Information overload

infooverloadEver feel this way? (That’s me, circa 1990, hamming it up during a photo shoot for a column I used to write in a local paper.)

As mentioned in my previous post, I’m in the early stages of launching a freelance business to provide editorial services for self-publishing authors. Since I have no business background, I’m learning everything as I go. Specifically, I’m attending a lot of free webinars and reading numerous blog posts and study guides. I’m also getting a major influx of emails from business and blogging coaches.

I’m glad for all this information and feel fairly sure most of it will be helpful. At the same time, I feel as if all I’m doing lately, in addition to  hunting for a day job, is trying to absorb whatever business pointers and strategies will be effective for my personality, skills and goals.

In addition to the research and study, I’m trying to choose a website hosting service and plan, because as I’ve read, freelance businesses need professional looking websites to establish credibility and reach out to potential clients.

I’ve been researching site launching advice and looking at hosting services for a couple of days now, and I’m a bit overwhelmed at the abundance of choices, both in hosting companies and the plans they offer.

Several blog posts have mentioned particular a well-known site hosting and domain registration service, and while I have no personal problem with said company, I don’t want to support it because of certain advertising choices it has made in the past. That means I need to look elsewhere, but there are a whole world of elsewheres to consider.

So, yes, between all the coaching emails, research side trips and the usual marketing emails from stores (online and B&M) I frequented before my recent job separation, I’m experiencing a mild case of information overload.

Oddly enough, it was one of the emails from a business coach that provided the solution to retaining my sanity.

He suggested I unsubscribe from his mailing list.

Now, I know it was a gambit designed to get me to read the email and then visit his site and perhaps purchase a course, but the pointer itself is what counts in this context.

Why am I feeling overwhelmed? Mostly because of the ridiculous number of emails that flood the inboxes of my two main accounts. I have my reasons for keeping two accounts, so eliminating one of them isn’t feasible. However, I don’t have to put up with all the electronic versions of junk mail offering discounts on this or coupons for that or announcing the latest sale.

So, here’s a decluttering tip:

Before deleting unwanted marketing emails, take a minute to scroll to the bottom and click on the Unsubscribe link.

It may take a few days for the flood to abate, but eventually you’ll spend less time trashing and more time reading the messages that matter to you. Trust me, your eyes and head will thank you.

And if my post notifications are among the items you choose not to receive anymore, I understand. I hope you’ll keep me around though; I enjoy your visits.

What strategies do you use to combat information overload? Please share your tips with us.

Good news! – an update

ribbon2Please forgive my tardiness in making this announcement, as I’ve been busy with trying to find a new day job while learning whatever I can from free webinars about starting and building my own freelance business.  I have good news:

 

I am cancer free and don’t need radiation or chemotherapy treatment!

 

Thank you all for the prayers and good thoughts that were sent my way. Knowing so many people were concerned about my situation was one of the things that kept my spirits up during this challenge. Please keep praying for all who are affected by cancer, and if you are able, perhaps you’ll participate in a fundraiser such as the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life walks.

 

Moving forward…

Since my mind is now free to concentrate on other matters, I’m working on building a business that will offer freelance editing, proofreading, media kit assembly and other services to self-publishing authors. I’m a bit overwhelmed by the immense amount of information I’ve been trying to absorb, but I’m taking those first small steps to get JTH Publishing Services off the ground.

What is JTH, you ask?  Good question, since those aren’t my initials.

JTH stands for Jumping Through Hoops, which is something every self-publishing author must do in order to get a book to market.  Since I like to hoop dance and my repertoire of moves includes jump-throughs, I couldn’t think of a more perfect name for my endeavor.

I hope to have a website and/or Facebook page up soon, and as I find my way and my voice, I’ll be posting more about what I learn.

If you want to know more and can’t wait for the website, feel free to email me at info@tracibonney.com and include JTH in the subject line. Serious inquiries only, please; spam will be deleted on sight as my email box fills up rather quickly.

 

For now, I’ll leave you with a couple of questions:

  1. Have you ever thought about writing and publishing a book?
  2. What part of the process do you see as the biggest obstacle to making that happen?

I’m looking forward to reading your comments. Have a blessed and healthy day!

Undone

Knitting

Courtesy of blog Little Bluebell

What do you do when life leaves you undone?

I recently found out I have cancer. Type: endometrial adenocarcinoma (uterine cancer). Stage: unknown at this point. Treatment plan: Surgery, followed by possible chemotherapy, depending on the lab results from the post-op analysis of what’s being removed.  Prognosis: optimistic but unknown.

So, what did I do?  Told my parents first, then people I trust to pray for me, then when I knew my surgery date, I made the news public.  I also made an iPod playlist full of uplifting music and found some free ebooks that will nourish my spirit as I deal with this illness.

There’s so much I could say about all of this, about the timing of it, the type of cancer, the prognosis, etc.  But for now, I just want to say this:

For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.

My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.

 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
(Psalm 139:13-16, New International Version, emphasis mine)

I know my life, all of it, is in God’s hands.  So when I come undone, I can count on Him to knit the unraveled places back together.

 

Reboot

I’m going through a reboot at the moment, so I thought the blog could use a fresh face too. Like?  It’s “Suits”, a new free theme from WP.  I’m pleased with its clean-cut, minimalist look.

Five days ago, my short-lived career in insurance ended (at least for now).  I’m not sure if that industry is where I want to spend the majority of my waking hours.file3851238794251

I’m thinking about where I want to go from here.  I know this much: I need more than a paycheck and benefits;  I need satisfaction.  I want to be creative, to solve problems in a way that uses my intuitive nature, to do work that I feel matters.  I need to feel like an artist, not a piece of plug-and-play technology.

If I can find a “regular” job that allows me to use my desire to play with photo software and graphics, to write and do page layout (like a newsletter, brochure or web page), and to maybe even take a photo or two occasionally, that would be wonderful.  At the moment, I’m not seeing ads for such jobs online or in the paper.

It may be time to start writing the code for my own programming rather than using the out-of-the-box software required by corporate America.  Maybe, just maybe, I need to do a little life hacking…

Holiday perspective

DSCN0038Merry Christmas!

Yesterday, to get out for a few minutes and do a little walking, I visited some local stores.  Not for Christmas shopping – I had that done and under the tree, except for the impulse purchase gift for my great niece Ashtyn Nicole Reno, who was born two days before my birthday and is just 9 days old today.

No, I was out buying laundry detergent and trying to find Dad a red shirt so he’d have a couple of options for his Christmas wardrobe.

After hitting three stores, I had detergent and a poem-reciting teddy bear tucked away in the Cavalier, but no shirt.  So, I decided to give the local Walmart a look in case Mom overlooked a men’s red shirt in medium when she was there earlier that morning.  Turns out she didn’t; the only ones left were performance fabric shirts that Dad hates.

That’s not the point of this story, though.  I got to Walmart, which was crowded with last-minute shoppers, and parked near a cart return. Locked the car, started strolling up to the store.  On the way I passed a car with an open door.  The people inside were having an argument, and a shrill young female voice was dropping F-bombs every few words.  I shook my head and muttered a sarcastic “Merry Christmas” as I kept walking.

A couple hundred feet away, at the doors, the atmosphere changed completely.  The Salvation Army bell ringer was having church with a man who had just exited the store.  It was like a lighthouse beacon on a stormy night, these two brothers in the Lord talking openly about Jesus, his atoning death on the cross and the grace and mercy of God. People flowed by with lists and purchases and important things to do, ignoring the conversation, and I was struck by the object lesson in it all.

How often do we rush right past the true meaning of Christmas on our way to the under-tree floor fillers?  Maybe it’s time to stop and talk about the Good News of Christmas.  Even if the conversation happens in the Walmart parking lot.

May you all have a safe, blessed and merry Christ-mas Day, and a blessed 2014!

 

Giving thanks

give thanksNOTE: If this seems familiar, it’s because I posted something similar in 2010.  Funny – circumstances changed between posts, but what I wrote then still applies to my life now, three years later (even the part about the Saints!). Thank You, Lord, for bringing me back to this place.

In the United States, today is Thanksgiving, a day to celebrate our blessings and tell God thanks for giving them to us.

This year, even though part of the family is on the road, we’re keeping the tradition of having our biggest meal of the year.  In our house that means the kitchen becomes an all-you-can-eat buffet with two meats and far too many side dishes for five people.  It’s the only time of year we fix enough food at one time to eat the leftovers for a whole week.

This year when I bow my head over the family banquet, I’ll be giving thanks for many things: a steady paycheck and a decent car to transport me there; an intact family whose members actually like each other; good friends and a loving church family; a roof over my head, stable health,  having a winning football team to cheer for (Geaux Saints!); and most of all, my life in Christ which, even after 25 years, is filled with peace and joy in the midst of life’s trials.

In 1996, my Thanksgiving was very different.  I was far from family and home, having gone to South America with my employer, his wife and their granddaughter only 16 days before the holiday.  We were without a turkey or cranberry sauce, and I was living somewhere other than Mississippi for the first time in conscious memory.  I was homesick for my family and feeling lost in a new culture.  My faith that God knew what He was doing in moving me there kept me going, but fighting off self-pity was a daily struggle.

Until we got the office set up I was tutoring the boss’s granddaughter, so to teach her  and remind myself about gratitude, I asked her to tell me the things she was thankful to have.  I took her thoughts and a few of my own, blended them into a poem, and read it as a prayer when we gathered for our Thanksgiving Day dinner.  The main dish wasn’t turkey, and my parents were several thousand miles away, but that poem-prayer helped me have a good holiday with my surrogate family.

Here’s what I wrote – feel free to use or adapt it for your family gathering if you like it:

Thanksgiving Day Prayer

  Oh dear Lord, now we pray
as we gather round today.
We want to say our thanks to You
for all You are and all You do –
for friends and family far and near,
for ones who’ve gone and those still here;
for pets and toys and reading books,
for homes and clothes and food to cook;
for minds to learn what we should know,
for hands to work and feet to go,
for eyes to see and ears to hear,
and voices to sing loud and clear;
for the hearts Your Spirit calls His home
and the Son who died for everyone –
for all You are and all You do,
Oh Lord, we give our thanks to You.
© 1996 Traci Bonney
November 28, 1996