So you see the post title, and you think, “Oh, she’s one of those morning people.” Yeah, not so much. My ideal start to the day would involve waking on my own (without the use of an alarm clock or tiny human), then applying one of those Jane Jetson morning masks. But sadly, the real world doesn’t work like that. I’ve been posting ramblings to Facebook from time to time, and thought it would be more prudent to reactivate this blog. So welcome, dear reader. Let’s roll.
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It’s been one of those mornings. You know, the ones where you wake up way too congested, thinking you have a few minutes to spare when in actuality you’re already late. Who’s with me so far? So you throw on a t-shirt and shorts, knowing full well that there’s no time to deal with your mom hair this morning – a ball cap will have to do.

One child is already off to school, but the other, the one you’re driving, has just been pulled off of the computer and is whiling away his time in the bathroom, using an entire box of Kleenex to clear his sinuses. Better than the alternative, you think, and head downstairs to get your keys.

“It’s time to go, babe,” you call at 8:55. The blowing continues. Gathering his backpack, your phone and wallet, you call again at 9:01. Then ensues a philosophical discussion about how your child’s nose is in a state of bubbles (gross, I know), and you cannot possibly leave the house at this juncture. You only know two things at this point: (1) he couldn’t have cared less about his nose bubbles until you said it was time to go, and (2) you are NOT getting out of the car with no bra and no makeup to check him in to school late. It’s a vain argument, but justified. The short version of this story is that the tissues, a trash bag, and a bottle of Purell get into the car with us.

By what surely must have been the grace of God and some act of Congress, you make it to carpool on time. Now there’s just the leisurely drive back through some pretty, well manicured neighborhoods, and you’re home free. You know the kind of streets I’m talking about: flowering trees line the extra wide lanes of the meandering divided highway. The early sun peeks through the leaves, dancing across your dash. There’s no traffic save other parents taking their kids to school, the occasional jogger or dog walker, and the mad woman hell bent on getting to Target. Which of these things is not like the other?

Back to the meandering extra wide lanes. Do you know why they build them that way? Because it’s visually appealing in a residential setting, and there are often cars parallel parked along the way. Believe it or not, crazed Target shopper, it’s not because there are invisible lines on that road that only you can see that allow you to pass me going 45 in a 25 mile an hour zone. NOTHING is that good at Target that you have to risk both of our lives, nor those of the biker, jogger, and dog walker who just watched you blow past. Not to mention the fact that you are totally ruining the Mucinex and protein shake induced Zen that gets me from point A to point B before hair and makeup every day. I actually once had a driver – who could also apparently see those invisible lines – pass me on the curve of a freeway entrance ramp because I wasn’t going fast enough for them. But that’s another rant for another day.

My point is: SLOW DOWN, people. Be cautious of those around you. Be mindful of where you’re going and what you’re doing, and don’t make it all about being first, or being in front of someone else. I know what it is to be on deadline, or running late, or needing to check things off of a to-do list. But I also know not to get too wrapped up in those things. Try taking it all in for a change, and just enjoy the drive.



Did WCPSS mess up your Spring Break plans? If you’re not going anywhere, you can still relax and unwind from the rigors and routine of school: eat, sleep, play, and repeat. Here are some "staycation" ideas to enjoy the break (literally) in your own back yard:

Backyard Camping Trip. Depending upon the overnight temps, Spring Break may be the perfect time for a backyard getaway. Turn off the cell phones – then set up a tent with sleeping bags, make s’mores over a camp fire, tell ghost stories and play flashlight tag.

Pajama Day. Spend an entire day at home. Make nachos, popcorn or whatever your kids enjoy; play old-fashioned board games; and watch sports, movies or Netflix marathons. Spend quality time with your kids doing whatever you never have time to do because of school schedules.

Video Game Olympics. Cold weather can force families to stay in during the Break. If this is the case, Wii offers lots of fun sports options where everyone can take a turn, or even play tournaments for prizes. Dress in team colors and enjoy sports drinks, protein bars and fresh fruits and veggies to give it an authentic touch.

Be a Tourist in Your Own City. How many people never get around to seeing the sites in their own town? Take advantage of Spring Break and tour your local town or surrounding area; visit the zoo, aquarium or museum. If you live in a rural area perhaps you could visit a local farm or vineyard. If you’re a history buff, take a walking tour of buildings in your town and discuss the architectural influences of the period in which they were built. Then build a scrapbook of photos from your trip! Top places to take visitors in the Triangle. Check out your local department of tourism for more ideas in your area.

Go to a Hotel. You may not have time or budget to get away for Spring Break, but you could rent a room at a local hotel with an indoor pool. Take a break from cooking for the weekend and let the kids enjoy the hotel amenities. Many hotels offer ‘staycation’ rates to make the adventure even more affordable.

Sundae and Movie Day. If your kids love movies, choose a theme, then select some classics to binge on for a day. Create a sundae bar with lots of ice cream flavors and toppings.

Fly Kites. Pick a morning, pack a picnic lunch, and head to the park to fly kites. It’s a fun activity both parents and kids can enjoy. And the fresh air and exercise will be good for you!

Make your Backyard a Home for Honey Bees. Honey bees pollinate the nuts, fruits and vegetables we eat, so our food supply suffers when their population is down. Bayer CropSciences’ North American Bee Care Center in Research Triangle Park is giving away free seeds to grow plants that attract bees through its Feed a Bee Campaign. The goal is to grow 50 million flowers to make it easier for honey bees to find the food they need — pollen and nectar. Bayer has several partners who will help plant the seeds, and is inviting the public to plant seeds in their backyards, too. Learn how you can get your free seeds at feedabee.com.

Soak up some Triangle History. From the Revolutionary War to the Civil War, a trip back in time is no farther away than a visit to one of the area’s local historic sites, where docents, re-enactors and historians offer an authentic look into the past. Also check out 10 Free Kid-Friendly Destinations and Activities in the Triangle.

Try Something New. Hike in a cave, travel on a zip-line, ski at night, or try geo-cashing. Design an adventure that is close to home – but has the feeling of a big adventure.

Make this time off extraordinary by putting together a schedule for each day outlining what you plan to do … or just 'wing it' by deciding what you want to do each morning. The precious moments together will do you and your kids some good.


Tips shared from Julie McCaffrey at PishPoshBaby and Odile Fredericks at Carolina Parent.
I don’t make resolutions anymore, but with the New Year upon us I thought it was as good a time as any to START something. Something new, something neglected, something fun, something challenging … you get the idea.

In 2013, I was grateful that my work went in a lot of different directions. This of course meant that some projects got sidelined in order to meet new deadlines. But I learned to juggle and diversify. Regular and repeat business is wonderful for a freelancer, and I’m happy to be settled into a groove now.

So my goal for 2014 is to go back and finish those things that were important enough to make it to my to-do list in the first place. Things like blogging (for me versus guest and ghost blogging for others), putting my phone aside when friends and family need me, and querying markets that would be a labor of love to write. I’ll likely add to this list as time goes on, but I find it more attainable to tackle a few things at a time.

First things first: during this short week I’m cleaning my office so as to be better organized when school, work, and the madness of everyday life start up again. Something tells me this will be an ongoing effort, but at least I will have started.

What kinds of things will you START this year? We can be accountable to each other; just follow me and comment from time to time to let me know how you’re doing. My best to all of you for a productive and prosperous New Year! Now go start something …

            
Reblogged from Nate Thayer:

A Day in the Life of a Freelance Journalist—2013

Here is an exchange between the Global Editor of the Atlantic Magazine and myself this afternoon attempting to solicit my professional services for an article they sought to publish after reading my story “25 Years of Slam Dunk Diplomacy: Rodman trip comes after 25 years of basketball diplomacy between U.S. and North Korea” here http://www.nknews.org/2013/03/slam-dunk-diplomacy/ at NKNews.org

I think my neighbor is a hoarder. It’s the 9th of January, and their dangling-by-a-thread Christmas decorations are still up (and illuminated every night). You might say that there are others who haven’t gotten around to packing up all of their holiday decorations just yet – but that doesn’t explain the trio of pumpkins that are also still on their stoop. From 1994. No, that’s not true, they’re from 2012. But clearly these people have trouble letting go of things.

They live in a townhouse with a 4x5 cement slab in front of their entry way. In addition to decorations from two holidays, this spot is also home to some hanging plants, a money tree (a literal tree with Monopoly money hanging from its branches), and a broken bird house that resembles a craft project never finished. And oh yes, there’s also a security system sign – as if burglars needed further deterrent to entering this home.

Compulsive hoarding (or pathological collecting) is a pattern of behavior that is characterized by the excessive acquisition of and inability or unwillingness to discard large quantities of objects that cover the living areas of the home and cause significant distress or impairment. When I Googled the problem, I was shocked to find an entire article on “celebrity hoarders” (i.e., those who will talk about absolutely anything to get their name in the press) like Kristin Chenoweth, Mackenzie Phillips (who I believe was also on Celebrity Ghost Stories, her street cred keeps falling), Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, Heidi Montag & Spencer Pratt, Lisa Kudrow, Mariah Carey and Courtney Love. How’s that for good company?

I make light of it here, but the reality is that hoarding is far from a joke. It’s a serious condition that impacts lives in a big way. I know holidays are sentimental occasions, but it’s time to put Christmas behind us, people. Take your lights and wreaths down so that they’ll be ready for next year. Look ahead to the next major celebration. And please – for me – get rid of your pumpkins.
It’s that time of year again! When you splurge on delicacies you either would otherwise dare not consume – or those that simply cannot be found anywhere else. The NC State Fair (October 11-21) prides itself on the diversity of food choices offered, and they are always looking for new options for hungry fairgoers. It’s the attendees, though, who decide what becomes a local favorite. Everyone has a food they just have to savor before fair season is over, and fairgoers are always excited about what the new trend in food might be.



From the foot long corndogs, to roasted corn on the cob dredged in hot butter, giant turkey legs, fried cheese curds, alligator bites, funnel cakes with chocolate and powdered sugar, boiled peanuts, Wisconsin cheese sticks, Krispy Kreme burgers, and maple flavored cotton candy – many will pardon the calories and look forward to this “good eatin’” event every year.
[This biz has since become CORE Content Marketing, but they still offer wonderful social media content management. Email Mary for details.]

Check me out on Business Fan Pages' new masthead - markettoyourfans.com - and read more about growing your Facebook fan base as well as how consumers are using social media to investigate brands before they buy. To view my complete fan page, visit facebook.com/KristyStevensonWriter.

With the introduction of Timeline to Facebook's personal profiles, it will be interesting to see what the coming months bring for business pages. What form(s) of social media do you use to reach your target audience? What do/don't tips do you recommend, and are you tracking your results?
“A good writer is someone who can translate a cool idea into something you can communicate to others. This is interesting to me, now I’m going to make it interesting to you.” -Damon Lindelof
Happy 2012 everyone! Can you believe it’s January already? I have fallen off the blogging bandwagon as deadlines and bigger projects shifted my focus – and truth be told, time just got away from me. But it’s my New Year’s resolution to post regularly, sharing useful information about writing and writing-related industries. Here’s the link to Katie’s story that I promised.

Since my last visit, I spent time with my family while the boys were out of school, hubby started a new job, and I took on some new commercial clients (click the “Corporate” tab on this page for more). I am also happy to report that my professional website has been revamped to better serve the editors and clients I work with. Please take a look and let me know what you think!

I’ve established a stronger social media presence and have incorporated Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn into my every day schedule. I’ve generated client web content, done some guest blogging, and am open to suggestions of things you’d like to see here as well as the occasional guest post from some of you! I’ll also be telling you more about the Triangle Area Freelancers’ 5th annual nonfiction writers’ conference coming up on April 21. We’ve been busy putting together a great panel of presenters – details are coming soon and registration opens Feb. 1.
I recently completed a new piece for Med Monthly magazine. The story revolves around precious 6-year-old Katie Johnson who died from brain cancer – and the legacy she left behind. As a parent, I was moved by the details of her life and how she is now remembered every day through a little pink droid that gives hope to other sick children. I hope you’ll come back in August to read all about her.

Read More: http://www.kristystevenson.com/r2-kt-katies-legacy