I’m pretty sure they thought I was going to say “pregnant”.
I called them on the phone a week ago to announce I had very big news. There was a period of silence, dare I call it a “pregnant pause,” when I blurted out the words “I’m a businesswoman!”
Two weeks ago I made a very bold life-changing decision. I gave my notice to the nonprofit agency I have worked at for almost three years. Undergoing numerous management changes, the transition process for me and my role was anything but smooth. A place which had once made my heart full with its mission, seemed to be doing the opposite now. So I knew it was time to step out.
I had been job hunting for a few months. Putting my feelers out there, networking, and looking for ways to grow my skillset. And as life has a way of doing, everything changed all at once.
I accepted a part-time position with an online family travel publication (more to come on that later!) Then, I set up my own small business to handle my freelance writing, storytelling, and production of Listen to Your Mother: La Crosse. Which is pretty awesome because now Witkins Productions, LLC is a thing.
And finally, I was called up one day to discuss a full-time gig with the local arts and culture magazine I had been freelancing for since last September. I was honored, did my homework and met with the owner/editor, and happily accepted. So today is my first day as Digital Media Manager & Brand Ambassador for SEVEN magazine.
So no, I’m not pregnant. In fact, I’m not trying to be at this time. (Though that’s none of your beeswax.) I’m simply far too busy being a badass businesswoman and building up my Fempire.
Thanks and endless gratitude to all those who championed for me, sent me opportunities, became references, became sponsors, became allies, answered questions, and just sent encouragement my way. You are beautiful people, and y’all have made my days bright again.
I did it again. I filled up my Facebook queue with saved links like Emily Dickinson filled her mattress with poetry slips.
I scoured the internet, so you don’t have to.
Here are my favorite links from the past couple of weeks.
Writing Tips and Self Care for Writers, Along With Some Food for Thought
Self Care for Writers by paranormal/fantasy author, Jami Gold, is a must read for writers who like to go from one project to the next and need a reminder to schedule in some downtime too.
Illustrator Andrea Tsurumi shared You’ll Never Have Enough Time about carving out work time and space, avoiding burnout, and what going freelance really means.
If you’re feeling like Andrea from the last post, you’ll also enjoy 5 Tips for Making Writing a Daily Habit.
There’s lots out there about fair pay for writers right now and I thought this article on The Rich Writer Myth by Ros Barber was interesting. It’s written sharing examples of pounds, but I think you can convert it to dollars for us in the states.
Ros followed up her own article with one on The Guardian elaborating on the publishing industry with For Me, Traditional Publishing Means Poverty, But Self-Publish? No Way.
Because we can’t end on the bummer of bucks, or the misery of making moola, here are 20 Empowering Quotes By Female Authors That Are Perfect to Decorate Your Office With.
Self-Care and Body Positivity for All:
This was my de-stress project this weekend. Adult coloring and playing with my art journal.
I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time accepting compliments. I hear them and I immediately shrug them off or worse, name a flaw right afterwards. It’s something I’m working on. So of course, I saved this article on 7 Tips for Working on Your Self Confidence: Accepting That You’re Awesome.
And if you’re still feeling a little beat up mentally, here’s 6 Ways to Feel Better About Yourself Right Now. Read it, I’ll wait. … There now, don’t you feel better?
My facebook queue is always full of posts by Heather from Hiya Tootsie, and here’s one I wanted to share with you! What’s Luck Got to Do With It? 3 Ways to Honor the Work Your Dreams Require.
Are you constantly stressed from the day job plus the side hustle? This money saving blog offered all kinds of low stress money-making opportunities as well as a simple plan for setting money aside each month. How I Saved $1000 While Living Paycheck to Paycheck.
Because all bodies deserve respect, you should reward yourself by reading August McLaughlin’s How to REALLY Get Body-Positive. This post was blowing up my twitter feed and it’s worth reading more than once!
What are the posts saved up in your queues? Got any other good ones to share?
How are you practicing self care this week?
Hello Lords and Ladies,
I’ve been happily audiobooking like a fiend lately – even managing to finish 14 books so far on my Goodreads Challenge. My goal is 55.
Both reading programs challenge the reader to crack the bindings of the books they already own on their shelves. And I have a very long list.
(At this point I won’t say whether any new books have or have not been purchased in the process of this competition. But if my husband or parents are reading this, I could use another bookshelf please. Thanks.)
Another favorite book blog I enjoy is The Broke and the Bookish who host Top Ten Tuesdays, a weekly series of top ten lists around a variety of book themes. This week we’re sharing…
Top 10 Books I Really Love But Feel Like I Haven’t Talked About Enough
1. Born Standing Up by Steve Martin
I’d been meaning to read this one for awhile. It was in my TBR pile. After watching Steve Martin hang out with Jerry Seinfeld on the show Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, it made its way higher up in the stacks. And I must say it was really nice to get back into humor books and memoirs. I really enjoyed this book and how vulnerable and honest Martin was with sharing family stories and the career path he took. Biggest takeaway: Keep working. Keep following your dream.
2. The Dog Says How by Kevin Kling
Technically, this one wasn’t part of my existing bookshelf. I heard about it through an adult storytelling class I’m taking and after watching numerous videos of Kevin Kling on youtube, I knew I wanted to read his book. It did not disappoint. Equal parts humor and heart. I highly recommend it. If you don’t have time to read it, check out his storytelling on youtube and you’ll probably find you do have the time to read his book.😉
3. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
I don’t normally read a lot of romance books, but after watching the movie trailer for Me Before You, I went out and bought the last copy in my city. No, I’m not joking. I had to go to 3 different places. And once I started reading it, I couldn’t put it down. Me Before You is more than a love story, though. It’s the story of a man dealing with quadriplegia. I really appreciated the amount of research Moyes had to have done to write so thoroughly about living with quadriplegia and what options you have in life. You will cry, but this is worth a read in my opinion.
4. Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher
Ketchup Clouds is a little bit of a coming of age story. The protagonist Zoe talks about the boy she likes, going to parties, all the normal things a teenage girl would share. Except that Zoe shares these moments with a death row inmate. Told through a mix of narration and letters, Zoe reveals the worst possible secret she ever could to the only person she thinks will understand.
5. Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter by Kate Clifford Larson
I’m a big fan of memoirs and biographies and this may have been my favorite one read last year. I didn’t grow up during the Kennedy era, but I visited the Kennedy Museum and library in Boston a few years ago with my parents and heard several stories from their memories as we toured the exhibits and highlights of John F. Kennedy’s presidency. Rosemary was his sister, but the public rarely heard about her. Due to preventable complications during labor, Rosemary was born with some cognitive disabilities. In a poor attempt to “fix” his daughter, Joe Kennedy consented to have Rosemary undergo a lobotomy which went horribly wrong and left Rosemary in a worse state, losing a vast amount of her speech and mobility. My parents remember Rosemary because the care facility the Kennedy’s sent her to happened to be in Jefferson, WI, the town where my family owned a restaurant. And Rosemary use to eat at our family’s restaurant with the nuns who looked after her. This book is a heartbreaking history lesson of how laws around the disabled changed and how all families have their secrets.
6. Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler
I loooooved Shotgun Lovesongs. And I met the author, Nickolas Butler, and interviewed him. He’s pretty spectacular and you should check him out. The book is about five high school friends who reunite at a wedding and how their relationships change. What I loved about this book so much is how poetic the writing is. One of the first characters Butler started writing about was the character who is a musician, and the book’s title is the album title of this character. It makes sense to me that the whole book is written in different points of view and done so lyrically, just like a great playlist on an album.
7. The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
I love watching the Olympics whenever its on, but I’d never looked into its history. The Boys in the Boat is the story of the 1936 U.S. men’s Olympic rowing team. First off, I had no idea how strenuous rowing actually is. They make it look so graceful, yet they’re using so many muscles, rowing is the equivalent of playing four back to back basketball games. Second, and more importantly, historically this was a time of so much perseverance on every team member’s part. Surviving the depression and the war, as well as going to school and starting families. These men bonded in a unique and focused effort to give America something to be hopeful for, to be proud of. A gold medal.
8. Texts From Jane Eyre by Mallory Ortberg
Do yourself a favor and get the audiobook for this one! Written as though famous literary characters – and pop culture ones too – are texting one another, the audiobook includes more variety with voices and you get to hear the tone of voice used. It is laugh out loud hysterical. My favorites: Jane Eyre, Hamlet, Katniss and Peeta.
9. I Know I Am, But What Are You? by Samantha Bee
Now that Samantha Bee has her own television show, I’m incredibly sad we canceled our cable. I wouldn’t watch anything else, but I’d want to watch her show. Her memoir was surprisingly even funnier than I thought it would be. I loved her journey to finding success, it even included playing Sailor Moon for shows that took place in a mall. It all just made me so so happy.
10. Wildalone by Krassi Zourkova
Wildalone is a haunting and breathtakingly beautiful story that weaves Bulgarian legend and Greek mythology together. It tells the story of the samodivi, or “wildalones,” also known as forest witches. As a kid I was a Greek mythology nerd and of course my husband and I were married in Greece, so I love the infusion of familiar greek myths and new to me Bulgarian legends in this tale. And Zourkova’s writing is very fantastical.
That’s my top ten.
What books have you recently read and loved and wished you’d talked more about?
March is Women’s History Month so it’s the perfect time to celebrate the women in your life, and the ones who’ve come before you. We’ve all learned about our fearless, feminist ancestors like Susan B. Anthony, Eleanor Roosevelt, Margaret Sanger, and Julia Child. Yes, Julia Child! Before she was known for her cooking, she worked as an intelligence officer in the OSS, and she spoke four languages! She was a total badass.
Still there are many whose names we don’t know by heart, yet reap the benefits of their hard work and determination every day. So prepare for some speed dating y’all, cause it’s time to meet 9 women who made history you probably didn’t know about.
9 Women Who Made History You Probably Didn’t Know About
1. Victoria Woodhull
It amazes me we still ask the question “Is America ready for a woman president?” Um, yes. And we’ve been trying to elect one since 1870. Victoria Woodhull was the first woman to run for president, and she did so before having the right to vote herself. In fact she spent election day in jail. Campaigning under the Equal Rights Party, her running mate was none other than abolitionist Frederick Douglass. She was also very outspoken on the issue of “free love,” which back then referred to a woman’s right to divorce her husband. No one knows how many votes Victoria received because the bastards running the patriarchy refused to count them.
2. Henrietta Lacks
Gaining popularity and recognition thanks to a book by Rebecca Skloot, Henrietta Lacks is the reason we have most vaccines and medical advancements today. At the time of her death in 1951, medical consent forms didn’t exist, so without her permission or that of her family, doctors took samples of Henrietta’s cells. The healthcare industry was desperately trying to find cures for diseases but keeping test cells alive was impossible. Until Henrietta. The cells from Henrietta’s body, known as HeLa cells, were the first ever to be kept alive and grown, resulting in great medical advancements including the polio vaccine.
3. Elizabeth Smith Miller
Did you put pants on today? Yoga pants and jeggings count! Well you have Elizabeth Smith Miller to thank for that. She was the first woman to wear pants in 1851. Finding the long skirts and dresses of the 1800’s too confining for her hobbies, she created an early version of the skort. At least that’s what I’m calling it. Technically she wore pantaloons with a wrap skirt over them, but we all know it was a skort, or at the very least a skant.
4. Sarah Josepha Buell Hale
Think you know the story of the first Thanksgiving? Think again. Thanksgiving, as a national holiday, wasn’t celebrated until 1863, over 240 years after the pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians held what we consider the first Thanksgiving. Wanting to unite our war torn country, Sarah wrote to the president and members of congress every year for 17 years asking for a national day of gratitude. In November of 1863, President Lincoln announced the first national day of giving thanks, done so at Sarah’s subtle nudging.
5. Pauli Murray
Pursuing higher education in the 1930’s and 40’s when women were often barred from many colleges because of their gender, Pauli Murray became the first African-American woman to earn a graduate degree from Yale University and went on to become a civil rights lawyer and feminist. She is the co-founder of NOW (National Organization of Women) which still seeks to address issues of gender equality and women’s rights. In 1977, she also became the first black woman to be ordained as an Episcopal priest.
6. Patsy Takemoto Mink
Patsy grew up watching and experiencing racism against Japanese Americans following WWII. She was determined to better the lives of all people regardless of their race or gender or education level. She studied medicine and law and was an active political figure in Hawaii before it was an official U.S. state. In 1964, she became the first Asian American woman elected to the House of Representatives. Patsy is most widely known for the passing of Title IX, or the Equal Opportunity in Education Act, which she helped author. The act prohibits gender discrimination in any federally funded schools and largely opened up opportunities for women in athletics.
7. Dorothea Dix
Dorothea was born in 1802, and at the age of 14 she started teaching. A job in a women’s prison led Dorothea to start researching the care of the mentally ill in hospitals and penitentiaries. The documentation she presented to legislative figures allowed for larger budget allocations that improved conditions in the institutions as well as built new ones. Her diligent work improved or founded over 30 hospitals for the mentally ill. She was appointed Superintendent of U.S. Army Nurses in 1861.
8. Ada and Minna Everleigh
The Everleigh sisters, Ada and Minna, are some of Chicago’s most notorious historical figures. During the late 1800’s, they opened up one of the finest brothels in the country, featuring a gold piano, right on Dearborn St. Before you sneer at their historical achievement, you should know how they changed the game. At a time when women’s only opportunities outside the home were teaching or prostitution, if you had to get a job, your choices were limited. And many women were actually getting drugged and kidnapped, forced into the sex industry with violence. Ada and Minna’s “butterflies” were kept in the lap of luxury with fancy clothes, education, and 3 square meals a day. As for their patrons, the Everleigh sisters were also great businesswomen who actually demanded proof of their client’s bank accounts before entrance and tolerated zero violence in their establishment.
9. Lillian Gilbreth
Lillian is the queen of professional women. Not only did she raise 12 children, she became the first female inducted into the Society of Industrial Engineers. She earned a degree in psychology and spent years working as a business consultant for top clients like Macy’s, General Electric, and even the President of the United States. You’re probably familiar with some of her inventions such as the shelves on refrigerator doors and the foot pedal on garbage cans.
So there you have it. Nine talented women who made history, and often aren’t recognized. Happy Women’s History Month!
I’ve missed you. How the heck are each of you?!
I’ve been busy working on projects. Lots of projects!
So, here’s what I was up to while I was away…
Co-Hosting a Film Screening
That’s right! My talented and inspiring new friend, Stephanie Sharp, invited me to co-host a private screening of the indie arts collaboration film, Indie Kindred.
Are you ready to get inspired? Watch this!
The film and movement behind Indie Kindred comes from storyteller and filmmaker, Jen Lee. You might recall that name when I talked about The 10 Letters Project, which another local writer and I are emulating in a local magazine.
Indie Kindred is the story of makers paving their own paths, finding other creatives they can work with, and collaborating to make something good. Indie + Kindred + Collaboration.
So, 2 weeks ago, about a dozen of us makers (artists, designers,chefs, writers, and repurposers) met in Stephanie’s home for some good food, show and tell, a film screening and makers chat. Most of us did not know each other. Now, we’ve created our own private group of local makers online and have plans for a second gathering and retreat! Because as Jen Lee so eloquently puts it “Doing it yourself, doesn’t mean do it alone.”
Interested in hosting your own screening or meeting other makers? There’s a public facebook community for Indie Kindred!
A sampling of the work shown at our makers meetup.
Held Auditions and Cast a Show
Three days. Eleven hours. Almost 40 auditioners. And now…we have a cast!!!
La Crosse joins 40 other cities giving motherhood a microphone in our debut, live, on-stage storytelling event, Listen to Your Mother! I’m so pleased to be working with each of the cast members we selected to share their stories and to raise funds for our local YWCA who has worked to end racism and empower women and girls.
Behind the scenes at auditions.
Here’s an accurate account of my life right now…
And here’s what I came across on the internet and thought you might enjoy…
Me whenever anyone offers me caffeine lately.
This Tumblr account that imagines Kylo Ren living at home with Han and Leia.
This comedian talking about what we do when the doorbell rings.
(found via the hilarious Darla of She’s a Maineiac)
This book we bought for our nephew. Ok, actually for his parents.
You can’t beat this hilarious bedtime story for adults.
That’s what I was up to while I was away.
What have YOU been up to, friends?
It’s entirely possible I’ve taken too much on.
Well, I’m not admitting anything, I’m just saying it’s possible.
I’ve been having a tough go of things at the day job, and in my attempt to focus my energy on the things that I love, I’ve said yes to a multitude of projects and commitments.
I now find myself busier than ever with a full-time job, part-time freelance assignments, rehearsals and show dates with an improv group, a once-a-week adult storytelling class, a twice-a-month writers critique group, and oh yah – I’m directing and producing a Listen to Your Mother show this spring and auditions are in less than a week!
You can understand why my main hobby right now is drinking coffee.
Hobbying like a boss.
My days off were out of the ordinary this weekend, so I tried to plot out some time to relax.
You know, in between 2 radio interviews, 2 improv shows, a six hour shift tabling for the health clinic I work at on VDay – One Billion Rising, and one of my writers group critique sessions.
I did manage to spend Valentine’s Day Eve with my main squeeze, also known as He Who Says Weird Things While Sleeping. We stayed true to our tradition of watching a very un-romantic movie together. For example, past Valentine’s films have included Tremors and Silence of the Lambs. This year we watched The X Files (1998 movie).
Anyway, enough about my crazy week, because I’m sure you’re all just as swamped with projects, commitments, running little people places, and whatnot as well.
Here’s a few of the things I managed to sneak in so I achieved some self care time.
Most of you know I’m a huge fan of audiobooks and it’s the only way I get so much reading done. I listen while I get ready for the morning, while driving in the car (even though I only have a 15 minute drive), and while I get ready for bed at night.
It is not unusual for my husband to find me sitting on our bathroom floor just listening to a good story. It’s my zen moment at the end of the day.
2. Take a bath.
I know baths aren’t for everyone, but I sure love them. They are so relaxing to me, and I did manage to sneak one in. They are also a great time to listen to an audiobook!
3. Indulge in a guilty pleasure.
For me that involved watching a few episodes of Felicity on DVD. I watched while I ate my lunch or folded laundry and enjoyed an old favorite show.
BTW, Felicity and Ben are broken up right now…again, and Noel is trying his very Noel best to move on, but it’s not going so well. Javier, on the other hand, is still my favorite.
That may not seem like a lot, but in their own way, each gave me a little escape and some relaxing down time.
And I did just run across this gem of a blog post, and wanted to share it with you, my fellow busy bees. 23 Way to Treat Yo Self Without Buying or Eating Anything
How are you practicing self care this week, friends?
Listen to Your Mother is coming to La Crosse!
It’s safe to say I’m really excited to be bringing this national production that gives motherhood a microphone to my city.
If you haven’t heard about LTYM, it all started six years ago in Madison, WI with a mom and blogger named Ann Imig. She put the first show together in two months, folks! This woman is a woman after my gamechanger heart.
Now, La Crosse, WI is 1 of 41 cities across the country (and Canada) producing a live on-stage performance of original, true stories about mothers and motherhood!
Every city has a different show. Yet every city is recognizing the humorous, heartfelt, sometimes hurtful, hopefully helpful stories that come from our mothers or from being a mother.
But here’s another cool thing!
It’s really inclusive. So the show is open to women AND men. You can write about being a mother. You can write about your mother. OR you can write about the person who raised you.
Auditions are coming up all over! If you’re interested, check out the participating cities and see if there’s a show near you!
For my local friends, auditions are at the end of this month, February 20th, 22nd, and 24th by appointment. And the show date is April 30th. You can visit the Listen to Your Mother – La Crosse blog for full details.
Why am I so happy to bring LTYM to La Crosse?
Because we have a bustling arts community here with so much talent. And I’m sure a lot of people with great stories! No prior stage experience is needed. But what I truly love is the mission behind LTYM, who is committed to sharing diverse stories from all kinds of people. That’s what I love about freelance writing, interviewing strangers, performing improv, and working with my writers group.
Plus, proceeds from every show go back to an organization that benefits women and families. I’m thrilled to be working with the local YWCA for our show, whose mission is to end racism and empower women and girls.
My Local Production Team: L to R – Beth Erickson, Me, Molly Hilligoss
My production team is amazing! I’m super proud to be working with Beth Erickson, owner and editor of Jobe Communications LLC, and Molly Hilligoss, diversity and social justice advocate from the local YWCA.
We’ve been waiting a long time to hear your stories!!
Seriously, this is us gathering last November for an early Thanksgiving lunch production team meeting.
Since I had just signed them up for a lot of work,
I thought the least I could do was cook for them.
You don’t have to be a professional performer or writer to try out. You could have been on stage 100 times or 0 times. We’ll cast our show based on the full spectrum of stories we hear – kind of like making a great playlist.
So start writing, La Crosse!
Everyone has a mother story.
The wide world of the interwebs has been on a role lately. It gave us these amazing gifts and scattered them across our Facebook feeds, blog readers, twitter timelines, and one of my particularly favorite time wasters, YouTube, and its endless rabbit hole of clips to watch.
With the new year already flying by, friends and family alike are feeling overwhelmed. Adding in the loss of David Bowie and Alan Rickman only heightened all “the feels” and I think we could all use a little entertainment that makes us smile, or better yet, bust a gut laugh.
I Give You These Gifts the Internet Gave Us
Go Ahead and Laugh
Because everyone loves a good pun, Comedy Central sent out the hashtag request to #InternetABook, and Buzzfeed collected 29 Hilarious Literary Internet Puns. Don’t judge me, but my favorite one was “Moby Dick Pic.” I died laughing.
Reaching ERMAGHERD status – James Corden and Tom Hanks acted out Hanks’s film career in a matter of minutes and it’s spectacular.
Stop everything you’re doing right now and take this quiz. Wes Anderson has to be one of my all time favorite film directors. I will watch anything that man creates, even if it was an ad revival to bring back yellow pages on the home shopping network. (But why would anyone want that?) Anyway…
I got: Jane from The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
“You and Jane share a tenacity and a love of words. Whether you’re also a journalist or not, you’re always searching for the truth and greater meaning in life, just like Jane. You’d make an effing great duo.”
Brace yourselves, children, because Anne of Green Gables is back!
Or check out celebrity nano-impressions by Ross Marquand! See celebrity impressions in common day snafus. My fave: Brad Pitt forgets what he was going to say.
In honor of Alan Rickman, let’s talk about that time he pranked Harry Potter with a fart machine. Don’t you wish you were a fly on that set?
And Now For Some Self-Care Super-Stories
August McLaughlin is my sister from another mother, and she penned this awesome post about 5 Empowering Questions to Ask Yourself Daily for a Groovier, More Impactful Life. I am all about the side hustle right now.
Kirsten Weiss of the Para Your Normal blog shared 5 Mantras to Boost Your Magick. Let’s just say, the universe has been telling me this for awhile, and I’m ready to listen.
My friend Liz from Be. Love. Live. is offering free life coaching now – and I jumped at the chance. Liz has 20 years of experience as a mentor and coach and her blog is one of my favorite motivational/inspirational blogs. It’s real, she’s on a journey too, and it’s full of her beautiful photography not stupid posters with kittens hanging from tree branches. (Note* I have nothing against kittens on tree branches.) Check out Living Intentionally: How to Take Control of Your Life One Moment at a Time.
“Raise your hand if you’ve felt completely overwhelmed sometime in the last six months.” That’s the comaraderie you’ll find with Heather at Hiya Tootsie who gifts us with How to Handle the Overwhelm: a 6 part strategy.
If inspirational just isn’t your thing, then I leave you with Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck. He’s got this thing figured out, and it’s funny.
What’s been making you laugh this week?
How are you following your dreams?