Building a Blogging Habit



Three songs that are important to me:


John Denver’s “Take me Home, Country Roads”.

Road trips to Gramma’s. Or the Lake. Or anywhere really. My family liked to sing in the car. We all did. We weren’t bad either! All of us kids have made singing a part of our lives, from church to school to puttin’ it out their during Karaoke at the bowling alley or VFW. John Denver’s songs were always great to sing to…some sweet harmony…easy range…simple lyrics. Feel good music. Reminds me of home and all the adventures we used to go on.


Madonna’s “Burnin’ Up”.

1985. Madison, WI. Moving from the dorm into a sublet apartment on the third floor of an old three-story house on E. Johnson. There are yards of fabric pinned to the ceiling. Three of us girls moved in for the summer. Jimmy was the only permanent resident left over from the academic year. He’s gay and he wears O rings up and down one arm. He loves Madonna. And so do I. All of our roommate angst disappears when we put on Madonna. We dance like crazy. This is my favorite Madonna. Lucky Star. Borderline. Holiday. But Burning Up is the song that encapsulates this summer. My boyfriend, now husband, is not a Madonna fan, so I can blast her when I’m with Jimmy. And there’s no threat. I felt free. Sexy. Excited.


Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb”.

I was never a Pink Floyd fan in high school. When I got to Madison and lived at Sellery Hall Dormitory, I met Dan Carlson. Pink Floyd was probably only second to Led Zeppelin in his music collection. When we first started dating, we would spend a lot of time staring into each other’s eyes, listening to The Wall. When I think of this now, it makes me smile. This song makes me physically relax. It reminds me, too, of the summer after freshman year, when we had to part ways…him off to the Twin Cities and me back to Racine. That was the hardest summer of my life. I still have the boom box my Dad bought me after he picked me up from the dorm. The cassette player doesn’t work anymore, but it does include the port to plug in my iPhone. Now whenever I want to listen to The Wall, I can find it on my iPhone or Dan’s iPad. When I listen to it, I still feel quiet, peaceful, numb.

Voyageur’s National Park, one of my favorite places to visit



The drive is long but worth it. We unpack the truck and load our things into the cabin. It’s cozy but has everything we need…and nothing more…for the next five days.

The air is clear and cool. It’s the beginning of September, so nights can get downright cold; one year we had planned to camp on an island the entire week, but temperatures were predicted to be in the 20s at night, so we stayed in the hotel instead.

Once the food is unpacked into the fridge, we rig our fishing poles and consider how we’re dressed. We grab a light sweatshirt and a windbreaker/raincoat, a hat and gloves, and we’re on our way.

The boat is stocked with bait, a net, paddles (that will hopefully not be needed), and a small cooler of drinks and snacks. The resort owner confirms we have a full tank of gas; we have our GPS; we’re on our way to explore the open spaces and cozy coves of Voyageur’s National Park, one of my favorite places to visit. The small bays are filled with cattails and lily pads. Eagles soar overhead and occasionally dive for fish, but mostly circle above the trees on the islands.

I don’t really care if I catch a fish, although it’s always more fun if I do. I love the sound of the water lapping against the boat, the occasional fellow fisherman racing past to find the right spot, the heat of the sun on my face, the ice cold beverages, the feeling of wide open space and freedom from “busy-ness”.

Starting my blog challenge



blogging university class of june 2014

Here it is. Day one of my blogging. Go.

The twist on today’s challenge is that I have to post it to my blog. So when they say, ‘just write and don’t stop until your 20 minutes is up’, I can’t write about just anything. It has to be “clean” and be of some value to anyone who may read it, right?

I could talk about how developing WordPress sites has opened up a whole new world for me. Taking a couple online classes and donating my time on several sites so I don’t get rusty has definitely helped. I’ve picked up a couple of jobs as a result of being able to create WordPress sites. A year ago, I wouldn’t have been able to say that. Because of my  WordPress skills, companies have hired me to do their logo / brand creation AND their website. I think I missed out on work a year ago because I couldn’t do WordPress sites. I’m a happy camper.

But doing WordPress sites has also created new challenges: how am I going to manage the sites I create? This concept was posed to me by a fellow designer just a few weeks ago: ‘You’re really doing the WordPress thing? How are you going to manage all the sites you design?’ I have to admit I panicked. But then I did some research and found out there are companies out there who DO that! So I can design to my heart’s content, then have someone else do the technical stuff. Like what happens when you update a theme only to have your customizations over-ridden? Gulp?! You create a child theme. And some designers don’t update their WordPress or themes because of this. If you have sites with minimal functionality, or, functionality that you’re happy with, why do you NEED to update?

I’m going to WordCamp Milwaukee in July. I’m going to take a list of dumb questions to ask the WordCamp experts. Like anything new, it’s scary. I am telling people I can do websites. But what I need to be saying is I can do websites as long as they’re in WordPress, and you, client,  take ownership of the domain, hosting, technical management, of the site. That actually hasn’t been as difficult as I thought it might be. So I’m going to keep talking about the fact that I design WordPress sites and hope that people listen…and tell other people.

Why I started doing websites at all was because I felt like I was stagnant. Yes, the world needs print designers; however, if they can get someone who can create their logo AND their website, they’re going to do that rather than hire one person to do the logo and another to do the website. I was definitely missing out. I worried that I’d have to go back to school for years to get these skills. Is ours the only field where kids coming out of school are better skilled than us seasoned veterans?! Probably not, but what they don’t have anyway is the years of experience I have in working with customers, honing my creative skills, anticipating the needs of my clients, working with vendors, disciplining myself to plan, execute, revise, repeat.

Kids coming right out of school may have the most current set of technical skills, but they don’t understand the sometimes unexplainable personalities of clients: the client who calls at 5:00 today and needs something…yet tonight…or first thing in the morning; the client that tweaks something 14 times only to return to the original concept (I know, sometimes you have to go through the motions to know you had it right the first time…much like photography); the client that questions how long it took to do something…’did it really take that long?’; the client that has you quote projects every month or so, only to never award you a job…or rarely award you a job. All of these scenarios take patience. And thankfully, after years of doing this, most of my clients give me plenty of time do work on projects; they apologize for looking at 14 versions of something, but they pay me for it; they respect that it DOES take a certain amount of time to do something, and they trust me because I record every task and amount of time it takes; they stopped asking me how much something is going to cost because they like working with me, and they know I’m fair.