The Wild Within

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The Wild Within ...

The Wild Within is your magic, your truth. It’s who you really are when the facades are gone.
The Wild Within is bliss, laughing uncontrollably and feeling happy for no particular reason.
The Wild Within is anger, the fire inside that tells you when things are out of alignment. 
The Wild Within is quiet, the breath of future possibilities. 
The Wild Within is finding balance.

So what do you do when you feel stacked against time, scattered, and zero magic? When The Wild Within feels far away, like a foggy dream?

You stop and reprioritize. 


The past four years have been full of ups and downs as I’ve grown my business. But the one thing I’ve never gotten ahold of is my self-care + work balance.

With me, it’s all or nothing, feast or famine. Work, work, work, rest, work, work, work, clean the cat box, do the dishes, work, eat something, watch a show, have a glass of wine, work, sleep.

The good news is that I’ve grown my business exponentially.

I’ve narrowed in on my dream clients; women who make and do cool things. Created services specifically designed for my dream clients. All while continuing to learn new things and making adjustments to better my services.

Which are all good things that I will happily continue to do. 

What’s missing is the space to breath and make room for new ideas. The time to free up my mind to create content and focus on the self-care I desperately need.


Because now …

The Wild Within is the refection of a person I don’t recognize.
The Wild Within is the pain in my back, my skin, my knees, my heart.
The Wild Within is the blocked negative energy that can’t move. 
The Wild Within is scared.


So it's time for a big shift in my days.

I am making space for Tiger Time a term coined by Amy Porterfield. Tiger Time is a dedicated amount of time each day to create content without interruptions. No social media, texts, emails, meetings, or work to-dos during this time. All notifications and ringers are turned off. 

I am also adding other self-care actions like walking, reiki, massage, meditation, and reading for inspiration. 

I know shifting your day and making space for content creation and/or self-care might seem impossible, maybe even selfish. I thought the same thing until I really thought about it. 

As a solopreneur I am my business. But how will my business grow if all I ever focus on is the day to day work? My business is one to one services but I'd also like to include a Wild Within evergreen offering that I think could help other creatives.

This is something I've been thinking about for YEARS. But I've never put any time into creating it because everything else came first. Just an idea along with hundreds of other ideas written down in one of my many notebooks never to see the light of day. Until now.


Because now ...

The Wild Within is tapping-in and getting my hands dirty.
The Wild Within is giving weight to the things that are important to me.
The Wild Within is action.


Resources: Amy Porterfield's podcast on time management.

5 WAYS TO ROCK YOUR BRAND PHOTO SHOOT

I can't count how many times a client has told me "I hate having my photo taken" or "I'm not photogenic at all!" In fact, my client Altagracia (above) told me that! But doesn't she look amazing? 

1. How you look in photos depends on how you feel.

If you're having a shoot here are some suggestions for the day or week before:

  1. Drink a TON of water
  2. Eat healthy whole foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids
  3. Try to drink little to no alcohol
  4. Sleep

Because if you're feeling spread-thin and exhausted it will show. No amount of Photoshop can fix that! If smiling feels fake then don't smile. If your arms feel in an awkward position then move them to where they feel comfortable. It’s that simple.

2. The best photos are of you doing what you do

An environmental portrait is more than just a head shot on a gray background. It's about the setting. It's you in your space with things you love and that's what makes the photo interesting.

It's important to have your things ready and your environment the way you like it.

If you're being shot at your desk then clean your computer and monitor, your phone, anything that might be in the shot. If you're a chef have food prepped and ready with your cooking tools at hand.

Once you have the area setup take a step back and look to see if anything odd is sticking out or if it looks too cluttered. Think about what you don't want to be shown in your photos. Look at the floor, walls and ceiling.

3. What makes an interesting photo?

Sometimes it's the person’s hands, not their face that tells the story. Or it could be a coffee cup on a messy desk, shop owners laughing together while working ...

It is these sweet and simple moments that connect us to one another and connect you with your clients and customers.

4. What to wear?

One of my favorite stories is about my client Kate (below). She was not excited about having her photo taken and she was nervous. Part of her anxiety was that she had no idea what to wear?

So I asked her what do you feel most comfortable in? She said, my dirty beat-up overalls. Once she put them on she immediately felt 100% more comfortable. Which made her look happy and at ease in the photos.

The other bonus was the juxtaposition of her in beat-up work overalls against the eclectic aesthetic of her house. It gave the photos another layer of texture that I simply loved.

I say, wear something comfortable, something that is YOU. Because if you're wearing clothes that don't make you feel good it will show. 

5. Makeup + Hair?

Again, this comes down to how you feel. If having someone do your hair and makeup makes you feel good then go for it!  Just don't go overboard with the makeup. Soft and natural will translate better than heavy and stiff.


I know how daunting a shoot can feel when "all eyes are on you" so I hope these tips help you feel more at ease and prepared. The bottom line is this: if you try to have fun instead of dreading it, it will show.

And if you're still totally freaked out then have a glass of champagne during your shoot!

FOLLOWING YOUR INNER COMPASS

Follow Your Inner Compass

My friend Mark called me up to tell me he'd had it working for someone else and was going to start his own company.

He'd been there for 10+ years and though it was good money, good benefits, and a work-from-home-situation he was miserable.

To complicate matters it was a family owned business so walking away was going to be difficult and painful for the entire family. Talk about making a tough decision.

But I have to hand it to Mark because he did it.

Yes, he was a nervous ball of energy while it was all happening, but also the happiest he'd been in a long time. So after a red-eye flight to NY and a lot of negotiating I'm relieved to report that everything went according to plan. 

He now has a thriving successful business: VIVO.


A little backstory, Mark and I have been friends for over 35 years, we met in kindergarten. One thing we've always had in common is that we're both entrepreneurs at heart.

In fact, back in the early 90s we owned a candle business called Twilight Candles. Without knowing anything about anything we somehow managed to keep it going.

We started out by doing candle parties and would sell to people in their homes. And by "people" I mean all of my mom's nursing friends who took pity on us.

We tried everything. We even sold candles out of a van at a Grateful Dead show (which is a whole other story in itself).

At one point we made a pop-up shop completely enclosed in what is now Cosmic Cafe in Placerville, Ca.

We also had some bigger successes and managed to get our candles into Coldwater Creek's magazine and the Yosemite gift shop.

Mind you, this was all pre-internet marketing and the ease of digital cameras.

For a couple of quirky 20-year-olds we actually accomplished a lot and we had fun doing it. 

So Mark asked if I would create the brand and website for VIVO and of course I said hellz yeah! VIVO means "alive" or "living" in Italian and is quite an appropriate name for his new beginning.

For the brand I wanted to set him apart from other brokerages which tend to be heavy, dark and ugly as all hell! So I created a clean and modern design aesthetic. Black and white with pops of color. Totally opposite of what other brands are doing in his market. 

VIVO Branding  | stephzangeneh.com/blog

The feedback has been incredible and Mark is super stoked with the outcome. 

Down the road when I develop special labels for VIVO I envision stamping the logo onto butcher block paper for more of an artisan/old world look.  


Not everyone is meant to run their own business and that's OK. But if you keep hearing that inner voice tell you it's time to go ... I think you owe it to yourself to listen. Because nothing is impossible.

I'm really proud of my friend Mark because it takes a lot of courage to follow your inner compass and he did.

40+ in a 30 year old world

I was listening to a podcast a while back and heard the words ... 

"I don't want to be a 40-year-old web designer." 

Ouch.

It got me thinking about the things I'm reading and listening to and I realized it's mostly by women in their 20's and 30's.

Many of whom have figured out a formula for success at a young age. I admire their work and they inspire me. But when I hear things like I don't want to be a 40 year old web designer I feel a disconnect because I'm a 43 year old web designer. 

I understand we all have different opinions and aspirations in life. One person's idea of success is another person's bottom level. But if the assumption is that you're in a sad state and haven't "made it" because you're a 40+ web designer, then I disagree.

My business is more on fire now than it's ever been.

I feel more capable and confident than ever before and I know my worth.

I think a lot of it has to do with my age. I'm no longer struggling to figure out all the backend shit anymore.

I'm happy with my decisions and where I'm at.

Age has it perks too. When I was younger I remember feeling FOMO all the time. But as I've aged that feeling has completely disappeared.

I've weeded out all the "have-tos" in my life and I'm intentional about what I do and who I do it with. Which leaves me time to explore my creativity and expand my business.

I'm thankful to be tech-savvy at this point in my life because it keeps me on my toes. It's a fiercely competitive field but I've got the experience to be able to evolve and not get knocked on my ass when something doesn't work out.

I have confidence in my work what I can do. I don't question my skills anymore.

I'm not trying to be an ageist here. I have lots of interesting and smart friends in their 20's and 30's whom I love and respect. 

I just want to know where my 40+ peers are and how do you feel at this age? Those going through the daily grind trying to make a living. And I'm not talking about the 40+ people who have already "made it" and are all over social media. I know who they are.

I want to hear from the regulars - people like me.

5 WAYS TO TACKLE BURNOUT

PHOTO BY SCOTTELBOT

PHOTO BY SCOTTELBOT

Last week was tough. I felt stretched-thin on every level and my creativity was at a standstill. There were lots of tears and frustrating moments.

But instead of listening to my inner self-care-warrior I barreled through it.

If you can relate, then it's probably time to recharge your batteries and reflect without distractions, conversations, or to-dos. 

Because when you take the time to take care of yourself you are happier, more creative, more interesting, and more fun to be around.

Most importantly, you can handle hard things without falling to pieces.

Living in this fast-paced now now now society can take it's toll. That's why stepping away and giving yourself time to process what is in your mind and heart is important.


5 WAYS TO TACKLE BURNOUT:

 1. Get up and get out. Take a walk, even if it's just 10 minutes around the block.

 2. Watch, read, or listen to something that inspires you. I highly recommend watching these documentaries: Iris, and  Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel. So, so inspiring.

 3. Pamper yourself: get a massage, splurge on something you've been wanting, change your look.

 4. Stop thinking about the project(s) that are bugging you. Step away from them and when you come back; try to think about them from a new angle.

 5. Travel somewhere. Seeing new things always reignites my creativity no matter where I go or how long I stay.  


Remember that by recharging yourself you recharge all those around you.

I challenge you to take a little self care break, even schedule it. An hour, a day, a week. Even if it feels selfish or impossible - find a way and do it.