Help a Mother Out: Shop Small for Moms

One thing that has become increasingly disturbing about this pandemic, is the loss of small businesses. You know, those places that have unique (and sometimes hilarious) coffee mugs and t-shirts, or homemade lotions and soaps, or have one-of-a-kind charcuterie boards to die for; those places that make you feel like you just stepped out of a Nicholas Sparks novel. The feelings you just don’t get from the squeaky wheeled cart at Walmart, or the buzz of your Amazon notification. These are the places that are full of spirit and creativity, and they are truly the backbone of American business. They are a labor of love for many families that put in the blood, sweat, and tears to bring their dreams to life. You really are supporting families when you shop local.

While I fully support the stay-at-home order to protect those at risk with Covid-19, I also think there are ways we should all be supporting our small businesses at home. Mother’s Day is a perfect example of a great time to spend some money locally for your mama. Think of it this way, you probably are supporting another mom by ordering a cool gift or getting a to go meal for your mom. It’s a win win! Also, don’t forget about online businesses too. There are so many awesome people who sell products out of their homes, and are truly grateful for your business. We all need to pull together and try to save and protect these businesses. It would be really be a boring world if we lose the ability to shop at places other than giant retailers.

Here are some of my favorite local (in Ohio) places that you can get really cool items online and for pick up. Browse for some awesome Mother’s Day gift ideas of your own, and tell me what you plan on getting the mom in your life this year.

  1. Heart Mercantile – unique/ humorous gifts and décor
  2. Now and Zen– cute DIY terrariums
  3. Frame of the Heart– homemade wood frames and gifts
  4. Twist Cupcakery– pretty cupcakes, pastries, and other awesome desserts
  5. West Central Wine– wine and charcuterie boards to go
  6. Grace Lane Boutique– women’s fashion
  7. Beck + Call– fabulous girl power items
  8. Omega Music– vintage style record store
  9. Berns Nursery– plants, planters, and garden décor
  10. Scattered Kindness Co. – homemade crafts
  11. Swire Inn– yummy yums for dinner
  12. Spice Paradise – locally made seasonings, dry soups, teas, desserts
  13. Reza’s Roast– fantastic coffee and coffee beans
  14. Central Pastry– old fashion bakery
  15. Mulberry St. Books– second hand bookstore with bookish goods

Lastly, be understanding with these and any local shops during this time. They have endured quite an upheaval in losing staff and having to completely changing up their business model. Not only that, but delivery times have been increased exponentially. Have patience and be kind. Nasty comments and reviews do not help during a time like this or ever really (looking at you Karen).

If you’re still looking for a great gift, you can check out my little Scentsy business (wax burners and other smell goods). It’s a way to help me save up for my future writing career or business venture or whatever I change my mind to later on. Shameless plug I know, here’s the link.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mamas out there! Make it a good one.

Talk soon,

Jami

Love in the Time of Covid-19

My initial plan for this post was to give cutesy ideas on how to keep your relationship alive during this gawd-awful stay-at-home order. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that this situation is just plain hard. No amount of cute love notes, or pasta dinners by candlelight is going to make a world-wide pandemic better. I get the notion that we all need some normalcy in our lives right now, but we also need to be realistic. Some of us are facing the most difficult times we have ever experienced. Many people have lost their jobs, careers, savings, businesses, and that doesn’t even count the number of people that are sick or have family that is sick or even have passed away. I decided that maybe this would be a better time to focus on how to better communicate your needs, and in turn, how you can better support your loved ones.

One of the first things I think we all need to understand is that we are all handling this situation differently. Some of us are grieving what we have lost, some of us are overwhelmed with new responsibilities, some of us are just bored out of our minds, and all of these can impact how we feel and act toward our loved ones. Personally, one of the best things I have done is try to identify what I am feeling, what is triggering, and what I think would help me the most. For example, I am working full time at home while homeschooling my 4th grader and preschooler. On top of that, I am working with my preschooler on his therapies for ADHD. I still have to cook more meals than usual, do normal chores, and take care of our pets. I am on the overwhelmed side of things, and until I actually thought about what I needed to cope, I would get really upset if someone needed anything from me at all. I literally felt like I could not handle one more thing without losing my mind.

What I had to do was ask my SO was stay home one day (he’s essential) and help me catch up and get my bearings. I needed time to let my brain rest with some movie time. I needed time to write, and I needed to go to bed earlier than usual. I also needed to explain to him how I was feeling and that I understood he was under a lot of stress too. He told me he needs time to play video games with this friends and he needs a a little bit of time to decompress when he comes home from work. Obviously, nothing is perfect, but we both have done a really our best to try and do the things that help keep us feeling normal and healthy.

Here is my top 10 things to do to manage your relationships during this pandemic.

  1. Listen and respect their needs to help them cope, even if you don’t like them. For example, people are going to withdraw a little bit. Give them their space, but let them know you would like to spend some time with them too. It’s important that both of you are getting what you need to cope so that feelings of resentment don’t pop up. Relationships are a give and take not a take and take some more.
  2. Don’t do the blame game. It is no one’s fault on who has a job and who does not. Or who has to stay home and who has to go to work. Neither are good situations to deal with. So, no matter your current situation, try to be understanding of their perspective and their needs. You’re not going to get through this if you are making their job logistics about you, even if your feelings are coming from a good place, like not wanting them to put their safety at risk.
  3. Try to do something new together. Doing or learning something can create a new bond when you are sick of everything else. It can give you a different topic to discuss. If your normal nights together involved dinner and movies, try going on a hike or bike ride. Or like we have started a garden in the back yard. We’ve always talked about doing it, but we never had the time to invest in it. Now we do, and honestly it’s been a positive change for us.
  4. Do things together, but also make time for yourself. If you are like me, then sweatpants and messy buns have become my normal attire for the day. Even so, you should make sure you are making time to do the things that make you feel more human, like shower, write, paint, or exercise. Put make-up on if that is what you are used to or paint your nails. Don’t get to the point where you are depressed about yourself. We are going to come out of this eventually. Keeping good personal hygiene and healthy habits will make it an easier transition.
  5. Talk about things other than the freaking virus! I think this is the most important thing. I know it everywhere on the news and internet. I know we are all worried and confused. BUT you need to talk about other things. It will consume you and your relationships if you don’t. Talk about books and movies. Talk about your future plans. Talk about your hobbies. Play games. Make sure you focus on something other than Covid-19 in your daily lives. It will make a difference in your happiness.
  6. Understand that your living space will not be as clean, especially if multiple people are there 24/7. For the first week, I was losing my mind because the house was a train wreck. I couldn’t keep up. Then I realized, well we are normally only awake at home for 4-6 hours on a normal day, not 12-16! Allow yourself and your SO a little bit of slack when it comes to these things especially if everyone is still working full-time. It’s impossible to clean when you are sitting on a zoom call, and then switching to google classroom to help your kid with her math, and then reading the therapy email to work with your 4 year-old on sorting blocks for focus. Then going back to work on a chat with your co-workers. It’s important to have grace and understanding about chores. They aren’t a top priority.
  7. Find a cause to support together. Whether that is donating canned goods, or supporting your favorite local businesses, or sharing your local animal shelters listings for foster homes, do something positive. It will bring you some peace to know you are doing something good for the community. It doesn’t have to be big, and I know many people have limited means, but do what you can to help during this time. Positivity is contagious, and helping others gives you a purpose when everything else is so uncertain.
  8. Create a plan of attack. What type of schedule would allow time for you both? What can you do to get back what was lost? What does your life look like in six months? A year? Do you plan to stay in your industry? Have you decided to pursue something else or go back to school? Do you have a plan to handle your bills and finances? Who do you need to contact if you are struggling financially? Talk about it and make a plan so you both are on the same page and your SO isn’t in the dark about your thoughts on a career change!
  9. Make this a memorable experience that you look back on with fondness. Do things together. Make dinner together. Take pictures. Play games. Dance in the kitchen. Cuddle on the couch. Surprise each other will little thoughtful gifts or letters. Go outside and enjoy each other’s company. You may never get an opportunity like this again. Make the most of it.
  10. Rest. Take this time to recuperate while you can, when you can. Be understanding if your SO is too tired to do something. This situation is mentally exhausting for many of us. If you or your SO needs to rest, let that happen. It does not make you or them weak or incompetent. This goes back to understanding people have different coping mechanisms. I need more sleep, when I am stressed, and my SO gets insomnia. Be supportive and understanding of those particular needs because that is how we get through this healthy and intact.

Take care of yourself and each other. We will get through this and come out stronger on the other side.

Talk soon,

Jami

To Create or Not to Create: That Has Always Been the Question.

Blogger, Event Planner, Writer, Jami Pack

Well here I am, stuck at home, trying to figure out what to do next in this crazy, dystopian-esque world we now live in. It only felt natural to write my story; the real one; not the contrived bio that makes your life seem perfect and simple. It certainly has been anything but perfect and simple, however my solace has always been writing. I wrote picture books as a kid, lyrics as a teen (yikes!), and eventually moved in to fiction novels in my Master’s program. Some of it was bad, and some of it was very bad. I write more conversational than grammatical, and was told that by more than one professor. My ideas were always my strong suit. I came to the conclusion that I would be better suited for a different kind of creative career. That a designer, marketer, or book publisher would be an easier route for my ideas. But when it came to starting a career, nothing came easy.

I spent the 10 years after graduation floating around in different professional arenas, but I really didn’t feel like I had accomplished anything. That was a hard pill to swallow for this over-achieving, perfectionist. There was never enough time or money to focus on the ideas in my head, and the less work I put in, the more self-conscious I became. I wasn’t going fast enough, there wasn’t enough money in it, it wasn’t a “real job” were the thoughts swirling in my head. I tried niche blogging but always felt like an impostor. I worked as a tech writer at a bank operations center. I did social media and reception work for a few small businesses. I was a server and a bartender a country clubs and golf courses. None of it really afforded me the time or motivation to pursue a career that I wanted, and I had the dead the skeletons of over a half a dozen fiction and non-fiction books littering my hard drive. I finally conceded that I was stuck. I needed a fresh start.

At that point, fate stepped in, or rather Google stalked me enough to show me an opening for an event planning position at a regional casino. I went in to the interview thinking I wasn’t really qualified, but I had a desire to learn and lots of ideas. I had worked numerous weddings and banquets before, and had planned a few fundraising events in high school, but really was just looking for an opportunity to build my resume with a creative outlet. I was tired of bouncing around and wanted a career I could really focus my energy. I had two babies, and my little people needed me to focus.

Luckily, the casino gave me a shot. I later found out it was because I told them I wrote zombie fiction novels in my spare time (thanks Nate!). But for me, events came easily and naturally. They let me design and plan everything from themed VIP parties to beer festivals and multi-headlining concerts. It put me on a good trajectory for a real career in events, and I learned so much about contracts, budgets, spacial design, timelines, and building quality networks. However, the amount of hours required per week to successfully plan and manage 150 events a year was really starting to ware me down physically and emotionally. I began to question my value in the corporate structure; that all my hard work and passion didn’t mean much in the “grand scheme” of things. Eventually, I decided to leave and take an events position at a non-profit planning events for a mid-size city. A bit boring on paper, but it has let me breathe again. It was a tough decision, one that I grieved for months after the fact, but it was the right move.

Before the Covid-19 catastrophe, I had been planning to open a new event consulting business called A Story Book Affair. My new job had given me the background to start a brick and mortar business with the resources to find a perfect location, secure financing, and have a powerful marketing outlet in my corner. My goal was to open a small studio to meet with clients and design spaces for photo shoots. It really was a dream that easily could have become a reality. And yet, I am glad it did not.

It was not because of the virus basically shutting down the whole industry, but rather because I am not sure that is who I really am. To be taken seriously in events, you have to have a way about you; a glamour that entices your client and convinces them you are the only person that could accomplish such a complex web of vendors, timelines, menus, entertainers, and guests. After 5 years in the event industry, I’m just not sure that is me. I know I could pretend to be those things. and I successfully have, but in reality, I am that little girl in pink sweat pants, with dirt under her fingernails, writing stories about a lost puppy named Gonzo. My old boss, Nate, once told me that people will gravitate toward my work if I am being myself; whatever work I am doing.

I’ve been thinking about his comment for over six months now. What is true about me? I really didn’t have a good answer, until now. The collapse of the whole entertainment/service/hospitality industry under the weight of the virus, brought me back to the thing that was always there; writing. Why am I trying to do something else, even if I am good at it? But not the cheap niche writing about fitness, make-up, and fashion that I really didn’t care about before. Writing about things that matter to me. Yes, make-up and fashion do matter to me (sometimes), but I don’t want to be forced to write about it.

That has led to the birth of A Story Book Soul. A place where I can freely write, and hopefully find some direction and peace in my work. It would be about damn time.

Talk Soon,

Jami