Emergency preparedness was something I had checked off my To-Do list five years ago.  Thanks to a neighborhood workshop, I had stocked up on bottled water and power bars and other supplies and hadn’t thought about it again in a long while.  Fortunately, there hadn’t been an emergency and we didn’t really need to think about it, right?

And yet, when the need for a flashlight arises, I begin to wonder, are we really ready?  For example, when my husband turned off the power to install a lighting fixture, where were our flashlights?  My son found the one by his bed but it was just a penlight.  We found a lantern in the camping supplies but the battery was dead.  As it happened, our neighbors stopped by to say hello and their six-year-old daughter had a flashlight in her pink power purse!  We were grateful to borrow it to finish the job and get our power turned back on.

The real light bulb moment for me was that emergency preparedness is a continual process, not just a one-time thing.  And for really getting ready for an emergency, I was fortunate to have some help from another friend, Tina Costa Delaney, a personal concierge with a package, a TLCD Concierge Emergency Kit. NERT-certified (NERT is the Neighborhood Emergency Response Team trained by the fire department), Tina not only knows what you need but offers the service of getting it for you.  Tina helped us inventory what we had on hand and got us to organize it all in one place where we could find it when we need it.  She also got us to think about what we would really need to eat as a family of three over the course of three days (powerbars alone weren’t going to cut it) and to provide supplies for our pets.

Then she shopped for the supplies that we didn’t have and found us the best flashlight ever (a 3in1  Tripod flashlight, just right for our family of 3) and stocked us up on extra batteries so we will be prepared.  And that bottled water from 5 years ago had expired so we had to re-stock that too. Tina’s service includes reminders…when the batteries need to be checked, when the expiration date on the food needs to be checked, when the fire extinguisher needs to be recharged…all the things you don’t want to think about when there’s a need for the emergency supplies.

The hardest part of the emergency supply preparation wasn’t a supply, it was a plan.  For the first time, my family talked about where we would meet after an emergency and who we should call out-of-state if something should happen.  It got us talking to our son’s school about their emergency plan because something could happen while we are away from home and our emergency supplies.

Again, I am grateful for the help from a friend!  Her guidance help me prioritize emergency preparedness, something I knew we needed to do but didn’t know how to do efficiently and couldn’t find the time to do on my own.  Best of all, now I know where my flashlight is and have working batteries even!  How’s that for ready for anything?

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In honor of Labor Day, here are my favorite job-hunting resources:

1. For figuring out what it is you are looking for, I love Creating a Life Worth Living by Carol Lloyd.  By focussing on your life priorities, you can learn how your job fits into the big picture, especially if you are creatively-inclined.

2. To help structure the job search process and prioritize strategies that work best (networking) over busy work (sending out resumes), I love Get Hired Now! by C.J. Hayden and Frank Traditi.

3. For some great examples of what you can do on your resume to package your experience, take a look at Expert Resumes for Managers and Executives by Wendy S. Enelow and Louise M. Kursmark.

4. For support and connecting with great resources, I recommend the Bay Area Career Center. I can’t recommend The Monday Night Job Club hosted by career counselor Hilary Romanoff highly enough!

5. Best advice ever from the job club (opposite of what you’ll find online about looking for a job in a tough economy): Don’t try to job-hunt like it’s your full-time job.  Get out there and see your friends over coffee or lunch and tell everyone what you are looking for, even if it’s fun and doesn’t feel like the pain of rewriting your resume to respond to a craigslist post.

6. I love/hate craigslist job postings.  It’s like shopping in a superstore.  It works if you really know what you want, and you get in and then out.  Otherwise, there are just too many interesting things to look at and consider and the next thing you know you’ve spent a whole day online, “looking” for a job.  Ouch.  That said, I did discover my current position on craigslist!

7. Second best tip courtesy of job club: Make a table of the job description you are considering.  Put what the employer is looking for in the left column and what specifically from your experience fills their need in the right column.  Use the table as a reference when you tailor your resume and cover letter to apply for the job.  It’s also a great study guide for the interview and will remind you at every stage that it’s not about you, it’s about their business needs.

8. Use social networking tools (LinkedIn and Facebook) to let others know that you are looking and what you are looking for.  Encouraging words from friends will help you stay positive about the job search and give you ideas about where to look and who to talk to.

9.  About staying positive…much of the well-meaning advice on job-hunting on the Internet started to bring me down.  Maybe it was all the Do’s and Don’ts and Musts and Shoulds!  My light-bulb moment was “hey, I don’t have to read this stuff anymore if it’s not helping me feel great about looking for work.”

10.  Still, you’ll be seeking answers to questions like “what should I put on the job application for my salary expectations?” or “what’s the best way to follow-up after an interview?”   Check out  Quintessential Careers.

Job-seekers, I salute you!  May you find your job in good time.

Enough!  I have to keep telling myself it’s enough.  In May I was fortunate enough to start a great new job.  It meant shutting down my own business.  It meant not posting to my blog twice a week or even once a week as I had hoped and planned to continue doing.

Time was an issue but the larger issue was figuring out what I wanted to write about.  I mean, now that I wasn’t blogging to attract clients, I could write about anything…and there I got lost in thought for awhile.  I even created a new blog that I called “Raised by Bookworms or, How I Learned to Relax and Love Our Mild-mannered Lifestyle.”

The title came to me on a typical trip to the library on a Saturday afternoon with my husband and my son.  All three of us were perfectly content poking through the shelves, making our selections, and then retreating to a nearby cafe to read and drink coffee (well, water for the 7-year-old who doesn’t yet like coffee).  Earlier that very same week I had been practically apologizing to my son’s teacher during a parent-teacher conference for not exposing my son to more socializing through playdates with his school mates on the weekends.  She must have asked what we liked to do on the weekends and on the spot, I could only think of the things that we didn’t do enough.

But at the library, I could see that what we were doing suited us perfectly.  And the punchline to my funny sense of inadequacy was “What’s the worst thing people can say about my son’s childhood? That he was raised by bookworms?”  It amused me enough to consider blogging about parenting under that title.

But parenting isn’t the only thing I wanted to blog about.  I love blogging about creative time management and making time for a creative practice.  Umm…that’s why I started the business I did.  And although I’ve put the business aside, the passion is still there.  I’m just going to have to follow my own advice and make the time for blogging as my creative outlet, no matter how busy I think I am with the working and parenting and…all the other stuff.

Oh yeah, and I am going to have to keep learning how to relax because I forget every now and then.  I really do love our mild-mannered lifestyle among the library shelves, lattes at the cafe, and artwork at the museum.  It’s more than enough!

You’ll find me posting here in this blog occasionally in between the other stuff.  It’s enough.

Every now and then, I am turning over the reins to my creative friends and letting them show and tell about their work-in-progress.  I’ve also asked them to address the issue of how they make time in their busy schedules for their own work.  My guest today is artist, teacher, and arts counselor, Barry Beach.

Barry, what are you thinking about in your current work?

My current artwork is more intuitive, produced quicker, focused on exploring surface and form. My general area of exploration is how the human-made and natural environments intersect, how they affect us physically and psychologically.

And how do you make time for your work (and all the other things you fit into your schedule)?

How do I make time for my work? Honestly, it’s the biggest challenge I face. And often I don’t make time for it. It was nearly 4 months since I was producing sculpture before this latest work. It tends to go all or nothing – but I don’t necessarily see that as a problem, just part of my process. During the times I’m too busy or uninspired to build, I keep sketching in my sketchbook, recording ideas and thoughts to follow later when I have the time and/or inspiration.

But the biggest thing I’ve learned is that during the times you’re not feeling like producing work, you can’t beat yourself up. You just have to keep yourself involved and active on other pursuits. I find reading things I traditionally enjoy helps me get back into my creative groove. Inspiration will return – you just have to have faith and be ready to act upon it when it does!

Thanks Barry!  Where can we see more of your work?

My website is www.barrybeach.com

Must be Spring…or the clutter here at home just reached critical mass and I can no longer pretend not to notice it.  It’s definitely time to move some things on to lighten my load.

1st and favorite stop:  Goodwill. There’s a donation drop-off spot just blocks away and about once a month, I take a bag of clothes over there on my way to the cafe to meet a friend for coffee. My thinking is that the good stuff I no longer need will find a new owner who will love it too. I have scored some great finds at thrift stores myself: a wetsuit for my son, a trail-a-bike, the purse I am currently using, the hand-knitted afghan now covering my cat-shredded armchair…

2nd stop: Donate books I’ve read to The Friends of the Public Library used book store. I love to give my favorite things to my favorite places to shop, apparently. This spring, I am going to have my son go through his collection of childrens’ books and select some to donate to a used book sale that his school is organizing. Again, it’s a win-win. We move on some books to make room for the new favorites that he will be bringing home from the sale.

3rd favorite stop: Home pick-up! I’ve been stuck with some cans of spray paint, shellac, bug spray and other items we will never use again but can’t dispose of without making a trip to the dump where they have a household hazardous waste drop-off. I was planning such a trip when I discovered that in San Francisco, we have free home pick-up of such materials!  In fact, sfenvironment.org is a great source for disposing of any sort of material that should not end up in the landfill. I was very pleased to call Recology and schedule an appointment with a garbage truck. I love San Francisco!

4th favorite stop is another local perk although it is available in many other places besides San Francisco. Freecycle! SFfreecycle is a yahoogroup where I can offer or even request free items. Unlike my craigslist donation attempts, with Freecycle there’s a minimum of fuss as a grateful, local person is generally happy to come by and relieve me of my PVC piping, miscellaneous stretcher bars, the binding machine I thought I wanted …

I discovered years ago that moving on the old is part of my own process for making room for new projects. I’ve been doing a lot of that lately and feel much lighter and ready to start something for it.

What do you do before you start something new? How do you lighten your load?

Every now and then, I am turning over the reins to my creative friends and letting them show and tell about their work-in-progress.  I also asked them to address the issue of how they make time in their busy schedules for their own work.  This week’s guest is photographer and entrepreneur Tanya Boggs.

Tanya, what are you thinking about in your current work, Daily Dose?

Some of the themes you will see repeated in all of my personal work have been about collecting, archiving, mortality and memory, and an exploration of personal history.  And those ideas are even more evident in this current body of work Daily Dose.

This is an ongoing self-portrait of me and my daughter and is a continual work in progress.  Everyday, at approximately the same time, I place us as the subject of a photograph.  Day in and day out, each image, taken at the same distance from the camera, with the same lighting, and the same background, begins to compound and grow.  Days become weeks.  Weeks become months.  And soon months will become years.

By choosing to keep some of the elements in the image stable and by placing these seemingly arbitrary restrictions on the project, the nuances begin to come to the forefront.  This gives the viewer the opportunity to notice small details like when I have a headache, or when my daughter is exhausted or not feeling well.  You can begin to see some of the subtleties of the relationship and the individuals.

I began the work in March of 2009, so it’s been just over a year.  I plan to continue this project until my daughter grows up and moves out.  Most if the time in art, I think tightly editing can be crucial. This is one of the few projects where I think more is more.  The accumulation over time will really begin to shift and change this project.  I am so excited to see where this journey takes me.

Tanya, how do you make time for your own creative work (and all the other things you fit into your schedule)?

Given the nature of this current body of fine art work, making time for it is built into the project.  And it doesn’t take too much time everyday so it has been easy to commit to doing.  It’s probably a little easier as a photographer since I’m not making oil paintings or something more time consuming.  But it does require that I commit to the project daily.  There are some larger tasks and overall upkeep which I do in chunks on a weekly or bi-weekly basis: Color balancing, adding titles, updating the images on the website, applying for shows.  It’s been pretty easy to find small blocks of time to stay on top of the work because I’m really excited about the project.  I try to find 30 minutes or an hour here and there.  Which can easily turn into a larger amount of time as I get lost in the project.  Sometimes just getting started is the hardest part.

The other thing I have done to make time for my creative work, is that I have made my art into my craft and my livelihood as well.  I was frustrated that I never had enough time in my studio.  And one day a light bulb went off.  I want to do what I love and have someone pay me for it.  Given my medium of photography, it wasn’t that far of a leap.  Just a leap of faith really.  Now making time for my personal work just blends into my life a little more seamlessly.  I work with images all the time, so it’s easy to flip right into my personal work for 30 minutes at lunch or for an hour on Saturdays.  I hardly notice the difference between the two anymore.  I’m no longer frustrated by my lack of studio time and both my personal and my professional work organically blend together in my daily workflow.

My advice to others who might struggle to make time for their creative work is to first remove as many barriers as possible between you and getting it done.  If your commute to your studio stops you from making work… remove the commute.  Second, figure out how much time you realistically have and then schedule it for you.  Make a date with yourself and don’t break it.  And lastly I’d say, commit, commit, commit!  If it is really a priority for you, then you have to devote the time and energy.

Thanks Tanya!  Where can we see more of your work?

My Solo Exhibition for Re: incarnation at the School of the Arts at Louisiana Tech University in Ruston, LA was cancelled for the 2009/2010 exhibition season due to budget cuts.

Currently on the fine art website for my personal work, the Daily Dose images begin in March of 2009 and move to the present, but I am going to switch that shortly so that the most recent images are the first one’s you see on the site.  I want to update the site weekly so the content is always current and easy to get to.

http://www.TanyaBoggs.com

http://www.TanyaBoggsPhotography.com

http://www.TanyaBoggsPhotography.com/blog

Become a fan: http://www.facebook.com/TanyaBoggsPhotography

Follow me on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/TanyaBoggsPhoto

Awesome arts administrator Barbara Garber, the City Studio Assistant Director at the San Francisco Art Institute, shared her “Resources for Teaching Artists” with me recently and it’s information worth passing along as I know many artists teach or will think about teaching at some point in their creative careers.

I’ve linked directly to some of the sites noted in her guide.

On Career Development:

College Art Association

The National Art Education Association

The Artist Help Network

Arts Resource Network

Artist’s Professional Toolbox

For Job Listings:

Chronicle for Higher Education

Job Bank

National Alliance for Media Arts and Culture

Related Organizations:

Teaching Artist Source

The Association of Teaching Artists

State/Regional Arts Agencies:

Alameda County Office of Education

San Francisco Arts Commission

California Arts Council

California Alliance for Arts Education

Check these out if you are a fan of arts in education as they lead to a wealth of information.  Do you have a resource to add to this list?


Nancy's paintings in her Napa Valley studio

Every now and then, I am turning over the reins to my creative friends and letting them show and tell about their work-in-progress.  I also asked them to address the issue of how they make time in their busy schedules for their own work.  Today’s guest is painter and teacher Nancy Willis.

Nancy, what are you thinking about in your current work?

I am excited about this work because…

I have a new studio space in a redwood barn on a vineyard in Napa. To me, it looks and feels like France which I love. But the amount of working space that I lost in downsizing from my old studio is still challenging me. I can stand back to see a painting that I am working on, but do not have much space to move laterally. It is difficult to see the work in relation to other work.

I have been working on the Chandelier image for about three years, mostly in printmaking and painting on paper.  Those decisions were equal parts economic downturn and current space restraints. The smaller scale work really helped me know the form, which I realized when I recently started back in on larger format paintings.

I am striving to move away from a direct view of a chandelier and eclipse or mask it. A major theme in my work is the fragmentary aspect of time and experience, so I think this move supports that.

The larger green painting has been in progress for over a year. The source image is a chandelier in daylight in southern California. I wanted to encapsulate and simultaneously shatter the chandelier form while representing the incongruities of the form with daylight and ocean/nature. My process involves many layers of painting and sanding to find the way color and light reflect, refract and shift. The green keeps changing. This latest version may not stay as bright, or deep but for now, it pulled the form into focus. I will give it a few days and see what it tells me.

And how do you make time for your own creative work (and all the other things you fit into your schedule)?

I teach at the Napa Valley College and a local art center. It is not enough to support me, and while I have some modest gallery representation, I continue to supplement my work with catering shifts. I also produce workshops including a painting tour to France. I am responsible for everything in regard to itinerary, logistics, instruction etc. Right now, that is commanding most of my attention. Since my last solo exhibition in 2007, much of my studio time is plugged in around my “other” work. It is frustrating and deflating at times.  The days of 6 to 8 hour painting sessions are a distant memory. I am aware and can be proficient in a 2 to 4 hour period. On a good day, I feel fortunate to keep it all going, but often I feel like my “real” work gets interrupted, and the glass is half full.

I find the more I paint the easier it is to find the time from an already taxed schedule. In that, I mean there is the spark that comes from a day painting in the studio.  The process seduces all of me away from spreadsheets, syllabi, and documentation. It is a jolt, validation, and curiosity and reminds me of what is really important.

Nancy has a solo show of her work scheduled for 2012 at Robert Mondavi Wines. You can see more of her work at I. Wolk Gallery in St. Helena, the gallery at Sundance, and online at:

www.nancywillis.com

www.pathofanartist.com

My family loves to watch the TV show Cash Cab. Unsuspecting riders get in the cab and give a destination in NYC and the driver announces that this is a TV game show within a cab. It’s so much fun to try to answer the questions as the cash prize adds up. The penalty for 3 incorrect answers is that the cab ride ends and contestants have to get out; the reward for reaching their stop is a cash prize and a free cab ride. What’s not to love?

The ride ends with a double or nothing video bonus question. From the couch, I am always cheering the riders to “Go for it!” because it makes the show more exciting. Indeed, many riders do try the video option and most walk away with double the prize money. Why not? The contestants entered the cab expecting to pay for the ride and instead have gotten a free ride and a cash prize. There’s really nothing to lose in risking double or nothing. That’s what I would do if I were on Cash Cab, I think. It’s an easy decision to make when the stakes are not mine.

What would you do if presented with the same choice? Most people I’ve asked developed a rationale for making the decision. It would depend on how much money there was in the bank (or how much even the smaller sum was needed). It would depend on the amount of the cash offered. If less than a certain amount, the person would risk doubling it.

Most of us approach decision-making with some criteria based on personal experience.  What reasonable limits do we establish for ourselves for making decisions in advance?  What’s negotiable?  What’s not negotiable?  We are faced with decisions all the time at work and at home.  The stakes are usually not so clear so it can be harder to make a tough choice. Evaluating a list of pros and cons is a tried and true method for making such decisions because it helps clarify exactly what is at stake for the decision-maker. And it helps to remember whatever advice you get, from those of us sitting on the couch, you are the one who has to make and live with the decision.

In reality, I would probably walk away from the Cash Cab with a $600 prize in hand rather than risking double or nothing.  What would you do?

My son assembled this robot from a box of parts he's been collecting.

Sometimes being creative means collaborating with your children. It’s important to let them take the creative lead and to just help out with the parts involving the hot glue gun.

My son and I usually start with a question: what should we make today? Sometimes we start with the materials and try to figure out what they want to be. We had an old camera that wanted to be the robot pictured here. My son has a box of art parts and he found the reflectors which became the robot’s laser eyes. The iPhone box with it’s icons that look like buttons and controls became the body and we added some wire for arms and some rolled corrugated cardboard for the feet (not shown in the picture).

Now he picks up interesting robot parts as he comes across bolts, broken electronic devices, and other odds and ends as we walk around town.

How do you like to play creatively with children? Do you make things? pictures? songs or poems? dances? games? How do you start the process?