Ready or Not…

February

Here comes February. It’s almost the worst month of the year for me. The holidays are pretty much a distant memory and the novelty of the new year has worn off. Now, it’s just…winter. Which means days and days of gray skies here in Cincinnati. It’s not unusual for us to not see the sun for over a week sometimes. It’s pretty rough. Coupled with this gray darkness is the fact that I always struggle with healthy eating the most in February, which seems to set (or doom) the tone for the next few months. Between the near-constant desire to hibernate and lack of physical activity, it’s always an uphill battle to stay mentally and physically healthy in February.

There are some bright spots in February. All of the Valentine’s Day decorations and miscellany in stores this time of year is fun and cheery. Pink anything is always a good choice, from how I see things. I also married someone with a February birthday, so that’s something for which to plan and look forward.

This February, I plan to keep very busy with my business (already swamped with more projects rolling in!) and spending time with my husband and fur-kids. Spring is just around the corner, right?

Keeping Company While Working from Home

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Working from home is great, particularly in the winter. I love not having to leave my warm house and drive in my frigid truck many miles to an office building somewhere. Even though I’m very much an “early bird” and still wake up most mornings before 6:30 to begin work (and sometimes to even hop on phone calls with fellow early-riser clients!), it’s great that my only foray to the outside world is a 30-second walk with my dog, Cosmo, who’s easily lured back into the cozy house with the promise of his breakfast kibble.

It’s great to not have to worry about packing meals and snacks each evening for the next day, as I always did when I worked on-site most days. It’s nice to have the flexibility to be able to throw in a load of laundry or run up to the bank to deposit a check at lunchtime–or even before or after to beat the lunchtime rush of those who work in an office and aren’t blessed with such a flexible schedule as I am.

Despite all these advantages to working from home, these are my three favorite reasons I get to stay home most days.

Cosmo (shih tzu) and Ezra (orange tabby)

me-Cosmo-Ez

Ishmael (orange tabby), Age 12 weeks

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My husband and I adopted Cosmo, our large (24 lb.) shih tzu, first in September 2011, from the shelter where we were living in Bloomington, Indiana. He was about 1-1/2 years old; his shelter name was “Chewie,” as in Chewbacca because his fur was such a long, tangled mess. My husband and I have said, time and time again, that was the best $75 we ever spent. We mean it–especially at a time when $75 was a lot more money to us and our tight student budget.

Cosmo’s shelter photo

shelter

After moving back to Cincinnati, Cosmo and I then “found” the tiny ten-week-old ginger kitty who was to become our Ezra in my mom’s garden crying in July 2012. It’s important to note that we didn’t seek out a kitten, and didn’t formerly think of ourselves as “cat people” in the least. My mom had cats when I was growing up, but I mostly ignored them, except when they chewed the fingers off all of my Barbie dolls. So in the case of Ezra, my husband declared that we would only be keeping the kitten if Cosmo wasn’t upset by him. As the most laid back dog ever who gets along with and loves everyone, that was not a problem. The unlikely fuzzy pair soon bonded, and the rest is history. Ezra irrevocably turned us all–Cosmo included–into cat people! Orange tabbies are particularly special to us.

Ezra, Age 10 weeks

baby-Ezra

After purchasing our first home in April 2014, my husband and I started seriously considering adopting a second cat. We knew that it must be a kitten to be able to adjust to living with an older, dominant cat, it must be an orange tabby and it preferably should be a “he.” In the first days of May, I began scouring PetFinder.com and the local shelters and rescue agencies for male orange kittens. I was quickly informed that it was early in “kitten season.” I realized that made sense considering our vet approximated Ezra’s birthday to be May 5th, cinco de Mayo. I came to grips with the fact that we may have to wait another 6-8 weeks to find just the right little guy to come home with us.

As is tradition when I get something in my mind that I must have, I didn’t give up. On the second day of searching online and making phone calls, we located a kitten that fit the bill. He was located at the Boone County Animal Shelter in Burlington, Kentucky, about a 40-minute drive from our house. I called the shelter to ensure he was still available for adoption. The shelter employee informed me that this little guy (his shelter name was “Andrew”) was still available, but that his fellow ginger littermate brother was already reserved. Kittens are scooped up quickly in pre-kitten season, it seemed. And I know we aren’t the only people with a special affinity for the orange dudes.

We made the drive to Burlington and were led back to the kitten room. I scooped him up and knew he was ours! We paid the $90 adoption fee and the staff put him into a little cardboard kitten carrier complete with a homemade fleece blanket as a going-home present.

Ishmael, Age 7 weeks

baby-Ishmael

Well, the introduction of Ishmael to Ezra was nowhere near as smooth as Ezra to Cosmo. In fact, we had no idea the ordeal we were getting ourselves into. Ezra was mad. Jon and I did a lot of research online and with friends who have experience in the delicate art of cat introduction. We kept the kitty boys completed separated for about the first week. During this time, Ishmael bonded with Cosmo very well. Ishmael really loves his dog brother so much, it’s difficult to express! We are pretty sure it’s the fact that Cosmo has never been mean to him and he has always felt very safe with him, whereas this has not been the case with his fellow feline.

We then began introducing the cats and letting Ishmael have full run of the house when someone was home and during the day. After Ishmael was a few months old had put on some weight and Ezra seemed to be adjusting to the fact that he would be sharing his kingdom with a pip squeak, Ishmael had full run of the house all the time.

Ezra, Age 2.5 (foreground), and Ishmael, Age 10 months

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Cosmo with his gifts for daddy’s birthday, Age 2 (2012)

bub and presents

All three boys relaxing together (December 2014)

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Yes, my husband and I are admittedly crazy pet parents, but we wouldn’t trade that for anything!

Business Trips Continue to Be a Fun Novelty

vistakon

This week I had the pleasure of traveling out of town to visit a client and present at their office. I can count the number of business trips I’ve taken in my professional life on one hand, so it’s still a bit of a novelty for me. I’ve traveled quite a bit throughout my life, but traveling for business is still a bit of a new adventure. It’s always nice meeting clients and business partners face-to-face, often after weeks or months of interaction. Having that personal connection with the client certainly adds another positive dimension to the professional relationship.

This week I traveled to Jacksonville, Florida to visit the offices of an eye care division of Johnson & Johnson for which I’ve been doing a research project. The project has been very exciting to work on, and sharing an overview of the in-progress research with the stakeholders will be very helpful as we work through the end of this project, in order to ensure what we deliver is exactly what the folks at J&J need to make a difference in their business and in serving their customers. It was a long two days of travel–with more time spent in airplanes and airports than anywhere else, really–but receiving some very helpful, frank feedback from the client makes it all worth it. I’m excited to be back home in Cincinnati and ready to dig into the last part of this rewarding consumer research project!

What are some of your favorite business trips? Any exotic destinations that you had time to explore?

Looking Ahead to 2015

new-year-2015

Happy New Year, blog readers! A new year is always full of such promise–of new beginnings, resolutions and another chance to get “it” right. Whatever “it” might mean for you.

When you’re in business for yourself and rely on clients (old and new) to offer you projects, a new year also often means the start of a new fiscal year (yay!). Companies are looking to dive into the new year, hopefully clear-minded and well-rested after holiday vacation and with some fresh, healthy budgets from clients. I’m certainly more than ready to kick back into gear after the slower weeks of the holiday season. I’m not happy if I’m not productive and busy.

2014 was a successful year for me personally and professionally, even though there were certainly some moments of uncertainty and “stepping out on faith” that come with choosing to remain independent. I wouldn’t trade the freedom, risk and reward that come with being in business for myself for anything.

I’m so excited to see what 2015 brings! Bring it on.

What are you looking forward to in the new year? Share your thoughts in the comments below.