Archive | March, 2012

Where I’ve Been Finding Inspiration this Week…

29 Mar

I’m not sure about you, but inspiration can, at times, be hard to find. This month, I’ve had heavy weight on my shoulders due to a few large-scale copywriting projects (talk about writer’s block!), work on my mind all hours of the day, and a budding side business which desperately needs focus and attention. With my energy all over the place, I’m left with wondering how to maintain my creativity, energy, and inspiration needed to do great work.

Cue a week of self exploration. The past few days have been full of internal debates, self-criticism, and a personal need to bring positivity and new energy back into my world. My job requires me to be active and moving 8am-5pm M-F. To be successful, I can’t allow my brain to get into this rut for too often and for too long. This is why when a string of fun, thought-provoking events, ideas, and content came into my world – I wrapped my arms around them all and was thankful. Here’s what happened:

Social Media Professionals Network – Just meeting and collaborating with peer professionals can provide a boat load of ideas. Our first Pittsburgh Social Media Professionals Speaker Series event was last week in the beautiful Pennsylvanian on Liberty Ave. Our round table conversation provided me with a reminder to never settle. Never stop learning. (PS – you should plan to join us for the next event.)

This Book: Social Media ROI  by Oliver Blanchard – If you are in online or digital marketing, pick up this book. Written specifically for C-level execs, Blanchard reviews everything from hiring strategic digital marketing managers to introducing a social media program to your corporation. Fascinating read. Found new perspective and outlook from this one.

The Stairmaster. No joke. Stepping away from the problem (either physically or mentally) helps to think about the issue from a different perspective. Dealing with writer’s block is difficult while I feel pressure to type. On the stairmaster, I think about the topic and words seem to just flow like water.

Long, Lost Friends – Energy found from friends and connections. Last week, I reconnected with a close friend during a wake. Yes, the reason for our reunion was pretty sad and is still is a weight on my mind (related blog post in progress) but seeing her has been a source of excitement and energy in my world. Conversations with an old friend bring up ideas and plans from that stage of life that I had long since forgotten. Conversing with her has brought up a sense of optimism. I cannot wait to continue these discussions.

Entrepreneurs – Finally, D and I have begun working with onlyinpgh.com. If you aren’t following them on Twitter, do so quickly. Their new project called Scenable is going to be seriously groundbreaking. The excitement, drive, and passion start-ups have is probably the best place to find inspiration. Especially from this one. Their drive to improve Pittsburgh communities is seriously remarkable. Not to mention, their 60-70+ hours/week of dedication makes my standard work week look pitiful!

I’m a true karma believer. Good things come in your life if you welcome them in. This week, I begged the world for new energy and that’s certainly what came. Thanks, yinz.

-Katie

My Constant Struggle…and I Can’t Be the Only One.

25 Mar

Money. Let’s talk about it. I have a progressive view on discussing finances. I don’t feel like it’s taboo in any way. Our society norms have taught us that it is inappropriate to openly discuss money, especially related to income, debt, and what’s within our “means”.  Yet, we live in a world where most people want to appear like they make more than others. That’s usually how we fall into debt – and that’s a shame. As an example, how many times have you felt pressured to go to a “$$$$” restaurant when you really should be going to a “$$” this month?

Anywho. Practically every day I wrestle with finding that balance between smart spending (the pay-yourself-first strategy) and spending to make you feel satisfied. I’m a woman. I like pretty things (Essie nail polish, J Brand jeans, pretty dresses…you get the picture). But, I learned to love security even more.

Security isn’t meeting and marrying a rich man. It isn’t counting on your dad to back you up. It isn’t even trusting that “you’ll figure it out” or “you’ll think about that later”. In my opinion, security is feeling confident that you have a plan in place to be able to live 100% independently, if necessary.

Why am I rambling about this? I follow fashion-loving women on Twitter who often share their outfits, buys, and deals online. Boy do I get jealous. Just a bit ago, someone Tweeted about Birchbox. So I begin to browse the site…see this foundation that I LOVE…almost buy…crap, it’s $28. No. I’m gonna rock out that $9 Maybelline Dream Mousse for just a bit longer. Begin brief period of sadness and dreaming of a shopping trip.

My 20s have taught me to find balance. Okay. I love pricey nail polish. However, $8/bottle or weekly manicures can’t be a regular thing. I had to strike a deal with myself to limit my buys to one color per month. Shopping trips? I budget to go shopping once a season. Preferably, wait until end-of-season sales when merch is 30-50% off. My weakness? Dining out. Still working on that. Speaking of which, need to check out Union Pig and Chicken ASAP!

I’m fortunate to have so many inspiring women in my life. These women are smart, talented, passionate, gorgeous, friendly, and forward-thinking. My dear friend, Sarah Sudar writes for The Style Clutch – providing budget-friendly fashion tips for women of all ages. Worth the follow 🙂

I welcome further conversations about budget challenges for you. What are your challenges? How do you stay organized and on budget?

Until next time –

Katie

Fresh Outlook: Spring Plans and Projects

22 Mar

Growing up, my dad would spend the early months of the year prepping his garden in a makeshift greenhouse in our basement. I found a lot of excitement from looking forward to higher temperatures, sunshine, and the promise of spending more time outdoors. My dad’s gardening was the first true indication that my favorite season was on the way.

Of course, as I grew older, my father’s passions became less cool. I moved to Pittsburgh and began soaking up all that urban life can offer. All was well, until I developed a passion for cooking about a year ago when my schedule balanced out and I gained a +1 who enjoys my food just as much as I enjoy cooking. That was the first time I began lusting over homegrown tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, lettuce…ahh EVERYTHING! BTW – Pittsburghers adore their homegrown tomatoes. We are the proudest bunch over fresh produce from our garden.

It was then decided. I’m going to try out this gardening thing.

Enter Problem : We live in a lovely, East End apartment with not one blade of grass. NONE. The horror for this…ahem…”country” girl.

We decided to get creative and do an entire above-ground garden. I got the seeds going for herbs and veggies a few weeks ago. While those are sprouting, we are looking for inspiration for funky, interesting ‘vessels’ for our delicious homegrown goods. Below is an image of my herbs at week 1 as well as images of our “OMG THAT’S COOL” ideas. Happy Spring!

Do you have any projects coming up? Would love to get some inspiration from your ideas, too!

-Katie

Quit Slackin’

13 Mar

Make it Happen

This is the motto I live by. These words run through my head practically every morning, afternoon, evening, and late at night….

“Get Shit Done”…”Make it Happen”…”Just Do This Already” 

Why have I chosen this to be my first topic on gchatwithus.com? Well, between Liz and I, we have tons of ideas, wants, dreams, and plans. Really, tons and tons. I’m sure we’ll blog bits and pieces as this venture continues. However, none of our big dreams will become reality by hangin’ low and doing the same old routine. Clearly, I fall into the Type A realm, but there comes a time when you realize – if you REALLY want *XYZ* to happen, it’s time to put some moves in motion.

Three years ago, I graduated from Pitt and felt so lost. My parents did a great job preparing me for this moment, but damn did it feel overwhelming. After racking up a few $K to the credit card, several spontaneous weekend get-a-ways, and flat-out overdoing it in my social life – I came to this ‘A HA!’ moment: enough is enough already. We coined the term: “you gotta get your life together” and that’s exactly what I did.

What was the tipping point? Moo-lah. Dinero. Bones. I got to the point where I just didn’t know how much was in the bank at any given time. So unsettling. So Scary.  My mother once told me, “they day you can talk to me about your financial situation without tears is the day you are in control.” This lasted about a year or so until I went full force into my own little personal financial bootcamp. This will definitely be something I write about often. Pulled myself out of debt, built up a serious emergency savings, and got a great start with retirement – all within 2 years. Damn that felt great. I haven’t cried about this since.

This sense of ‘gotta make this happen’ extended into the rest of my life. I learned quickly that to reach my dreams, I need to think out of the box. Problem solve. Constantly learn. Dream big.

Why am I putting this into words today? Because this determination isn’t easy to maintain. This past weekend, I was a machine. Accomplished work for both my professional and personal lives plus enjoyed a beautiful weekend. Soaked up the productivity bliss. That determination carried into Monday. Tuesday morning, gone. I fought with myself the entire day to stay focused, keep pushing, MAKE SHIT HAPPEN.

A walk, clear mind, healthy foods, and an up-beat Pandora station eventually did the trick. But man, all I wanted to do was pin pictures to my Pinterest boards all day!

I’m sure some of you have been in my place. Nothing I just said was ground-breaking – however, it’s comforting to know that everyone has a mental personal struggle to keep focused, driven, and productive.

-Katie

"I'm Possible"

An Introduction…

1 Mar

 

My dear friend Liz and I – we’re buds. We met three sweet years ago as servers at the beloved Elbow Room in Shadyside. Liz was still studying at CMU and I just wrapped up at Pitt, trying to figure out my life’s game-plan. <Insert Nostalgic Song Here/>. So we lived a life of late nights out, bar/restaurant hopping throughout Pittsburgh, and talking a lot about what we wanted “when we’re grown up.” Not much later, we became roommates. Sharing shoes (well, I borrowed from Liz), sharing wine (or Liz drinking mine), and lots of cuddling/TV-watching/snacking on the comfy couch. Bliss.

Fast-forward. A lot has happened in three years. We’re both out of the restaurant biz. Liz moved to Philly. My lovely, sweet boyfriend moved in, and we’re pursuing our careers. Just like we always said we would! Me, in online/social media marketing.

But here’s the thing – we gchat, a lot. We share stories, ideas, thoughts, issues. We are constantly swapping links of news stories, Pinterest pins, Facebook photos… the list goes on. Not only do we love and get jazzed up about fashion, recipes, and current events, we also work through the common growing pains of being in your 20s. Together, we talk through budgeting and saving strategies, fitness tips, and travel dreams. There are a lot of thoughts, ideas, and inspiration that run between us thanks to the beauty of the Internet, and we’re not done chatting. Why not create a space where we can record these valuable thoughts, and better yet, why not share them with you?

So here is the beginning. Gchat with us.

-Katie