How to Keep Working When You’ve Got the Winter Blues

CGreenblatt_unsplashWhen the holidays are over and the New Years celebrations have died down, it’s back to the usual day-to-day activities.

But this time of year comes with a twist for me.

Usually it starts around October when I’m anticipating the time change for daylight savings time (someone please tell me why we’re still doing this?) and suddenly it’s getting dark at 4:30 eastern.

Here on the East Coast the weather gets colder and the trees lose their leaves—everything is stark and grey, without color. Even the sky. It’s like going from bright Technicolor to  black, white and grey.

I love color and light. A lot. It gives me energy. For a long time I never understood why my mood would change during the winter months. But I’d go into a depression and sometimes be stuck in it until spring.

Once I found out what the deal was, it was a revelation. My issues had to deal with the lack of light. From that point on I made sure to do things to help me through: more light, more color and more exercise. Along with those things, less sugars (to avoid the sugar crashes), mediation and lots of reinforcement.

If I get a running start in October, usually I can get through it without falling into an emotional hole. And that hole is not the place to be. It’s like being sucked into an abyss at its worst points.

Once that happens, it’s easy to get stuck in the worse addictive behaviors — or to tune out completely and detach from my normal activities. Of course if you’re showing up at a workplace everyday, your symptoms might be alleviated somewhat. But when you’re working from home (and probably spending large amounts of time alone) it’s tough to stay on track.

But what really pisses me off is that this is called a disorder. It also has its own stupid name: SAD. Seasonal Effective Disorder. Really? Who the hell really thought naming a thing like this, SAD?

Not only are you feeling like shit, but the name of your so-called disorder is just as depressing.

Let me clarify. I don’t consider what I go through as a disorder. Yes, I like light and color. Yes, I prefer to see it all the time, not just 6-9 months out of the year.  I’m not broken. I just need certain things and I’m not getting them. That’s how I choose to see it.

So, I’ve learned to compensate by doing healthy things to keep me going so I can have the energy to get my work done.

Here are some suggestions:

*Get a light box or add more lights to your environment.  A friend of mine recommended full-spectrum light bulbs and I’m using them in my home office.

unsplash-Tongle*Buy fresh flowers or postcards or other items to add a touch of color to brighten up your home or workspace.

*Exercise is a great way to lift your mood. If you can’t get outside as often, use online exercise videos or DVDs. Or create your own routines.

*Meditate in the morning and evening to clear your mind and get focused. If you’re feeling down, positive self-talk will get you going and help to release anxiety.

*Don’t hesitate to meet with a health professional if you feel it’s necessary. There is help out there in many forms, and there’s no shame in acknowledging that you can’t manage this on your own.

One more thing: limiting your exposure to  negative environments (and negative people) can go a long way.  Now is the time for extreme self-care, so don’t be stingy with it.

Book Review: Recipe for Success by Abigail Steinberg

RecipeForSuccess by Abigail SteinbergRecipe for Success: An Insider’s Guide to Bringing Your Natural Food to Market by Abigail Steinberg
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Have you ever thought you had the perfect food product to bring to market? Dreaming of your product on the shelves of Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s? Well before you take one step, read this book.

“Recipe for Success: An Insider’s Guide to Bringing Your Natural Food to Market” by Abigail Steinberg is characterized as,”a shelf-help book.” And it certainly covers all the questions you might have if you’re thinking of getting your product out there.

Steinberg starts out with “bringing your food to market” and introduces her example, Michael’s Perfect Pickles as a way of showing you what is needed. She’s a senior executive in the natural foods industry and she’s also offered her expertise to companies. So, she’s the perfect person to give you the real deal on what to do for the product launch and beyond.

The book covers topics such as, owning your retail shelf space, partnering with distributors, FDA approvals, what you need to know about brokers and how to manage trade shows. She wraps up with information on whether you should sell once you get to a certain point, or expand. As she states in the conclusion, her desire is for you to learn from her hard-won experience. She says, “the natural foods industry is important because it can change the way we eat, clean and consume for the better.”

Creating a product can be an important game-changer, but in order to make sure of its success, you have to understand how the system works.

If you’re an entrepreneur with a strong desire and a great new product, make sure you add Abigail Steinberg’s book to your library. The more you know, the more you can ensure your success in the marketplace. (Received a review copy.)

Amazon link: Recipe for Success: An Insider’s Guide to Bringing Your Natural Food to Market

Why that Terrible Job is Actually a Blessing: The Sequel

Why that terrible job is actuall a blessing: the sequel by Deborah A BaileyOops, I did it again.

A couple of years ago, I was caught up in a contracting assignment that turned into the job from hell. When it ended, I decided to write my first novel. That was a good result of a bad situation.

Fast forward three years later and I have four novels published. So yes, you could say I was inspired to finally stop procrastinating and get moving. But unfortunately, I didn’t learn the lesson.

After spending most of my adult life as an employee, I can honestly say it’s not easy to get out of the employee mindset.

Not to mention that getting regular checks – as one does when they’re on a W2 – works very well. The light and gas company doesn’t want to hear that your check will be late because it’s been three months and you weren’t paid for your freelance work yet. Or that a client stiffed you, or a project fell through. It seems easy to just go back into the workplace and get a few dollars.

Which brings me to my most recent fun and games. After seeing an ad for a short-term writing project requiring a combination of technical skills and marketing, I sent in my resume. I got an interview and was offered the assignment. Things seemed great for a time.

My own office, a supportive manager, nice people on the team. What was there to hate? Interesting work, and the potential for an extended assignment. Minutes from home and work hours I was able to choose.

Then, everything changed. In true Game of Thrones fashion, the department head did not live to see another day. Or rather he lived, but his position didn’t. One day I went home and all was well, the next I heard he was not coming back. The end. With that, the entire department was axed and the team was left to figure out what had just happened.

“It’s never the changes we want that change everything.” -Junot Diaz

Of course there was no plan – like what should everyone do next? No announcement – lets just hope no one notices that we’ve vaporized the entire department. And a whole lot of industrial strength shade being thrown my way as the leader of the new regime assumed her throne.

Businesswoman.Meanwhile, I was a contractor with no power at all. And as with any takeover, the people tied to the old regime become marked for destruction themselves.

It’s always lovely when people smile at you, but you can see in their eyes they wish Star Trek phasers were a real thing – and they could set theirs to disintegrate before pointing it in your direction.

Though I was kept for a while longer, and paychecks are never a bad thing, the frustration of not having meaningful work got to be a bit much. And let’s face, it, formatting word documents and putting commas into articles (or taking them out) is about as interesting as watching paint dry.

I was there to do something I do quite well: write. But when you work in a company that doesn’t value what you do, it’s best to move on.

“Always be smarter than the people who hire you.” – Lena Horne

So what have I finally learned from my side trip through corporate hell redux?

For one thing, though it can be hard to run a business and keep the cash flowing in a positive direction, there are times when the alternative is more toxic. I’m past the point of having to prove that, in spite of my work history, experience and writing samples, that I actually have the skills to do the job (especially when some people are determined not to accept that fact).

Is that too much to ask? Evidently yes for some people. But I thank them for the experience of finding out once and for all that I have to stay away from corporate. There’s nothing wrong with getting paid so you can carry on with what you have to do, but if it messes with your sanity and frustrates the hell out of you (which also messes with your work) find another way.

“Hard work is a prison sentence only if it does not have meaning.” – Malcolm Gladwell

Don’t keep drinking the poison then wondering why it makes you sick. Just accept that it’s sickening and be done with it. Move on. Find other alternatives. Make it work in a way that won’t drag you down into a hot mess quagmire.

I’ve let corporate be the fall back because its familiar. Unfortunately, it also sucks. Which is why I left in the first place. So why keep repeating the same experience and expecting a different result? That’s the definition of insanity, if I remember correctly.

“Every job from the heart is, ultimately, of equal value. The nurse injects the syringe; the writer slides the pen; the farmer plows the dirt; the comedian draws the laughter. Monetary income is the perfect deceiver of a man’s true worth.” – Criss Jami

But it’s over now and the blessing is I’ve finally learned that you can’t keep repeating what doesn’t work and hope that one day it will. Accept that it won’t and move on.

It may be more challenging for me to press on without my familiar fall back, but that’s how I’ll grow. In fact, I’ve already grown because I don’t fit into that world anymore. It’s taken me a while to finally accept it, but I do now – and that is the real blessing.

3 More Martin Luther King Jr Quotes that Inspire Me

Last year I shared three MLK Jr quotes that have inspired me over the years. So, since I’m a quote collector from way back (and especially since this is MLK Jr Day 2016) I’m going to share three more of my favorite quotes.

ultimate measure

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands in times of challenge and controversy.”

Let’s say you feel like you must take a stand – have an opinion about an issue that offends your sense of right and wrong.

Do you take the stand, even if some of your colleagues, clients, contacts, friends  may not agree? Or do you play it safe? Stay quiet and choose not to speak up and hope the storm blows over?

There comes a time when you have to stand up for what you claim to stand for. But keep in mind that taking a stand doesn’t have to mean being forceful or offensive. It can mean following your conscience and living (and speaking) with integrity. If you are a business owner, you have to be mindful that what you say, and how you promote yourself lines up with the truth of who you are.

true peace

“True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice.”

Keeping the peace, in some situations, means keeping your mouth shut and pretending everything is fine.

This happens in the workplace, in homes and in personal relationships. Instead of dealing with the issues at hand, people try to avoid confronting them. This only perpetuates the problems and puts them on a slow boil. In the end, the pot will explode because the “peace” was an illusion.

everybody can be great because everyone can serve - MLK Jr“Everybody can be great because anyone can serve.”

You don’t have to be a household name or the richest person to make your mark in the world.

Some people think they must be a big celebrity to make an impact. But that’s not true and never has been. Share you gifts with the world. Be a provider of what people need.

This is something that is very true for entrepreneurs. You can fill a need, solve a problem, be of service simply by being your authentic self.


Book Review: Second House from the Corner by Sadeqa Johnson

Second House from the CornerSecond House from the Corner by Sadeqa Johnson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Felicia Lyons seems to have it all, including three lovely children, a successful, adoring husband and a great life in the ‘burbs. But all isn’t what it seems and as her story unfolds, layers of her life are peeled back to reveal the truth she’s been hiding.

Vivid descriptions help to bring Faye’s world to life, and show her journey hasn’t been an easy one. Her picture perfect world was built on the ruins of an entirely different life, a life that won’t remain hidden for long. Though at first I wasn’t quite sure where things were going, once it picked up speed I found the book impossible to put down.

Though at times I questioned Faye’s reactions to the events spinning out of control in her life, they made more sense to me as the story unfolded. It also helped that the author was describing some familiar locations in NJ and PA, which I recognized and could picture for myself. For me, those locations helped to place Faye and her family and friends into a very real world.

Overall, it describes the extent people will go to make a fresh start, even if it means losing themselves in the process. But in the end, there’s no running away from the truth of who you are and what you’ve experienced. (Received a review copy.)

View all my reviews

Amazon link: Second House from the Corner: A Novel

Round-up of Popular Posts You Might Have Missed

Photo Credit: ldandersen via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: ldandersen via Compfight cc

This is actually part 2 of a round up of Soul of an Entrepreneur blog posts you might have missed the first time around. This time they’re from the Entrepreneurial Spirit, Manage Your Career and Book Reviews categories.

Want to keep up with new posts? Check out the sign up box on the right and hit the “subscribe” button to have posts sent directly to your inbox.

Entrepreneurial Spirit

3 Things You Must Do When You Get a Job to Fund Your Business

When I left corporate I had no intention of going back. As one of my coworkers once said, “the corporate world is a necessary evil.” And, I still see no lies in that statement.

Is it Time to Walk Away from Your Business? 3 Pieces of Advice

Back when I was in corporate I would get what I called the “Sunday night blues.” As the day would go on, I’d have more and more anxiety.

“The Economy of You: Discover Your Inner Entrepreneur” Book Review

If you’ve ever been stressed out trying to make financial ends meet, or worried about losing your job, author Kimberly Palmer’s new book provides a roadmap with steps for adding a “side-gig” or going into entrepreneurship full-time.


Manage Your Career

When You Want to Leave but You’re Afraid to Lose it All

Back when I was in corporate I had a 4-hour round-trip commute everyday. One day I was on the express train into NYC. Surrounded by other commuters, there were so many  people in my car that I couldn’t lift my arm up to read my book.

Why that Terrible Job is Actually a Blessing

Yes, you read that right. Your terrible job is a blessing, and I’ll tell you why.

How to Make the Most of Your Job Search

From my interview on Good Day Street Talk on Fox 5 NY. Learn how to stand out from the competition when you’re job hunting on this episode of Good Day Street Talk TV show.


Book Reviews

Book Review: “The Art of War for Small Business” by Becky Sheetz-Runkle

There are a lot of advantages to running a small business over a larger one, though often small business owners may feel overwhelmed when they try to keep up with the big players. The Art of War for Small Business by Becky Sheetz-Runkle, uses “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu as its inspiration.

Book Spotlight: “Graced with Orange” by Jamie C. Amelio

In her book, Graced with Orange, author Jamie C. Amelio shares a life-changing encounter that changes her life and leads her to found Caring for Cambodia (CFC).

Book Review: The Art of Work by Jeff Goins

Those looking for the work they were meant to do, will find a meaningful guide in The Art of Work. Not the usual book about how to follow your dream, author Jeff Goins shows that your calling isn’t a destination, but steps on a life-long journey.

Book Review: Color Your Life Happy by Flora Morris Brown

Color Your Life Happy: Create Your Unique Path and Claim the Joy You DeserveColor Your Life Happy: Create Your Unique Path and Claim the Joy You Deserve by Flora Morris Brown
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you’re looking for a way to be more positive in your life, Color Your Life Happy outlines the various ways that people can inject more happiness into their lives.

With chapters such as, “Opening Your Mind to Happiness,” “Making Happiness a Way of Life” and “Handling Change and Adversity,” author, Flora Brown highlights the ways that individuals can learn to live happier lives without having to make major (or unrealistic) changes.

Actually it can come down to small, incremental steps that can lead to a better quality of life from the inside out. This book includes very practical suggestions that anyone can implement and benefit from.  (Received a review copy.)

View all my reviews

Amazon link: Color Your Life Happy: Create Your Unique Path and Claim the Joy You Deserve

Book Review: Rising Strong by Brene Brown

Rising StrongRising Strong by Brené Brown
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A good book for individuals and for teams in the workplace. It shows how to look at the stories we tell ourselves, and how to cut through so that we can be honest about what we’re feeling and why.

Instead of shielding ourselves from being vulnerable, we can use those times as opportunities for growth and better communication.

Of course, we have to be willing to do the work, but Brown’s book provides a foundation for those who are ready to try.  (Received a review copy.)

View all my reviews

Amazon link: Rising Strong

What if You’re Already Where You Want to Be?

successWhen I was I corporate, there were definitive markers on my career journey.  At AT&T we had numbers to tell us where we were in the hierarchy. An a2 was entry, while a4 was the career level.

When you got to 5 you were a project leader and one step away from the magic number: 6, which was managing a team.

While most of us sat in hideously burnt orange cubes with half walls, managers got grey cubes with full-sized walls.  The grey cube itself became a symbol, just as getting the “corner office” is in other environments.

At first I could’ve cared less about being promoted past a 4. I was trying to climb anyone’s ladder. But in time, I began to feel the promotion would be a way to get more money and perhaps be a reward for all the work I was putting in. The nights, weekends and holidays where I was called on to give every spare moment to my job.

Unfortunately getting to those hallowed levels wasn’t easy, and had more to do with who you knew than with how hard you worked. There were managers who were known never to promote any of their staff, no matter what. While others were more fair and managed to actually support their employees in their career development.

It was the luck of the draw, though. You might work for a good manager, or one who sucked. Your entire career depended on who pulled the strings.

Once I left that environment, it was tough to figure out where I was as an entrepreneur. How could I chart my progress? By the dollars I was making, the dollars I was keeping? The number of clients or the number of products? What was the magic number? How would I know I’d arrived?

“Too many people miss the silver lining because they’re expecting gold.” ~Maurice Setter

After years of managing my career, I was at a loss. So, like most other people, I was drawn to the siren song of “6 Figures or Bust.” That was the magic number. When I got there, I could sit back and it would all be smooth.

But as I’ve continued, I’ve come to terms with that fantasy. As Maya Angelou said, “when you know better, you do better.” better

It took a lot of tears, sweat and lean times, but I got it. There is not one marker of success.

Sure, one marker should probably be that you can turn a profit, even though there are many “successful” companies that haven’t.

Countless companies have had extreme ups and downs – have crashed, burned, been revived and cracked up again. It’s not a straight line from start to success.

Lately I’ve been looking at nice websites, clever logos, improvised titles and engaging “about me” pages, and wondering, where am I?

Do I need to create a brand or pick out special colors or call myself some impossibly hip title? Chief Envisioner? Fairy Dust Spreader? Creative Diva-in-Chief?

What do I have to do to finally make it? Who do I have to be?

“We begin to find and become ourselves when we notice how we are already found, already truly, entirely, wildly, messily, marvelously who we were born to be.” — Anne Lamott

People who contact me see that I’ve done lots of stuff, and they react based on what they see. But I don’t always feel like I know what I’m doing, even though they might believe otherwise.

Will a logo help me to feel like I’ve arrived? A new website? Or is the answer solely in my bank statement?

When I thought about how I should pull everything together, I had to stop and think. I’m a writer, I have a podcast, I blog and write books, I teach workshops – isn’t that what I wanted to do?

Can I just accept that I’m where I’ve always wanted to be – even without all the trappings that I’m “supposed” to have?

It can be hard to recognize you’ve already arrived when you think success is supposed to look a certain way. But it’s not like being back in corporate and having a level number or a grey cube to tell me who who I am and what I’ve done.

“Life is very short and what we have to do must be done in the now.” – Audre Lorde

Now I get to decide what my success looks like. I get to say, I’m where I want to be. So what if it isn’t super slick and neatly packaged in just the “right” way?

Where do you want to be? What is your ideal? Possibly you might already be doing it… being it…living in it.

Instead of the constant striving and struggling and climbing to get to that elusive thing called, success, maybe you should stop and take stock.  If you’re defining your own success, there’s a good chance you’re already there.

Copyright © 2015 Deborah A. Bailey

What’s Your Recipe for Success?

rp_j0422850-300x240.jpgPreviously I wrote a post about how my mom’s potato pie got me thinking about success.

No, really. It did. You see, she’s the kind of cook who usually doesn’t use recipes.

Unless it’s something she usually doesn’t make, like my Aunt Emma’s fruitcake recipe. That’s a big one. Takes a couple of days for prepping and baking.

But with her sweet potato recipe, it’s something she does instinctively. No measuring. She does it by feel and experience.

A while back I watched her and I wrote down the ingredients and instructions. I still haven’t given it a try yet. But other people in my family have, and their pies all taste differently than my mom’s.

The original recipe came from my grandmother, and her pies didn’t taste like my mom’s either. Each person added her own twist, her own thing that changed how the pie tasted in each case.

That’s the thing. It doesn’t matter if everyone follows the same blueprint, takes the same course, follows the same roadmap – no two people will have the same experience.

Something will be different in the end result. Each person will put something of themselves into it.

For me, that’s why I’ve pretty much given up on following the steps that others say I must follow in order to be successful. Sure if you want an exact copy their business, following their map will most likely work. You’ll do what they did, and arrive where they are.

Or maybe not.

I’ve yet to meet an entrepreneur who followed a straight line to success. There are usually lots of twists and turns. So, I’m not sure how one straight path can lead you to what you’re looking for.

That’s why I compare success to following a recipe. You can have all the right ingredients and the instructions, and still come out with something that does not taste the same. And that’s good.

You can follow the recipe, but somewhere in there you’re going to add your own thing. You’re going to change it up to make it your own. And isn’t that really the point? To create something that reflects you?

There’s nothing wrong with following a recipe. But don’t be afraid to experiment and make your creation uniquely your own.