Monthly Archives: December 2006

How Self-Image Affects Direction

With all the changes in my life lately, I’ve had to make some choices about what direction I want to go to further develop my business. My self-image has influenced those choices to a certain extent.

I’m faced with the choice of how to involve myself in community development, and how to position my business to take advantage of growth here. In some areas, I can see exactly what I can do, and know that I can do that successfully. In other areas, I just do not see myself functioning in certain capacities.

Today, in an online conversation, someone took my questions about direction, and put to words some of the deeper feelings I have had, but which I had not fully articulated. It was cool when I read her comments and felt that response of rightness that went right through me.

Part of what touched me in what she said is that her comments brought the whole picture around to where it fit my goals and my perceptions of who I am.

I desire to have a positive influence on people, and to use my skills to better their lives. I want to use my skills to strengthen families. Suddenly, in what was said, I could see how a change in my thinking could align the opportunities presented by growth in our town, with my goals to help others succeed in a way that helps their families succeed better also.

I do not see myself as doing huge things. I have always sort of operated in the background, doing small things, and reaching people one at a time. Some of that perception is gradually changing as it is made clear to me that I can reach people in a different way. But when it comes to setting a course for myself that involves contacting senators and congress persons, and becoming an activist for change, I just feel tired at the thought!

On the other hand, I think that someone who just keeps doing a consistently good job at what they do, even if they never get the attention of very many people at a time, can move mountains through determined small efforts. That is a role I am very comfortable with, partly because I don’t need to see huge things to feel that it is worth it. I only need to see one small thing happen from the work, and I know that other things happened too.

I think that in order to really take action in a specific direction, I have to be able to envision myself becoming the person who could do the things it would require. Sometimes I just cannot stretch my mind that far. But just as often, I can find an alternate way to accomplish a similar goal, through things that I CAN see myself doing successfully.

I wonder if that has held me back sometimes – that I’ve been stopped from going in a certain direction because I just could not get my mind around something that I really was capable of doing. But I also have to wonder if perhaps that is a blessing, which helps me realize a potential in another direction, which, though perhaps less noticeable, is none-the-less worthwhile and good.

I REALLY love my life

Funny how we take things for granted so quickly. A few months ago I had to work an outside job for 3 weeks. It was very hard, because I don’t do mornings well, the days were long and uncomfortable, and I missed my kids.

As soon as it was over, I went back to complacently enjoying setting my own schedule, having the kids all around me as I worked, and not having to punch someone else’s clock.

Kevin woke up sick today, and I am his substitute. So I had to be up at 5:00 am, and on the road by 5:45, just to get to work on time because the roads have patchy ice on them.

Today I remember again how much I love my life, and why. Sure, its hard and hectic sometimes. But it is also very much my life, which I have so much choice in.

Most days, I can spend an extra 10 minutes in the bath if I want. I can get up at an hour that does not leave me sleepy in the middle of the day. I can choose clothing as comfortable and informal as I like (no jammies… just cozy familiar clothes). I can work in an environment that is comfortable to me, and that is tailored to my needs. When I answer the phone, I get to say MY business name, not theirs. When I encounter someone new, I can promote MY services, not someone else’s. And the kids can be where I am, so I can be there for them.

This time, I’ll try not to forget that when I get to go back to the familiar routine.

Success and Spirituality

I generally avoid working on Sunday. Reason? Besides needing at least ONE day when work is not an issue, I have found that weeks that follow Sundays that I worked on are less profitable than weeks that follow Sundays when I do not work. Really. Provable, and trackable.

I believe in blessings from the Lord. I believe that when I take Him at His word, and test Him, that I’ll find reasons to do things right. Keeping the Sabbath is one of those things I tested. But even knowing that it helps me be successful (and that it helps my family, and that it helps ME), I still struggle with it.

Not all the time. Just certain days. Like Sundays when I miss church – the day seems awfully long without having a purpose. Or when something exciting is developing and I just cannot hardly contain myself and be patient. Or when the next day is Christmas and you know that everything that needs doing is going to have to wait TWO days, not just one.

I also believe in being generous with donations. Because when I do, I earn more. Again, we have tested this, and proven it. We increased some of our donations last year, and our income has gone up consistently ever since, and our level of indebtedness has gone down consistently. We still struggle a lot, but in spite of all appearances that it should NOT be getting better, it unaccountably IS.

So don’t expect regular Sunday posts. This one is here to cover a spiritual topic which I feel is appropriate for the day.

The Old West Takes Center Stage

It was a shock to me when I first started working in the Medicine Bow website, to discover that this little town here was known world-wide. Oh, not by everyone, but by people who felt drawn to the old west. Medicine Bow is right up there with Deadwood in evoking images of cowboys, ranchers, pioneers, and hardy survivors.

We are perhaps on the verge of some major changes here, and they could bring new life to a town that has been slowly stagnating and regressing for the last 20 years. Some of my contracts are deep in the effort to bring change whether the planned power facility goes in near here or not, but lately we’ve been talking more in town about promoting the town more aggressively as well.

So my latest website is It is ready for launch after three days of hard work on it (it is a small site, so it took half the time it usually takes me to build a new site with original content). And this one is an effort in a new direction, because it is not ad-supported, nor is it specifically there to promote my own services or products. But it still has to support itself.

People here won’t pay for advertising, so sellling ad spots on it is not an option, at least not yet. Google’s are out, because I don’t want them competing with the focus on our town. So I have to hope that it will bring in enough peripheral traffic for my other sites, that it will pay for itself long term.

The website for the town of medicine Bow brings in increasing traffic each month, about 3500 visitors. Not bad for an obscure little town in the middle of nowhere. That is more than ten times the population of the town.

It has been a constant amazement to me the things that people find themselves drawn to about our town. They see it as a warm, nostalgic place where they can be somebody just a little different than they always thought of themselves as being. There is something very marketable in that, if you can echo their expectations in the kind of presentation you make.

We really have just a few things here that people want: The old west, dinosaurs, and, to our surprise, the wind. The old west is pretty obvious – Owen Wister and the Virginian, and all that. Dinosaurs are less obvious unless you happen to be interested in them, in which case you’ll know about Como Bluff – which is visible from our diningroom window.
Everybody here knows about the wind. But it’s attraction is a fairly new one. Rows of wind turbines are taking up residence across our hills though, and for good reason. We are one of the most consistently windy areas in the US. It not only blows all the time, it blows hard. We have jokes about the wind here. People who first move here find it very irritating, and have a hard time coping with it. Later they ignore it, and sort of take pride in surviving with it. You don’t expect your hair to stay neat though, and you drive with both hands hanging on tight to the wheel (just to keep the car on the road), and you take sealing up drafts in your house very seriously. We take the wind for granted, and often wish it were not so persistent, so the concept that it is actually a marketable commodity takes some getting used to!

I happen to believe that many other things we take for granted here also have scope for being highly marketable. And I intend to promote that idea. Because I have web design skills, I always start things with a website – if I can plan out a website, the concepts for the whole idea is pretty well mapped out by the time I’m done.

This time there is international interest in what our town is doing. That, again, takes some getting used to. But we’ve lived here a long time. We’ve paid our dues in commuting 60 miles or more to work, and living through hardships because we had a house that had such a low value nobody wanted it. We want a piece of what is coming. And we want to make sure that other people here benefit in a way that makes our town better too.
The new website is part of positioning my business to make sure that if growth comes, I’ll be in a position to benefit our family. And so that if it does not come,  I’ll be well positioned to encourage slower growth here.

And that is partly why I am doing business on Christmas afternoon. Because time is short, and there is a lot to do this winter if we intend to see things happen this spring, and through the next few years.

I think we are on the verge of exciting change.

Battling the Weather

We have about a foot of fine powder on the ground. That is a lot for the area of Wyoming where we live, usually a snowstorm just drops a few inches. Before those of you in snowier areas start scoffing, you must realize that while Wyoming does not get a LOT of snow in this area, Mother Nature makes the most of what does come down. A little goes a long way… Literally. We joke that snow in Wyoming buries cattle in Nebraska.
The snow blows into drifts, and when the wind blows hard, it creates a “ground blizzard”. You’ll be lost in a blizzard even though there is not a cloud in the sky, because of the snow from the ground that is blowing up into this dense fog. It does some other interesting things too.

So what does that have to do with business? We have a property management contract, where we are repairing some long-neglected houses and cottages. It is a good contract, but this is a hard time of year to make progress. The owner lives in another state (we document progress with reports and photos), so we do the work that needs done to clean up the property, seal the leaks in the roofs, repair broken windows and doors, and get the units ready for rental. It has been neglected for so long that it is a long term project, and we are having to progress one task at a time – first weatherproofing the buildings to stop further decay, next getting the three best buildings rentable by spring. Later, more intensive repairs and modifications on the other buildings, one at a time.

Anyway, he began the purchase in September. We hoped it would go through in time to get in a little late roofing so that the major buildings would not have further water damage. The title transfer did not complete until November. We had a fairly warm fall, so we continued to hope that if we repaired the roofs in a little bit of a non-standard way, that we’d still be able to do it this year. Otherwise we’d have to wait until late spring.

We got one of the large roofs done, and we had gorgeous weather for the week it took to do it. Then it got cold, and the snows hit. We’ve had storm after storm and have barely been able to begin work on the second large building that needs roofing done. It has been so cold that the other work that needs to be done is also going very slowly. There is no power on yet, so no heat, so we cannot work there long in the current cold.

Our business is pretty flexible most of the time, we have many things we can juggle around, so if his stuff is on hold, then there are other things to do for other clients. If they are also on hold, we have plenty of our own sites to develop. But working on our own sites means deferred income – work now, get paid a little each month for years afterward. So it also means we have to juggle finances if we have to juggle clients.

We certainly will have a White Christmas though. No doubt about that – unless the wind picks up between now and then, and blows it all to Omaha!

A Busy Season…

Odd, but web design business with my particular clientele is SUPPOSED to slow down around Christmas. It has not. Contracts that had slowed have picked back up, new options have come in, and I even landed a new contract yesterday – a rush job for a couple that wants to be well positioned for the local tourist season.

I’ve launched a total of 4 new sites (including this blog) within the last three weeks. We’ve also been working hard on a local property management contract – out of my usual scope of work, but what the heck? The owner is great to work for, the work is something we are skilled at doing, and the job needs doing.

Our town is also on the verge of change – Changes that are surprisingly, making national news headlines. And no offense to any environmentalists, but our town is overwhelmingly in favor of the changes (if you wanna know more, just do a net search on “Medicine Bow Coal to Liquids” and see what that gets you). Alternative energy is a hugely hot topic right now, and a lot is riding on this project.

Anyway, locally it means that I have found myself right back in the middle of the economic development arena. In a way it feels like going backward instead of forward, because I’ve been there before. During my first stint as Web Admin for the town, long before my youngest son was diagnosed with cancer, and before our daughter’s condition, birth, and death swept us into a different reality.

This time things are different though. The first time I went in, blythely unaware of what I was getting into. Locals were obstructive rather than helpful, organizations that were there to help scoffed at me, and it all fizzled into a discouraging battle that I just did not have the energy to fight alone.

Just a little background to make sense of that, I live in a town of less than 300 people. Big town politics got nuthin’ on small town pettiness. People here will fight for their tiny chunk of power in very aggressive ways. And someone can get elected just by who they know, not WHAT they know.

So here I am back in the middle of it again, only this time there are people who want to work together to make something happen, and the outside organizations are offering support. I’ve even been asked to present a speech at an ecomonic development event – on the topic of using the web to benefit small businesses. It is a great opportunity since it is county wide, and will have many state organization reps there.
I’m still not sure I want to be the one to take up the drum and make it happen, but it is something I know won’t get done if I don’t get behind it. There just aren’t enough people here with an interest and knowledge who CAN lead any kind of citizen’s group.

All of those factors though mean that I am being pulled in a lot of directions. Hoping I can organize it all and balance my time so I don’t lose sight of my kids, or neglect my clients who are my first business priority.

I joined the Laramie Area Chamber of Commerce as well, so there are things in that membership that are taking me outside my comfort zone. In a good way, I think, but none-the-less intimidating!

Surprising position to find myself in actually. Sort of outside my image of myself.

And Then I Chose NOT to Blog…

I’ve been considering blogging since the concept first became a hot topic. But I know enough about it that it was not a good match for me at the time.

See, I have always struggled with consistency. I am a strong starter, but poor finisher when I do not have a client who is nudging me gently for something to be finished. I’ve finished building over 35 websites, but those were things I could build rapidly enough that I finished them before the enthusiasm ran out. Blogging is like publishing a periodical (something else I have also done) – It has to be done regularly.

And I am bad at regular. To keep a blog going you have to publish things people want, on a consistent basis. I just knew I could not do that. Not unless I had a purpose that would encompass all of who I was, so that I was not just trying to focus on one topic that I’d dry up on.

The Frumpy Haus Frau, more than any other site I own, is probably the one that gives me the greatest scope to really be me. I don’t have to be just a web designer, or just a marketing expert, or just a parenting writer. I can be all that I am, and write about the things that matter most to me at the moment that I am living.

So for the last two years, I have chosen not to blog. And here now, is the radical departure.

I often resist change. I see no need to change when what I am doing is working well, and when the change would only present a new set of problems with no clear advantage. But I also am capable of growth. And growth occurs by changing in ways that bring benefits. Blogging would not have brought a benefit before – it would have been outweighed by the problems it would have created – but now it can. So I changed.

And I started a blog…

Grow a Garden!

Gardening doesn't have to be that hard! No matter where you live, no matter how difficult your circumstances, you CAN grow a successful garden.

Life from the Garden: Grow Your Own Food Anywhere Practical and low cost options for container gardening, sprouting, small yards, edible landscaping, winter gardening, shady yards, and help for people who are getting started too late. Plenty of tips to simplify, save on work and expense.