You rock! Thank you for a website that is easy to navigate for our most nervous to most experienced parents–and everyone in between! Everything is very intuitive, straightforward, and the visual elements are outstanding! Thank you for your timely responses and availability to us as we neared the beginning of school. You were not only helpful to our PTA leadership team, but to hundreds of parents who visit our website for important back to school information and reassurance! We are glad to be in partnership with you!
I’ve known Jami for a pretty long time and I have to say she’s the best. I’ve never thought to go to anyone else when it comes to my design needs. She listens and always understands my vision. It’s a great feeling when you know there’s no way she would put something out there for me that she doesn’t love and is proud of. I can be confident in the fact that any job I need done she gets it right and it’s always above and beyond what I could have ever imagined. It doesn’t hurt that she’s hilarious too. 😉 [Read more…] about Erika Burke
Last week I wrote something for
a new local online-and-probably-in-print-soon magazine (edited: now-defunct), The Broad Collective, called Straddling Worlds. It’s one of those conclusion-less struggles that all parents of preteens or teens can probably relate to, I’m sure.
My kid is the jam. He’s just so smart and perceptive and it really feels like, any day now, I’m going to look at him and realize that there’s no more kid left in him…
You know, when they’re really small, there’s this moment when they go from baby-faced to kid-faced. And you never see it coming, but all of a sudden, they look at you or say something or use their hands to gesture and you think, “Wow… I just got a glimpse of what he’ll look like as a kid!”
I’ve been hypersensitive to this incoming change — so much so that I think I need to give it a rest already… I’ll let you know how that goes. (Spoiler alert: it’s not going well so far!)
Friday, he cleaned his room. It used to be a three day event complete with gnashing of teeth and crying and whining and complaining. And after all the drama, I’d open his closet or look under his bed and find all the crap he had just shoveled from the floor to these dark places. But I told him on Monday that I needed him to clean his room by the end of the week and he got up on Friday and just… did it.
In the process, he found two gift cards and concluded that, because they weren’t in his wallet, they must be empty, but I asked him to check the balances before he threw them away. Turns out, one of the cards was totally unused, sitting with $30.00 on it. (Thanks, mom!)
We’ve been talking a lot about money and responsibility, both with him and about him. So he talked about how he wanted to spend this new-found cash and after two days of really considering things, he decided he wanted to buy some Beyblades.
What’s a Beyblade you ask? Like… Um, a spinning top, remember those? Little wooden things that you twist and watch spin on the floor. Only, with BeyBlades, they’re like muscled up and WWE-Smackdown-ified so they BATTLE.
Because, how do we take something old and remarket it to appeal to the younger generation? We make it, um… tougher. Or something.
He played with his younger cousin this week and they had a hell of a time with his Beyblades and really was dead-set on spending his money that way.
With the other gift card and the cash and all his change pooled together, he was just shy of $42.00. Burning a hole in his pocket.
We went grocery shopping together today — yet another thing that has changed. It used to be such a chore to go grocery shopping with him tagging along and I’d spend way more than I needed to spend because ohmygodgetmeoutofthestorenownowNOW.
But today was different, he had the list and I actually really enjoyed it with him today… Teaching him how to pick out cucumbers and reading labels to find a spaghetti sauce that didn’t have added sugar (there was only one, so we got the stuff to make our own from scratch) and, of course, checking out the one shitty part of the grocery store, mid-way in the candy aisle to see if there were any Beyblades there for him to buy.
After we got home, unloaded the groceries and had a little snack, he asked me to take him to Target so he could spend his money. “They have the BEST selection of Beyblades, I think.” So much confidence behind his voice.
There was a single Beyblade for $9.99, a two-pack of Beyblades for $17.99 and the pit/arena/thing for $10.99. Adding it up in his head, I could see his confidence start to falter. He asked me to check his math on my phone, “Don’t forget about adding tax!”
Even after we crunched the numbers, he was unsure, but I encouraged him, “Take it up there. If it’s too much, you can always just tell the clerk you want to put something back.”
I immediately saw the white-faced panic wash over him. I recognized it. I remember not too many years ago having to put groceries back at the checkout line because I didn’t have enough to purchase everything in my cart. There’s so much shame in having this happen — people behind you in line, watching, getting frustrated that you’re taking so long. Shit, I’ve been the person widening my eyes in irritation at someone ELSE doing this dance in checkout ahead of me.
But I just told him, “Don’t worry about it. If it’s too much, you’ll put something back.” This gave him a little confidence, but I could tell he was nervous. We got to the checkout line and he says, “Will you do the talking?” giving me those sweet, sad, brown eyes… “No way, man. You’re about to spend $40 on a toy with your own money. This is all you.”
The clerk was so patient and kind and the women in line behind us were just smiling and beaming. I was damn near tears. He swiped his first card, the clerk helped him with the selection choices and then it asked for his signature.
He bounced back and forth, looking at me with pleading eyes, I said, “It’s your money. Sign your name.”
“I don’t even have a signature, mom,” but he carefully wrote his first name in cursive on the screen and touched the green button. He swiped his second card, taking the balance to zero and then started fishing all the dollars and coins from his zipper pouch in his velcro wallet.
“Sixty six… Sixty seven.. Sixty eight,” he gathered up the stack of coins in his little hands and passed them to the clerk. He had only a tiny handful of pennies left. But he was OVER THE MOON.
As soon as the clerk smiled at him and handed him the receipt, he realized he did it. It was done. He got all three toys. He had enough money.
But more importantly, he had just done something that was kind of a big deal… Faced the fear and the potential shame and came out on top.
The Beyblades were all ripped from their boxes before we were out of the parking lot and he was (is) so happy. I can help but smile at the face that I’m watching my kid turn into a man while he buys himself toys… like a boy.
This blog post was originally written for and published on The Broad Collective, a now defunct local blog here in Athens, Georgia. I lifted it from there to republish it here because… it’s mine, all mine!
Something happened this summer when I wasn’t paying attention . . . my kid grew up.
My son is a rising sixth grader at Clarke Middle this fall. Rising sixth grader, did you hear me? How did this happen? I mean, I know he was in fifth grade last year and fourth before that – but sixth grade? In middle school?
Don’t worry, this isn’t going to be a weepy, melancholy diatribe about how my little baby boy is turning into a young man, because if you really want to sit and stare at me crying, I’ll invite you to my next therapy session.
Here’s the thing: as of May (as in, this May, just a few months ago), my kid was a kid. He liked doing kid things. If his friends wanted to hang out, his friend’s mom usually called me or emailed me to make the arrangements. He still called me mommy when he wanted something. He wasn’t allowed to go home with a friend from school unless I had the foresight to remember to write a note to his teacher AND deliver that note to school. I couldn’t even pick him up in the carpool line unless I had that rear-view-mirror-number thing that always seemed to not be in the car when I needed it.
And now, this month . . . August . . . he’ll be in middle school and when the dismissal bell rings, that’s it. He’s finished with his day and he’s his own man.
What? No after school care or supervision. No teachers guarding him from release into the wild unknown. Just a dismissal bell and then Baxter Street.
Trying to sort out how our afternoons will play out has been complicated.
He’s asking me if he can leave school and walk to the library next door. This is actually a thing that my kid wants to do – he loves to read but seriously has only asked to go to the library maybe three times since we moved to Athens. However, suddenly, when you’re in middle school, it’s just, “what everyone does, mom.” My reply was simply, “Are you going to actually do your homework at the library?” and he just grinned at me and laughed like that was a preposterous question.
“Of course I will mom!” But I remember seventh grade… I remember sitting in gym class and getting a pep talk from my friend Julie about how to kiss.
“You just have to alternate, like, you kiss his top lip and then his bottom lip. He’ll show you!”
Julie stood guard while Daniel and I kissed, awkwardly and all I could think about was “top lip, bottom lip, top lip, bottom lip.” But what happened after that first kiss? Well, a lot of nothing really, save general normal adolescence. I looked him up on Facebook just now. He has a hand tattoo (a scary one, you know) and several kids and is generally kind of greasy and shiny and bald.
Do I think my kid wants to go to the library to make out? No. Do I think he even could without having someone at the library call them out on it? No.
I’m more worried that he’ll get picked up by a traveling circus creep and put in a sideshow. Will he get mugged for his ice cream money? Will he get ran over by an inexperienced college freshman that isn’t used to narrow city streets (oh my god, they’re everywhere)?
I suddenly feel like the mom from Home Alone, except instead of screeching, “KEVIN!” I’m screeching, “HARRISON!”
And he’s over there, rolling his eyes at me like, “Moooo-ooom,” because what’s the big deal? “EVERYONE goes to the library after school, mom.”
Oh really? EVERYone? Every single person at your school? I have to stop myself before I jump on him with, “If all your friends decided to jump off a bridge . . .” because I am NOT that kind of mom, right?
I’m a cool mom. I believe in autonomy and independence. I have spent the last eleven years guiding him to make independent choices, to evaluate a situation and figure out what the right thing to do is . . . He’s ready. I’m ready. He’s capable of walking down the street, right?
But I’m not ready. On the outside, I feel ready. It’s RIGHT next to the school, for crying out loud! But on the inside, I keep thinking to myself that I’ll end up parking my car across the street and waiting for him to exit the building and then walk down the road and then, I’ll slowly creep my car down Baxter to follow him, park far away in the lot at the library and stalk him . . . In my mind, I envision myself watching him through book stacks, wearing a trench coat and dark glasses. Incognito mom.
But that’s not cool at all. And that’s not respecting him at all. How is he going to grow up to be a man that makes his own decisions about his life if I’m hovering over him, helicopter parenting him? How is he going to gain confidence in himself if he sees that I don’t have any confidence in him? What if this is one of his first experiences with real, honest to goodness independence and I poo-poo on it and stunt his growth? What if I have a little faith in him and he surprises me by being responsible and making great choices? What if I gave him a little room to make mistakes because, really, that’s how we all learn lessons the best?
How in the world am I supposed to help guide him through this space where he is part child, part man, straddling the two worlds? One minute, he needs me to hold him and comfort him and the next minute, he’s upset that I’m micromanaging the way he does his chores. One minute he’s happy playing with his Pokémon cards on the floor, listening to pop music and the next minute, he’s stinking up the whole back end of the house with his cologne and worried about how his hair looks.
I don’t have answers. I just have anxiety. And school starts next week. And, with regard to the library thing, I haven’t given him a definitive answer yet . . . it’s just been a lot of, “We’ll see,” and, “Maybe.”
One of my personal business goals for 2012 was to finally ditch Paypal. I’ll let you answer your own questions as to why here.
I was pretty proud of myself for tackling that beast by the end of 2012… You see, it’s not like leaving PayPal is easy — they make it so easy to get hooked onto PayPal that when faced with the alternative, you’ve got a lot of expenses stacked up against you.
I had to upgrade my hosting with Flywheel (an additional $15/month) so that I could purchase and install an SSL certificate ($29/year) so that I could accept payments through my Gravity Forms ($49). And I pay 2.9% + $.30/transaction to Stripe in processing fees. In addition to that, I had to roll all of that stuff together so that it would actually work. And it works great — beautifully even. I’ve got several places on my website where folks can basically place orders and pay in one place.
Except… This little setup, while accomplishing the goal of breaking up with PayPal, really created more work for me from a bookkeeping perspective.
And by more work, I mean work… Because, let’s be real. I’m so bad at the bookkeeping. I have a separate checking account account for my business… But that’s about as far as I go with bookkeeping. You can imagine the dread of tax time, not because we all have to pay taxes (I consider this part of being a good Amurikuhn), but because I have to sit down and reconcile everything that has happened in my business.
To be fair to myself, I’ve only been legally “in business” since September of 2010. My taxes that were filed in 2011 were regular ol’, working person taxes. And in 2012, when it came time to file them again myself, I was like… FUUUUUUU.
I spent – I kid you not – more than a week of dedicated work getting my taxes done. This is stupid.
So one of my goals for 2013 was to get my fucking books in order. To create some kind of system that would allow me to handle this shit myself because a) I’m overly independent and b) my work really ebbs and flows and, at the end of 2012 especially, I wasn’t sure if I could reliably afford to hire someone to do it for me… It’s feast or famine for web designers as they get their businesses going.
So what did I do in 2013 to ready myself for handling the books?
Um. I’m pretty sure I did nothing. I put it off. Wait, that’s not true… I did create a Freshbooks account. I mean, I didn’t DO anything with it, but I made an account. I waited. I avoided. And then, toward the end of the year, I realized I needed to take care of this shit. If I was going to be a business “grown up” I just needed to quit being a big baby that was so afraid of accounting.
So at the beginning of December in 2013, I contacted Brianna of Balance Virtual. If I’m remembering correctly, she was offering some kind of “Get Started with Quickbooks” package and I realized, “It’s do or die time.”
So you’re ready to hear how awesome it was to start working with Bri come January 1, 2014, right?
Brianna was so patient and awesome and waited until I was able to get back to the mindset of getting shit done.
The first month of the year, I was still recovering health-wise… Then, in February, we moved into our new house and I was still not quite recovered mentally.
I’ll tell you what, anesthesia really fucks up your thinking game.
So March and April became the “catch up months” because I had basically been going without a salary for all of December, January and February. It wasn’t until mid-May that I was really mentally ready to get started.
We started together almost three weeks ago with weekly sessions where she’s really just touring me around Quickbooks and helping me line things up…
Did you know that Undeposited Funds does not, contrary to what you might think, mean “money in your pocket right meow?” I’m learning so much – both about my books and about myself.
And about my business.
Being on this side of the “who is dis? why is she? how do we?” learning curve has been humbling.
I think it’s going to make me a better “more grown up” business person because I’m not only getting my books in order but I’m also developing a whole metric shit ton of empathy for my clients who get flustered and frustrated when learning WordPress.
I haven’t “graduated” yet and, honestly, will probably be checking back in with Brianna on the regular because this whole side of the business scares the everloving shit out of me.
If you need help with this kind of thing, just call Brianna. Seriously. it’s been a very long time since I’ve felt less judged, more supported and like I’m actually learning things and winning little accounting victories.
In the last several days, there’s been an influx of content on my Facebook account from friends sharing videos, all coming from a James Ellis’ Facebook page.
I went to look at his page because seriously, who the hell is James Ellis?
I mean, there are people on YouTube with eleventeen jabillion fans and I’ve never heard of them before. Maybe I’m getting old?
He looks seriously THIRSTY in the picture on his cover photo… Like, buddy, I think if you drank a little more, your veins wouldn’t be so… aggressive.
And bless, him, he started out so humbly!
But eventually, I guess the prospects dried up. What is an attractive, tanned, over-pumped, actor/model/personal trainer/pizza-delivery driver*/faux stripper supposed to do to drum up some business?
It’s time to do some marketing curls… Or pull ups. Or like, burpees (or something, I don’t work out).
So, if you aren’t familiar with me… I have what I call the Google-Fu. Generally speaking, even if I’ve never heard of you, I can surmise a great deal about you by googling your name. Sometimes, I’ll google your name and your city. Sometimes I’ll google your name and “news” or your name and “mugshot” or something like that.
It’s pretty amazing what I can find. I think, in a previous life, I was a private eye. Or the town gossip. It’s just a talent I have.
Anyway, so I googled this guy.
So… Wait… It’s like…
Plastic Man’s website
Plastic Man’s facebook page
Plastic Man’s pictures (number 4 is entitled, “Flashing is Chic”)
Hold up, say what…?
So I immediately go to James Ellis’ website.
Oh… Bless your heart, James Ellis. There is not one single word on his page that even remotely looks Romanian, but Google thinks that his whole site needs to be translated.
His website, while not the worst I’ve seen, is pretty awful. But I wasn’t there to critique his site. Gimme the BIO, man!
Okay. So THIS James Ellis grew up in Indiana. And has STRONG Christian beliefs.
So… Elliot’s James Ellis is a different James Ellis… Another jaunt over to Google gave me not much in terms of identifying the BFF James Ellis, but then I wrangled my ADHD and remembered what I came here for.
THIS James Ellis.
So is this new social media campaign — this effort to become the next best thing to Facebook since George Takei — just a poorly informed (remember, Google thought his site was in Romanian) musclehead trying desperately to rescue his name from the clutches of Elliot Rodger’s legacy? Saturate people’s minds with who you REALLY are so that they don’t confuse you with the other James Ellis, best friend forever to a mass-murderer?
That’s my conclusion anyway. That’s who the hell James Ellis is… Just another over-tanned, over-pumped meat head with a pretty face that thinks because they’ve got a great body, they’re talented.
**Faux-stripper James Ellis looks stupid while the other model steals his thunder “pretending” to be a stripper in Miley’s lap.
It’s heartbreaking to me that my son’s first real example of hate in his life is his father’s hate for me.
Yesterday was a mess. Well, the whole first half of the day was great – we all slept in, got up and went to the pool, swam around and practiced diving and read books under an umbrella. It was a beautiful day.
But the afternoon just turned into a series of unfortunate events.
First Unfortunate Event:
I was mixed up on drop-off locations — I thought I was dropping my kid off at his grandparent’s house. I misread an email from my exhusband.
Second Unfortunate Event:
We forgot Harrison’s medication at my house. Thankfully, we realized this after only driving for 15 minutes, but this meant that we had to drive 15 minutes home to get it, which put us 30 minutes behind schedule. As soon as I realized we forgot the medication, I called my exhusband’s parents and, when they didn’t answer, I left them a message let them know I was going to be about 30 minutes late.
Third Unfortunate Event:
I knew that I was low on gas, but thought I’d have enough to get to where I needed to drop him off before I needed to fill up… Because of the extra driving, my get-fuel light came on about half way to their house. Tack on an additional 7 minutes to my tardiness.
Fourth Unfortunate Event:
The kid wanted to play games on my phone, so we turned my phone to airplane mode so that he could only play games that didn’t require data usage while we were driving and away from wifi. This meant my phone was essentially off … And I didn’t even KNOW it – this is the first time we experimented with airplane mode.
Fifth Unfortunate Event:
My exhusband’s mother is physically disabled, so when we got to their house and knocked and knocked, we knew we’d probably need to wait for some time so that she would have time to get to the door. After ten minutes of knocking, we started to worry a bit, so I pulled my phone out and went to call their house again.
This is when I realized that my phone was essentially off. I flipped airplane mode off and ping-ping-ping-ping four text messages from my exhusband.
6:07 :: Inside
We usually meet at a Best Buy for pickup. So he was telling me that he was inside.
6:15 :: What is your ETA?
6:19 :: Hello?
6:27 :: Where are you and why aren’t you communicating?
My stomach dropped into the floor. Oh, shit. It was now 6:30.
So I immediately called him, the first thing out of my mouth, “I am so sorry!”
He laid into me… Started yelling at me and berating me, I interjected and said, “Let me explain,” and he snapped back, “No! I’m talking now.”
So I hung up the phone.
Maybe that wasn’t the best move, but when you have a history of verbal abuse with an exhusband, you lean on whatever coping mechanisms you’ve got. The only way to take control of the situation and remove myself from a harmful environment was to hang the phone up.
So, we pointed the car in the direction of Best Buy, ten minutes away. While en route, my phone pinged again.
6:39 :: You are not communicating with me, there are people waiting on us and I cannot sit here any longer since you’re not communicating, answering the phone, responding to text… I have no idea what is going on. I’m heading back to the Mall of GA. You can bring Harrison to me there or you can make arrangements for him this week.
Wait… What? He was willing to give up a week with his kid because we made him late for dinner plans? This rattled me and, as I’m realizing more and more, the trauma I experienced in the years of our relationship and the decade after we split up, when I get rattled by old triggers, I don’t have many tools in my arsenal to deal with things. This is something I need to remedy.
So, this is where I made another mistake. Given that I was headed to Best Buy, but his text told me he would be 15 minutes further north. I didn’t know where he’d be at the Mall of GA. I was rattled and zipping down the interstate now, so I asked Harrison to call his dad and ask him where he’d be at the Mall of GA.
He said, “Hi, dad. It’s Harrison. Where are you going to be?” I sat next to my kid and listened to my exhusband tell my son how inconsiderate and irresponsible I was and my kid, with tears running down his face, squeak out, “Yes, sir.” I then listened as it sounded like he passed the phone to his wife and she took a turn berating me and my son squeaked out, “Okay.”
He hung up the phone and did not know where we were supposed to be going. His father and stepmother were so intent on making sure he knew what a fuck up I was, that they didn’t answer his only question.
They didn’t hear him at all.
Sixth Unfortunate Event:
Sidebar: My kid and have had several conversations with regard to his father’s and his stepmother’s continual abusive language about me in front of the kid and directly to the kid. It really hurts him and puts him in a really weird spot because he loves both of his parents and he doesn’t understand all the layers upon layers of things that have caused us to be in this position. We’ve talked about strategies to sidestep the conversation, being asked to be excused or removing himself from where the conversation is happening. We’ve talked about speaking up and saying, “I don’t want you to say these things,” and each time, he’s told me that he doesn’t think he has the courage to speak up to his father.
At this point, my kid has witnessed all of these unfortunate events happening one by one and watched the whole afternoon fall apart. But when his dad is repeatedly telling him how irresponsible and inconsiderate I am on the phone, he doesn’t speak up. He doesn’t interject. He doesn’t offer up any reasoning for why things have happened the way that they have happened. He just silently cries and says, “Yes, sir.”
And I snap at him about how I wish he had the courage to speak up. He cried some more and I immediately apologized. I told him that even I had a hard time speaking up with his father and how could I expect him to have the courage to do it if my solution to dealing with the yelling was just to hang up the phone.
Augh, I felt terrible. How did the whole day get so fucked up?
Another text ping on my phone.
6:53 :: It’s one thing to make mistakes, it is another thing to be irresponsible and inconsiderate. Whatever the problem has been for the last 40 minutes, you have not answered your phone or your text. Or call to let me know that there was any problem. Harrison has his bags packed in our car for vacation. There are 5 people waiting on us. We worked out all the logistics of who would meet where and when revolving around an established meeting time and place with you, and you really dropped the ball. No communication with me whatsoever. We will be at Tin Lizzy’s at Mall of Georgia. Waiting for you to bring him.
At this point, I feel like I’m going to be nauseous. The adrenaline is pumping hard and my phone rings as I’m getting off the exit ramp of the highway. It’s my exhusband telling me where to drop him off since I was, “still not answering his texts,” while I was driving 70 miles per hour on an interstate.
I pull over into the mall parking lot and punch in Tin Lizzy’s in my GPS. The restaurant is not inside of the mall, but is in a courtyard that is directly adjacent to the mall… Therefore, the address that the GPS is registering is just the general address of the mall.
Seventh Unfortunate Event:
Harrison and I are both frantic at this point, having been jerked into an emotional panic by the verbal abuse and the stress of not being able to find this damn restaurant. We circle the area that the GPS is telling us to go and it’s literally like, “Make a U-Turn. Turn left, turn right. Make a U-Turn.”
This restaurant is not here. I pull back over and I just can’t handle the emotions any longer. I take a few deep breaths and the tears just start falling. Harrison leaps up and wraps his arms around my neck and tells me, “It’s not right that he says mean things about you behind your back.”
We have a discussion about it. He says, “I don’t understand why he hates you so much.”
And I want to tell him why I think his dad hates me. I wanted to open up the box of secrets about who his dad was before he “grew up” and got married and moved to the suburbs. I wanted to open up with him about the shame I think his father carries with him from the second time we went to court because he sued for me for custody and the judge really gave it to him hard. But I kept all of that stuff inside and said, “Your dad is not a bad guy…”
And my eleven year old kid’s response, “But he’s not a good guy either.”
Eventually, we realized that we’d need to drive around a bit to find the restaurant. At 7:15 he got out of my car and went to meet his cousin and Nona.
I’m trying to think back to the first time I witnessed real hate… And honestly, I think I was like 25 or 26 years old, if you don’t count the hate that I experienced from my exhusband after our marriage. I was dating a black man and experienced racism for the first time when a black woman shoved me in a grocery store because, “All the good brothers were taking white bitches.”
That my son recognizes and understands hate at 11 years old and his example for it is his father’s hate for his mother is seriously fucked up.
I still feel sick about the whole situation this morning.
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Jami was always willing to share input that she felt would be beneficial to my business and was equally accepting of any questions I asked her regarding the website. The tutorial videos she created for me were totally awesome! I feel really comfortable with making changes to my website. This is another above and beyond task she performs. It has been a pleasure working with her, and I would highly recommend her service to anyone looking for a professional, timely, and quality website. Please look no further! [Read more…] about Gwen Narcisse
So today there was a girl on this Facebook WordPress group who was complaining about lack of support from StudioPress. After talking her down off a cliff, I realized that I just needed to message her and we should just talk about here issues off the group.
So she opened up Instant Messenger on Facebook and we started chatting and she was a little rude, a little short, a little ungrateful. She was trying to move a widget inline with a slider on a StudioPress child theme. She asked for help in the SP forums and was directly to a tutorial online, she just couldn’t get it to work. So, I get that she was frustrated, but, in true Jami style, I told her she was being a little rude and sounded ungrateful. In talking with her, I recognized that she was HONESTLY, TRULY not a jerk — but she was coming across like one online.
She asked if I would look at her stuff and even offered to pay me. “Do you want money?” was her first offer, quickly followed up with, “Can I please pay you for your time?”
I told her she didn’t need to pay me, that I would be happy to look at it and see if I could help her sort out the issue. When I looked at her code she had just left out an entire line of the CSS — like just forgot to put it in there!
I added the line into her stylesheet and – boom – it was fixed.
She had spent weeks struggling with this issue. My point in sharing this little story is to say that often times, we get frustrated with something it’s because a lack of understanding. When we don’t know how to do something that we think we ought to know how to do, we get mad. And we take it out on people.
I think a lot of my clients find themselves in a position where they don’t understand something – and sometimes, I’m like, “This is so simple!” I have to step back and remind myself that it’s my job to help them understand.
So I helped this poor girl. She still insisted again that she should pay me and I told her just to donate the money to charity in my name or something. I realized, in talking with this girl, that answering her question for her was offering her some community — something she had yet to discover. I couldn’t imagine my life without the people who, for me, make up the SP and WP community. Elaine Griffin, Andrea Whitmier, Debbie Tortorigi, Carrie Dils — all of these are folks that I lean on when I need help/to bitch/complain/troubleshoot/etc. There are more, I’m sure, that I’m forgetting.
If you’re counting on one resource to be the end-all do-all resource for support with your website, you’re going to be shit out of luck, because there’s no way that you can count on any single resource for support,
This is why, to frame it and my relationship with my clients, I set them up on a good, reliable managed WordPress host and I set them up with a helpful, customer support-focused domain registrar. I don’t want to be the only support channel for my clients and we can’t expect that there’s only one support channel for us as designers and developers.
So find community. I’ve got mine online and am working toward finding more local, IRL community.
Working from home is hard sometimes… It’s super easy to fall into a rut, a dysfunctional pattern of productivity that includes not putting on a bra, not brushing your teeth until, oh… early afternoon… It’s bad.
And summertime is especially hard for me because the boy child heads to his dad’s for the majority of the summer. So there’s no carpool lines, no picking him up from band, no friends coming over so I have to put a bra on… Just long days filled with me + my laptop + an occasional Skype session which only requires me to be dressed from the waist up.
So, my goal for summer is to get out of the damn house to do my work.
So far, I’ve got two plans to help me get this shit done:
1. Start networking in ways that feel human and authentic
I joined Four Athens today. I learned about Four Athens last year through Matt Smith, via Transform Athens. Initially, I was a little gun shy to join the group because a) I didn’t see a lot of women around and b) I didn’t feel like I was nerdy enough. At my first meetup, some guy asked me, “So what do you do?” And I realized, though I do some code-stuff, the bulk of my work is people related — training, educating, coaching/empowering, etc. He followed up with, “So you’re like a front-end WordPress developer?” And on the outside, I shrugged yes, but on the inside I was like, “Well… I guess I am.”
I immediately felt stupid, undereducated, out of place… A fraud! Here’s all these super smart, creative and nerdy types and instead of realizing what a treasure it is, I’m intimidated? This is especially frustrating because, in every other area of my life, I’m not easily intimidated. I once got up on stage and read an essay with a dick joke in it with my dad in the audience – it was the first time I read any of my writing in public, too.
Online, I try to align and associate and follow people that I admire in my industry. For example, I’ve been stalking Carrie Dils for over a year. It helps that I also LIKE Carrie and can relate to her, having both played softball and both worked as Starbucks Baristas for a bit. I’ve learned so much from following her online, both at her blog and on twitter, and participating in her Genesis Office Hours. I think, if you want to get better at your work, you’ve got to sit at the feet of people who ARE better than you. So why am I so resistant to seeking out the same mentorships with people in real life?
It stops this summer. I’m checking my pride at the door. I’m smart and talented and, though I’m self-taught and often know how to do something before I know what it’s proper title is, I’m not going to stand in my own way anymore. I’m going to go to meetups and local events and stop being such a big, insecure baby about meeting people in my industry, or in associated industries.
Do I want to be a software developer? Nope. Will it help me be a better front-end WordPress developer? Probably.
2. I’m going to work outside of my home two days a week
It’s easy to use excuses for why I don’t leave the house to work… But it’s not reasonable anymore.
Case in point: I’m in my PJs at 1pm, laying on the couch typing this blog post. What the fuck, Jami?
There’s no good reason for me to stay home — there are a multitude of distractions and I *know* I’m more productive when I’m sitting up, wearing a bra and focused on something specific. Time to grab the bootstraps and get shit done.