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Results of Improv

Improv has been a moving force in my entire adult life. After much encouragement, I’m doing the damn thing. I’ve been going to jams at Third Coast Comedy club and volunteering in trade for classes. The more I go, the more funny morsels I find.

Reading that last bit may have you thinking that I find inspiration everywhere. It’s not true. The Muse of Inspo isn’t real. I blame Pinterest for most of its demise in everyone’s search for right party snacks and the perfect shade of gray to paint their kitchen.

Depression often tells me that I have nothing original to say. It lies and tells me I won’t ever be funny if I’m not self-depreciating first. Being funny takes practice and patience and… timing.

So, I’m going to share a thing I’ve been giggling at to myself over the last couple months. The point of this kind of writing is for my brain to live somewhere else for a while. It’s not self-deprecating. It does put a bee in the bonnet of some fifth graders and builds a higher pedestal for my cats.

You may not like it but don’t worry – I don’t need you to.


My Cat Is Smarter Than Your Fifth Grader

Hi, I’m Britt, the self-appointed advocate for the kid-less cat people in your life. We’re very bored with hearing about how smart you fifth grader is. I’ve been summoned today to tell you the truth… My cat is smarter than your fifth grader.

Yes, it’s an outline. Your fifth grader’s teacher told me that parents like these when there are curriculum changes and book reports on the horizon.

My cat makes its own schedule.

  • It doesn’t need to send me a Google reminder every time it naps.
  • I never have to worry about if it got enough sleep.
  • It’s already taking a nap after eating breakfast AND sleeping through the night.

My cat doesn’t talk back or complain.

  • We ignore each other unless we both need the blanket I’m using.
  • It doesn’t ask me awkward questions about the things it heard on the bus coming home from school.
  • There’s no noise about tummy aches or brain freezes.

My cat doesn’t seek validation, drugs or hugs.

  • It can’t use a phone to call a drug dealer or plan a party while I’m out of town.
  • The only time it requests interaction is when I have leftover milk in my cereal bowl. No, my cat isn’t lactose intolerant.
  • It looks to other felines to debate the need for another season of Jessica Jones.

My cat understands my privacy needs.

  • It doesn’t ask me why I’m buying another coloring book.
  • It doesn’t ask me where I take its poop every three days.
  • It doesn’t enter the bathroom while I’m in there.
  • I do occasionally get an escort to and from the potty because Queens recognize Queens.

My cat is a minimalist.

  • It regularly knocks things over that I have but don’t need on my shelves, or in my life.
  • It only needs two toys but your kid clutters the house.
  • It has a 4-collar capsule wardrobe.

My cat is generous.

  • It brings me dead animals.
  • I’m a terrible cat and enjoy animal sacrifices.
  • It makes sure we match by transferring its hair ONLY my freshly laundered clothes.
  • It only vomits when I’m not home.

As you can see, my cat is smarter than your fifth grader. The takeaway for your life right now is to rid yourself of that fifth grader and get a cat. If you have a dog AND child, well… I can’t even right now.

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I’m keeping up with… me?

Daylight Savings usually messes with my mojo pretty badly but I’m doing better this month than I have in a long time. How is this possible?

1) Well, the sun is out most of the day now.
2) I am writing a lot and not worried about if it’s bad or not.
3) I’ve been vulnerable enough to open up and deal with my trauma.
4) I’ve been trying to figure out ways to make sure my cats live forever.
5) I’ve been going to improv jam nights and meeting people.
6) I’ve been published on a website that isn’t my own.

It’s a challenge to feel good all the time. It’s what social media tells us. It’s what our mothers and loved ones want more than anything: for us to feel good. It’s not always possible. Shocking, I know.

For a long time, I couldn’t tell you what I thought feeling good meant to me beyond physical sensations. I worked really hard to be skinny in college but gained it all back. My habits weren’t healthy. I wasn’t fulfilled in other meaningful or challenging ways. I was keeping up with an idea of who and what I wanted to be. My ideas were not and still aren’t always good. Again, shocking, I know.

After years of counseling and making efforts to challenge myself to feel better about life as it happens, I still have depression and anxiety. It’s hard to claim the space your brain takes away from you in these diagnoses. Sometimes I have no idea what I will accomplish most days but I make a plan to try anyway. I don’t always feel good about it.

Here’s the catch: While I’m not always feeling good, I do feel like myself most days. It’s the best. I am keeping up with myself. When I need a nap, I take one. When I’ve got an idea, I write it down or share it with someone. I take my meds. I wash my makeup off at night even if my laundry isn’t put away.

I hope you are finding ways to keep up with your needs. If you’re not, let me know how I can support you. Seriously, drop me a line.

I’m blocked.

I’m in a weird place creatively. I want to make and build an entire world around this one idea but I’m stuck with characters. I can’t find a way to strike a balance between protagonist and antagonist. I can’t decide on how the mission or plot should develop and I get distracted on substories that may (not) be related to the piece.

Here’s a quick list of things I’ve found on the internet to help people who are stuck like I am right now… I’m not sure what I’ll start with but it’s fine. I’m fine. I’ll write my way out eventually.

  • Walking through a physical place that is similar to a scene in your story.
  • Have characters talk through a scene. Write dialogue only or record yourself talking in two different accents to get the point across.
  • Eat something that isn’t poisonous or detrimental to your health.
  • Read something from someone you admire that isn’t on the internet or social media.

What do you do when you’re stuck?

Social Media: It’s not always personal.

Unpopular Opinion: Not every platform is meant for everyone, every brand, or idea.

It’s a wild concept. One that I haven’t always felt easy coming to terms with but I’m learning. This isn’t about my personal beliefs on the internet and social media. I’ve struggled with it professionally and so have many of my clients.

Where does your target consumer need to find you? If you’re new to social media marketing for your business, I bet it’s a big difference of where you want them to find you. Social media is full of consumers that are trying to find those connections to brands that personify their own values. In order to best showcase your values, you need a specific message on specific platforms. You have to be selective and carve out space you need to take up in the social marketplace.

A Quick Glance at Popular Social Media Platforms

Facebook
As one of the most popular social media platforms, Facebook is great for established businesses, brand ambassadors, and, sharing information. The recent updates to the Newsfeed algorithm makes it difficult for companies and brands to get organic engagement. Marketing lingo calls it “Pay to Play.”

Twitter
It’s not a little bird with a lot to say. Twitter is a great platform for humanizing brands, sharing information, and keeping the conversation active with target consumers. If you’re not talking about you, no one else is either. Sometimes though it’s hard for a client to understand that not everyone needs to have a conversation about their business or services. If you’re a one-person show, I would definitely recommend Twitter to get your name and ideas circulated.

Instagram
It’s not much more than a pretty picture. Instagram is owned by Facebook. This means your posts are not seen in chronological order. It’s possible to get meaningful engagement here though because you’re able to see what people are doing with your brand and how they experience it. A downside is that if you want to get metrics on your personal brand, you need to have a Facebook Page (not profile) linked to the account. It will be “Pay to Play” very soon but keep on with the grassroots connections. They are important!

Pinterest
It’s an aggregate of great ideas and good visuals but beware, looks are deceiving. For brands, I recommend checking out what kind of pins exist about your industry before you do anything. You might find there aren’t many plumbers on Pinterest but there’s a lot of ideas about how to fix or DIY a clogged toilet. If you’ve got infographics that share your idea or business well, I highly recommend it. Pins live for a very long time so it’s best if you can share information that has a shelf life longer than six months. This is why home décor, food, wedding, and photography businesses flourish on Pinterest.

YouTube
It’s practically a search engine these days with thousands of new videos daily and repeat users. YouTube is also a great space to do cross-promotion with brands and vendors that support your business goals. Your videos don’t have to be perfect. They don’t have to be choreographed but they do need to be short and honest.

Snapchat
If you can tolerate the recent update to their platform and stories, I recommend trying to utilize it if you are a brand ambassador or a one-person show. Snapchat is useful for sharing experiences as they happen and putting a face with the name. If you’re not sure about using another platform, you can test out Instagram or Facebook stories.

Honorable Mentions – Feel free to email me about these platforms. They are some of my favorites!

  • Yelp
  • Vero (under a million downloads, still in beta as of Feb 2018.)
  • Google My Business
  • Reddit

Examples & Samples: Social Media Audit

If you’re not clear on social media for your business, I’ve got a couple of outlines for what could make up your social media marketing. These are quick outlines and NOT a full recommendation of services in any way.

Remember: Social media changes as business does too!

Example 1 – Non-profits 
Business: A non-profit for visually impaired or blind kids
Goal: Raise awareness of programs and funds for after-school care.
Social Media Platforms:

  • Facebook – Yes! Likely that parents of kids are going to be looking for social groups and communicate best there.
  • Twitter – No! Unless there’s influential legislation that can benefit the non-profit, participating in a political conversation isn’t a wise use of energy.
  • Instagram – Yes! With permission, share the stories of kids, families, and document extracurricular activities sponsored by the non-profit.
  • Pinterest – Yes! A great way to gather resources for parents and family members who need more education around blindness and visual impairments.
  • Other social media platforms: Google My Business

Example 2
Business: Dive Bar/Restaurant
Goal: Communicate new ownership and updated menu to locals
Social Media Platforms:

  • Facebook – Yes! Get people to check in to your location, host watch parties and events relevant to the community you’re serving.
  • Twitter – Yes! Build relationships with area brands and keep track of local issues and news alerts.
  • Instagram – Food should always be on Instagram. Show off your staff (with their permission) and new recipes you’re trying out.
  • Pinterest – No! Don’t share your recipes unless someone famous pays you a lot of money to.
  • Other social media recommendations: Yelp & Google My Business

 


Social media is tough for businesses. It isn’t for the faint of heart.

You can’t think of it as your personal accounts because your business isn’t personal; it’s professional. If you’re not sure how to get started, I’ll happily give you an hour of my time. Seriously, I’ll give you an hour to you for the price of ONE act of kindness. Shoot me an email.

Brit’s Book Beat

I collect a few kinds of things.

One of my favorite places is the flea market. I like unique chairs. I’ve inherited Pyrex in Amish Butterprint and continued the collection. You’ll also find books. Many of them have found me when I needed them. The rest are likely from when I was left to my own devices at the bookstore. #sorrynotsorry

The main reason I wanted to put together a reading list was to help me remember I have things to read already.  The full list will be on my Good Reads soon. 🙂

I love books!

I love how they look. I love the different ways to organize and display them. There are never enough shelves for them. I think the main reasons I don’t have more bookshelves are:

  1. I have a lot of books.
  2. I am not good at putting things back where they belong.
  3. Empty shelf space = Buy. More. Books.

Now for the reading lists! I promise they’re short.


Next Up Reading List – A short list of books I’m reading next. I swear. Stop distracting me with sales, Various Book Stores of America.

– Sunshine State by Sarah Gerard
– Naming the World edited by Bret Anthony Johnston
– My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem
– Buffering by Hannah Hart
– Hemingway Didn’t Say That by Garson O’Toole

Read These Books List- Books I really like and think you’ll like too… if you’re into that sort of thing.

– One More Thing by B.J. Novak
– The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
– Grief is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter
– Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson

My Fave Classics – Basically what I read in high school that shaped my understanding of the world.

Tess of D’Ubervilles 
The Great Gatsby
To Kill A Mockingbird
Fahrenheit 451


I’ve got a small favor to ask. Tell me about your reading (or writing) life.

If you enjoy it: Do you find yourself, with enough time, thinking about your world like one of the characters? Do you follow authors or genres?
If you don’t enjoy it: How/When do you lose interest? What other hobbies do you have?

It felt like lightning.

Last night an artist that I am a fan of did a secret show. Josh Ritter took the stage at Analog, picked up an acoustic guitar and sang out love, excitement, and inspiration. There was a short question period and I asked the first one: How does your creative process work?

He talked through it, sharing how he gets a melody and then adds the words in his head. He writes it all down when he gets a minute, sometimes without with travel and parenting mercies.

Mid-discussion, he asked how I write. My heart fluttered and I felt a little bit of vomit in my mouth. This guy is in town to play the Ryman and asking about my writing process. I paused – Oh, what? He was still looking at me. I blurted a bit about my poetry, how the second and third stanza comes quickly, and how it’s usually never in order.

He understood. He quoted Cohen, “If I knew where the songs came from, I’d go there more often.” Sometimes we don’t know how long a piece will be, or how it will impact us. He told me, reminded me and the room that the process really only matters to us and it can be different every time. Inspiration can often feel invisible to us but it’s there, waiting for us to make something of it.

After a few more questions and songs, I got pictures with him. He thanked me for the question. He asked more about what books I’m reading and what I’m writing. I gave him a witty line about how I write what paying my bills and the premise of my fiction piece. I was gobsmacked when he smiled and asked more questions about where I am with the fiction.

My husband was beaming with pride when shared how surprised he was that such a dark premise came from my head. He talked with him about his current hit and how I was shocked he knew the words without me sharing it with him. The three of us talked together about how nice it is to be partnered with someone smarter than you. He hugged us again and we left.

It was humbling to hear someone sing so poignantly and be invested in those he was singing to. I wasn’t the only one who felt this. The room was a buzz of adoration in every direction.

As I write this, I’m still beside myself with what could be some sort of external validation. It could be the residue of gratitude that experiences like this fill us up with.

I know it’s the pinnacle of every choice I’ve made up until that point but with more reflection, I get more questions. How do I continue the magic of that interaction? How will I know when it’s my turn to invest in someone, even if for a fleeting moment?

If you know, I’m here to listen and receive it.

What do you like? Are you doing it?

Oh, my feels.

How much time do you spend on things you enjoy doing? How much of that time is spent solo doing the things you enjoy?

I don’t know either.

I’ve had a difficult time figuring out what I enjoy doing lately because of the deceptive cocktail of depression, anxiety and a dash of Imposter Syndrome. I’ve made the decision to take care of my body as best I can by going to talk therapy, taking medication, seeing a chiropractor, and tasting my food rather than eating it.

Still, every day is a battle to decide what I like, love, and can live without as well as why these things matter. Sometimes the battle manifests as a panic attack. Other times, I have the urge to cancel plans and not leave the house.

But, there are these moments that come through like a sweeping wind and pushes me to the next step. When I see it, it can be an overwhelming feeling.

The next step might be showing up simply because I said I would. It might be writing and working through the trauma I want most to ignore.

Occasionally, I’ll overthink if I deserve to move past this sensation. It’s very hard in that moment to remember that depression lies to its victims.

What’s the point of this emotional bare all?

I want you to take time for yourself and decide what you want to spend time on. I know a lot of resources that might help you turn your self-care up to 11.

If you need to share in the struggle, it doesn’t make you weak. You are not alone. I’m always available too.

 

Knowing Your Worth

Worth – noun. The value equivalent to that of someone or something under consideration; the level at which someone or something deserves to be valued or rated.

 


Knowing what you’re worth is a loaded piece of information. It’s slightly existential. For some, it’s purely financial. For most, it’s a mystery. It’s taken me five years of professional growth, three years in psychotherapy, and many tribulations to get an idea of what my worth is made of. What I’ve learned is there’s a baseline, benchmarks, and no magic formula.

Establish A Baseline – Take stock of who you are.
I’ve struggled with self-esteem for a long ass time. The first time I was bullied about my appearance was in the second grade. Their words are burned into my brain forever. I internalized every lie they said for most of my teenage years.The recovery of my self-esteem didn’t come until college. I found my tribe and discovered that friends build you up and challenge you to be better without senseless competition.

These friends also taught me that I didn’t need to identify myself in reference to someone else first. It’s an extremely difficult concept to sort out because, as women, we are always proud of our contributions and impact on our loved ones.

After coming around to seeing I’m more than someone’s daughter, sister, and friend, I could focus on me. I focused on becoming a professional writer. If I listed my work experience on my way to finally being a writer, it would overwhelm you. I guarantee it but each of those jobs gave me a piece of who I am at this moment. The details mattered at the jewelry shop. Showing up on time at my grocery shift was essential. I’m a better writer and content creator for each of them.

Where are you right now – mentally, professionally, etc.? How do you feel are you in those spaces? Are all of your day-to-day activities essential? If you streamlined them, what kind of time would you have to grow in the ways most meaningful to you?

Determine how you measure success – What can you do?
You don’t wake up a success. It’s essential to define benchmarks you need so you’re consistently building your worth but… there’s a catch. Success subjective and not every success is measurable.

Professional success to me means projects that bring cash flow and sharing my knowledge with other people in my circle. Sharing builds my confidence. Helping a friend test a new theory about their target market genuinely excites me. When the work yields connections for them, my time is instantly worth the effort.

Personal success for me happens on a much quieter level. It involves me planning the time it takes for me to recover from the week’s efforts. If I can meditate a few times a week and get through some tough conversations, it’s a personal success.

Where does success matter to you? Is it getting new clients? Is it being there for a friend when they call?

There’s no magic formula.
When I was a child, I often asked, “How much longer ‘til we get there?” My mom would respond with, “Distance equals rate times time. We’re going 60 miles per hour and have 45 miles left.” We figured it out from there.

She’s a math teacher so the world was often broken down, researched, and reconstructed with solutions. My world and reality don’t always work to the effect of a magic formula. I do know that there are some questions I can ask myself to figure out if something is going to aid or hurt my self-worth.

  • Is it challenging?
  • Does it help anyone?
  • Who else is/needs to be involved?
  • Have I done something like this before?
  • Does it align with my personal beliefs? Professional goals?

If most of my answers are positive, the situation tends to add to my self-worth. If I can get paid for it… well, we’ll save that take for next time.

Routine matters.

“I work from home.”

It’s a sentence that surprises a lot of people, scares some, and is a mystery to the rest. Most days, I’m still not comfortable working from home but I’m working on it. I’ve got to beat Imposter Syndrome and the Lack-Of-Motivation Monster away with a mental stick very often.

On my journey with depression, I learned that I need something to look forward to and work towards. When working from home, a routine is your friend too.
I’m far from pinning down a singular routine that works well for me but here’s what I’ve discovered so far that seems to be helpful to me when working from home.

  • Weekly Must Do’s
    – Map out the week for professional needs.
    – Talk therapy.
    – Plan personal errands for the week.
    – On-site for clients 1 to 2 days, as needed.
  • Daily Must Do’s
    – Set up a workstation at my dining room table.
    – Outline the day in the notebook.
    – Pick a place & start there.
    – Eat something for lunch.
  • Work Station needs
    – A big glass of water.
    – Notebook & writing utensils.
    – Planner/Agenda. I’ve got one from BusyB.Co.UK that I use that has double weeks. I use one for me and one for work. It’s magic.
    – Cell phone. Duh.
    – Chargers for cell phone and laptop. Double duh.
    – Spare hard drive. My laptop is limited on space but mighty on graphics. Content I make has to be able to live somewhere that doesn’t slow down the machine.
    – Occasionally: music set to a dull roar via Spotify.

 

Not Just Business

It’s been about three months since I last wrote about something in this space. Things are going to change. This blog is officially about whatever I happen to write about.

2018 is about bringing together people who are ready to stand up for what they want. I want to be around for what people stand up for, starting with myself.

I can’t promise a lot of writing but I can promise you honesty, integrity, and typos if my cats are laying in my lap as I type.

This blog is about to be for lifestyle, messy situations, and marketing insights or ideas or whatever is requested from me.