20 hours of a lost cat

Ziggy recently went missing for 20 agonising hours.

Background:   When we got her from the shelter in January 2016, Ziggy had always been an indoor cat. After much research we decided it was safest to continue that, since we’re not that far from a main road.

A few months later she expressed curiosity about the outside world, so we took her out into our back yard. First on a little harness, then eventually without it. Ever since she’s liked an outside jaunt most days. We’d hang out with her as she lounged around the garden and watched the birds, sniffed a flower or two, then sauntered back inside after twenty minutes or so. Occasionally a neighbourhood cat would wander into the yard, and she’d whoosh over to scare it off her turf. But she’d always stop at the border, then get right back to the important business of lazing around.

Lazy Ziggy
Like this.

These excursions continued without incident for over two years… until two Thursday afternoons ago!

Here’s how it all went down…

3.30PM – Ziggy is flopped out on the grass as per, when a little black cat appears at the edge of our garden. Ziggy springs to action and rushes at it. But instead of stopping like normal, she leaps over the fence into the neighbour’s yard then disappears in hot pursuit.

Shit. I race outside and head down the street to look for her… but she’s nowhere to be found.

4PM – I return home and try to remain calm. I post a message to the village Facebook group. It felt like the best first port of call, as it has swiftly located many missing cats in the past. (And also provided critical updates on the availability of fresh bread rolls in the village shop during the #BeastFromTheEast!)

4.30PM – Gareth arrives home from his shift to find me anxiously pacing the streets.

5PM – Someone on the Facebook group says they’d spotted Ziggy and the black cat awhile earlier, “having an altercation” but then they’d ran off in opposite directions.

Ziggy is a street fighter now!?

The Worst Evening Of Our Lives – That may sound overly dramatic but dudes… we were stricken. Between shifts of village patrol, we sat side by side on the couch in silence, trying to decide how worried to be.

On one hand, it had only been a few hours and my cat-owning friends reassured me that cats pull this shit all the time and then waltz back in. On the other hand, Ziggy had never been outside our yard before, so how the heck would she know how to get home!? It was hard not to imagine a tabby pancake in the middle of the highway.

It is ridiculous how deeply, deeply attached you become to a creature that is for the most part completely indifferent to your undying affection. 78% of our daily conversations revolve around her exploits. The house seemed cavernous without her stripey bod sashaying in and out of the room, or scratching her claws on the bottom step like she knows she’s not meant to, or making a deposit to the litter tray juuuust as we sit down to enjoy a cup of tea.

“I don’t know what I’ll do without that jerk,” Gareth finally says, “She’s my wee pal.”

He is so sad and sincere. I just want to vom from the guilt, since she’d nicked off on my watch.

“What did we ever talk about before her?”

“I can’t remember.”

“I guess we’ll have to get divorced if she doesn’t come home.”

We laugh halfheartedly.

It rains all night. Neither of us really sleep. I get up every hour or so to see if she’s outside, or to shuffle up and down our street.

(I should mention at this point that I’d injured my lower back a few weeks earlier, with any walks over ten minutes sent excruciating pain radiating across my lower back and down my legs. Your timing sucks, cat! 😉 )

Friday 5AM – G has to leave for work. I begin yet another shuffling lap of village, calling her name as I shake a little bag of dry food, and noticing the inner conflict between missing moggie angst versus feeling like a twit for making such a racket. I mean, people will be trying to sleep.

I see two tabbies that are not Ziggy, plus the black cat from the altercation. All are wearing smug I ain’t seen nufink faces.

6AM – My back is cooked. I take a nap on the couch.

7.30AM – Wake up and submit cat to every Lost Pets forum in the land. After advice from dear friends who’ve previously had AWOL moggies as well as the reading Cats Protection What to do if your cat goes missing list, decide it is time to make some flyers.

7.35 AM – Scour the Google for a Lost Cat Microsoft Word template.

7.36 AM – Download template.

7.37 AM – Move template to Trash due to its use of SHITTY WORD ART. One has standards.

7.38 AM – Start making own flyer.

Missing cat flyer
Get that Call To Action right up there.

8.15 AM – Text Gareth and ask him to please sneakily print as many copies as possible.

8.35 AM – Gareth confirms he has managed to print 20 copies but says, don’t we have a printer at home?

8.40 AM – Dig out old printer that we had shoved into a corner a year ago after it stopped working for no good reason. Commence Operation Fix That Printer.

9.36AM

FUCK THIS PRINTER

9.42AM – BREAKTHROUGH.

Working!

10.00 AM – Painkillers have kicked in. Commence slow hobble around the streets avec flyers.

11.30 AM – Return home from spamming the immediate neighbourhood.

11.55 AM – Phone call from a kind gentleman who lives down the street.

He got my flyer!

He’s found Ziggy in his garage!

12:00 PM – Toddle down the street. Kind Gent opens his garage door. A pair of eyes peer out from the darkness. It is the Striped One!

PRINT IS NOT DEAD AND NEITHER IS ZIGGY.

12:10 PM – After much coaxing out with Dreamies, then a dozen thank yous of wild gratitude to the Kind Gent, I carry the mewling Ziggy back down the street.

12:25 PM – Having scoffed down a tin of Gourmet Gold, Ziggy leaves a fragrant present in her tray, lolls casually on the living room floor, then dozes off like nothing bloody happened.

Gareth: Expecting The Worst Since 1973
Gareth: Expecting The Worst Since 1973

Interview with Kerstin Martin, Squarespace designer

Working In My PJs – Kerstin Martin

Behold! Working In My PJs is back. Today, I’m talking to Squarespace authorised trainer and web designer Kerstin Martin.

Originally from Germany and now based in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, Kerstin designs gorgeous Squarespace websites and teaches online courses. She recently launched Squarespace Biz Box, a comprehensive course to help people create their own successful and profitable web design business.

I love Kerstin’s unconventional path to self-employment. A self-described Jill-Of-All-Trades, she spent years flying around the world as a flight attendant for Lufthansa, managed IT projects in southern England, did corporate sales in the airline finance industry, ran her own online dating site and personal growth workshops in London, worked as a hotel manager in the Pacific Northwest, and was college secretary in Massachusetts and the registrar of an international school in Germany, before “accidentally” starting her own business.

After years of following each other’s adventures online, we finally met in Seattle last year and bonded over a shared love of lists, details and peanut butter cups. Our regular Skype chats on all things life and business never fail to leave me inspired and rebooted.

I’m so chuffed that she was up for sharing the story of how she built a thriving business that’s full of integrity and heart.


Kerstin Martin

1. How did your business begin?
My foray into entrepreneurship happened rather by accident. Since starting a blog in 2005 I have always dabbled with its design, first in WordPress and for the last 10 years Squarespace. I just loved creating new looks that reflected whichever mood or season I was in, this was (and still is) my perfect idea of R&R!

In 2014, when we relocated from the UK to the US, a friend of mine asked me to redesign her business website and it was such a success that, instead of looking for a new job, I decided to start my own business as a Squarespace web designer!

I was 51 at the time and had spent decades in corporate employment so this definitely felt like a crazy thing to do! But it also felt very right. I’ve been profitable since day one and my revenue has tripled in the last three years so this is absolutely a viable income source for me.

2. Pick three adjectives to describe your work.
Modern. Stylish. Organized.

3. How do you make your money?
70% web design projects and 30% from Squarespace e-courses (I started these in early 2017).

4. What does a typical working day look like? Do you like structure/routine or are you more a by- the-seat-of-the-pantser?
For someone who likes to be organized (I am German after all!) my work style is surprisingly fluid and dictated by what’s on my plate at any given moment. I am quite good friends with the panic monster, there is nothing like the thrill of a deadline to get me going!

Mind you, most of my deadlines and pressures are self-imposed and I keep reminding myself that I am my own boss these days and can make my own rules! Which means that I generally stick to a Monday to Friday work week with a schedule that is mostly driven by my appointments and a daily to-do list that I write into my bullet journal every morning.

5. What do you typically wear when you work from home? Is there any connection between what you’re wearing and how you feel as you work away?
During my first year in business I rented an external office which meant that I got dressed up and put on make-up every day. This was actually crucial to starting my own business because it made me feel like I still had a ‘proper’ job.

However, since I can work from anywhere I decided after one year that I’d rather put the rent money towards our mortgage and set up office in our 3rd bedroom. I love my cozy little home office! And unless I know that I am going out I keep things pretty casual with yoga pants, comfy t-shirts and knits. Being comfortable always makes me feel good and puts me into a good mindset for working.

6. I love your refreshing openness about the way you feel about business life. You’ve written very honestly about having your work plagarized, FOMO and the ups and downs of “the hustle”, to name a few. Do you find this honesty has had a positive impact on your business?

Thank you, and likewise — I have always loved your openness and think you’re pretty awesome, too!

Yes, this has definitely had a positive impact! You often hear it being said that to run a successful online business you need to establish trust with your audience. I think being honest about myself and my experiences helps my readers to connect with me and that in turn supports an environment in which trust can flourish. But even without this, being open and direct is simply who I am, it’s how I used to write about my life as a blogger and how I continue to share the joys and perils of entrepreneurship.

7. The word “heart centered” is quite overused in the online biz world (and if we weren’t all heart-centered, we’d be dead). But you really do run your business from a place of integrity and heart. Can you tell me what heart-centered means to you, in terms of the way you approach your business?
Totally agree, it’s become a very overused phrase and as such has lost some of its genuine intention and power. You already mentioned the one word that I mostly associate with heart-centered: integrity. Integrity, to me, is about using a more gentle and personable approach that is in line with my core values of awareness and consideration.

I despise the shouty 6-figure marketeers that make running your own business all about how much money you can earn by following their secret seven steps to guaranteed success. I call this ‘the pyramid scheme of the gold rush entrepreneur’ and all I can say is ugh. This is not how I want to ever run my business.

What’s most important to me is simply becoming really good at what I do and delivering a great service and high quality work to my clients. My business has grown very organically, and steadily, as a result and I am able to draw a great income from it as well.

8. Another thing I love about you is that you’re a fellow Attention To Detail person. What details matter most to you? 
OMG. I can drive myself — and others — crazy with this need to make sure all the details are just so and just right! In my designs this means paying close and occasionally obsessive attention to balance and flow, as well as contextual, structural and visual integrity.

In my business it means being reliable, accountable and a conscientious communicator. The other day a client outsourced some of the maintenance work on her site to a junior employee and he paid no attention to the date and time format that I had been using, resulting in visually inconsistent updates. Which drove me nuts when I saw it!

They are just small irregularities but I can be quite the stickler for this kind of stuff. Alas, my client outsourced this task because I wanted to be freed up from it and I am learning the important lesson of letting go of those things that are not mine to control anymore.

9. What’s your least favourite task related to your work?
Bookkeeping when I’ve been procrastinating on it. Ironically, bookkeeping is also one of my favorite tasks, once I get into it! I get a lot of satisfaction out of tallying up the numbers, seeing my Excel formulas at work and getting a clear overview of the financial state of my business.

10. What’s the nicest thing a client has said to you about your work?
I am very grateful for the amazing testimonials I get from both my web design clients and e-course participants. Each in their own way has said super nice things about my designs, how easy I am to work with and that I am a great teacher. I also get a lot of positive feedback regarding my openness and honesty, see point 6! I have really good relationships with my clients and consider myself lucky to have worked with so many truly wonderful people.

11. What are your favourite ways to procrastinate?
Facebook. Instagram. Tinkering with my website.

12. Do you have any hopes and dreams or just plain old plans for your business in 2018? 🙂
I do! 2017 was all about growing my e-courses while continuing to design websites for clients. I love both but it’s been exhausting keeping up with it all. This is the point where many designers start hiring and expanding but I decided that I prefer to work solo. I am currently working with a great business coach to figure out what this means for 2018 and the way forward. My desire is to create a better balance between my on-screen and off-screen time and to make more space for my health and wellbeing related goals.

13. What is your beverage of choice while working? Do you have a favourite mug/cup?
Water, herbal tea with honey, and Nespresso with a dash of cream!

Kerstin's mug

14. Working for yourself can be a lonely business! Do you have any sources of support? 
You are right, working for myself and from home can get lonely and the companionship of colleagues is one thing I miss about corporate life. I am grateful for a supportive husband who is a great listener and always interested in my business and happy to let me bounce off ideas as well as frustrations.

I also find support online via Facebook groups, working with coaches (I can highly recommend Sas Petherick and Sophy Dale) and having virtual coffee chats with lovely people like you!

In absence of co-working spaces in our town I also love working out of coffeeshops and try to do this once or twice a week. Just being surrounded by people and good coffee makes me feel good and increases my productivity.

Kerstin at the coffee shop

15. When it comes to getting organised, are you a digital or analogue person, or a combo of the two? 

I am a big believer in simplicity. There are so many productivity apps out there and my German brain goes into overdrive at all the possibilities of getting even more organized! But this last year I realized that many of these tools are just another distraction and that I can easily spend more time “getting organized” than actually working. These days I organize myself as follows:

1. I use 17hats for all client related administration, such as proposals, contracts, invoicing, questionnaire, time tracking, bookkeeping and automated workflows. Love 17hats!

2. For scheduling work related appointment and consultation calls I use Acuity and my Apple Calendar. Acuity is embedded into my website so it’s a seamless process from booking to getting into my digital calendar. My calendar has different categories and this is where I keep anything scheduling related as well as important deadlines, both for personal and business use. It’s a pretty important time management tool and I heavily rely on the notifications to remind me of upcoming events!

3. Email can be such a vortex for my time and energy! I dabbled with a few email tools but in the end I came up with this very simple system that works great for me. In my Apple Mail I created three folders:

  1. To Do This Week
  2. To Do Next Week
  3. To Do Bookkeeping

As emails come in I sort them into one of these folders and I only keep in my Inbox what I intend to work on today. Once a task is done I either delete the email or file it, and when I reach Inbox Zero I get more tasks from the “To Do This Week” folder. This simple system has made me a lot more efficient!

4. Apple Notes is my digital catch-all app for notes, ideas, lists, links and anything I want to keep for later use. Folders and sub-folders make it easy to file everything and there are easy at-a-glance overviews of any linked documents, photos and URLs. I sync Notes across all my devices and it’s a wonderful and user-friendly tool for organizing lots of information.

5. Last, but not least, I am using my Leuchtturm bullet journal for my weekly organization, master to-do lists and day-to-day stuff. Every Sunday I create a 2-page overview of all my appointments and a to-do list for that week and then I use the subsequent blank pages to scribble down notes throughout the week, draw doodles and washi-tape-down receipts, fortune cookies, quotes and whatever snippets of daily life I wish to keep. My digital calendar sends me reminder notifications but using this analog system helps my brain prepare for the week ahead and deal with day-to-day tasks and events in a creative and organized way.

(Please note that Kerstin’s links to 17hats and Acuity are affiliate links)

Kerstin's Bullet Journal

16. What do you see out the window of your workspace right now?

We had a dusting of snow! And I still have my Christmas decoration up on my window sill! (Shauna’s note – Kerstin completed this interview back in January!) My office window faces west so I get to see some amazing sunsets and I love seeing the horizon from our 3rd floor condo.

Kerstin's View

 

18. Would you mind sharing a photo of your workspace?
I converted our tiny 3rd bedroom into a cozy office, painted one wall turquoise and I love it! I always have candles going and occasionally I am joined by my furry office assistant 🙂

Kerstin's Office

Kerstin's Office Assistant


Big thanks to Kerstin for her time! Find out about Kerstin’s offerings on her website. She also posts beautiful photos on Instagram and blogs about health, wellbeing and food at The Reluctant Cook.


Green Mountain at Fox Run: The floodlight and the twinkle lights

Out of all the ideas I heard at Green Mountain, one that really sang to me was the floodlight and twinkle lights.  In the aforementioned Hungers That Influence Eating Behaviours class, Shiri explained that a binge acts like a floodlight. To quote her blog post: “The truth of the matter is that nothing will do it like food… Eating in […]

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