Friday, April 30, 2010

Coffee to the rescue

This week we’ve been struck by the crud...again. WIth 2 kids in preschool, we’re bound to catch any virus that’s out there. And we do. I can take the coughing in my face and the wiping of runny noses, but my patience is truly tested by our little ones’ extreme crankiness and sleepless nights. Sometimes I just have to laugh at the insanity when I’m up at 2 am trying to get one of them back to sleep, while I can hear the other start up again. What a tag team they make. Its like they’re conspiring against us.

Despite the sleep deprivation and the fact that I am now also sick (thanks to the coughing in my face), I still have to get up and go about my day; work, meetings, childcare.

The thing that pulls me through is coffee.

Honestly, I don’t love the taste of coffee. I didn’t really drink it until I moved to Seattle. Well, it was hard to avoid in a city that has a coffee shop every 50 feet. I do love the smell which is probably what drew me to it. But mostly, I love the routine of making a pot of coffee, and fixing my cup just the way I like it.

There’s something about having a cup of coffee in front of me that helps me focus. Even before that first sip, just the ritual of sitting down with a coffee in front of me, helps me plan my day, prioritize what I have to get done, and set to work. However tired I am, however much I have on my plate for that day, I know I can get through it because at least I’ve got my coffee.

And its not just me. I can’t even have a conversation with Mark in the morning until I see that he’s got his coffee in hand. It took me at least 10 years of being married to him before I figured that one out.

So, we take our coffee ritual seriously here.

Before kids, Mark and I took a trip to Italy. (Little did we know that would be our last hurrah just the two of us.) One of our stops was a 3 day stay at an agriturismo. We slept in the carriage house of a thousand year old castle in the middle of Tuscany. Yes, you’re right-- it can’t get any better than that. We happened to be stranded there at that castle, seeing we hadn’t thought to rent a car (we arrived at the castle mostly by luck and a very expensive cab ride). So, we spent our days lazily wandering through vineyards and olive groves, playing with the family dog who we named “Paulo”, communing with the cattle that we would later eat that night sitting at the family’s dinner table. We also learned about espresso.

Our room was equipped with cornflakes, homemade biscotti, a hot plate and an espresso maker--the beautiful silver retro kind you put on the burner. We had our first lesson how to make espresso from the young Italian woman who let us in. In our feeble attempts at conversing in half Italian/half Spanish/half English, we learned how to craft a brew of true Italian espresso.

If the ritual of making coffee is good, making espresso is even better. It seems the more elaborate the ritual, the more meditative and focused the act becomes. Coffee is our routine, espresso is Special.

So, when the kids are driving us crazy, work is busy, creativity needs to be evoked, or we need that special focus in our cluttered mind---its coffee to the rescue.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Blogging from the inside out

When I started blogging over a year ago, I was a novice. I was finding my way in the blogging world. I wasn’t sure what to write, but I knew I wanted to tell our story of running our business, having a family, and trying to make it all work together somehow.

I guess I’m still trying to find my way as a “blogger”. Lately, I feel I’ve lost something in trying to write articles and blogs that are more focused on Business, and less focused on our internal process. I’m no expert, but I fear I may have come across that way in my effort to be prolific about running a business.

Maybe I’ve been a bit misguided to believe that in order for people to want to read my blog (so far, not so much), I need to be an expert on a topic (I’m not) and write information that others will hopefully find useful and relevant (Geez, who knows). And, the business of trying, maybe too hard, to sound informative, has got me hating my new writer voice. Blogging has lost its magic for me personally. So, its not really working out for me, this blogging business. What am I missing?

For me, what’s missing is the account of our personal experience. That’s how this blog got started and I think I was closer to being on track in the beginning. Its our experience that’s compelling. Anybody in the web/tech/marketing business and their brother can write about why its so important to have a beautiful website. But running a family business is a more interesting story. Running a family business has all the stuff sitcoms are made of. We may not be quite so witty, or have musical numbers, but we can be entertaining in our own way. Who can’t relate with being stressed about money or deadlines, feeling angry at STUPID accounting software or annoyed that the kids are too loud to take a call just then? We try to cover up the things that make us human (mistakes, debt, insecurity, farts/burps/BO, etc), but really its the experience of being human that’s so entertaining.

So, today, as I plug in my iPod to drown out the sound of Mark and our 3 year old dancing to “Take On Me” upstairs, I sit down at our cluttered desk that we share, I am turning over a new blogging leaf. Blogging from the inside out. This blog is about our experience as a family, running a business, raising 2 daughters in this crazy world, staying happily married, doing it our way, making compromises along the way, but trying to never loose our way.