Dream House

After (finally) updating my Wild Raccoon Farm blog, I started thinking about my ‘ideal home.’ The Wild Raccoon explores a form of community living that I would love to participate in, but finding an intentional community can be extremely difficult. It’s the kind of thing that potentially borders on impossible for people who don’t already have a network of friends and family who also want to live like that.

This begs the question – what else? What is the alternative near-perfect option? I’ve started a Pinterest board called Homes and Gardens, where I pin pictures of living spaces. There’s a lot of rustic cabins, Hobbit houses, fairy houses, travel trailer, stone garden sidewalks, reading nooks and similarly rustic-yet-cozy things featured there.

But designing the ‘perfect house’ requires a focus on function over design. How will the space be used? What elements are most important to the lifestyle of the owner?

Personally, I keep coming back to a very old fashioned family business and home combination. This model has become near-obsolete and zoning laws in the United States make finding, buying and maintaining the commercial/residential status difficult. Legalities aside, I just love the idea of owning a house with a storefront, running a business or office out of the store and living above or behind the shop.

Of course, there has to be a large backyard for pets, a garden and recreational activities. A little hobby farm would be even better. And then there’s those below ground homes with grass roofs, which are wonderful for both heating/cooling and extra garden space.

Interestingly enough, my dream home does not have a swimming pool. I love to swim, but every time I see a house with an in-ground pool I start wondering what it would cost to fill it in and put the land to better use. A beach, lake or swimming hole (provided by nature) are en entirely different matter.

I guess that’s what makes designing a dream home both fun and challenging – how do you incorporate everything?

A Terrible Mistake – Part 3

A few weeks ago, I posted about making a logo mistake. It’s one of those big mistakes that got out into the virtual world and stayed there. No changing it. No hiding it. It was front in center and available to the everyone. As I mentioned in my first posting, there’s only one way to handle such a thing – 1) admit to it, 2) fix it and 3) move on.

The logo is now fixed, so it’s time for step three – moving on.

In business, simply correcting an error and continuing with life-as-usual is not enough. It’s important to evaluate the situation and, hopefully, learn something from the experience. In my case, the process of correcting the logo and replacing it online led to many learning-moments, here are a few examples:

  1. Time is short but quality cannot be sacrificed: Like most people, I have a full-time job, private hobbies/ambitions and side-work that generates a small secondary income. The objective is to increase this secondary income. The challenge is fitting it into my already very busy life. The spelling error in the logo was a direct result of my tendency to multitask at home. However, no one can make dinner, answer email, throw in a load of laundry and appropriately evaluate a logo all at the same time. There can be no excuses and no cutting corners. Time for working the second job must be set aside and appropriately used. Time for make dinner and participating in ‘regular life’ must be managed in the same manner. A time for work and a time for life. The result? Better quality in both work and home living experiences.
  2. Time managed marketing: While updating WildRaccoonPress.com, I noticed many other little things that I’d never gotten around to doing. This was the perfect opportunity to revise the website and address some basic marketing issues. For example, I started posting all T-Shirts/Gifts and Resale items to Pinterest on the advice of several books and webinars (many months ago); and, while revising my website, I discovered that Pinterest provides a code-generation tool that allows a member to post a collection to a website. This allowed me to create an auto-updated image-based selection of recently-created t-shirts and postcards. Clicking on the Pinterest widget take the user to Pinterest, and all items featured on Pinterest are hot-linked to the websites where the items can be purchased (e.g.: CafePress and Zazzle). As it turns out, Etsy provides the same service, with images from my store and hotlinks directly to the items available for sale. No manual updates to my website and easy navigation for potential customers!
  3. Selective and targeted work: Working smarter, not harder, is a phrase that has become both worn out and (frankly) annoying. My frustration with the phrase stems primarily from the number of people who use ‘working smarter’ as an excuse for tricking and/or coercing other people into doing their job for them. Personally, I consider this unacceptable because I do not condone laziness or lack of respect for coworkers and colleagues. That said, my own work habits needed some modification. In my case, working smarter consisted of choosing where my time would be spent. Some of my projects are for-fun hobbies and some are for money. The trick was identifying where the income was being generated and carving out an appropriate amount of time for my primary goals, which (in turn) required some clarification. This is a process and it’s still being developed, but I am already seeing an improvement, so it’s worth the time and energy.

There are many other little things that were learned along the way, but these were the big changes. If you are a multi-job-holding not-enough-hours-in-the-day multitasking employee and/or entrepreneur, these challenges and lessons may ring true for you too.

Becoming a Real Writer

Like many bibliophile and bookworms, I have been wanting to write a book for as long as I can remember.

When I was a kid, before I was able to read, write or even recognize letters, I made my mother a book. It was a folded piece of paper covered in drawings. While my mother accepted the gift in the same manner that she accepted all arts-and-crafts projects (like most parents). What I remember most clearly about this moment was my own inability to get across the importance of this act – I wanted to make a book. A real book.

My career has involved writing professionally, in some form or another, since the early 90s. I am particularly skilled at technical writing and report development, which is about as far removed from fiction (or anything fun to read) as a human being can possibly get.

As much as I enjoy searching out information, verifying facts, identifying needs and creating documents that present the appropriate data in a useful and accessible manner, a part of me still wants to be a writer. And, like most aspiring writers, to my mind being a writer…a real writer…means writing fiction.

I don’t often make regular original postings to this blog because my life is busy and I don’t have time to really sit down and write (edit) a proper post on a consistent schedule. Since I spend every moment on the bus, and during my lunch hour, reading; I decided to fill this blog with quotes. Do you want to know who I am? What I’m about? What I’m interested in? Take a look at these topics, authors and quotes. It works.

Yet, I’m not spending enough time on creative activities. I can’t seem to carve out moments to focus on music and fiction, and I’m not willing to reduce my workouts at the YMCA or my time spent with family. Work and commute time are inflexible – they are what they are (as everyone knows). So, the creative stuff just wasn’t happening.

Until now.

There are a few projects I have been slowly chipping away at. Recently, I spent two weeks making them top priority (read: temporarily reduced time at the gym and early/late nights). One of the results is the Wild Raccoon Farm blog.

Wild Raccoon Farm is a work of wishful fiction, which is more of a writing technique than a genre. It is both a networking tool, created for the purposes of finding other writers interested in Intentional Communities, and a very scheduled fiction-writing exercise. It is updated every Wednesday and Saturday.

Thus far, this project has worked out. I have been able to find time to write and I have had plenty of ideas to write about. It feels good to dive into fiction again. In fact, I feel like the creative part of my personality is sighing with relief and uttering a heartfelt “Finally!”

Whatever the outcome, it feels right and I guess that’s the most important part of this project and the experiences that come with it.

Writers Wanted at the Wild Raccoon Farm

I have launched a fiction blog!

Actually, it’s Wishful Fiction blog and a community building/networking tool. If you have an interest in, or a blog about, fiction, Wishful Fiction, intentional communities or farming, I invite you to connect with me on Wild Raccoon Farm.

Most recent posting:

Orchard Air and Errant Children.