New Routine

This past week has been a little weird for me. I have gone back to working 6am to 2pm. Yes, that means that I am up thirty minutes sooner during my work days than I was the week before and I am getting off an hour sooner than I was but that little bit of a chance has me all kinds of strange.

On top of this new shift, I have a new product at work. It’s been a little bit of a rough launch but a guest who called me today, who also works for a big name company in customer support, helped ease my mind. He told me that he was amazed at how smooth our product had launched given how many moving parts it has. He helped me see our successes rather than focusing on what was going wrong. I thanked him because I think he ended up helping me more than I was able to help him today.

About a year ago, if you had asked me if I would ever work 6am shifts again, I would have said, “Hello no!” That was before my whole life got flipped upside down. Now, I have help getting up in the morning from Dexter. He knows when I am supposed to get up and knocks my phone out of my hands to keep me from looking at it in bed. Not only that, he starts playing with me which puts me in a good mood from the moment I get out of bed and out the door.

I have made things easier on myself by making sure I have a weeks worth of lunches ready to go in the fridge and showering the night before. This give me more time to get ready in the morning, take care of Dexter’s needs, and give myself time to settle in at the office before my shift starts. I have actually been taking to eating breakfast at the office and getting my cup of coffee there. I used to do that when I used to work 6am before and it works pretty well. I find that I need that little boost of relaxation in the morning.

I haven’t had a lot of time to work on my NaNoWriMo project the last week but I recently picked up a new Bullet Journal to help me organize my thoughts and manage my personal time. I am a list maker and having an organized way of checking off my “To-Do” list is helpful in managing myself. I know that getting off at 2pm is going to be good for getting writing done. I am actual doing this blog post to help get my writing mojo going again.

The nice thing about getting off at 2pm is coming home with lot of daylight to spare. I have been taking Dexter for a walk or taking to him to the dog park in the Mission as soon as I get home. It helps keep me from getting too settled before my fatigue of the work day settles in on me. It’s been great for him too, he’s a lot happier when he’s active. Dogs, like humans, need physical exercise to help keep them happy. I am just thankful I figured that out after my former partner left us. I say he us because we were a team at one time. My former partner was helpful in training Dexter the last couple years, he gave me some good advise on caring for him. I am pretty sure that my former partner misses Dexter more than he ever missed me (if he even missed me at all). I get it, Dexter is pretty much the best dog in the world (not biased at all!).

I have a few more things that I would like to work into my daily routine like going the gym, playing music, and reading. For now, I will just focus on getting to bed and waking up on time, taking Dexter for daily walks, and getting some writing in. Once those are settled into habit, I will add the others. I am not perfect by any means but I know that I can manage my time better than I have been. This is a start for me and so far so good!

~Clara

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On the Importance of Good Red

I never used to be able to enjoy a glass of red wine. Ever since I was about nineteen years old and I tried red wine for the first time, I would get headaches. Not your normal little headaches, no, I would get a full blown migraine that would sent me off to bed with blackout shades.

This year, I decided to give drinking red wine a chance again. I went into it with an open mind about it and decided that if headaches were going to happen, I would test out different reds to see if it was and all or nothing situation.

I am by no means a wine expert but I have been on enough wine tours and tastings in the last couple of years to get a better appreciation for the process of winemaking and how to properly “taste” wine. For me, the most important part was learning to drink with my nose first and tongue second.

I have come to a couple of conclusions since taking on drinking red wine. The first is that I love the smell and flavor of red wine. The second is that I do not get migraines from it. As of yet, I have not had a headache from red wine alone. Now, I do tend to only have maybe half a glass at a time and I always have water when I am done.

apothic_line

I would like to share my latest red wine find with you. It’s a winery called Apothic. It has some gothic style branding and it’s almost Victorian in its labeling. You kind of get a steampunk vibe off of the bottle when you see it on the shelves of the liquor store.

I have tried the Red, Dark, and Crush reds by Apothic. My favorite is the Apothic Red, it has a very sweet taste with a hint of chocolate at the end. The Apothic Dark is smoky with a berry after taste. The Apothic Crush is somewhere in between the two.

Red wine is now my go to choice of adult beverage. It’s also the wine I like to drink when I am writing or working on my NaNoWriMo project. It’s a nice evening alternative to coffee (my first love) and it doesn’t keep me up all night.

If you are someone who is worried about getting headaches from red wine, I feel your pain. I am just glad that I was able to find three different wines that don’t give me headaches and that taste pretty good to me. While Apothic is not a “local” wine, I still really enjoy it. It’s not that expensive either, which is good for someone on a limited budget these days.  I would like to thank two of my closes friends for introducing me to Apothic, you two are the best.

~Clara

The Whole < The Sum of its Parts

An excellent article on the important of the whole picture and what it’s comprised of. Written by a friend.

Rain and Republic

Last week, I had the opportunity to sit in a brainstorming meeting at my workplace about a new business opportunity.  Surrounded by many incredible minds – specialists in their respective fields, well experienced and well educated – we became mutually informed and discussed a lot of options.  I asked what the institution’s overall strategic direction was on the issue, that we might pursue the options that are most in line with it.  It took a while before I could make myself understood, and when I had, the response was forward and simple:  There wasn’t one.

But, the more I paid attention, the more I realized that wasn’t quite the case.  It wasn’t that there wasn’t an institutional directive or strategy on the subject and our options were unattached – it’s that we were the ones creating one.

We, in that room, were the institution.

I’m brushing up on my financial…

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The Wild Unknown – #NaNoWriMo2017

For my NaNoWriMo project this year, I am writing a modern fantasy novel. You can follow along with the creation process here!

For the month of October, I am working on developing the characters, plot, and setting. It’s a month of doing research, making mood boards (you can check them out on Pinterest), and developing character backstory.

The working title of the story right now is “The Wild Unknown”. So far, the basic story is a bunch of children who were taken by fairies as children are returned as adults without any memory of where they have been. The story follows a woman who found one of returned one night on the road.

More to come as I develop the story and characters!

The Future of Music

Our economy is constantly changing and the music industry along with it. From my own personal consumer experience and growing up in the age of the internet, I can tell you that I am one of those people who directly contributed to the failure of the music industry. I was one of those people who download massive amounts of music off of services like Limewire and Bittorrent. Even as laws slowly caught up with the changes in technology, I too changed. I went from downloading music to streaming it online. For the most part, I have stopped paying for albums unless I love them.

As I started doing my own research into the music industry, I found that the only real victims were the artists themselves. They essentially had to sell everything they made to their record labels in order to give them the exposure they needed to make it big. Some record labels went as far as a sue the artists under them when their records didn’t perform to their impossible standards in the failing music industry.

A few years back, I used a service called Grooveshark, which did not help the artists in the music industry at all. These days, I have a subscription for Spotify which at least give some royalties to the artist every time you play a song of theirs. I use this streaming service to listen to music and when I find a record that I love, I will go out of my way to buy the vinyl of it, go to concerts, and purchase band merchandise. This is how I show my support of the artist. Fun fact, vinyl record sales outperformed CD sales the last three years in a row.

I am not every fond of the big three record labels. While I understand that they need to make money in order to keep the artists producing music, I cannot abide by their business practices. Have you ever seen a recording contract? They are almost as big as the Canadian criminal code! You need to be a lawyer in order to read them. I have my own limited experience with contracts since I work for Disney but these recording contract make my little paper work look like a parent permission slip for a field trip.

When I was thinking of going into the music industry a few years back, I made sure to get a feel for what I would be getting myself into. I researched all the different methods of recording, songwriting, and production before figuring out that I didn’t have the passion it took to get off my butt. I did record one song that I co-wrote with my roommate. She’s an amazing singer and sings with a choir. I can read, write, and record basic music. We put our two heads together and wrote this song and we recorded it at the local music school with the help of a friend who was studying there. This was about six years ago and I haven’t really done anything with it since that time.

I learned to play the guitar (not well), the bass, and keyboard. I learned the basics of recording on my own personal computer, I can certainly help someone else record a demo if they wanted to. I even brushed up on my music theory from what I learned in grade school and private lessons as a teen. I love music and everything to do with it. Even though I have tremendous stage fright, it’s only the pre-performance that bothers me. While actually performing, I am just fine, exhilarated even. I have made some amazing mistake while performing what should have traumatized me but I can only look back at them and laugh.

I think that the future of music industry will be determined by my generation. We love music and we will continue to want to hear new music. If we want to continue to enjoy new music, we will need to figure out a way to balance between purchasing music and supporting the artists. With changes in the release of digital content, we can buy directly from the artists, we can help them fund their recording process, and we can help them to fund a tour so that we can hear them directly. The record label isn’t as necessary as I used to be but it still has a place. Services like Spotify, Bandcamp, and to a limited degree iTunes/Google Play/Amazon will all have their place in the future of the music industry. I can’t wait till we see exclusive recording deals with digital media moguls like iTunes or Spotify. If Netflix can produce their own exclusive content, than we can certainly see Spotify do that one day. If I were a recording artist, I would go with Spotify and other streaming services over that of one of the big three.

~ Clara