Saturday, January 24, 2015

Start Ups Require Persistence


When I began my idea of starting up a business I planned to blog weekly about the process. I haven't. Why haven't I? Because the daily grind of starting up a small woman owned business is actually very boring and tedious. The perseverance it requires to actually get to do the work I want to be doing has taken me close to 2.5 years of planning and consideration and 1.5 years of working with grantors.

I already have a full time job called dealing with chronic illness. Everything else in my life has always come second to that. Even if I learned many positive management techniques - the financial, time, and physical resources are still massive. Dealing with the expenses and obligations of health and feeling those economic and financial issues have already been part of my life. I still have to make small payments to my doctors and chip away at bills and occasionally forego procedures because the money simply isn't available.

But the most difficult part of a startup for me is confidence. Can I do this? Will it happen? It is a daily grind to hold onto my vision and actually believing I can do what I want to do.

Other difficulties are about persistence and repeatedly asking for meetings and solutions with many community members. I have a bit of social capital and I'm well educated. I'm even fiscally savvy and frugal. But I never saw myself as an entrepreneur. Marketing, web development, PR and strategic insight, even naming my company are fraught with possibilities and confusion. Large companies have $800,000 budgets that go into a name and initial marketing scheme alone.

For beginning the startup phase, I need money, even for small things like paying for a business licenses, attorney, and CPA. Web service and site design also costs money. When I outlined my plan proposals it took time to explain that I had my basic technology covered but needed initial costs beyond what I had saved and matched. Plenty of people want to give "financial empowerment" tips to women. But there are not many resources who want to seed money for small businesses - especially when they often fail.

Initially my grantor told me no. But I went back with a revised proposal and asked again. I think it surprised them. Most people who are told no walk away. I have learned from a life time of rejection, revision, and slammed doors (thank you academia and grant writing) to continually propose and to continually ask. Also- I have learned that people love winners. The minute you have one small yes, the yeses pile up. That's why scholarship and grant hunting in academia led to more granting in graduate school. And that's why it has served me in my start up fund searching. It will serve me as I find ways to serve my local community. Because I believe in the power of businesses to actually give back and restore communities, even if they are for profit institutions. The bigger you are, the more you can do. Plus - community funding gives you marketing fodder and a tax write off.

Meanwhile, I haven't written. I haven't felt like blogging endless phone calls, meetings. I have, on the other hand, documented for myself on pink notes and post its and calendar notes and to do lists the unfolding of this business.

Perhaps more than any other thing, I am cautious because I have failed at an earlier business. I lacked planning, funding and marketing in my last business. Mostly, I thought my youthful passion for my business could drive it. No amount of work makes a business succeed. Work makes work. What makes a business succeed are meeting a need in a way that works easily, good pricing, lack of complexity in obtaining the services. Bonus if customers have fun or feel more secure while they are using your service or product.

That's the report of starting a business behind the 8 ball. I'm funded, I'm on phase two, I have a couple of months to go before I kick off, and I still carry shards of doubt that this business will fail miserably. Meanwhile, I get up every single day and I persevere with the belief that I was born to live a meaningful life and contribute to my world.





Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Femme Perspectives on Current Issues

I'm a self-identified femme. If you've never heard of femme invisibility look it up. I have lupus. It's an invisible illness that can be quite unpleasant at the best of times. For years I've talked about invisibility and felt the need to "speak up" and "speak out." Some times being invisible works and sometimes it costs you valuable jobs, opportunities, and funding. In my community here are some issues I've been considering lately.

Transphobia:

Something I noticed long ago in the queer and butch/femme crowd was a transphobic response to trans bodies. It was similar to the transphobia in het people. We'd have these discussions about the Michigan Womyn's Festival and some of us would choose not to go to stand in alliance with our trans friends while others would go. The entire time I felt a sort of sadness that we couldn't find a place of anti-oppression and equality even in our queer space. How could we ask for gay marriage if we couldn't grant trans folk equal rights or anti oppression.

The gender identity pendulum is swinging even more left for some as they are choosing not to host the Vagina Monologues at Mount Holyoke College. The centrist women's groups are in the middle saying, we are only here as a response to women's safety and freedom which isn't won yet, not as a response to say that you need a vagina to be a woman. And I'm here wondering why you need to do away with one celebration to include another form of transinclusivity. If one was at a cross purpose with another I could understand, but I also see this as a dialogue and a conversation.

On the other hand - I've always said that all gender is a drag. Many butch identified lesbians transition over the years, so dating men is something femmes constantly encounter.

Anti-rape & sexual harassment discussion:

I've seen many anti-rape conversations online. And anti-harrassment conversations. But what I haven't felt included in was an ability to actually converse in them. These feel more like polemics from women who have a loud voice and a good argument (often a sound one) but who shut out any and all complicated conversations. While I recognize that making points is necessary - there is a difference between slicing with a fine knife and cutting with a dull blade. Some points are not nuanced. And some points I don't agree with.

People are allowed to have different opinions. We are allowed to find some things humorous, especially when it comes to calling out our attackers or finding relief from the fears that may have silenced us for so long. Too many women (who may themselves have been raped or abused) have found themselves the mouthpieces for all women. They forget that men and non-gender aligning folk are also invited in to this conversation. I'm not inviting in more harassment, but real dialogue and discussion. There is a difference. We don't all need to agree with the loudest voice.

Most importantly, sometimes the people who stay silent could be our biggest allies, but they feel threatened by bullies who feel men and silent people are not invited. That's baloney. In addition to being part of the conversation, their voices matter because they have been involved and it matters to them too. I have been at fault for making snide gender jokes before and this is something I'm actively working on changing about myself.

Language and illness:

Then I realized that the languages we use in our daily lives are imbedded with judgement and a sense of superiority. Using words like, "Drugs are a cancer on our society." It brings a notion that cancer is a not just an illness but that cancer needs to be cut out and flung away. So that people with cancer should also be cut out and flung away. The words of illness and morality are used in conjunction frequently. Morality and illness and chronic illness and womanhood are often combined - like hysterical women's illnesses.

Interconnected oppression:

Other things are also interconnected - like age and race and class. I've seen race warriors online who are amazing at lifting up the conversation about race, but falling terribly short on conversations about health injustice and openly mocking ugly women, poorly dressed women, or older women - even when those women were creating a space for change. When we tear down the positive work men and women are doing for each other instead of lifting each other up (or at the very least, doing no harm to each other), we are doing a disservice. I'm not always on board with everything. Sometimes I try to learn and sometimes I try to have real conversations. Some things actively annoy me - like the gay rights conversation is often had by white gay professional men and het people who decide about equal rights and the voice of women is relegated to other (also important) issues.

Voting in many states is difficult to do if you are poor or wish to keep yourself confidential. In my state we have no voter confidentiality laws, even if you've been the victim of domestic violence or stalking. That means you can find each person's address and each time they vote. It makes voting and having a civic voice that much more difficult and disenfranchising. This matters a great deal to certain at risk populations.

Though I might be invisible for a variety of reasons, I know these issues matter. It's important not to harm the work other people are doing. And I'd rather have good conversations rather than tearing down or being hostile to people. At our core people are meant to do good in the world and to have meaningful useful work.


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Review of Violet Blue's: The Smart Girls Guide to Privacy

As you know - I was just writing about personal privacy the other day. Some of you know my uni research revolved around how groups of people with alternative sexual identities kept themselves anonymous online. My research started over 10 years ago - so I got to see how those people evolved their strategies to keep their privacy more locked down.

Because of our intersecting interests - I've watched @VioletBlue work for many years. She is involved in many projects and understands the intersections of sexuality, technology, healthcare privacy, freedom, and is a brilliant and creative writer.

Her latest book on privacy, "The Smart Girls Guide to Privacy" is very useful!

There is NEVER a good time to get hacked or deal with identity theft. But there do seem to be worse times. That's why I'm upping my game and supporting people who teach people how to become self-informed about privacy and better security.

The information in Violet Blue's book is clear, easy to read, and written in a way that doesn't feel overwhelming. She writes to an audience who is interested in becoming more secure - but doesn't necessarily know how. I like that. I didn't want a DefCon level book. This is where she nails it.

Inside you'll find a basic primer for what to do preemptively. And - what to do if there have been screw ups or you've been hacked, hassled, or smeared. I like that. Violet Blue doesn't assume we are starting out with shiny perfect secure shells. She educates all the way through to start nailing down basics. She also includes guides and tips and resources.

Here's something important to note. She isn't spoon feeding her readers. Violet Blue writes to smart girls and not dummies - meaning - you might have to do a bit of research on what works best. Some things are free, some tools cost money. Some of us use Macs, others use Linux or share computers. What works best on a pc isn't going to work that great on a Mac, while Linux has more free open source available. Some people spend all their time on their mobile while others use a laptop each requiring different protections.

What I like the most is that she isn't just stressing ONLINE privacy- but privacy in general. Then, she takes her readers through the beginners stages of sorting and tidying information. Sneak peek - she'll have you wanting to cover your cameras on all your devices!! While you can do it yourself (and I'm a huge DYI fan) -- she also sells Privacy Stickers at www.privacystickers.org.

Her book is very woman and alt sexuality centered - which I adore. As someone who openly writes about health issues and escaping from violent relationship - I truly value her discussion from this perspective. She gets it.

What I love the most is her RED, YELLOW, GREEN list of information to share and protect. This list gave me the quickest guide to thinking about how thoughtful or thoughtless I am with my privacy and small steps I an take to keep my RED personal information "guarded like a mama bear."

You need to think critically about your priorities, your finances, and your technological savvy. You will be armed with tips on how to avoid the worst mistakes and tools to fix your current problems. And, in the worst case, you will know how remotely locate and wipe your encrypted devices if they are ever stolen. By the time you're done with this book, you should know how to clean up past messes, prevent future identity mishaps, and feel mindful rather than fearful of personal security issues. So far, it is the best complied information on privacy I've seen. Every woman or gender non-conforming person who has ever been stalked or felt threatened should read this and put this in their arsenal of self-defense gear.


Monday, November 24, 2014

What I Contribute

As I've gone to more meetings, developed my mission, vision, and goals and created projections for a sustainable business model I've realized more and more why women (especially women who have escaped and survived abuse and deal with chronic illness) throw in the towel.

Most of the successful, highly educated women I know feel like impostors. Everywhere I look people feel small, afraid of failure, and worried that they will fail. Knowing this, I did something in my business projections just for me. I put a value on my time at $300 per hour. It was what *I* am worth as a contribution. My time, my effort, my thoughts, my classes and writing I'm developing.

It's simply too easy to feel small and insignificant. It's too easy to forget that what I have to say is IMPORTANT. It's too easy to feel invisible, to give up, to hide. And I don't want to do that. I don't want to "fight" or feel like everything is a battle but I also don't want MYSELF to forget.

I also started thinking about what I like about myself. I LIKE the red streaks in my hair. I LIKE my funky femme style. I like the things about me that aren't corporate or necessarily a good fit in academia. I like that the road I travelled isn't everyone's path. I like that when I talk to people they say, "It's always such breath of fresh air." Or - "I feel like you're writing the words I don't know how to say."

For a small moment I started feeling like I needed a marketing team or lots of money or that I needed a better brand. Then I remembered that MY BRAND is the one I've spent my entire life creating. My self. I'm true to me and so that is my shining light. I'm not always happy and I'm not always sad. I'm real. And I mean what I say and say what I mean. I really do what to provide real services and I also want to make a good living. I have dreams and I don't feel like giving up.

I've said it before -- I didn't go get a PhD so I could sit around being sick and not working. But I'm being honest and loving to myself to admit that no one plans to be chronically ill either -- so creating a sustainable business that works on giving back and doing what I love is the best of all possible worlds.

Monday, November 17, 2014

(How) Can We Have Online Privacy?

I've been struggling with the concept of online privacy, concern for my safety, and disillusion with corporate and government handling of online content. (This is ironic as I'm using blogger - currently owned by Google who has been in partnerships with No Such Agency for a long time including PRISM surveillance. Google is not what it seems.

Background

As most of you know, I worked full time through college. During that time I had a variety of jobs- most of them information and research related. (A few of them were more menial- such as credit card customer service.

I first became aware of credit card companies collecting information from their customers in 1995. It was during a quarterly meeting when our area general manager told us about fancy new software designed to collect data made from purchases and analyze spending habits for both marketing purposes. Though he was excited and talked about how specific the company could be in soliciting customer purchases with adverts and creating new earning potential partners I grew increasingly wary.

He showed us how we could see one customer made bra purchases at specific stores in one city and coat and house good purchases in another. She bought airline tickets a certain number of times per month but had company reimbursements for all but three states. She never made food or grocery purchases on her card, so the marketing team wondered if extra incentives could be made to increase this area. Also- the gm discussed partnering with multiple companies and trading customer information and spending details for broader demographic information. As early as 1995 I already felt a lack of privacy for me and every customer who used this particular card company.

Now - with even our health and payment information being reported to credit bureaus and large companies as well as social media collecting, reporting, trading, and selling our information - and our government building a huge spy center using our information I cannot fathom what these demographic markets must look like. The Pew Research Center reported that over 90 percent of US Internet users feel they have "lost control" of how our information is collected and used. Online 1% of us trusted advertisers to do the right thing with our information and only 2% trusted the government. Very few people feel they have any recourse or ability to control or shield ourselves from such corporate or government control in our lives.

At the same time, we don't always act in our own self interest and behave in contradictory ways online. We even self report, check in, use rating services, make online comments (helpful for us as consumers) but also helpful for marketing collectors to decide what we are consuming and what area we live and our relative demographic information.

One stealth user - @qtperdu, points out that we have few digital privacy rights - especially with terms of use agreements which allow corporations increasing legal access. @qtperdu points out - "Being off the grid doesn't equal controlling your data. That's like arguing abstinence is the same as practicing safe sex."

So what to do about online privacy?

BASIC

One online security specialist said, "Use the notion of trades - dial up or down the effort to privatize depending on how much you value a particular service or what you see as a risk to a breach of that information. Would it be disastrous if the public discovered you ran a cute kitten photo blog? If not, then you can be a little less stringent with the privacy efforts. How about a mental health diary with personal stories intended to help others? Dial that up."

Tips:

1) DO NOT reuse personal information across sites (including passwords)

2) DO NOT reuse answers to security questions and avoid actually answering security questions with real personal information. (You can store your answers in a safe. Oh- PS GET A SAFE AND A CROSS CUT SHREDDER and use them to avoid identity theft).

3) Most services don't encrypt the answers to the secret questions so a database breach can leak all those answers. In this case this is a decent answer: "What street did you grow up on?" "Lizard" "What was your first car?" "Spock" "What high school did you attend?" "None of your business"

4) Sometimes friends can accidentally leak your information. If they can't cooperate, reevaluate how much you share with them

PF Anderson blogs about anonymous use online in a series of three blog posts. In the first, she discusses, Anonymous Social Media Overview, Part One: Context, Risks, Benefits & Opportunities, Best Practices In her post she writes:

"BEST PRACTICES FOR ENGAGING (MAYBE)
Don’t ask / Don’t tell (personal information).
Don’t identify yourself.
Don’t use your name.
Don’t use a known pseudonym.
Don’t use a friend’s name.
Don’t ask others to identify themselves.
Don’t describe your location, appearance, or other identifiable characteristics.
Don’t give your email address, street address, phone number, or other direct contact information.
Ask others you trust if they’ve had good or bad experiences there.
Post harmless stuff while testing.
TEST IT OUT!!"

OK- I'm on board with being anonymous and I want privacy! What other steps can I take to have privacy and anonymity online?

BEGINNERS- use practices that help with anonymity:

1) use hard drive and e-mail encryption, (remember that any free service is collecting data)
- Use PGP (pretty good privacy) for your e-mail
- Don't use commercial encryption software because they probably have back doors

2) use strong passwords - your privacy & security are only as good as your passwords

3) use anonymous e-mail or create your own anonymous e-mail

4) Use a good open source encrypted password keeper to store your passwords
like Password Safe or KeePass

Remember that a good hacker (even government or corporate sanctioned) could hack your best efforts easily. But it's worth it for the average user. (If you are a hacker yourself - you won't be reading my blog so you won't need my tips about privacy and anonymity ) because you either collect my information and exploit me, or do various acts to defy those who do, or a bit of both.

5) For chatting:
Use Cryptochat or TorChat

Or consider Wickr a new instant messenger with encrypted and self-destructing messages.

INTERMEDIATE:

Surf the web anonymously
using a
1) proxy server
2) VPN
3) TOR and Use HTTPS and HTTPS Everywhere when you surf online (I write more about using TOR and the Dark Web in the Advanced section).

4)Use Encrypted USB sticks using Tails - if you really want to have security - have a computer that has never been attached to the Internet and the one you use online. Upload your encrypted USB to upload data instead of the cloud.

5) When you want to delete files do it securely
and consider using Nautilus Wipe

ADVANCED

By the time you're here - you don't need any tips! If you are here - chances are you can hack me and leave tips on my blogger. (Please don't - I wouldn't be savvy enough to use them).

1) Procure the The Blackphone created by Silent Circle and Geeksphone offers encrypted calling plans, texts, and aps without the "poorly secured backdoor" other smart phones come with.

2) Use the Dark Web. I often refer to the advice I was given in this area -- If you need help getting onto the Dark Web (and you're not using good security protocols or are easily scammed) - you shouldn't be on it. Regardless - there are numerous tip pages giving assistance and advice. The tips and precautions begin with downloading TOR and then taping your camera and remembering that our government ceaselessly watches the Dark Web. Keep in mind that people have many words for Dark Web- including Deep Web and Dark Net.

Remember - only a "security wiz" is good enough not to make mistakes online - even on the Dark Web so probably best not to engage in lots of illegal activities or political revolutions (and know that you're dealing with dissidents, criminals, journalists, intellectuals, and the feds watching for traces of you when you're here.

3) Use onions for chatting. Also a good way to find hidden wiki and deep web navigation information. There is a handy wiki for how use onions

RECAP Big brother is watching. Your information is being sold. You have the right to control your data and privacy. It isn't just about some information it is about security, having the right to control your information, and having the ability to your own safety.

Why do I want to be anonymous or private if I'm not doing anything illegal? I have nothing to hide.

Here's a quick list of why non-criminals might want to be anonymous: or having people who track your data is problematic for the following: 1) counselors and therapists avoiding a stalking client 2) physicians avoiding patients seeking medical advice 3) Attorneys dealing with angry criminals with a vendetta 4) women (like me) dealing with abusive partners & leaving abusive relationships. Those people who are being stalked or have been stalked WHO DO NOT WISH TO BE FOUND BY THEIR EX’S OR EX’S FAMILY & FRIENDS 5) Reporters who are keeping their sources private 6) Medical, health, legal sexual practices being kept private etc.

Legal names are good for: stalkers, abusers, ADVERTISERS and corporations scoring you. This is big business. From health scores making insurance quotes to credit scores these companies use even small predictive details about you - such as if you are buying sports equipment, how much and if you watch tv or cable online, what social media you use.

Here is a good list of what they might include:

• Commercial data brokers
• MultiChannel direct response
• Survey data, especially online
• Catalog/phone order/Online order
• Warranty card registrations
• Internet sweepstakes
• Kiosks
• Social media interactions
• Loyalty card data (retailers)
• Public record information
• Web site interactions, including specialty or knowledge-based web sites
• Lifestyle information: Fitness, health, wellness centers, etc.
• Non-profit organizations’ member or donor lists
• Subscriptions (online or offline content)

It might make you feel overwhelmed - but it helps you understand why you might want to control your own information and selectively use resources and use technology that enhances technology encryption. It isn't always necessary to remain in super stealth mode- especially if you're advertising a business etc. But selectively using privacy software and technology doesn't have to be for hardcore criminals and hackers. You're allowed to be proactive in protecting your privacy - even if it's a principle and you don't even think you have anything to hide.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Work, Education & Student Loan Problem(s)

I've heard both very conservative and very left leaning friends talk about how college educations are a scam. One doctor believes in apprenticships and work. Another woman with a PhD openly blogs about how she believes in business start-ups and how she won't pay for her child to go to college but will help them travel and start up a business when they are grown up.

Historically (and true even today) the best way to move up in class was to get an education. This means if you are born in a very low social economic class - earning an education helped you change your class situation in addition to being a critical thinker, writer, communicator, and strategist.

Problematically, educations and certifications have become commodified. It creates yet another hurdle for people with low social standing to obtain better jobs. And, for people who wish to go into helping professions, service professions, and education, it creates an economic imbalance for the cost of education - especially if such jobs are not available. We often have more degrees being made than available jobs -- it creates too many trained people who are unemployed. I once read that there are more taxi drivers with PhD's in NYC than there are in the universities there. Laughable yes - but hardly a good use of the high level of training and expense if it is even half true.

Just today I read how many people are angry that the President is attempting to help people with high student loans seek lowered payments who have low paying jobs. After 20 years with low paying jobs some or all of the student loans can even be forgiven. The writer of one opinion piece said people simply shouldn't go into low paying jobs because the government is "encouraging students to have debt". This writer ignores how often tax payers bail out banks and self-serving corport interests. He is also ignoring that many important jobs are underpaid.

Doctors are often turning towards concierge medicine to recoup the cost of their high educations. By laying the cost on their patients, they turn away the underprivileged, working poor, and very sick who spend most of their incomes on medical care. I doubt, when they went into medicine, these physicians wanted only privileged patients. The justification they make is the cost of their student loans is too high and they are only making $90k and it is difficult to raise a family and pay back student loans etc. Rather than seek student loan help or education cost reform - we are allowing privatized exclusivity to muddy the medical care industry even further. These doctors might understand that their patients also have student loans and debt, but they are worried about caring for their needs. It is difficult to unite with your patients when your immediate financial future looms.

I will repeat this -- people do not get paid based on their worth or the value of what they do. People get paid based on who gains from setting salaries and what is culturally established as important. Historically, science and technology was considered heretical. The arts and poetry exonnerated God so artists and poets were paid handsome sums and held in high regard among the wealthy elite. Currently, we hold technology in high regard and people in that business are paid accordingly.

Gender is also a big determinant about how and who enters a profession and how much they are paid. Disability status is also a determination. Many people who can work part time and do quite well are not given consideration because there are no positions for them.

We often mock professions and belittle people who go into professions. Additionally, we don't pay them well and when they do go into that profesion and experience burn out or fatigue, we offer little support for them. I can name dozens of thee professions and carers and you can probably think of many yourself. We expect highly trained and educated people to constantly adapt, retrain, regear to "keep up" and we expect no loyalty from corporations or jobs. People who are highly compensated come to believe they are *deserving* of their incomes rather than simply lucky, even if they are hard working. They view hardworking individuals who make less than them as having less worth and less social standing. They (and we as a culture) begin to associate financial gain with DESERVING. No one is more or less deserving of high pay.

Do I have answers about education costs and universities and training and certification? I have a few suggestions. I also know that the increase in police violence, the enormous racism, homophobia, sexism, and ongoing inequality of people with needs is WHY we need education. People are quick to judge and condemn and not quick to have useful conversations, dialogue, and communicate effectively. We still belittle people who are different and react with fear and hatred using euphemisms and cloaked language to mock people rather than learn their stories.

I'm not apologist for education or academia. I found little solace there and believe it is another hierarchy of people ignoring the needs of disabled and differences and upholding privilege without recognizing it. But I also know that there can be good inside the bad and that I learned from it just as I believe it isn't perfect.

Do people need educations to work?

I also read a startling article yesterday reporting data from the Pew research saying a large percentage of unemployed people "don't want a job." Around 40% of women and young people had given up and 28% of unemployed men. Most people love to work and enjoy being creative, making a good income, and being resourceful. People give up on work when they have good skills but are asked to do undervalued work or their skills are ignored and the work is underpaid and unstimulating and it goes no-where.

People need training to work jobs that are meaningful. But they also need access to resources that will help them actually land the jobs that they will be good at. And more importantly, the good well paying jobs actually need to be there. Nothing is more exhausting than mountains of rejection letters and "fakey" job ads that you know don't exist. Nothing is more deflating than being told you aren't qualified when you hold degrees or 20 years of experience or being told you should be in technology when you are talented in another field that simply isn't hiring. If you want to start your own business - great. But it takes work to do that - and it takes acumen. And people tell you that grants and support exist - but you know what- they don't. No one throws money at you. And no one stands around and tells you how great you are or how successful you'll be.

People aren't giving up because the roads are lined with milk and honey. People are giving up because they want to work and they are running into brick walls. And people are telling them they should have gone into a different field, made better choices, question their work ethic, their abilities, and tell them to dress better and change their resume and not be afraid to work fast food while they are waiting for their Masters degree to pan out.

Friday, October 31, 2014

A boost

I wasn't feeling good the other day. I decided to delete the post because it isn't what I want to put out into the world. I haven't been feeling like I'm contributing what I want... I miss some of what I used to do and I miss a lot of my old life... I spend a lot of time working on starting a business... but at the moment my life is a mix of feeling ill, working on getting better. And instead of being a librarian or a professor -which I've trained for - I'm busy doing 2 things 1) making myself believe I can run my own business and then 2) making other people believe I can. I have never wanted to run my own business. When I was a librarian I was happy and I loved it. When I was a lecturer I loved it and as an academic and scholar - I felt at home. Trying to conceive of teaching as a "product" and marketing myself is complicated. I've never wanted to be a business person. I've never wanted to ask for money to teach or start up a business.

I've heard it said that starting up your own business is a full time job- and I believe it is -- but not just because it takes a lot of work -- but because you have to stay motivated and focused even when you feel exhausted and tired and you want someone else to be a cheer leader for you.

Clearly - if I was afraid of hard work - I wouldn't have gotten my degrees or written papers. If I was afraid of hard work, I would have given up long before now. But there is something else -- something I didn't expect - I have to keep believing in myself and then getting other people to believe in me... and it's odd. When you're sick or not feeling well it takes that much more energy. My life isn't the same.

I realize that all I need to do is the small things I know I can do and work on the bigger things that I truly want.

I also started doing things I've been wanting to do - like clean out my closet. It isn't really getting me towards a goal -- but I get to ask questions like: "Does this make me happy?" And asking myself over and over - lets me clean out the closet of my life - and also look at my own desires and meet them in small ways. I've forgotten someone that I'm capable of that. I've forgotten what I'm capable of. I think it's easy to forget what we are capable of sometimes. And I think it's easy to fall into despair.

Over the weekend I also went through a great deal of old papers that were at one point very important but are no longer. Some need recycled and some need shredded. Only a few need saved. I'm doing that. It's important to me to make these things happen so I can see some progress- even if it isn't the progress I want to see. Small things matter too.

Living in fear and feeling stagnant and hindered like I have no hope is the worst feeling. So I'm doing what I can to give myself a boost.