Don’t Be Afraid To Use Your Voice

This is Day 5 of my 31 Days of August Awesomeness Blog Challenge. Want to know more? Check out the inaugural post here.

On Day 3 of my 31 Days of August Awesomeness challenge, I provided a list of some of Minnesota’s upcoming fairs and festivals. One in particular I was quite excited about: the MN Food Truck Fair. 2012 is its inaugural year, and it sounded like an extremely cool concept: downtown Minneapolis, a bunch of food trucks, a bunch of breweries, some live music and all around fun-ness.

Well, what sounds good on paper doesn’t always translate to good in real life. Let me just say that I am utterly thankful that I purchased discount tickets for this event, because if I would have paid full-price I’d probably be a bit ballistic right now.

The event was scheduled from 12pm-5:30pm. From what I heard, the doors didn’t open until 12:30pm. When we got there at 1:30pm, there was a very long line of people waiting to get in. Not entirely unexpected, but we bought VIP tickets and thought that would help us jump some of the line.

Nope.

30 minutes later we finally enter the fenced in area. Imagine a sea of people standing in line after line after line, and you’ll start to get an idea of what we were looking at. We decided to go grab a beer first (our VIP tickets gave us access to unlimited beer samples). We tried to scout out some of the trucks, but it was impossible to get close enough to see the menu because of the length of the line.

20 minutes later we were double fisting 4 oz. beer samples. We decided to brave a line for a free juicy lucy. We spent about 5 minutes tracking the line which bobbed and weaved around the other lines to finally arrive at the back of the line. And then we waited.

And waited.

And waited.

After 20 minutes, we had moved about 10 feet. By that time, we had had enough. We were hungry and cranky, and in the midst of 5000 people (the # of ticket sales according to fair rumors) we decided to cut our losses and leave.

I went out and found the MN Food Truck Fair’s Facebook page. It was blowing up with comments. It’s still blowing up with comments.  Not only were people complaining about the length of the lines, but more recent reports said that the trucks were running out of food and the trashcans were full and overflowing (gross!). Almost every single one said that they are planning to ask for a refund.

Including me.

It made me feel just a tad bit better knowing that my husband and I were not the only ones who felt like we got a bit scammed. The people are speaking, and I’d say that its a safe assumption that if this event happens again next year, it’s going to be totally different. This is a PR disaster, and my guess is that whatever money they made they are going to lose a fairly significant chunk issuing refunds (which in all good conscience they should).

Consumers are savvy these days. If they don’t like something they are going to speak up. I’ve used Facebook and Twitter several times to lodge a complaint, and I have to say that when I do, I almost always get a response and am taken care of. That’s pretty cool. Social media has taken down the walls between us and gives us a pretty big stage to be able to shout to the world when we’re not happy.

Social media, when used properly, is pretty awesome. So even though I’m unhappy right now, my frown is turned upside down simply because I feel like I was able to tell someone about it, and hopefully my issue will be resolved. If not, at least I was able to commiserate with about 2000+ other people. 🙂

I almost feel bad for the MN Food Truck Fair event coordinators. Almost.

(Photo credit: Identity Photogr@phy)

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Taking Advantage of Lazy Days

This is Day 4 of my 31 Days of August Awesomeness Blog Challenge. Want to know more? Check out the inaugural post here.

Today is Saturday, and you know what? I woke up late with nothing to do. Now that’s not to say that I didn’t have an agenda in mind of things that I wanted to accomplish, but there wasn’t a single place that I needed to be today unless I chose to be there.

These kinds of days are bliss.

It’s kind of easy to zoom through lazy days and forget to appreciate that they are dabbled in amongst the chaos that is our normal busy day lives, isn’t it? When our game piece lands on a lazy day, I think the most common reaction is to go into some kind of schedule paralysis and turn the dial the complete opposite direction “I must get the 5 bazillion things on my to-do list that I never look at done before 11:59pm when my pumpkin disappears!

Ok, that’s a little extreme, but I think you know what I mean. We don’t enjoy the fact that our schedule and our time are our own. So we overcompensate. What that does is ensure that our brains and bodies aren’t given any kind of break from the normal day stress. We still click away to a beat that has stopped, but we’ll know will be picked up again in just another day or so.

No wonder I’m always exhausted!

As I look into August, I see these beautiful glimmers of light on the calendar like today, and I am making a promise to myself to appreciate and enjoy them to the fullest. That definitely doesn’t mean that I plan to do nothing with them. But I am going to be very intentional about how I chose to spend my time. I don’t see any downside in doing that.

Today’s “schedule”? I slept in later than I have in forever, and I didn’t beat myself up about it. I’m doing three planned writing sprints to progress my current WIP (the sequel to Heiress of Lies), but I’ve already taken a nap in-between. I’m sitting at my local coffee shop enjoying a caffeinated beverage. Tonight I’m going to wrap up by watching the Olympics and probably Underworld Awakenings. (yea yea, I’ve heard it’s horrible but I’m going into it with low expectations.)

I feel relaxed and happy. Which is exactly what I love and appreciate about my lazy days.

(Photo credit Retroeric)

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There’s Nothing Quite Like A Day At The Fair…

This is Day 3 of my 31 Days of August Awesomeness Blog Challenge. Want to know more? Check out the inaugural post here.

August brings out one of my favorite seasons in Minnesota: Fair/Festival season. It can be a little bit overwhelming actually. As I was looking at the calendar and thinking about what I absolutely LOVED about some of these events, it always comes down to 2 things: food and shopping. (Probably not a big surprise.)

Here’s a few of my favorites with some fun facts for you. Double bonus points for you if you live in Minnesota and can share a fun fact of your own!

Minnesota State Fair – better known as the “Great Minnesota-Get-Together”. 1.8 million people convene in St. Paul during the 12 days leading up to Labor Day. The amount of food on a stick is obscene and the people watching is even better. 🙂

Minnesota Renaissance Festival– Did you know that Minnesota hosts the largest Renaissance Festival in the country? There’s definitely a food component that makes this one of my favorites, but I go for the shopping. I can find unique gifts and baubles that come from artisans who travel here from all over the country. Yes- period attire is not only welcomed, but encouraged.

Uptown Art Fair – This event is second in statewide attendance only to the above mentioned Minnesota State Fair. There’s art, food, and entertainment in abundance. This is another favorite place of mine to find one-of-a-kind treasures.

MN Food Truck Fair – 2012 is the first year for this fair, and I have to say, I’m pretty excited about it. One afternoon, 14 food trucks, and 25 breweries. I have a feeling I’d better write Sunday’s post early.

If you happen to live in Minnesota, lucky you!!  If you don’t, I’ll take pictures for ya. 😉

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Need a Kick in the Productivity Pants? Try Journaling

 This is Day 2 of my 31 Days of August Awesomeness posts. Click here for how it all started…

 Ask anyone who has known me for any length of time, and they will confirm what I am about to tell you: I am a lifelong procrastinator.  It is a crippling habit when paired with my other “p” weakness: perfectionism. What do you get accomplished when you are a perfectionist procrastinator?

Nothing.

I have had a bazillion false starts in my writing career. That’s why I spent 7 years working on the Edge of Shadows manuscript. That’s right: 7 YEARS! I wrote it, I edited it, I changed it, I got brave in 2009 and gave it to a bunch of beta readers, I edited it some more based on their feedback, I lost that version (whole other story), then I tweaked, moaned, and edited some more. It still wasn’t right. I felt like I still wasn’t ready, and so I shoved it away for another day.

Now that easily could have been the end of my story. Aspiring writer finds reality and trudges back to day job content to live out the rest of her life. 

Then quite by accident, I stumbled across a reference to a book on a writing blog called The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. If you are an artist, not even a writer but any kind of creator of artistic work, and you are stuck, you must run (don’t walk!) to Amazon and buy this book. I’m absolutely serious- the book will change your life.

I’ll wait.

The single most important habit that book taught me, and a habit I continue today is to journal. I journal three long-handed pages almost everyday. I started the self-paced The Artist’s Way course in October 2011, and as you can see by the picture at the top of this post, I’m on my 5th journal.

Why do I consider this course and this habit life-changing? I got out of my own way.

Consider this. Prior to October 2011, I had written two 50,000 word manuscript drafts which were both collecting dust in a drawer. Fast forward ten months. One of those manuscripts I published (Edge of Shadows), and then I’ve written and published 4 more. Ageless is written and with my editor, so that’s really 4 1/2 by my count. And I’m well underway on the next book.

My writing has been taken to a whole new level. I’m not afraid to take risks. I’ve had my share of failures and lessons learned, but that is far outweighed by the massive burst of energy and productivity that I’m leveraging on a daily basis.

It all starts with my journaling. In it, I allow myself to be whiny. I allow myself to be self-deprecating and get down on myself. I nit-pick dumb things I’ve done. But I also plan out what I want to get accomplished each day. I pat myself on the back for every victory. And I have a fabulous record of my writing journey. I get shivers thinking about being able to come back and read my first entry in my first journal five or ten years from now.

It’s heady stuff, powerful stuff. And it’s addictive.

Journaling has opened up my mind and jumpstarted my productivity. It’s one of my awesome productivity secrets, and I’m delighted to be sharing it with you.

By the way, you may be thinking “Well sure, Cege, you’re a writer so journaling is easy for you.” I may have written in a diary a couple of times when I was a teenager, but this kind of structured writing has never been part of my writing routine. Finding the time and sticking with it was a challenge. But in the end, it became part of my day and it’s something I look forward to.

So if you are looking for a way to shake up your routine and find massive loads of inspiration? Try journaling. Plus, it’s a great excuse to go shopping at your local bookstore. 🙂

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31 Days of August Awesomeness: Day 1 (Blogging Challenge)

I woke up at 6am this morning (way before my alarm went off btw) and my first through was “Whoa- it’s August“.  My second thought? “That’s awesome!”

I’m doing a ton of really fun things in August in both my business/writing life and in my personal life. I feel like I have 31 days coming up that are just chock full of excitement and goodness. So naturally I decided that I should share these amazing things with all of you.

It’s my 31 Days of August Awesomeness blogging challenge. Right now the only person involved in it is… me. But that’s cool. There are lots of things that I already have written down to talk about, and I will be talking about, for the next 31 days. Books, movies, music, current events, vacations, writing- I’ll be covering it all.

I even gave myself a Twitter hashtag: #30DAA.

If you are feeling similarly excited about what’s happening for you in August, and would like to join me, there’s just a few simple rules:

  1. Commit to try to post every day in August.
  2. Post something AWESOME and share some details around it. If you can come up with 31 responses to “What’s awesome in your life right now?” then you have all you need to play.
  3. Share your post on Twitter using the #30DAA hashtag.

That’s it! Share the smiles. Share the awesomeness! And who knows, what you post may make someone else’s day- which at the end of the day is an awesome accomplishment.

Happy August!!

(photo credit Howdy, I’m H. Michael Karshis’)

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