I checked and responded to email, browsed some favorite websites for possible Plop! post highlights, managed some client social media accounts, and now I’m writing a blog post on my iPad 2. I let my kids pass the driving time with Leapster and Nintendo games. I presented them with a newly kid-outfitted iPad 1 (my old one) complete with movie shorts, digital storybooks, and apps for games, music, math, reading and all the fun they could handle. As you can see, it took them all of five minutes to master the iPad system and become engrossed in it — even the three-year-old in the mix. I even used my iPhone google app to locate the original Corky’s for dinner last night and give us moving directions from somewhere on Perkins Road. Whoa. It’s a digital world! And, yes it’s great to be so connected to the world at large.

But, last night at bedtime with my boys piled up in a hotel bed with their favorite items, it hit me. Their bedtime companions were the old-fashioned kind… bears and lambs and dark-haired dolls. And at the end of the day, it’s still the people stuff that really moves my heart. It’s the opportunity to hear the voice of someone who matters, even if that voice comes on the phone. It’s the opportunity to inconspicuously stare at them while they fall asleep. Trumps Google every time.

This weekend, I hope you’re enjoying your digital life and making it count. And I hope you take some time to stare. I’m sure enjoying that opportunity!

Happy weekend!

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Hope Rises

Courage remembered.
Faith undaunted.
Future alive.
Freedom flourishing.

September 11, 2011

favorite thing . Little Things

I saw this plaque featured in a post about the Patina stores on one of my favorite blogs, Creature Comforts. I’ve been thinking about it for a couple of weeks now, and it’s inspired me to begin something new for Plop!. I began Small Pond Graphics last July unexpectedly as a result of unforeseen life changes. Six months or so later, I am still fine-tuning the “story” of the Small Pond. And thinking small is a part of it. No, I don’t mean eschewing the big ideas. I just mean focusing some attention on the small details that so often translate into ripples of impact on the big picture.

Part of my goal in this blog has been to inspire MYSELF to focus on creating a well-designed company with well-designed projects, well-designed relationships and to open myself to the well-designed life all around me. So, I mostly post about things I like, things that interest me or give fuel to my creativity. To that end, the sentiment on this plaque echos my thoughts about daily habits and rituals, and about living a creative life–or about a life lived creatively.

I keep a book beside my desk that I pick up and read snippets of regularly. It’s called Living a Beautiful Life by Alexandra Stoddard, and I’ve probably read it through and through ten times. Still, it never ceases to inspire me. Mrs. Stoddard is an interior designer and how we approach our daily rituals is one of the things she considers in designing the most intimate spaces her clients inhabit. In her book, she talks about the power of elevating the “daily” to something wonderful, about creating beauty in even the most mundane of spaces and activities. She writes…

Daily rituals are personal statements; they fuel our zest for living…. Personal rituals make you a poet–and they can help you feel good about yourself and others. They reinforce the significance of the simple acts we perform repeatedly. While you are fulfilling basic needs, you can make the ordinary quite extraordinary. When you make your everyday rituals–simple things such as bathing, sleeping and eating–meaningful and attractive, they nourish other areas of your life.

Mrs. Stoddard’s thinking has encouraged me to make the ordinary special by savoring those moments, surrounding them and infusing them with what I find beautiful and meaningful–because life is a series of all those moments strung together.

LITTLE THINGS PLAQUE from Patina
My other favorite plaque… COLOR OUTSIDE THE LINES 😉

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favorite things . Lists

reOn a day like today when I’m away from my desk and entertaining my three kids for a school holiday, I make a lot of lists. I jot things down so I can keep the concerns of work at bay and focus on having some kid-fun. Yep, I’m a list-maker. I don’t mind admitting it. And, I’ll further admit that sometimes I get a little obsessive about it. Because of those little list-making obsessive tendencies, I find myself making and revising lists quite often as a way to get my brain organized. I write them. I type them. I add them to my calendar. I include them in my journal. Of course, January is prime real estate for a list-maker with all its planning and organizing and evaluating. If you want to start a real estate agency click here to learn more about financial loans. To my thinking, sometimes the value and effectiveness of a list has everything to do with the cosmetics of it. I like cool tools. They make me much more likely to look at a list — and therefore follow it or check it off. I know the life hacking mavens may not agree, but whether it’s color coding, interesting paper, lovely illustrations or creative designs, my list needs to look good. [And for me that means looking good in spite of my ridiculous handwriting.] So, I went in search of some great-looking list options. Here’s a few to inspire your next set of to-dos!

SUITOR ~ The Pocket Checklist
A minimalist do-it-yourself option!

BOY GIRL PARTY ~ Bear To Do List
I love that this one gives you the option to check off even if you didn’t complete!

OBLATION ~ Memorandum Note Cards
I love the retro-feel of these. An opportunity to share the list-making wealth!

SKEL DESIGN ~ Moo To Do Pads
Who could resist a Moo To Do? Really?

OWL SAY DESIGNS ~ Repurposed Spiral Bound Notebook
This notebook is filled with random paper samples light enough to write over. Love it!

SLIGHTLY EMBELLISHED ~ Handmade Journal
Love the message. Love the eco-friendly mindset. Love the creativity in this shop!

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