Sunday, January 13, 2013

My biggest weakness

I've never had an entrepreneurial mindset. I work for others and live paycheck to paycheck, that's what I have always done. My first jobs consisted of an hourly wage and very hard work. I started working at the young age of 11 or 12 with a newspaper route, then at the local fair cooking and serving corn dogs and lemonade. That job was followed up with a cashier position at the local Long John Silvers where I had regular five or ten cent raises that seemed great at the time. I never broke a full dollar in raises during the 3 years I worked there and believe me I worked hard and fast. Since then I have continued to apply for jobs, earn anywhere from 5 to 8 to 15 dollars per hour, and nothing has ever changed. That includes my current salaried position where I work very hard for about 15 dollars per hour, teaching art in the public education system. Teachers pay is public. You can go to any school district website and download the Salary Schedule, and examine the graph according to years of service and level of education. I have a Masters degree in Teaching and this is my fourth year of service. If you take the average teaching salary, especially for new teachers, and divide that up to an hourly wage, it's typically 15 per hour, or 30,000 per year.

Then there is Melanie. My BFF from college. Her first job was at a hotel and restaurant, where she made a serving wage, tips, and sometimes more. She was home schooled for part of her life. She got into running and planning events during high school. She made around 15 per hour at her very first job on many days, sometimes more. In college, she didn't settle for any job that paid less than 12 per hour, and she was extremely successful at landing high paying jobs, whether it was hourly or serving at high end hotel functions. She passed down a job offer to me once, 8 per hour at a Tshirt design store, it worked for me a little while. Melanie also studied a wide array of business related classes in college, as well as marketing, public relations, and cooking. She spent time as a radio deejay and planning events in Springfield. She does things smart, and very different than me. Her first jobs outside of college were very successful financially and related to her skills and talents, within universities and local hospitals.

I worked as a bank teller. That's not even the worst, with my Bachelors degree in history and a minor in Studio Art, I graduated in 2006 with no training in any specific career field, other than writing history papers, creating art, and some basic Spanish skills. I started applying for jobs in Kansas City, with interviews at the Public Parks Department as a secretary. Before getting the job at Bank of America, I worked for no less than 7 dollars per hour at the front desk of the Independence YMCA. Not kidding. I applied for whatever jobs I could find in the area, and that one offered a recent college graduate the lowest wage legally possible. Needless to say, that summer at the YMCA I applied for my first ever credit card, to purchase GROCERIES. Sandwich meat, bread, kool-aid packets, and ramen noodles.

I also borrowed a thousand dollars from my hometown credit union to pay my first months rent while I found a job. I scrimped, I paid the loan off, I ate leftover chips and salsa from the YMCA break room, and eventually thru a family friend I put on a black dress suit, printed another resume, and got hired as a bank teller. I had made it. Graduated and was on salary, working in Kansas City at a bank.

That job was fulfilling enough to inspire me to quit after about a year. I could have worked up, tried for a position as a personal banker, but the heavy emphasis on sales drove me away. Bank tellers bombarding people with credit card offers while they tried to cash their paycheck wasn't very rewarding. That was demeaning and so was my boss at the time, although looking back I kind of feel sorry for her trying to survive as well. So I did about the only thing I knew I could do and had been putting off, I went back to college, borrowed 25,000 dollars for a teacher certification and degree, and began teaching.

My positive mindset was/is this: I can teach and be a positive influence for youth, while spending all the breaks and summers traveling the world. I can live in my home state with family and have a loving relationship, and spend every extra penny on plane tickets and unforgettable experiences. I will be home for the holidays already.

So has it worked? Mostly. Am I traveling? For my first 3 years of teaching yeah, I traveled every chance I got. Do I earn enough money to live my dreams? Not right now. Car maintenance, medical debt, that pesky credit card, and those college/career loans keep getting in the way.

In my last post I outlined my now 18 month plan to getting debt free except for the college loans. If I had a mortgage my chances of travel would be zero. If I had a kid? Less than zero. The worst thing that could happen would be failing health and/or medical debt, because we all know how safe we are in that arena.

So, back to the entrepreneurial mindset. I always admire Melanie and her ability to turn skills, talent, and opportunities into real income. I've decided to become a self-taught entrepreneur. It's something that maybe every person should study, especially artists. I look back at my past and the one thing I do always have is a desire to learn. I'm a true knowledge seeker. When I'm not doubting myself I also have a lot of talent, skills, and things to work with. At least I have learned not to return to the college debt trap and seek my knowledge on the web where it is free and I can learn from others.

Well that confession felt pretty good. Now you know some of my story and hopefully sharing it will bring about good things rather than harm. Maybe you see the distinction between the type of people that work for low pay their entire lives and the type that can turn ideas into real success. I'm hoping to make the transition out of the "always working for someone else" mindset and do something BIG and interesting.

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Debt Wall

Not long ago I listed all my debts, sat down and calculated how long or what it would take to pay them off, and what would be reasonable within my current income. I do that a lot; make lists, do calculations, plan and budget, etc. What I don't do very much of is making money . . .haha. I'm a teacher so it's public knowledge we don't exactly get rich.

So, to make this planning session a little more colorful and fun I made a motivational poster. I titled it "the Debt Wall." It has a list of current debts, the interest rates, payoff amounts, monthly minimums, etc. I also set a goal to have the smaller debts (non-college debts) paid off. The magic date is June 2014. About 20 months from the day. The poster also has a list of the months until then and an image to represent my reward (I would get to travel after June 2014).

Another neat thing is that if I teach for five years, the government will write off 5,000 dollars of my college debt. The government does that as an incentive for teachers to stick it out, and its funny I do remember a college professor saying something like 50% of teachers don't make it five years. I don't know if that's true or why he would have said that. Regardless, my fifth year of teaching would end just before June 2014 as well :)

So, the plan requires no travel until 6/14 and also an extra source of income. I need to sell some artwork or get a part time job on the side to meet the goal. And of course teach another year :) wish me luck because meeting a goal like that would be very hard, and I already have ideas in mind that would sidetrack me or force this plan to change.

I will share an image of "the Debt Wall" with you readers. I have seen a couple bloggers that subscribe to "financial transparency." It's interesting they choose to reveal all their debts as a form of accountability. I guess I am kind of ambivalent but maybe someone will think its neat.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Caffeine anyone?

I recently read a blog post by Steve Kamb of about the benefits of caffeine. He was talking about how helpful it can be if used in the right quantity and limited in sugar. I called bull $hi/. Life is better when we are free of any substances and high on healthy nutrition as well as adrenaline from physical fitness.

Then three days later I got a "White Christmas" white chocolate, chai tea, and coffee blend from the local coffee shop. I was feeling the Christmas spirit and planning to spend a day in the basement art studio. I was productive for a few hours then must have had a sugar crash that evening and went to bed no later than 7:30 pm.

Well today, I got hit by the Christmas coffee spirit again. This time, however, I must have found the perfect balance of caffeine and sugar because I am on an endless run of creativity! I just brainstormed no less than 10 future blog posts. I cleaned the art studio, set up piles of supplies for future art projects, wrote and wrote some more. Maybe Steve was right? This energy kick has been perfectly productive and just what I needed. Hopefully next time I kick off my art session with a jog instead of coffee though. My immune system needs the boost.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

My bro is on Tv!

If you know me personally then you might know I have two brothers. They are both firefighters in Kansas City, MO and I am extremely proud of them. My family is awesome and always positive, supportive, and friendly. I know some people are not lucky to have a loving and supportive family so I never take mine for granted.

The past couple weeks my younger bro Danny has made us all proud in more than one way, but even more so he has helped inspire me to reach for my dreams. A week ago he performed with a band for his first public appearance as a drummer. We all have talents and hobbies and its great that he turned his into more than a talent. It was at the Voo Doo lounge located in a Kansas City Casino and his band did outstanding. They were the best performance of the night.

He and I are both still young adults and trying out new things, but I think there is more to it than that. He made a post on Facebook a couple weeks ago that said, "If you asked me when I was 16 what I wanted to do with my life I'd probably say be a firefighter, driving a 69 mustang, and playing the drums in a band. So by a teeanager's viewpoint I'm doin awesome!"
I know he auditioned for the band and was very nervous. He was also not the best drummer they have seen, and when he performed he was about to jump off the stage with anxiety. He hauled his persona drum set in the back of a pickup truck. But he did great and you should have seen the number of friends that came to support him.

When we first attempt something new, or something that we have always wanted but seemed unrealistic, the nerves can get the best of us. But Keep Going!

Now, Danny is going to be on Tv in less than an hour. World News with Diane Sawyer. It's not to play the drums, it's to show a video clip of him and some fireman buying Made in the USA products. He has a passion to convince everyone to buy local and support our countries businesses and he doesn't just talk, he purchases everything made in the USA himself. He also applied for the news clip and they jumped on it. I can't wait to watch, and I just have to give him credit for being inspirational. My last post talked about the people we know that are doing life right, and he is my favorite example. Love you bro and keep on living big.

Stop Reading and Start Doing

About a year ago I started reading blogs. It started with an author of a book about travel, freedom, and their website, followed by a link to another travel writer, and another. Now I'm a follower of a whole group of young entrepreneurial travelers and writers. They are very inspiring especially on days when I feel bogged down in my career. They keep telling me that I can do anything I want to, and sometimes I believe them.

A few of their names are Chris Guillebeau, Shane Mac, Adam Baker, Ramit Sethi, and Sarah Kathleen Peck. I get periodic subscription emails from all of them, as well as a few travel writers and a couple young girls that created a fashion "versalette." You can find them by googling them and I hope to share more of their helpful blogs using actual links in the future.

After reading constantly for over a year, one theme has finally motivated me the most: Stop Reading and Start Doing. My goals and ideas took a long time to evolve and I'm finally ready to make some of them happen. The year of reading was necessary because I didn't know how or what I wanted to do, and its not set in stone but I finally want to make a go of it with art and marketing. I also know too many people that feel trapped and like they can only do one thing, or too unqualified to try and do something big. For each of those people, I also know someone that achieves something they want and it's great when I find them.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Follow me!

If you are interested at all, I would love for you to "follow by email." Every blog has that option and I just added the gadget to mine. There is a space at the top right where you enter your email and each time I post you get a copy of it in your inbox. Easy! You do need to log in to your email and confirm that you want to follow this blog.

This blog is about two and a half years old I think. I use it for different purposes; to tell stories, talk about love, life, happiness, art, travels, etc. I started it when I saw my friend Whitney blogging and I loved her blog. Since then, I have started following a large number of blogs from people I admire. Many of them are focused on traveling, debt, careers, and they are great so I will try to share those over time as well.

Anyway, the best thing about writing is receiving feedback. For that I enabled comments on blog posts so you should be able to comment anywhere at anytime. I'd love to know when you read something and have thoughts.

Peace and love

Friday, November 23, 2012

Creativity for Couples

I'm embarking on a fresh start with my Art as well as how I share it with others. I'd like to show others the processes of creativity and how I make certain items. Right now I'm focused on Christmas Gifts but I also have a few items in mind to sell in the future. So here on my blog I will attempt to delve into more detailed posts that show others how to make fun stuff.

I know it's contagious because Darrin is bringing out his creative side too :) Over the thanksgiving holiday I spent each day in the basement studio creating pottery. It was too cold for Darrin to work in the garage so he invested in a model car to put together for winter days. Darrin has a degree in auto-body repair and is an expert in the process of sanding, masking, painting cars etc. He would much rather be working on his full size automobiles but I'm thrilled he is bringing out his own creative side. His education definitely affects how he views artwork: he expects precision, smoothness, equal values, and perfection. That's how cars need to be. My lopsided or messy or imperfect edges in what I create is always what his eye sees first. I have to tell him to not apply his car judgements to my paintings lol.

So today we went to hobby lobby and got supplies. I bought Blue paint for the Royals painting, some fabric, hemp, thread, sharpies, and Mod Podge. I have some hand sewn bags in mind, some baked sharpie art (on plates or tiles) and an idea to test out the Mod Podge over watercolor paint (a possible sealer for my painted windows). The Mod Podge could potentially smear a watercolor painting into a blur, but maybe I can apply it with the perfect touch. I'll let you know. Below is an image of my purchase. I'm happy to say I spent only half as much as Darrin.