Friday, October 26, 2012

Facebook Breakup

I admire those of you who have figured out how to Facebook like a champ.  Those who have successfully integrated it into your lives and thought "How did I ever live without this?"  Sadly, I am not one of those.  

A little over a year ago, I quit Facebook.  I unliked.  We broke up.  Why?  I was becoming less of a friend than I wanted to be.  Seeing everyone's photos and posts was great...for awhile.  Reconnecting with people that I grew up with was actually pretty cool.  But then, ironically, it seemed (to me) that when face-to-face, everyone had less and less to talk about.  I didn't feel like I needed to "check in" as often because if I wanted to know something about someone, I could probably find it on Facebook.  Phone calls had been replaced by posting quick congratulatory or other messages on a Facebook wall rather than having a real conversation. When I sat back, I realized that for me, by being too connected I had become unconnected.  
So I unplugged.  
I broke up with Facebook.

What followed was more than just un-liking Facebook.  It has been an attempt to reconnect with "my connections" in a more meaningful way. I needed time to try and figure out what that meant for me.  And I'm still figuring it out.  Mostly, it's an ongoing effort to be more present.  Paint it Forward is my way of journaling, figuring out my path, what works, what doesn't, and learning how I can do better. 

A few months ago, I had the opportunity to help a friend.  After the loss of her best friend, Beth began painting.  But painting hardly describes it.  Beth has a way of telling a story, both through her paintings and the amazing "words of art" that she sometimes shares with me.  She needed a way to post her growing portfolio online and update it without hassling with HTML and extensive website knowledge. In just a few evenings, we setup an easy to maintain blog and designed a business card together.  But it was more than just helping someone accomplish a few things on their business to do list.  When we spend time together, we really spend time.  And I love that.

What I received when painting it forward in this way far exceeded what I gave.  There is a common theme here.  When giving, I still end up on the receiving end.  It's funny how that works.

In all fairness, Facebook wasn't my nemesis.  I'm not telling anyone to quit.  It just didn't work for me.  I've learned that being unconnected gives me more opportunity to connect in ways that are meaningful for me.  And I'm okay with that.

Check out Beth's work at

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Never Stop Learning

Never stop learning; when we stop learning we stop growing.

I've noticed that when I sit still, without any life seems to fall into place. It's clearer somehow.

Today, I found myself missing my Grandpa Jack and wondering what my life would look like if he was still here.
I miss the stories,
the laughter,
his jokes,
his insight.
I even miss the way his leather chair smelled when I would fall asleep in it,
or the warmth I felt when he would walk by and cover me up with a blanket.

My grandpa was one of my best friends growing up. He was present...always. The last thing he said to me was "Never stop learning; when we stop learning, we stop growing." These words have served as a mantra in my life.  They played a major role when I pushed myself to graduate from go for my start my own open my heart.

I've noticed that when I sit still, without any distractions...I sometimes hear his voice in my head telling me to keep going...that there is more in store for keep learning.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Who You Are

I was at a networking event recently when someone asked me the question, "What are you about?"  Naturally, I started talking about what I love to do in a business sense.  He stopped me and said, "No, I mean you...what are you about?"

Great question.  Not everyone asks this question point blank.  In fact, it's rare to be asked such a thing in these situations.  But even when people ask what you do, they are really asking who you are.  They are trying to gauge whether you're someone they want to stay connected with.  As business professionals, we are conditioned to format what we do (not who we are) into a 1-minute elevator speech. 

Think about the information that you lead with.  It's not always about what you do.  People want to connect with who you are. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Local Love

LOCAL LOVE | I pride myself on trying to find unique gifts, especially for birthdays.  I love it even more when those gifts support local artists.

Earlier this year, I fell upon a story about two artists living in a cool space by the Plaza (full story here: At Home with Grace Townley and Spencer Lott).  Grace is the goddaughter of Fred Rogers (yes, Mr. Rogers) and Spencer is a puppeteer.  I was immediately intrigued so I visited his website (here) and shot off an email to inquire about a birthday project for my girlfriend.

What followed was truly one of the most fun projects I've ever worked on, and what Amanda now refers to as the "best gift I've ever given her." 

Spencer Lott is an artistic gem -- and he was a pleasure to work with.  He asked for photos, details about us, things we like to do, personality traits, etc.  From those, he successfully turned our family into funky finger puppets housed in a vintage airstream.  He also included a hand-drawn family portrait that included every single detail I'd given him. The outcome far exceeded my expectations.  Neither of us like to have photos of ourselves displayed in the house but we now consider this our family portrait and proudly display it on our mantel. 

If you're looking for a cool gift, check out Spencer's work at  He lives in KC, but is happy to work with people out of state, too.  Whether it's a family of finger puppets or a stuffed animal for your kid, Spencer has ideas that remind you what gift giving is all about.