Portfolio upgrade: Digdougsart.com

Doug Naugle Fine Art home pageI am thrilled to announce (belatedly) the relaunch of Digdougsart.com!

Visual artist Doug Naugle and I worked together to redesign his site, with the express intention of seamlessly integrating his blog and adding an e-commerce component.

Doug also needed a way to upload images of his art (both photographs and paintings) and showcase them throughout the site. Straight HTML/CSS just wasn’t going to cut it anymore.  He needed a CMS.

I’ve been working with WordPress for a while on all of my personal blogs, and I love the way this versatile CMS can be customized, so I recommended it for Doug.  It worked out beautifully.  Doug was already using WordPress for his blog, and it was no problem for him to learn added functionality for the rest of a site.

I used a number of my favorite plugins, including NextGEN Gallery.  There are a number of e-commerce plugins for WordPress now, but it was hard finding one that worked just the way we wanted.  In the end, we chose WP-ecommerce and added the Gold Cart to it.  It’s not ideal — I wish we had found something that would have more easily integrated with the galleries — images must be uploaded separately to a gallery and to the store — so there would be less work for Doug.  But we eliminated the need for ME to be in the middle, uploading images.  Doug can do it all himself, and that was a major goal for this site.

I’m really starting to turn into a WordPress template/theme designer.  I’m loving working with this platform.  And I can’t wait to go to the WordPress Party at SXSWi.

Oh my gosh!  SX is almost here!  Woo-hoo!

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Tirades from the trenches (or couch, rather)

I have completely taken over my couch and coffee table.  It’s my new favorite work space.

The scenario: My Dell Vostro on my lap, feet on the coffee table,a glass of iced mineral water nearby, the iPod hooked up and pumping LCD Soundsystem through my earbuds.  Awww, yeah.  This is what I call working!

Yes, it’s true I have a wonderful, dedicated desk and computer in my office, with three monitors — one of which is wide-screen.  I like it too, but I’ve found that I’ve fallen in love with my laptop.  It’s small, portable and it makes it easier to pay attention to Madeline, rather than holed up in my office.  I also kind of FEEL like I’m working offsite — even though I’m not.

I think I’ve finally found that tenuous place between caring for a baby and taking care of clients.  Madeline has many times throughout the day when she’s content to play in her bounce seat or nearby on a play-mat.  As long as I’m in view she’s cool.

Still, I put in most of my web hours after she’s gone to bed.

I haven’t slept much lately.

A therapeutic way to deal with negative feelings

For two weeks, I was bothered by an innocent conversation I had with a person.

Seriously… it was very innocent.  There was just chatting.  But something was said on their part — it’s not important what — that kind of bugged me.

And hours later it still bugged me.

And hours after that it grew from a nagging annoyance to downright anger.  I found myself grousing about it to my husband and close friends.  That’s how much it annoyed me.

That is not healthy.

One of my personal goals for this year is to learn to relax and let go of negative feelings.  I completely believe that it’s OK to have negative feelings — what kind of monster doesn’t have the full range of emotions?! — but letting them simmer and grow inside can start to intrude on other parts of your life.

I don’t have time for that.

There are right ways and wrong ways to deal with these feelings, and I’ll admit that I’m no expert, but I have learned a few things that I would like to pass on.

Wrong Way

Online

I’ll admit, I considered making a Facebook or Twitter status that was just vague enough not to call the person out, yet addressing how angry I felt.  But that’s a slippery slope.  And while it might have felt good at the time, I probably would have felt bad later, and you can’t take that stuff back.  It also looks really unprofessional and silly.

Better Way

Two weeks later, when I realized the comment still bothered me and it was starting to affect my overall perception of the person, I remembered something a counselor once told me:

Go back and address the issue with the person.  It’s never too late.

So, I decided to talk to the person.  But I hate confrontations, so I also decided to practice.

Speaking to the invisible person, here’s how my conversation went…

Me: Excuse me, could we talk in private?  Listen, I value our relationship, which is why I felt like I should say this.  Something you said really bothered me, and I don’t believe that you meant to say it maliciously, but I wanted to let you know that I was offended.  I’m not seeking an apology.  I just wanted to get that off my chest.  Thanks for listening.

And you know, what?  I felt better.  I didn’t even need to speak to the person directly to feel better.  Just having that practice conversation helped.  It was like a huge weight was lifted off my chest.

So if you find yourself bothered by something, I highly suggest having a real or imaginary conversation with the person.  Chances are, you’ll feel better, and the issue will have been dealt with in a mature way.

Now, if the issue is something that requires action on the part of the other person, I recommend the practice conversation, then actually having the conversation with the person.  I’m sure they will appreciate your professionalism and maturity.  And you’ll feel better in the long run.

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-02-06

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-01-30

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-01-23

Now… we wait

One of my many goals this year is to add at least 5 new clients to House on Payne’s list of current clients.  No small order!

That goal has been in the back of my head as I meet with prospective clients and write up project proposals.  In particular, once I wrote just recently gave me a lot of worry.

It’s not that it was a difficult proposal to write, but that I knew it could hire me or not.  In the end, after writing and rewriting for hours and wondering whether I should sleep on it yet another day, I decided that the time had come to bite the bullet and send it off.  It was worse to send something more than a week after our meeting than to try to write the “perfect” proposal, because there is simply no such thing.

Now I wait, crossing my fingers and telling myself if it doesn’t happen, I can move on because opportunities abound!

Afterall, one of my other goals for this year is to be the best me I can be.

I will make House on Payne an amazing success.  It WILL happen.

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-01-16

How to manage the baby-work balance

I’ve been easing back into a regular routine for the past three months, ever since the birth of my daughter.

I’m finding it exceedingly difficult.

Here’s my question: Can there be a balance between working from home and taking care of a baby?

I wish I knew the answer.

I have found that baby care threatens to overshadow working at home.  Try as I might to find balance during the day, the fact remains that I am her primary caregiver and her needs must be met.

But just because there’s no 50-50 balance doesn’t mean it’s impossible.  It IS possible to do both if you finagle things just a bit.  Here’s what I’m trying to do:

  1. Ask for help
    I used to find this really hard, but over time I’ve grown up.  A LOT.  And I’ve realized that everyone needs help now and then, even those of us who have a strong urge to go it alone.  I need help getting everything done, and I’m really fortunate that I have a supportive family and friends.  So I lean on that support network for watching baby when I have meetings or deadlines to hit.
  2. Rethink working hours
    I would absolutely LOVE to put in my work hours between 9 and 5, but that just isn’t going to happen at this stage in baby’s life.  I can do some, but not all.  So I try to think creatively.  When the kids are awake and active — household chores!  But I work on projects at night, early in the morning and on the weekends when the kids are asleep or otherwise occupied with Dad.   It’s quiet.  It lets me think.  Yes, I do lose out on a little sleep, but not so much that I suffer.
  3. Email is a mom’s best friend
    I try to do most of my communication via email, when it doesn’t matter if you answer at 2am.  Also, clients can’t hear the baby crying through email.  It’s awesome!   If I have to take calls, I try to schedule them when there’s little chance the baby will wake and start crying.

It’s not easy having a baby and trying to run a business, let alone work.  But I’m managing.  In the end, I love both of my jobs (mom and business owner), and I can’t imagine giving up either.

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-01-09