honesty & change: taking freelancing to the next step

by lizzie & isaiah on August 29, 2011 · 17 comments

Nothing will kick your ass in gear to learn more about time management than when you land a boatload of clients at once. We have a lot of personal projects on our plate – such as redesign this mess that you’re looking at right now and get a business license and new cards and there are 100 things we need to do to have a stronger freelancing business. At the moment, we’re just making it work remembering that client deadlines are sacred and our work, unfortunately, has to come second.

The reason we let ctrlP die a horribly long, slow and miserable death was because we kept getting clients from Etsy and it was money. We’ve never really been ones to turn down money when we’re in a tight spot, even if it comes with a horrible bitchy client at the end of the string.

Part of growing our freelance business and lifestyle is giving Isaiah a job that will pay bills and keep his portfolio and skills up-to-date and “warm” while he’s in school. (Guys, can I just say that I’m dying to share some of his recent drawings and paintings? That’s coming soon.)

The other part is our ultimate desire to be autonomous and work together. We don’t want to be those crazy entrepreneurs with a million ideas and no action … or 100 small ventures – a blog, another blog, a stationery shop, a graphic freelance business, a writing freelance business, a graphic design blog and oh. my. gah. are you as tired as I am? I don’t want to fail. I never want to fail. But you can’t succeed at everything you try and your best bet to move forward successfully sometimes – at least ours, at the moment, is to either a) pick one thing that you’re excellent at and continue working and learning and getting better at that one thing or b) find a way to infuse a few of the things you love and are good at together in a way that works.

We’re still trying to figure out which path we’re taking. All we know is that we can’t continue with ad hoc business for very long. It’s difficult to keep everything straight, to find clients you like and to keep recurring clients when you’re operating in a fly-by-night manner. When you stay up until 4 a.m. on Saturday nights to finish client projects, you’re bound to let something fall eventually and you don’t have enough energy to seek out new, bigger & better client-fish and your relationship can be strained from lack of sleep and energy.

I was talking with my dad this weekend about how I never know where I want to go and I wish things were clearer. I am naturally geared to be extremely career-oriented. I think about work far too often and I am concerned with people’s perception of me at work and my opportunities for advancement to the point of fault. I was worried I wasn’t “playing the game” well enough and that I would be overlooked at work and I was freaking out that we weren’t charging enough for freelance work and oh my gah, dad, I don’t even have a business license yet. 

My dad has always “gotten me.” He told me that Isaiah and I have something a lot of people don’t get the chance to have. (My dad’s a big fan of Isaiah’s and has always said he gets it and that Isaiah knows me far better than anyone else). He told me I would be a fool to overlook that for something I don’t even care about. He told me not to play the game.

You need to just go to work. Work your ass off while you’re there. Then relax. Spend time with your best friend and work on the weekends together toward your dream. If that ever gets to be too much for your relationship or ever threatens to tear you apart, just drop it. But you don’t want your whole life to be wrapped up in your job or a million “goals,” do you? 

I didn’t. I don’t.

From here, we’re excited about the possibilities, but we’re taking slow, deliberate steps to make sure we don’t wind up with another set-up-at-midnight-Etsy-shop with little to no planning or forethought.

What about you guys? What dreams/goals do you have that you’re working toward? Are you working slowly or trying to get it done as soon as possible? Do you have a reason for doing it that way? Tell me all about it. I’m dying to know.

Photo: Melissa Textor’s graphite drawings, yes graphite, found on Erin Loechner’s Design for Mankind


On Getting Given Away

by lizzie & isaiah on November 6, 2010 · 17 comments

My dad and I have this unusual connection. Before I tell you about that…let me tell you a bit about why I decided to write this post.

If you haven’t read Sarah’s blog, take a break from this post to check it out. Her six-year-old daughter answers questions on the blog as the Tiny Wedding Planner. It’s really the cutest thing, at first, and then you get past wanting to squeal from how adorable her daughter is, and the advice is legit and of the pure-and-innocent persuasion.

Anna recently asked TWP a question about the depth of her father’s involvement in their wedding. This was a topic on my mind long before Isaiah proposed, and truthfully, before I even met him.

My dad is an alcoholic. He has been since he was in his teens and only took a short break during the three years he courted my mom…only to quickly resume after they were married and I came along.

There are varying degrees of alcoholism. Some folks are the after-work-grab-a-drink-or-five-everyday type. My dad’s the disappear-for-months-at-a-time type.

When I was younger, I was definitely aware of his alcoholism, but I stayed pretty separate from him during those times. I remember thinking the smell of alcohol was so warm and sweet on his scruff and I slept almost every single night in one of his undershirts and wanted to be closer and closer to him. When I was in middle school, he would pick me up every Monday from school to take me to choir practice an hour away and then we would finish up the night at The Enchanted Castle.*

We used to take an annual trip to Hawaii and one year, my mom didn’t go**. It was my dad and I. He was absent enough to let me get a sunburn so bad, I had deep scabs on my shoulders for more than a month after. There was no defining moment where my dad hurt me, it was just his distance from everyday that led to more and more surface cuts each time.

My parents divorced when I was 12. I knew how much my dad’s alcoholism and repeated stays at rehab affected my mom and I knew he was getting more and more absent from her as he fell deeper in. It wasn’t a last-straw sort of situation. It was an even-my-dad-knew-it-was-time situation. He helped us buy a new house for ourselves.

My dad came by often to pick me up. I have as many fond memories of him being loving and thoughtful. When I was 15, I was dropped off at his house to stay with him and his girlfriend. His girlfriend had left, the door was kicked in, and all of our furniture was gone except the couch, where my dad lay. He had a full beard. There were a dozen empty liters around the room. I thought he was dead.

My dad has been recovering excellently for two months in a program now. Even after all of the roller-coasters I have been on with him, I can’t distance myself. Someday, he’ll die. Because of his lifestyle, that could be sooner rather than later. There are two reasons I don’t waste any time being upset with him:

  1. For myself.  He has disappeared most years, once per year. Every time, I wonder if I’ll see him again. When he dies, I can’t live the rest of my remaining years regretting not enjoying every minute we had together.
  2. It’s not a choice. I’ll elaborate more than a sentence on that point.

My mom is an incredible person, I’ve told you that before. I would say I get equal halves of my personality from my parents, respectively. But there are qualities that, while he is gone, I can’t identify with anyone in my family on, because they are the ones I share with him. We’re both loud, entertainingly cynical and really talkative. My dad often tells me, “You are my heart.” We are bound to one another because of that connection I mentioned.

Anyways, because I choose to stay close to my dad, I have a dilemma on my hands. I decided a while ago to have my mom walk me down the aisle. If my dad is able to come to the wedding, he’ll be welcome to join us on the other arm.

Choosing who walks you down the aisle can be tough. I believe it’s an honor. I believe it’s representative of who gets the privilege of giving you away and should, therefore, be the person who is responsible for the person you’ve become. But am I gonna let principle stand in the way of me sharing the day with my dad if he’s there? Hell no, I’m not.

P.S. If you have made a different decision in your similar situation, it’s obviously one of the most personal, if not the most personal decision at times, in the planning of a wedding. If you feel comfortable sharing, I like listening.

*My mom and I did the same thing on Wednesdays when I had ice-skating practice…we would go to Marie Callender’s afterward and share broccoli cheese soup and a piece of banana cream pie.

**More on my family’s “status” later.


The Date

by lizzie & isaiah on October 16, 2010 · 19 comments

We picked a date.

So much thought went into picking this date. I mean. We decided in about an hour. But there were three choices…and I’m an indecisive  girl for sure. The lovely Lauren of I Love You Much (If you haven’t checked out her blog, you’re missin’ out) helped out on Twitter as well.

My mom (who is unusually badass) entered us for this contest a little while ago for a free eight-hour photography package from the fantastic Hanle Productions in Chicago and free day-of-coordination from SH Weddings! We won’t know for a while who won, and I think we may have exceeded our lucky-streak’s capabilities with some recent wins…but that doesn’t mean I’m not thinking night-and-day about winning this contest.

We got an email yesterday telling us that we had to get back to them with a concrete wedding date within the day. Of course I took this far too hopefully…I tend to be overly optimistic in life. I might end up just a crushed bag-of-bones by the day they announce it…but we hadn’t a clue when our wedding date was going to be.

We had three choices off the top of my head. September 2, November 25, November 11, 2011. I liked September 2 and November 25 because people would be off work…it’s really important to me that my family from out of town be able to come without too much of a hassle if they want to. November 11th called to me, however, as – apparently – my subconscious has been insanely jealous of 10.10.10 brides. So yeah, it’s more than a year away, but that will give us some time to lock down some trabajos, save some money, bargain-hunt for a while longer…

And…I’ll just say it. I am pumped to get married to Isaiah, but we are both really enjoying this engaged phase. I feel like my tendency is to automatically jump to the next stage…My mind is definitely not on school right now because I have one semester left…etc. The fact that we’re actually enjoying this transitional phase, soaking up every day that we’re engaged has been unusually great.

We both officially decided: If we have forever together, what’s the rush?

We refuse to put it off any longer (hypocritical) than November of 2011 though.

So how do we feel about 11.11.11? Is it a winner?


From Her Fridays: Double Dutch

by lizzie & isaiah on September 18, 2010 · 12 comments

Image: Corbis Images

Okay. It’s officially Saturday. My apologies.

This semester is going to be listed next to the definition of bananas soon. It’s my final semester in school and life is seeming more and more like double dutch every day.

I foolishly signed up for 18 credit hours to graduate in December. Two of those classes are the two upper-level public relations classes and are extremely project-intensive. I’m in another PR course that requires 36 hours of shadowing professionals throughout the semester, a.k.a. = bananas. My favorite class, by far, is magazine production…having a blast. My story is falling to pieces as the event I chose to write on is going down with it…and while it’s absorbing all of my time, I’m having a great time going down in flames. Lastly, environmental science, which is blowing my f*cking mind-hole and rubbing sandpaper all over my skin every day. Interestingly enough, this class doesn’t give you credit for all of the hours you spend feeling guilty over your environmental impact on the world.

I’m working three internships – all unpaid, and I’m PR director of my student organization. Hoping to take on a paying project in the next week or so, more on that later.

Isaiah and I are also trying to fit in something that resembles a normal relationship in that schedule and I like to see my family every once in a while.

My schedule is f*cking – * + u = bananas.

I am having a great semester, however, having a lot of fun and keeping busy. Maybe too much fun. I don’t want to drop any activities, but after graduation, where will I be? Joining the completely over-saturated PR market in Dallas, Texas?

I’ve always looked too far ahead. So far ahead – that sometimes I forget to enjoy the moment. I’m always planning and getting the next project rolling. I don’t want to spent the last semester of college thinking about the “next semester,” the next chapter…but, because of my unpaid intern status, graduation will be the double dutch act of focusing on school and continuously looking for a job this semester…preparing.

The wedding planning feels that way now. We don’t have jobs. We’re utterly unemployed and for far too long now. Our savings is starting to have that whole – “I’ll just take a sliver of pie and my mom won’t notice…Maybe just one more,” before-you-know-it-the-whole-pie-is-gone – effect. (Don’t pretend you haven’t done it).

We’re in that whole credit-cards-are-scouting-us and begging us to go into suicidal amounts of debt to “save us” from the impending doom of our financial woes phase. Should we be planning a wedding right now? How responsible is it to plan for a future while our present looks the way it does? It feels a little bit like putting money away religiously into savings when you have a huge credit card bill collecting interest.

Double dutch. Jumping in at the right time and being sure we don’t bust-face on the pavement from being too early, too late.

My mom is the ultimate voice of reason, urging us to wait until we have some options lined up to continue planning the wedding. Maybe I have too much faith in Isaiah and I, but we’re both young, able-bodied, intelligent and hard-working people. I am really not tooting our combined horns here, I just think it’s not ridiculous to think we could continue planning (a.k.a. start planning) on the basis that we will have jobs within the next year – our tentative date.

What do you think about the double dutch of life?

Were you in a great spot when you got engaged/started planning?

Any advice/consolation/ideas welcome…


The Big Picture. A.K.A. Sparkling White Wine

July 12, 2010

We’re not any more positive on what kind of wedding we want to have than we were on Friday. But we are, hopefully, in the right direction now. We took Awesome Angie’s advice and discussed the big picture over bottle(s) of wine. We didn’t succeed in getting gloriously eye-opening revelations or anything. But then again, [...]

18 comments you know you wanna read more..

Wed·ding: n. A place to learn from others' mistakes?

June 27, 2010

Went to the second wedding I’ve ever been just a guest to, which was really nice. It’s a whole different perspective when you’re a) planning your wedding and b) not involved in any planning details of this wedding, you just get to enjoy it. I knew I would be taking notes while I was there. [...]

32 comments you know you wanna read more..

Venue Freakout

June 22, 2010

A.K.A. What kind of wedding do we really want? Isaiah and I have been so torn on what kind of wedding we want, and in turn, what venue should the wedding be held in. So far, the only decision we have set in stone is the venue, but wait…not really. We have two very distinct [...]

17 comments you know you wanna read more..

Introducing: Our Engagement Photographer

June 9, 2010

We are so excited about our engagement photographer: Kristiane Smith. Kristiane and her best friend, Brandon, are a mean student photography duo studying at UNT (also my school). Because photography is ultimately going to be my favorite part of the whole wedding planning process (as in my life), I was a little leery about going [...]

17 comments you know you wanna read more..

Next Step: Contract

June 1, 2010

Since we’re planning our wedding from Texas to Chicago, we have a few people doing some scouting for us. Isaiah’s fabulous sister lives downtown and she is doing some looking in for us. We’ve been deciding between Opera and Carnivale for the ceremony/reception venue. We were under the impression that Opera was basically a less-expensive [...]

14 comments you know you wanna read more..