Disasters in e-mailing

Be obscure clearly.  ~E.B. White

I have discovered that one of the most difficult things for me to do is to communicate effectively within an e-mail when the person I am writing to is not able to see my face or hands.  Recently, I wrote an e-mail with all the good intentions of letting the reader know that I understood his pain, questioned his tactics a bit, but overall I wanted him to know that I was there for him.

Epic fail.                                           

What I later discovered is that he felt I sucker punched him when he was down and I ultimately lost some of the trust we had between us as he felt I was judging him and treating him like a little kid.  How did it all go so wrong?  I mean, besides the fact that I was judging him a bit.

First of all, I will be the first to admit that I have a habit of saying what is on my mind at the time I think it.  My filter needs to get changed or something, as too many times I look back at something I said and realize, much later, that there probably was a less “honest” way of stating what I said.  As I tell my kids all the time, just because you have an opinion, does not mean you have to share it.  It is when the roads of caring and honesty collide, within the medium of the E-Mail, when all hell breaks loose.

I also talk a lot with my hands.  Obviously, when having a conversation with me, sarcasm and wit are evident by the looks on my face and the tone.  But within e-mails, there is a disconnect and the actual meaning of what I am saying and what I write down become separate.

There are Emoticons and of course, the ever present “lol”, but how many times can you do that and still maintain an adult conversation?  I’ll tell ya, about once.  After that your e-mail starts to look like a child wrote it.

How to fix it?  Well, I have found that apologizing works well, but it does tend to reduce the amount of times people write to me.  Calling works better, but then for those who are overseas, it does not lend itself to the realities of my bank balance.  Texting…well, I just hate it.   I feel my IQ drop every time I read something that looks like: I h8 to say it.  I mean, Good Lord.

This brings me back to good old fashioned writing-it-all -down in a letter.  I have yet to discover a better way to convey my meaning by just using the English language, even though I am a huge fan of the Thesaurus.  I suppose I will keep making slip-ups and apologizing until I master this art or until everyone in my contact list blocks me.  Hopefully, those who I offend tell me so I can do the right thing, because without an occasional bitch-slap, I will have no way of knowing that what I think I am saying is not actually what others are getting from reading my e-mails.

So much of it comes down to the emotional level of the person reading what I wrote.  If they are in a bad mood, they are more likely to take offense.  Perhaps I should put in my subject line:  “Read when you are in a happy mood”.  Or, I could also post a disclaimer like they do with movies and DVD’s.  In either event, as I continue through my journey for answers, I hope that I get positive feedback that will increase my knowledge.  If nothing else, I am grateful for my friends and family who “get” my sense of humor and blunt way of speaking. 

Of course, we can always take the view of E.L. Doctorow who said, “Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.”  Or perhaps it is better said by Nathaniel Hawthorn who was quoted as stating, “Easy reading is damn hard writing”.  I agree with these and find humor in them both.


Naked–The juice, not people

When deciding how to improve one’s life, there are so many choices that it can make a person go crazy with opportunity. Health is important to everyone, so finding the right way to do what is necessary and incorporate it in such as way as to make it interesting has been a struggle that almost every adult has had to face. With the introduction of Naked, a juice started in California, the healthy way of living that is enjoyable just got better.

The absolute best part about these drinks is that they have appeal to everyone. For those that hate veggies, the mixture of Veggie Berry Machine combines the best flavor of the fruits with the excellent source of vitamins that come from the vegetables (http://NakedJuice.com, 2010). If a consumer wants something that is more filling, they have their choice of multiple different smoothies that have added protein whey to boost energy and give a feeling of being too full to eat. When drinking Naked for the first time, the impulse is to look at the ingredients list to see how they managed to make it so sweet without adding any extra sugar. Who knew that veggies and fruit could be so naturally sweet? Can anything this sweet actually be good for you?

I hate vegetables. I don’t mean that I just do not like them; I mean I actually excuse my self from the table for some reason known only to me (Sorry, I just have to get the pie out of the oven real quick) to get out of eating them. I have fed them to dogs, bribed my sister when we were smaller to eat my portion when my parents were not looking and have lied to my doctor to prevent her from telling me to eat my vegetables and it will help me feel better in many ways. I do not like almost every kind of vegetable out there.  I have, throughout my 42 years of life, have discovered 6 out of 1763 options of vegetables out there  I like.  And by like I mean that I will not fake an illness if I accidently ingest one.

I had a choice to make: tell my kids to eat their vegetable and then when it comes to putting them on my plate, run out of them, or find a new way of getting the vitamins in me that did not involve swallowing pills. Then, one day while shopping at my local Publix, I found Naked and my world has become a brighter place. For the first time in my life I have had carrot juice, which is saying something since I  used to work in a health food store while going to college.

The second day after discovering them, I went back to the store and bought one small container of each flavor they had, even one called Green Machine. I will not lie; I had no intention of trying that one. We go back into our car and my oldest child took Green Machine out of the bag, shook it and said, “OK Mom, you try it first.” I almost crashed the car. After making about 18 different excuses why I could not possibly try it right now, I took a deep breath, hoped that I could drink and then breathe through my mouth so I would not have to smell it, and took a sip. With my kids looking at me and laughing, waiting for me to spit it out, I took another sip, and then another. By the time we got home I told my family that we had found a new and improved way to eat veggies. I promptly called everyone who ever knew me and told them the miraculous news.

I have found that I have more energy and that my skin has improved. I do think that with some of the flavors it can be almost too sweet and not tart enough, like with any drink that has acai berry or pomegranate. Ultimately, the cost is cheaper to buy fruits and vegetables this way than to buy one at a time whole and cook it up. You get a much better vitamin and nutritional gain when you eat fruits and vegetables raw and it also fills me up. Many of my friends who have tried the protein smoothies can not get past the grainy feel of the whey protein, but every kid I have introduced it to has loved it and I, for once, can go to my doctor and not lie. Yes Doc, I have been eating my veggies and I feel good.

Social Media: Another excuse not to work out

I have been working diligently on my Mom’s new company, attempting to get the word out about her work and what she does.  (@AlterationQueen on Twitter and Nonie’s Altered Edge on Facebook.)It is not an quick process, as establishing a reputation is not something that can be done overnight.  This means I am online, working with my computer–mainly social networking sites.  I spend quite a large amount of time updating Facebook, posting on Twitter and the dealing with The Phone…The Phone will eventually kill me.  It never stops ringing.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining that people call, it is just that as a new company, our resources are limited and having a dedicated line just for work is not quite in the budget yet.  So I answer the call and lately, there have been more calls for political surveys than work.  Frustrating to say the least.

So, as you can imagine, I sit a lot during the day.  I seriously need to move more so that I don’t become one with my chair, but it seems that my mind is the only part of me getting a serious work out while the rest of me seems to crave anything chocolate.  Finding time to work out is difficult.

Let me rephrase, finding the energy to work out is difficult.  By the time I get finished with my work, home schooling my kids and running the house, the idea of donning some comfy clothes and then get my heart racing and my body sweating is not appealing.  (In all fairness, I am always in comfy clothes, that is the one perk of working from home.)

So, my goal for the new year is to find the time to do something for Me.  The work still has to get done and the house is not going to care if I work out or not, chores will still pile up and kids will still need clean clothes, but there has to be a way for me to ensure that my behind does not end up resembling the chair I am currently sitting in.

I will explore and see what works for me, although everyone always says they will start the new year out with steel resolve to “do the right thing” and get into shape.  I will whine that I have spinal stenosis and arthritis, that my knees hurt or something of more importance has come up (and trust me, there will ALWAYS be something more important to me that working out), but I have told my kids to not let me get away with that.  They look forward to pointing out my whine sessions and telling me to suck-it-up while we work out on the Wii.  Fact is, I think they are looking a little too forward to that part of it, but in either event, I shall either get in shape, or you will recognize me by the large Lay-z-boy that follows me down the street.  I will keep you updated.

Have a Merry Christmas or a wonderful holiday for whichever one you celebrate.  I wish each and every one of you good will and good fortune in the new year.

Daily Savings

One thing I am constantly attempting to do is save money.  I find that there are so many ways that I can spend money (and quickly!!) that I have to find ways to save that will actually work for me.  I suppose I could put money in a savings account, but the chances of me doing that on a weekly or even monthly basis are slim.  It seems that there is always something that will come up that I need that money for and, before I know it, I have nothing in my savings account and I can not even recall what I spent the money on to begin with.

In an effort to save, I have found that not spending certainly helps.  I don’t mean do not buy anything, I mean do not spend as much as you can.  The best way to do that is with coupons.  Taking advantage of all of the wonderful types of coupons out there is a fantastic way to not spend.  Sign up with companies such as www.CouponCabin.com, www.Coupons.com, www.CouponMom.com, and www.SmartSource.com for deals on food and home essentials.  For a broader range of retail coupons, a site called www.RetailMeNot.com is wonderful and has been applauded by the Wall Street Journal Digital Network, Smart Money as one of 5 top coupon clipping sites  (www.smartmoney.com/spending/deals).

On average, I estimate that I save around $40 each time I do a grocery shop by taking the time to make a list, check the fliers of my local stores and recognizing that I may get certain things, like fresh fruits and vegetables, at the local farmers market much cheaper than in a store.  Since I am only at my “local” market once a month, my family tends to eat just what is currently available.  I research what recipes I would like to try and see if I can afford what it calls for.  If I can, great; if I cannot, I see if I can substitute successfully or I just put it aside and keep it for another time.  This is a process and not something that happens in 5 to 10 minutes.  Like saving money in a bank, in order for it to work, time has to be invested otherwise you take out what you put in.  Although it is something that can be time consuming, I have found that in the long run I am actually saving money AND time.  By figuring out what I can make for the family meals, I review recipes and see what is on sale in the fliers and coupons.  Then, when the time comes to make the meals, I already know what I am going to make and what I have on hand.  There is no over buying because I am not sure if it is in the pantry or not.  There is no wondering, “What should I make for dinner tonight?” when I already know that I have a pot roast in the slow cooker and I bought the carrots, onions and potatoes at the Farmers Market.  It can be liberating to NOT have to worry, but more importantly, by saving that $40 a shopping trip, I can refrain from cooking one night and order out.  That means more time for me to spend with my family and out of the kitchen and that is a precious savings of my time that no bank can ever give me.

Stage Mom

For those parents who are looking to gain more information on what to know about Hollywood and how to gain entrance into the casting world, there is a wonderful site called Children In Film  www.childreninfilm.com that has free webinars. The next one will be on May 19th and you can register for it on their website. The importance of attending information gatherings like this on the web are 1-it is free, 2-you can attend a live conference from your own computer, 3- questions regarding what you need to know to find a good casting director, and the important steps that should be followed from people who are actively in the business, are answered.

I have made many mistakes regarding my kids modeling career and the biggest is that I HAD to have the all important “professional head shot” to pass out to various modeling firms. The fact is, that is just not true. True agencies will not ask that it be professional for kids because although it is important to have a good photo, it is more important for the agencies to see the actual child, not a photo-shopped version of what that kid could look like. Remember, they want to be able to take what you give them and dress them up and use your child for THEIR vision. They do not want you coming to them with YOUR vision of what makes your kid look cute. For print modeling, this is especially true. I was once told that children are the blank canvas and the designers are the artists. A full face shot and a complete body (clothed of course) shot is important. Contact information is important. The child’s physical statistics are important. Make-up, props, group shots or obvious advertising for any one brand?? Not Important and in most cases, the comp shot will get thrown in the garbage.

I am glad that I go through this with my kids as it helps them to see at a young age the importance of scheduling, honor and responsibility. The fact that they earn their own money that is theirs to spend is a wonderful incentive for them as well. I look forward to seeing them on a front cover campaign or an international magazine one day, but in truth, that is gravy. The lessons they have learned over the course of various jobs is not something that can be replicated in a classroom setting. My wish is that it is taken from their youth and used well as they age. Only time will tell.

Keeping Hope

As I wait to hear about my Mom and how her back surgery went, I reflect on the concept of hope.  There are many things that I hope for and in doing so, I am able to look at the positive aspects of life.  Hope is a way for me to anticipate and, in a world where everything seems to be done in seconds rather than hours or days, it is a dying concept.  I have seen people get impatient over their coffee heating up in the microwave, as if the 30 seconds that it takes is too long.  I have seen young drivers honking at elderly people crossing the street as if the 15 seconds they have to wait is to long.  These situations sadden me as I think to myself that we, as a nation or a global community, are becoming so impatient that basic niceties are becoming as obsolete as hand written letters and pay phones.

In the search for a job, I have found that I too am becoming impatient.  It is not just the idea that I have bills to pay and schedules to maintain, but also that I am not sure why I have to do things like submit resumes and dress up for interviews.  That sounds selfish, but in a world where almost everything is electronic, are paper resumes really necessary?  Do I need to present myself in my best clothes for a job that I have to wear a uniform? I suppose that basic rules are necessary to maintain a sense of continuity, but in all fairness, there are parts of the quicker paced lifestyle that I thoroughly enjoy and parts of the old fashioned lifestyle that I miss.  So, as I wait to post an update on Fac

Mom and Dad, December 2009

ebook about my Mom’s status, I will take the time to hand write a card to wish her a quick recovery.  Maybe it is the balance between the two worlds that will work for now or maybe right now that is just what will work for me; in either case, at least something is working while I wait for a job.

Hello world!

I am new to the blogging world.  I have started late in my life doing what (or so it seems to me) what everyone else has been doing for years.  I am changing that as of today!  Today I start a new chapter in the Life and Times of Jessica Graefe Martinez.  It is rather interesting to start something new…a little scary and a little thrilling at the same time.  Learning is important to me and passing on my knowledge that I glean from others or just through the School of Hard Knocks is imperative as I also home school my two children.  I have to learn all the latest technology, ideas and trends if I hope to be able to keep up with them.

I am not new to the internet though.  I have been using computers since the late 80’s and have been puttering on the internet as soon as I could afford my first AOL account.  Then I learned the art of getting online for free (still through dial-up) and then I moved to Boston for my Master’s degree and found the bliss that is “high-speed internet”.  I have never gone back.  My house is set up for wireless and I have been able to get my kids their own laptops.  It is shocking how much we rely on them, but for my kids, they know nothing else.  They were amazed that we used to look up words in a book called a dictionary.  My oldest just said to me, “Well no wonder people have to wear glasses, the print is so small and you cannot even enlarge the font!”  Was the word “font” around when I was a kids?  I don’t think so.

So, in an effort to learn more about the latest ways to enhance my Wuffie Factor (see Tara Hunt’s book titled The wuffie factor: using the power of social networks to build your business) I am going to try to do a blog and see if I am able to share information, answer questions and build myself a good network of people who I can interact with on a business and personal level.  Anyone that has comments, questions or requests, please feel free to let me know. In the meantime, I am going to go teach 2nd grade math to my oldest.