A Bit About me

Confessions of a Not So Shy Introvert

One of the biggest misconceptions about introverts is that they’re shy. However most of my introvert friends aren’t shy introverts.

I’m not a shy introvert.

So before I tell a few secrets about what my introversion looks like, here’s a quick explanation of what that means.

Merriam-Webster defines introversion as:

  1. the act of introverting:  the state of being introverted (helpful right?)

  2. the state of or tendency toward being wholly or predominantly concerned with and interested in one’s own mental life

Currently uploading program "deep thoughts"
Currently uploading program “deep thoughts”

Here’s how Amanda-Sue defines introversion…

Some people (while they enjoy people) get exhausted after being around them, and have to take time to chill in solitude, and we call these people introverts. Some people thrive being around others, and in fact get very sullen if they have to endure being by themselves for long periods of time. We call these people weirdos extroverts.

So it really has nothing to do with being shy… and it doesn’t mean that we can’t be around people, or on a stage, or anything else. We can still lead fully functional lives, it just looks different than an extroverts. You can see an extreme example of this with I vs E celebrities. We’re talking Johnny Depp vs Mel Gibson. Florence Welch vs Beyonce. Lady Gaga vs. Nicki Minaj.

And you may be thinking… Lady Gaga an introvert? She’s very loud, and wild… and yes, she is… but on stage. Off stage her quirkiness becomes a shield from the public eye. You can hear her introversion come out when she explains to Oprah, that the reason she wore the meat dress, was she felt that the smell would probably keep people away from her. (Which is gross, and hilarious, and a little relatable…)

Geeky Arial | Amanda Sue Howell | Confessions of a Not So Shy Introvert
proof you can be a wild introvert 😉

Okay so, are you on board with what introversion is? Cool! So after my very long-winded explanation, here are my introvert confessions.

  1. I perpetually want to be invited to things, but not be obligated to stay very long. I kind of want to breeze through, dazzle everyone with my snark & wit, and retreat to my reading chair.
  2. When I’m around a tiny group of people, I can seem extremely outgoing, but I will use up all of my energy in that conversation, and go home and not leave my house for days… happily.
  3. Even when I go to events with a gazillion people, I will either text a friend I know has attended, and go find her, or I’ll patiently wait in my seat for someone to come find me.
  4. Because I spend so much time with my own magical thoughts, I frequently look very intense. The young people refer to this as “RBF”, but my mama reads this blog, so you can just google that for yourself.
  5. People sometimes think I’m anti-social. I’m really not. I’m just selectively social. Asking you to coffee (or anything else) is kind of a “I choose you, Pikachu” moment, so you should feel very special.
  6. I get asked all the time “whatcha thinking about”. I usually say “nothing”, which kind of makes me sound brainless (and I should probably stop saying), but the fact is I’m usually thinking of about 27 things all at the same time, only 3 of which are related, and your head would spin so fast that you’d cancel that coffee date. And since it’s the only interaction I signed up for this month, I’d be a very sad panda indeed.
  7. I’m kind of obsessed with personality stuff, and I can happily talk introvert vs extrovert vs ambivert for hours.

Okay there’s probably more, but this is a great start! And my intro was so long that I feel like I should rescue you at least a wee bit. If you’re a fellow introvert, what’s your confession?

What Happens When You Learn That You’re An Artist?

Quite frankly, I don’t remember what it’s like to not be able to read. I don’t remember what it’s like to not know my colors, or numbers, or how to cook. Education is an incredible thing… it not only changes your future, but it re-shapes your past.

Me reading
Wasn’t I cute?

A similar (and most interesting) thing happens when you go on a voyage of self-discovery. You’ll take a personality test, or someone will make an off-hand comment that brings something to your awareness, and all at once you’re both shocked to discover it’s true, and boggled that you never realized it before.

For example, I recently had a session with my business coach where she pointed out that one of my number one hindrances to my personal productivity, is that I feel compelled to solve everyone‘s problems. Right now you may be thinking that it’s my job to handle my client’s problems, or my family’s problems… but no…

She really does mean everyone. And it’s true.

If I overhear someone ask a question, I want to help them find the answer.

If someone off-handedly mentions that someone in a TV show looks familiar, I have to look it up.

If someone in a Facebook group asks a question that even begins to be in my random storehouse of knowledge, I want to help them.

If one of my friends creates a program, I want to jump in so I can support them.

At one point, I was in almost half a dozen Instagram challenges, because I wanted to support every friend of mine that was running one. Did I mention that I was running my own at the time? You know what happened? Almost none of them got done, including my own. Boooooo hisssss.

When I told my Mom about the conversation, she started laughing. “Boy she’s really got your number”, she said. I would have protested, but I’d already realized it was true. Over the course of the next week, I had to tell myself “no!” on about half a dozen courses, 3 month-long challenges, and a couple more Instagram challenges. I have issues, man.

In another conversation with that same business coach, she mentioned me being an idea person, and how I need to really focus down and keep my eye on the prize. It may come as a shock to you, but despite the fact that I’ve brainstormed half a dozen courses, a dozen future Cheeky Guide topics, a monthly Instagram challenge, and any number of other things… I was blissfully unaware that I’m an idea person.

It gets even more hilarious, if you know that I’m an INFP. An INFP is literally categorized as an “idea generator”.

I can’t make this stuff up… don’t you feel normal now?

So something I’ve never grasped for myself, is being an artist. I’ve been called an artist (or artistic) probably most of my life. When I was young I was praised for my very neat coloring, and it won me a stuffed animal (can’t recall if it was my Mickey or my Big Bird… I had a lot of stuffed animals as a kid). I had a book about drawing horses and prided myself on how quickly I picked up drawing them… I even showed them to our hometown artist (who specialized in drawing/painting horses).

I paint, draw, doodle, crochet, knit (a little), photograph, write, sing, story-tell, quill, cross stitch, hand letter, color, write calligraphy, cook…

Crocheting | What Happens When You Learn That You're An Artist? | Amanda Sue Howell | CheekyVisionaries.com

 

Okay so I’m not trying to brag here…. I really just want to paint a picture, because it should have been obvious to me, but it wasn’t. Not until I wrote about the undervaluing of artisans last week. It’s a topic I feel very strongly about, and I’ve ranted about it in person dozens of times, but never really on my blog. And when I did, I had an instantaneous response. One person even asked if they could gush over one of the sentences. Gush. Over something I wrote?

The more I thought about my post, and the more response I got to it, the more I realized why it’s such a fire-inducing topic to me. Because I am an artist. Me. An artist. Who knew?

Uhhhh basically everybody but me.

I am an artist.

Seriously though, there’s something special that happens when you step into what you’re designed to do. In my case, I’ve colored more in the last week than I have in months. And you might say that coloring isn’t “technically” an artistic endeavor. In which case I’d say that I dare you to google “johanna basford coloring tutorials” and tell me some of those people aren’t freaking artists.

Lisa Frank Ship | What Happens When You Learn That You're An Artist? | Amanda Sue Howell | CheekyVisionaries.com

But it’s not just the coloring. I’m feeling inspired to step back art forms I haven’t played with in months, or even years, because I didn’t feel like I could justify it. It was something I could do in my “spare” time. Have you ever noticed that spare time doesn’t really exist? We humans are experts at finding ways to whittle away every second we have with busywork.

So I ask you, will you join me in this journey? We’re closing out the first quarter of March, and I’m ending it with a beautiful discovery. I plan to spend the rest of 2016, discovering what my true bent (or bents… yay for multipods!) is/are. If you’re a fellow artist, I’d love for you to declare it in the comments below… shout it out, loud and proud. Link to something you’ve made!

Does the word “Mompreneur” make you twitchy?

Mompreneur-Featured

We all have certain words that make us cringe. For Murdoc it’s “MacGyver”. For Edward it’s “Blade”. For some it’s the word “moist”.

I was talking with some lovely friends of mine last week, and we were discussing terms we hate. “Rockstar” = overused. “Fempreneur” = implies that a distinction between male & female entrepreneurs is necessary. ” I threw out that I dislike “girl boss”… shhhhh don’t tell Sophia Amoruso that. I’m sure it’s a lovely book. I just don’t enjoy being called a “girl”. I do realize the irony in this, given that I call people “chick” on a regular basis. I guess we all have our quirks.

One of my friends mentioned that she doesn’t like the term “mompreneur”. To my credit, I didn’t immediately revolt against her. I pondered for a moment. Why am I okay with the term “mompreneur”?

Girls-3.5

The girl on the left is my oldest. She’s one of the reasons I wanted to work from home to begin with. Like most home based businesses, there’s a lot of reasons I made that final leap, but one of the very biggest was the ability to spend time with my children.

 

Joseph-Julian-6

Just so my boys don’t feel left out, there they are too. 🙂

For me, mompreneur is the perfect term because my children are very young (my oldest is 10), and this is stage where I’m very cautious about balancing things. I never want my children to feel like my business comes first. My business is for them, as much as it is for me.

Sometimes it’s easy to drown yourself in planning, and making, and doing, and launching. Mompreneur reminds me to keep my priorities in order.

The Cold Hard Truth About Veteran’s Day

8 years ago, I enlisted in the Air Force

I was 21 years old, and this was one of the biggest decisions of my life.

Amanda Sue in BDU's
Taken in a photo booth at the Lackland Air Force Base BX – Tech School 2007

During the enlisting process, I was told a lot of things by my recruiter. Some one could probably make a Tumblr page of crap recruiters say… cause there’s a lot of it. “You’ll see the world” is a big one.

Well. I was born in New Mexico. I was living in Texas at the time. My basic training was in Texas. My tech school was in Texas. And my first/only  base was in New Mexico. I didn’t get very far on that traveling gig.

I went in with every intention of being a lifer. I’m sure a lot of us did. Some didn’t make it through basic, due to health concerns. Some didn’t make it past tech school, because they just couldn’t make the grade. Some were removed for behavioral issues. But most of us made it to our first base.

They say that first base makes all the difference. I think it’s more than the base. I think it’s the squadron.

Every year, they talk about the suicide rate in the military… and in the Veterans. Today is Veteran’s Day, and this issue is still being discussed.

I have first hand experience with why the suicide rate is so high. It’s not for lack of briefings, although that’s the first thing they ask when something happens… “do we need more briefings?” Gosh no. There’s a briefing every other month on something. Maybe it’s suicide prevention, maybe it’s sensitivity training, maybe it’s sexual assault prevention… but there’s always a briefing.

The problem is that no one takes them seriously. People walk out of the assault briefings, and turn to their buddies, purple nurple them and say “nice rack bro…  hahaha it’s not assault cause you’re not a chick… chicks get offended too easily.” They walk out of suicide prevention and say things like “if you’re such a candy ass that you’re gonna threaten to kill yourself, do us a favor and just do it already.”

The military spends so much time hardening their people, and then wonders why so many of them are cruel. There’s a fine line between tough, and mean. And too many in the military cross it.

I was going through a terrible time. My ex-husband was abusive, so I got divorced. My daughter wasn’t living with me. I had no friends, and no family nearby. Before we got divorced my ex husband spent all of my money putting a down payment on a car, which he then totaled. So I had no vehicle either.

Amanda Sue in dress blues
Me in my dress blues uniform

My world was crashing in around me, and I wasn’t getting any sleep. Insomnia makes everything seem worse… so they tried to put me on sleep meds. Apparently sleep meds can mess with your head too. I was up at work, drawing lines on my arm with a pair of scissors. One of my supervisors walked by and saw me. Now at this point, I should clarify… I wasn’t suicidal, but I had every right to be, and the evidence was very compelling.

Rather than following procedure, which would have been to have a chat with me, and evaluate whether I should be put in a psych hold for my own safety… he squinted his eyes and said “whoa… you probably shouldn’t do that at the front desk.”

The meds were making me so loopy that I told my boyfriend about it. His response was more like a sane, normal human being… “you were doing what?! That’s not normal… you should probably stop taking them.”

So I did… I stopped taking them, and when my head cleared, I realized how scary that really was, and I called my doctor to tell them I wouldn’t be taking those anymore.

Everyone at my shop knew what I was going through. No one reached out to see how they could help. No one offered to sit and have coffee with me. At one point I was even sick, and put on quarters (basically you’re restricted to being at home, unless you need food, or to go to the hospital), and no one checked on me to see how I was doing.

The only people who checked on me, weren’t in my squadron. And they couldn’t figure out why my squadron was so terrible.

When I separated from the military, several people who knew me said that if I’d been in any other squadron, I might have felt differently about leaving. And it’s probably true… I sang in over a dozen on and off base events during my term. One sergeant from another squadron looked over my paperwork, and when he saw what I’d been graded on my last performance evaluation, he said “If the only thing I knew about you, was that you’d sang in 2 retirement ceremonies, I’d know this grade is wrong. Because they don’t ask dirtbag Airmen to sing for retirement ceremonies.”

But I had. I’d sang in retirement ceremonies, 2 3rd of July celebrations (yes 3rd.. they leave the 4th open for families to be together), 1 change of command ceremony, 1 squadron merger ceremony, 1 volunteer appreciation ceremony, and an assortment of sporting events.

Amanda Sue sings for Raptor Rumble
Me singing the National Anthem for our first on base boxing match

But the problem isn’t specific to that squadron. Yes other squadrons may have treated me better, but that attitude is pervasive in the military, not just my squadron, not just the Air Force.

And then our men come home, and things aren’t what they were promised to be either. You’re told “we’re your new family, we’re going to take such good care of you.” And then you get out, and it’s months before you have your appointment with the VA. Sometimes it’s over a year.

You get out, and all the jobs that you were told would be thrown at you by the virtue of you being a Veteran, now don’t want to hire you because your experience is more than they’re willing to pay for. My husband got out of the military, with 6 years of mechanic experience, and was on unemployment for over a year, because no one wanted to pay for it.

Life is hard for a Veteran. And we try not to be angry or bitter about it, because we didn’t serve for the benefits. But it’s heartbreaking to see how some of us are treated. And as annoying as it was to be on unemployment for so long, and to be waiting for our VA appointments for so long, I’m even more concerned for the Veterans who came home with a piece of them still overseas.

Amanda Sue & Phillip
Phillip & I on our wedding day – 2009

The good news, is that my story ends well. I’m happily married, with 5 beautiful children, and a business that I love. But today, I want to point out that unfortunately that’s not always the case. Many, many Veterans are stuck in crappy, thankless jobs. Or they’re disabled beyond the point of having a job. Many more are homeless. I can’t pass by homeless men now, without wondering if they were once a proud soldier.

I’d like to encourage you to look in your local area and see if there are any Veteran non-profits that you can help out with. There are ones that rescue shelter dogs and train them (alongside the Veterans) to be service dogs for Veterans with PTSD. There are art therapists, music therapists, dance therapists… someday I’d love to team up with my horse-crazy sister, and bring equine therapy to my local region.

I leave you with this video… the last part is a song that’s very special to me, and the first part is a little bit of the story on why it’s so special. Please enjoy!

30 Things You Don’t Know About Me

Tomorrow I turn 30. As in, just a few short minutes away. So, I’ve challenged myself to come up with 30 things you don’t know… yet. This should be interesting, since I’ve written a few other “you don’t know” posts. (See “20 Things You Didn’t Know” & “20 Things You Might Not Know“)

In honor of my birthday, I'm posting about 30 things you don't know about me

1. My Dad missed his weekly episode of Ellery Queen when I was born. But he loves me anyway. My Mom missed out on lasagna, because the conventional wisdom of the day was to not feed women in labor. Sorry Mom!

2. My very first memory is of searchlights. I’d never seen them before, but at the time I was on the 2nd floor, and I had a great view of the city. I’ll never know what they were for, but I could see them… I thought God had flashlights and was playing with them. It made perfect sense to me that God would have flashlights… I love flashlights.

3. Growing up I wanted to be a magician, doctor, missionary, dancer, figure skater, equestrian, and Mom. I did manage to accomplish one of those goals. 😀

4. When I was a kid, I had a book that I loved soooooo much that I asked my Mom to read it to me over, and over, and over. So much in fact that I memorized the book, down to what words were on what page.

Me reading
Wasn’t I cute?

5. We moved right before I turned 5, and I thought for sure that my parents would forget my 5th birthday. For the record my parents have never forgotten my birthday, and they surprised me with a Big Bird Cake. (For the additional record I have forgotten my birthday.)

6. One of the first books I remember reading is Bread and Jam For Francis.

7.  I was am obsessed with Crayola Crayons. On one memorable occasion, I told my Dad about a car I’d seen in the parking lot. He asked if I meant the “blue one”, and I firmly informed him that it wasn’t “blue-blue” it was “cerulean blue”. There is a difference you know.

8. I collect pandas. I’ve been doing it for so long, that I don’t even know how it started. It started as bears, and then moved into specializing in pandas. Now my collections include owls, phoenixes, peacocks, hedgehogs, comic book/nerd stuff, and coffee mugs.

9. I had a penpal in Taiwan. I actually met her in a bookstore near Dallas though.

10. When I was a kid, one of my favorite things about summer was my Dad bringing home gardenias from the bush next to his job.

11. I used to keep my sisters up late telling them stories with characters from shows we’d watched… MacGyver, Diagnosis Murder, and Walker Texas Ranger were featured prominently.

12. The first song I learned to really play on piano was Pachabel’s Canon, because it’s one of my Mom’s favorite pieces of music. And now mine.

13. I don’t usually have birthday cake anymore (now I do birthday pie!), but when I was growing up, my favorite cake was chocolate cake with German chocolate frosting. But when I turned 13, my Mom made a really fun panda shaped cake!

14. Everyone knows I crochet, but I have knitted “one” item. lol Just one. Why I picked fuzzy yarn for my first project is beyond me.

The beginnings of a scarf
The beginnings of a scarf

15. I’ve broken my left foot once. I’ve also broken my right foot once. No it wasn’t at the same time. Geesh how clumsy do you think I am?

16. Just kidding. I’ve rolled my ankle just by walking.

17. When I was a kid, I loved mimicking Jean Bob from Swan Princess and Don Karnage from Tale Spin. Okay, I still do the last one sometimes. 😀

18. Everyone assumes I must love Halloween. I’ve actually never celebrated Halloween, and I’ve only been to 2 costume parties… the first time I dressed as Cleopatra, the second time I was a woodland’s fairy.

Sassy tech school fairy
That fairy had sass

19. My favorite video game when I was a kid was Joust for Atari.

20. My husband is less than a year younger than me, but he loves to pretend that I’m ancient. Especially if I say something like “back when I was on AOL Instant Messenger…”

21. I absolutely adore Pitch Perfect. And Fat Amy might be my spirit animal. Just kidding. Maybe.

22. The very first 3D movie I saw was when Nightmare Before Christmas was re-released in 3D. The most memorable 3D movie I’ve seen was Star Trek Into Darkness.

23. Pachabel’s Canon was played when I walked down the aisle (I’m such a cliche), but I don’t remember a single bit of it.

I don’t remember any of it, because my dress was hemmed using my sister as a mannequin (because I was out of town), but none of us realized she’d had a growth spurt and was taller than me. So I spent the whole way down the aisle fiercely gripping my Dad’s arm and trying not to fall.

Me trying not to fall
Me trying not to fall

24. We were apart for our first anniversary (he was in South Korea), but he still found a way to surprise me with a adorable pot of baby rosebuds. 🙂

25. I’ve never ever ever managed to complete a cross stitch project. But I’ve started probably a dozen.

26. I take mischievous pleasure in shocking people with random facts about me. Yes I have 5 kids. Yes I homeschool, and run a business. Yes I was in the military (no I don’t look like it anymore ha!). Yes I have 9 brothers and sisters. Yes my 5th child was born at home.

27. I love when people try to guess how old I am, because they simultaneously think I’m much older because of my kids, and much younger because of my face.

28. The very first midnight premiere I saw (and the only one so far) was Taken 2.

29. My husband & I are both preacher’s kids. Look out world.

30. I’m going to San Francisco next month to be in  April Bowles-Olin’s CreativeLive class on marketing.

Bonus: I was listening to Ben Folds Five’s You Don’t Know Me while writing this post.

Bonus-bonus: I was originally going to give a fact taking place in each year of my life but…. I bailed halfway through.

 

Quick! What’s a fun fact about you? What was your favorite fact about me?

It’s My Biziversary

My business is turning 5 years old. Celebrate with me? | Amanda Sue Howell | CheekyVisionaries.com
I love a good party! Just kidding… I love the idea of a good party. As wild and colorful as I am, I’m very much an introvert, and parties drain me. But I love the idea of the sights, and colors, and pinatas, and confetti. Oh the confetti! It’s almost as fun as glitter. 😀

Some people think introverts are anti-social, but we’re really not… we’re selectively social. We know what saps our energy, and what rejuvenates us, and we try to strike that balance. It doesn’t always work.

But get me in on a Twitter chat, or Facebook party, and I’m in my zone. I can party it up, and talk type as fast as I like, but I don’t have to worry about feeling awkward, or getting worn out from being around people. Perfect! (Plus if you’re online, no one knows if you’re hanging out in your pjs… unless you tell them!)

So with all of that in mind, I’m turning 5!

Wait… no… not me… my business! Technically this site is much younger, because CheekyVisionaries is turning 1, but it’s been 5 years since I made the decision to work from home, and set up my first business domain.

My first logo! | AmandaSueHowell.com
My very first logo, courtesy of my mother-in-law

Look how far I’ve come! Ha! Anyway, in celebration of this grand occasion, I’m going all out!

Blog Hop Details

How to Join

1. Choose any date between July 7th and July 14th.

2. Leave a comment below, and let me know what date you’ve picked (and where you blog at!).

3. On your chosen date, publish a post on your blog, about any of the following topics:

  • Your favorite form of creativity (and why it’s your favorite)
  • Struggles you have with making time for creating
  • Your #1 tip for getting rid of creative blocks
  • Your own creative/creativity/creative block topic 🙂

4. Don’t forget to put the description below in your blog post.

5. Share your post with the WORLD (hahaha!) and use the hashtag #CheekyBiziversary so we can find all the posts in the same spot. Fun, huh?

 

Blog Party Description

I’m participating in the Cheeky Visionaries Biziversary & Launch Party! Amanda Sue Howell’s business is turning 5, and she’s celebrating with the launch of 30 Days of Creative Abandon. 30 Days of Creative Abandon is a 30 day course created for makers, who are looking for new ideas to set them free from artist’s block!

 

Thanks so much for celebrating with me! I can’t wait to see y’all on the webinar, and I can’t wait to see your blog posts. This is going to be SO MUCH FUN! 🙂

I'm participating in Cheeky Visionaries Biziversary Party! Come hang out with me! Click To Tweet