A Little Educating


A few weeks ago, a mom at Lucy’s school stopped me to ask if I’d like to participate in a Writers and Illustrators Workshop for the 4th, 5th and 6th graders at our school. Me, being a total goof, responded, “Um, why? I mean, why me?” She very kindly said they were looking for a few online writers to fill out the schedule that was full of real life, big time authors and illustrators and she’d thought of me because of this here blog you’re reading right now. I was pretty dumbfounded, but agreed to do it! Honestly, up until the day of the workshop I was a little panicky because…HELLO! I’M NOT EVEN A REAL AUTHOR I’M NOT GOOD ENOUGH AHHHHHH LOTS OF SELF-ESTEEM ISSUES BUBBLING UP I NEED ICE CREAM!!!!! But I was lucky to have some sweet advisers that told me to get it together, smile, tell my story, and bring candy to bribe the kids if needed.

Turns out, I didn’t even need the candy! The kids were engaged, curious, great participants, and not one fell asleep while I was talking. I’m considering that a total and absolute win. I spoke with them about being a self-published author, and how that gives you so much freedom to create and grow as a writer. I talked about how I started and have managed this blog, from silly stuff like where the name “Crazybananas” came from (see the FAQs for that zinger) to real tips like “How to Use an Editorial Calendar.” I also talked about photography and design, and how starting a blog can help you find creative talents you never even knew you had.

I feel so lucky to have been asked to participate in such a fun event, and want to give a special shout out to all the kids who listened and asked questions. Thank you for not falling asleep! And a huge thank you to the organizers who took a chance on a silly blog author. You made me feel pretty darn special.

Progress, Not Perfection

I love today. #kc #kczoo

I wasn’t a very good blogger this week. I did not follow my (mostly defunct) editorial calendar. I didn’t post regularly, even though a few months back I cut down my regular schedule to make it more manageable. This week, even three posts wasn’t do-able. And it wasn’t because I was swamped or overbooked. The opposite, actually. This week was what some people might call “lazy.” I call it lovely.

In the last six months I’ve been battling some stuff offline, stuff that I am not yet ready to talk about on the internet where everyone and my mom can see, but stuff that has certainly affected what I have written here. In the past, when things have been challenging in my life, I have responded by doubling my efforts. If life was hard, I was going to do everything I could to make it as perfect as possible. That would surely fix things, right?


Well, turns out perfection isn’t actually something any one person can achieve. Who knew? Also, this apparently means when being “perfect” is your goal, you will be disappointed 100% of the time. Well, crap.

But I have been learning lots of new skills in the last couple of months, and at the top of the list is “how to cope with bad stuff.” It’s amazing what a new perspective and smart people giving you advice will do for your psyche. And one of the things that has been pointed out to me time and time again is that I must. SLOW. DOWN.

So this week I was lazy. And honestly, it was the first time I had a week like this without realizing what I was doing. In the past I’ve had to physically force myself to slow down, but this week it came pretty naturally. It’s amazing how much more I ENJOY my life when I’m not running around like a crazy person. I can step out of situations and think to myself, “Wow, today is really incredible.” It’s like I’m a Buddhist monk, y’all!!! Okay, maybe not that serene, but I’m miles ahead of where I was before. Now, when I’m tired, I sleep. I don’t push through it like some nut. If the kids are driving me crazy, I put on a movie and take a break. We all need it and SURPRISE, more screen time won’t kill them. Having a happy, healthy mom is more important.

Unfortunately, this calm, cool, aloof “me” isn’t really translating to a fabulous blogging “me.” But I think you will all be okay. Just don’t expect perfection, and you won’t be disappointed.

Re-Entering the Not So Real World


It’s August 1st, and I’m pretty excited about it. I’ll be honest, this year, for my annual July hiatus (aka Digital Sabbatical), I took this thing pretty darn seriously. Usually I spend my hiatus frantically trying to complete a list of goals that I set for myself prior to my break (read 5 books, learn Latin, whatever) so I can come back here on August 1st and be all amazing to you guys.

This year, I pretty much threw that plan out the window.

It’s been a weird year thus far, in ways I’m not quite ready to share yet and in ways I already have shared here. There have been some big changes in my life, and while they have been overwhelmingly positive, change is freaking hard. It’s not only hard for the person who is changing, but for everyone around them as well. When one person changes, there is a ripple effect that rolls throughout their family and friends, and all of that can be exhausting. For the first six months of 2013 I felt a bit like a hamster stuck in it’s wheel, just running and running, but never really going anywhere.

So this year when I decided to participate in my annual hiatus (which I skipped last year, I might add), I made the active choice to slow the heck down. To really take a hiatus. I don’t think I’d even touched my desktop computer until yesterday, when I figured I should probably check my email (For the 1,000+ that I missed in July…sorry about that! I’m sure I’ll catch up soon and you’ll be getting a reply. Or maybe you should just resend…). I really and truly stopped working, which is against every fiber of my natural being, but you know what? After the first week or so, it started to feel so very good. Here is what I accomplished this July:

– I read zero books cover to cover, but I did read at least one People Magazine dedicated to the Royal Baby.
– I ran a mile every day…except for those couple of days when I didn’t.
– I watched the first two seasons of Sherlock and many episodes of Keeping Up With the Kardashians.
– I rewatched a lot of shows I love, like the Mindy Project and Parks and Rec.
– I went on a couple of dates with my husband.
– I went to a county fair and rode two rides with my daughter that made her scream with joy and made me want to throw up.
– I took a few pictures. But mostly, I didn’t.
– I posted on Instagram.
– I ate ice cream. I also ate ice cream cake.
– I spent many days at the pool with the kids.
– I worked for my husband’s business, organizing quarterly meetings and other boring corporate stuff like that.
– I finally finished Lucy’s room remodel. Photos coming soon!
– I listened to records on my “new to me” record player.
– I took an obscene amount of naps. I NEVER nap. So this July I figured I should make up for lost time.
– I went to bed early.
– I woke up early…Tate and his bedtime routine are still killing me slowly.
– I spent a lot of time with family.
– I was the mediator for several friendly and not so friendly disagreements between siblings.
– I learned to meditate and actually did it. (I know, I can’t believe it either! Begone, hamster wheel brain!)

I’m sure I’m forgetting some things, but the main point is, I actually took a hiatus. I took a break. It was the best idea I’ve ever had.

Tomorrow we are heading out of town for one last summer road trip (look out Tennessee, here we come!) and then we have a few more days of freedom before school starts. I can’t believe summer is almost over. It makes me want to cry. This has been the best summer of my life so far, and it’s bittersweet to watch it come to a close.

It's a billion degrees on this concrete. #pool #shadow #summer #heatwave

Happy August, everybody! I’m glad to be back. Because really, although my break was fantastic, I sorta missed you guys.


(First photo taken with the Canon 60D, second photo via the iPhone, edited in Afterlight)

Stuff and Things, A Little Life Check In

Chapter 15 before bed...Harry sees You-Know-Who for the first time! #harrypotter #reading #bedtime

It’s now been a little over six months since I quit my full-time job to try a whole new adventure. I thought it might be a good time to check in and share a bit about how things are going and some of the challenges/successes we’ve had. I can safely say, the life we are leading now isn’t exactly what I envisioned when I left my boring, yet stable corporate job. But as you may have guessed, it is much, much better.

When we decided to make this big change for our family, I will admit, I was going on a million cylinders. I had no idea how I was going to pull off the manic schedule I had set for myself (spoiler alert: I didn’t), but I committed to working as hard as I could to do it all. This is what my life looked like six months ago:

– 20 hours per week working as the head of marketing for Trent’s IT business (half from home, half in the office)
– 10 hours per week working on this blog, including posting five times per week using an editorial calendar, working with sponsors/guests, managing my advertising host, social media, projects with other websites and blog networking
– 5 to 10 hours per week doing photography and managing details of my photography business
– 5 hours per week working as the Research Editor for the website Design for MiniKind
– 2 hours (plus or minus) per week as a contributor to the Sweet Lemon Magazine blog
– Lucy in school five days a week, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
– Tate in daycare two days a week, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The math is a little scary. 47 hours of work per week, with 12 hours of week of childcare for my kids, which leaves 35 hours of work per week that I need to pack in to whatever free time I had remaining.

It didn’t go so well.

It got to a point where I would put the kids down for bed and would immediately rush to the computer, desperate to get everything done and meet all my deadlines. I was only sleeping a couple of hours per night on the regular, so my work got sloppier as I continued to slog through everything. By mid-March I was completely burned out. We had made this change so I could be with the kids more, and yet the time I spent with them was harried and miserable. I was always exhausted, stressed and never living in the moment. It wasn’t ideal.

It was around that time that I had lunch with another local blogger I had met at Alt Summit in January, and she mentioned to me I could probably cut down on the weekly posts. That sounded like a start, so I reduced my weekly posts from five to three. As time went on, I relaxed my editorial calendar, and started posting more like I did a few years ago, when I had a story to tell. There is still some sponsored content, and other items that must go up on a deadline, but for the most part, I completely ditched my blogging schedule. Now I usually sit down on Sunday evenings, think about what I will post that week and set up a loose outline so I don’t feel like I have to start from scratch. Many of my photos are only mildly edited, and I stopped trying to create designs that were so perfect all the time. Sure, the site isn’t exactly Pinterest candy anymore, but that’s okay. It was worth the trade.

I also cut WAY down on the social media portion of blogging. Twitter, which used to be my number one platform, is mostly used for quick updates these days. I rarely network there because it’s a time suck and that’s just time I don’t have the luxury of spending there. Ditto with my Facebook page. I am still really into Instagram, so you can find me there most days, but I have cut down on the “social” part and mostly just use it to record my life as I live it. Pinterest, poor Pinterest, is pretty much gone from my day. I’ll still get on about once a week to keep my items updated and poke around, but I limit my time and try to be mindful of when I’ve been on for a while.

I read less blogs, which is sort of a bummer, but was definitely necessary. I started using Feedly (RIP Google Reader) to keep up on the websites I love and it’s worked out pretty well. I have noticed the trend of blogging less has seemed to spread throughout the blogosphere, so I don’t feel too far behind, as many other bloggers aren’t updating as often as they once did. I find myself much more drawn to personal blogs, as opposed to the design/product/photography blogs I used to read. I like reading people’s stories and hearing something I can relate to, and the blogs I’m still reading reflect that.

As far as my non-Crazybananas work, I still am working 20 hours per week as the head of marketing for Trent’s IT company. I’m loving the work we are doing there and feel like it’s making a real difference. The photography has slowed down exponentially since the end of my Go Mighty project in March. There are some big things in the works for that project, but they won’t get going again until around September, so I’m enjoying a little break. I have done a handful of personal shoots, but I’ve kept that number quite low on purpose, and mostly have only been doing shoots for close friends or family. In early June, I resigned as Research Editor for Design for MiniKind, which was a sad, but good move for me. While I enjoyed working with Erin more than anything, we both felt we couldn’t put in the amount of time / energy needed to make the work stand up to the level we wanted, so it made sense to amicably move on. I feel so lucky to have gotten to know Erin and will always be grateful for the opportunity she gave me. I also resigned from blogging for Sweet Lemon Magazine. But that was because I was chosen to be a contributor to the magazine itself (not just the blog) and I wanted to focus on that. My first article can be found in the last issue, and another fun DIY will be in the next issue (out soon!).

As for my life with the kids…it’s pretty sweet. Now that it’s summer, I have even less child care, but so far we’ve fared okay. I work when Tate naps, and still at night too, and we spend the rest of the time out having adventures or reading Harry Potter. I have worked more sleep time in to my schedule, which has made for a much happier and more patient mama. I am a classic over-achiever and perfectionist, so taking the time to step back has been really difficult for me, but the wealth of positivity that has surrounded me lately has proven that I’m making the right choice. Sometimes less is more.

Last year, in my Path Finder course, we chose a word that would be our “Word of the Year.” Last year, my word was “DISCOVER.” I so badly wanted to find out who I was and what my purpose was in this life. I was miserable in my career and was worried I’d never find my way out. I was going to discover my passions and make big changes. And I did.

This year I chose a new word. Granted, I didn’t do it until recently, but I think it will carry me throughout the next 12 months. This year, my word is “ENOUGH.” I am tired of feeling like I’m in a hamster wheel, constantly trying to do and be everything to everyone. Enough. I can’t post five times per week anymore and I can’t keep taking on new jobs. What I have on my plate now is enough. I cannot be perfect. I am enough. My work is enough. My life is enough.

And this post? It’s enough.

Inspired By…Erin Loechner of Design for Mankind + Design for MiniKind

Oh, you guys, I am so, so excited today! Today is the first installment of what I hope (fingers crossed) will be a regular series here on the blog, “Inspired By…” This series will cover people from all walks of life that are doing cool things out in the Universe and inspiring me with their gumption and all around awesomeness. Hopefully these interviews will also inspire you to try a new way of doing something or possibly to try something new altogether!

Today’s post features one of my favorite people on the Internet, Erin Loechner. You may have heard Erin’s name around here before, and that’s because I work as Erin’s research editor on her child-focused website “Design for MiniKind.” Erin is also the author of the award-winning website “Design for Mankind” and has been featured on the Huffington Post, Apartment Therapy, HGTV, and Lucky and Glamour Magazines. She’s pretty incredible, is what I’m saying, and she was kind enough to answer some questions for me about her workflow, priorities, balancing life with new motherhood and how “slow blogging” changed her perspective. Thanks Erin!!!


Last year you had your first child, your daughter Bee. How have the demands on your time changed since her birth? Has your work schedule changed dramatically? Were you prepared for the change?
Oh, the demands of motherhood. You know, I’m only nine months into this gig, so I don’t know that I have a lot of really sage advice on this subject. But, I do know that I value my time much more than I ever did pre-Bee. And it’s not because there’s less of it, really. It’s just that, suddenly, there’s this urge to create something meaningful and honest and authentic – something that I’ll feel proud of. Something that I feel will justify the time spent away from my family and this beautiful new creation. I know it all sounds so very dramatic, but it’s true. I never want Bee to look at my work and think, “This was more important than me?” Perhaps even more so, I never want to look back on my own work and ask that same question.

So I suppose the answer isn’t that my schedule has changed as much as the work itself has. My priorities and yes’s and commitments look very different now – but I think for the better. I hope for the better.

It’s a change in myself I didn’t anticipate. I’d assumed that new motherhood would force me to become more efficient and flexible and task-oriented, and although it has to some degree, it’s also done the opposite: I’m becoming more thoughtful and engaged and slow-paced. I’m quite liking the change.

What does a normal day look like for you? Is there a “normal” day? How much flexibility do you allow in your schedule from day to day?
I’m a creature of habit, so I do have a “normal” workday. This is a pretty clear picture of how it works around our house during the week (minus Bee’s morning nap because, sadly, she’s dropped it already!), but on weekends – all bets are off!

I do try really hard to be flexible and take advantage of the fact that my job is mobile and most deadlines are self-imposed. Today was beautiful outside, so I ditched the to do list and headed to the zoo! I’m a pretty dedicated worker bee, so it feels nice to give myself the day off every now and then (even though I generally end up making up for it with a late night!).

What tools do you use to make your workday more efficient? Are there any applications or web-based tools that allow you to organize your life a bit better?
I’m a big fan of the traditional to do list on paper, but here are a few of the tools and techniques I love, love, love.

You’re a proponent of the “slow blogging” movement. Can you explain what that is? How has living that philosophy changed your work and home life?
Sure! Essentially, I’m doing my best to turn the inspiration faucet down a bit. I love that my work is so heavily rooted in visual culture, but I think that with the rise of Pinterest and various social bookmarking tools, we’re losing an essential element to creativity: the story. I’ve always identified with writing as my first love, so I’ve been focusing on sharing the details and struggles and stories of today’s creative projects, rather than simply sharing an image and moving on to the next bigger, better thing. It’s a challenge to re-train myself to think deeper and write with more meaning, but I’m really enjoying it.

The added benefit, of course, is that the philosophy is trickling into other areas of my life. I’m becoming a slower, more thoughtful responder in conversations and I’m seeking out more purpose and intention in my own creative work. It’s been a welcome change.

What advice would you give to another working mom who is trying to figure out this work/life thing? What advice was given to you that you found helpful? What about advice that missed the mark?
The best advice I can give is to take a moment, breathe deeply and re-list your priorities. They’ll likely look a lot different than they did pre-baby, so write them down (and, if you’re like me, limiting them to just three might help. I tend to get overwhelmed easily!). My priorities are listed here, and I can’t put into words how much the act of listing them helped to navigate this whole work/life balance thing. I’m a big proponent of setting realistic expectations and placing value on things that matter to you (that might not matter to other women). It’s the reason I have dust bunnies that scatter my floor, but always make time to take long, leisurely walks with Bee.

In terms of advice I’ve received, the most helpful thought was when a girlfriend shared that what you do first thing in the morning sets the tone for the rest of the day (so choose it wisely!). Luckily enough, my schedule allows for lots of family time in the morning, and I feel so grateful that I get to start my day with the priority that matters most in my life. I often look back and remember those mornings where I hit the ground running, answering emails and drafting articles until midnight. It was a productive time, yes, but not a time I remember accomplishing things that truly mattered in the long run.

And you know, I haven’t really been given a lot of advice that’s missed the mark. Advice is little more than one woman’s perspective, and I think we can all learn something from each other, even if it doesn’t particularly resonate with us at the time. Maybe it’s the writer in me, but I’ve never been one to turn down the opportunity to listen to another woman’s story.

*Photo Credit : Woodnote Photography*

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