Active Life Choices Are The Key To Making Changes In Your Life

by Richard Furleigh

Conversations with different important people in my life combined with my own recent frustrations with not feeling like I’m creating as much as I want have led me to a deep reaffirmation of the following: anything you want to do has to start with an active choice.

When I say an active choice I do literally mean something that is an action (or lack thereof) in your life. Putting on your shoes and walking around the block, eating a carrot instead of chips, not buying that new game that just came out, putting pigment on that brush and applying it to the canvas. As long as it is something that physically moves you toward your final objective that is the crucial first step. It shows that it isn’t impossible to start, that accomplishing small tasks as part of the whole is do able, and even if it’s as small as going on that walk to start your diet you can point to it and say “I did that, and I can do this”

Recently I’ve been struggling with feeling like my time has constricted itself to the point that I have no time to be creative, to really create new content and art that I feel is important. So I’ve made two changes that I know will help me. First I’ve looked at other things that I have done this semester. I may not have made any “art” per say, //giphy.com/embed/RI6uwElqPErrq

A silly little thing I made, I call it “Penguin Execution”

but I have broadened my horizons with blogging, and making the couple videos for other classes. These are still very valuable skills to have in creative creation and framing that in that way has helped me feel a little better about it. Second I’ve decided that I will begin writing or editing a piece once a week for a minimum of 30 minutes without interruption, which means no cell phone! This is my actionable goal, and honestly I have to stick with it, just to get things down. I’ve told myself I’m not shooting for Shakespeare here, just getting words on the page is important because especially in the creative process sometimes you don’t know what you’re putting down is good until after it’s already there. I could also just write utter crap, but that could be the crap that spurs the golden thought, or the groundwork for a great scene after editing it. Honestly it doesn’t matter, just getting something done to progress my goal is the key to get things going.

When it comes to life and our choices it really does boil down to “if you always put in what you’ve always put in you’ll get in return what you’ve always gotten.” If you want to change something about your life then find one thing, it doesn’t even matter how small, and start there. Maybe you’re trying to write the next big movie script but can’t seem to get past character and world development. Cool, just writing even one line of dialogue a day is a start. The key here is to make a change that echoes across your life, to pull the trigger on something that is actionable to you.
So what is it that you have been putting off because it seems too daunting? What is that thing that you know you should do but just haven’t got around to it yet? Well, this is the time to do it. I’m not asking you to plan every tiny detail, but get a rough idea on where you want to go and start with one item. One task that will move you in the right direction. Once your done with that one, make another, and another, and…. But for now, just one, small, task, to finish is all you need. If someone needs a little advice, help them out, share this with them and offer to help them be accountable for their task. We can help each other grow and learn too. Until next time Pengminions!

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Your Wedding Decor For LESS

What seems to be the most daunting task is also in my opinion the most fun when it comes to weddings. The decor. From picking colors to theme to the little details. These things can also often come at a hefty price. It doesn’t have to however. If you plan enough in advance you can actually do most if not all of it yourself. I know there is the dreaded “Pinterest Fail” but fear not; there are plenty of easy to do craft ideas that will save you money.

When putting together your wedding remember that all inclusive or renting might seem like an enticing option and my guess is, it is easy, but I have found out that when purchasing the items you need like chair covers, table runners, decorations, place settings at a similar price as renting would be it is more cost beneficial for you. When you are done with those items you can turn around and sell them afterwards. The awesome thing about that is even if you don’t sell every piece after your shindig you could effectively not pay a dime or at the very least much less than had they been supplied for you. These items you could even save for later use. Maybe you like to host brunch or a party; you would be all set. The best part is you spend less on your wedding!

a centerpieceLet’s talk about flowers. Most brides can’t wait to have fresh flowers throughout but we all know that those truly cost an arm and a leg. If you can’t live without and are determined to have fresh flowers for your wedding I suggest finding simple arrangements that you could do yourself or just a couple single flowers for your table settings. Rather than calling up your local florist try your grocery stores or budget stores that do fresh flowers, Sam’s, Costco, just to name a few. You should go ahead of time to order the flowers in bulk for the day you need them. Discuss with them the state (bloomed or not and how long before they do) that your flowers will arrive so you can make a decision on when you need your order to arrive and the care to take so they will be beautiful for your big day. This one thing alone will save you hundreds!

The decorations throughout don’t have to be lavish. If you are willing to have similar but not identical set pieces thrift stores are your best friend. If you haven’t figured it out yet; I LOVE THRIFT STORES! Have an idea for theme and you can find some great pieces at fractions of the price that will fit your style. Craigslist is another great resource. Like you will hopefully be doing, other brides will sell off their pieces after their big day. Another fun personal thing you can do is place tiny photos of your relationship on the tables; this adds a nice touch to let your guests into some of your adventures as a couple. It is also relatively cheap to do at Walgreens. You can even make your own table ornaments by saving glass sauce jars and fashioning them to fit your style.

Each of these are things that Richard and I did for our wedding and it came out beautifully. What have you done to save on your wedding decor or have you tried some of the things we did? How did it turn out? Let us know in the comments! Til next time Pengminions!

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Your Wedding Day is YOUR Wedding Day

Your wedding day should be just that, YOUR, wedding day. A day for you and your future spouse to celebrate however you deem appropriate. Your day is NOT to please other people. In my opinion it should be a reflection of your love for each other and what you value. Not what your parents, your future in-laws, you other family, your friends, or anyone else believes it should be.

My #1 piece of advice for you is to set your ground rules or share your plans early on in the process. Let those involved know how you feel and what your plans are, especially if you know that their opinions about your wedding day differ from what you plan to do. This helps to alleviate some of the potential blow ups during the process. Not to say that family or friends might not get upset but they should understand that it is your wedding and not theirs; you are inviting them to celebrate your union in a way that represents the two of you. They need to support and respect that. You also want to avoid surprises in the process especially “on the day of” revelations if at all possible. Luckily they don’t all end in disaster but heading them off ahead of time can save you a potential catastrophe.

Richard and I chose an extremely nontraditional route and it took us some time to figure out what exactly we wanted to do. We ended up having what we called a “Soiree” as our reception where we dressed up in fancy steampunk garb and celebrated our coming commitment to one another with family and friends, as a send off of sorts. This was on a Saturday and on Sunday, the 13th of April, we celebrate our anniversary and the day we chose as our commitment day. Spring forward 2 months and that is when we finally got around to filling out paperwork and having an officiant sign our licence for the silly government.

What is usually the ceremony part, our commitment day, was about us and no one else. We felt that at the end of the day no one comes home with us to make our marriage work and we wanted that to be our private event. Yes, family and friends are important and they influence our lives but they don’t live our life and so that is why we chose the reception as a way to include them in our union.

What did you do or are you planning to do that is a little or a lot out of the ordinary? Let us know in the comments section below. Next, we will take you on our journey of how we only spent about $4,000 for our whole shindig! Til next time Pengminions!

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It’s Wedding Season!

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Not my actual wedding dress

It is that time of year, spring/summer, when the weddings seem to be never ending. Every where you look there is another white dress by a costly designer, extravagant venue, artistic masterpieces for cakes, guest lists that go on forever. Bridal magazines, Pinterest, and Instagram all perpetuate this idea of what we “need” for a perfect wedding. The average cost of a wedding in the US is $35,329! You read that correctly. That is minimum $10,000 more than the cost of my Subi!

I am amazed at the amount of money people spend on their weddings. Why? Why are we spending so much money on these one day events? What does putting yourself in debt to start this brand new, beautiful adventure do for you? What is the meaning behind all of it? Are we really thinking about these things before we do them? In most cases I don’t believe we really ask ourselves these questions or give them much thought. This brings me to one of my favorite shows, Adam Ruins Everything, and I would like to share with you his comedic historical based video snippet on weddings.

When planning your wedding I implore you to question what you are spending your money on, ask yourself why, and whether or not it truly is important to you and your significant other. It is just one day, a special one but it shouldn’t put you back monetarily or be about things that don’t matter to you both. Spending more on your wedding makes it more likely to end in divorce, according to researchers at Emory University. Maybe think twice about the extravagance or pleasing others and focus on the things that are most important; the two of you.

These next few blogs I write are going to be about some of the decisions we made for our wedding day that might help you save or think a little differently and creatively when planning your special day.  Til next time Pengminions!

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Using Fear and Anxiety

Kristen and I don’t exactly live in the best part of town. As mentioned before, this is a conscious choice to save a lot of money each month on rent. Walking my dog outside last night I saw a man about 100 feet from me walking through our little parking area with something that resembled a large shop broom. I won’t lie, I felt a twinge of anxiety despite the fact that the man wasn’t particularly close to me nor had he even looked in my direction. He made his way along as Oliver stood there, peeing in the grass, and as I headed inside.

I thought back to other similar experiences when I was younger and how I wasn’t affected in quite the same way. I thought about the naivety that youth gives to us and how it empowers us to make bolder choices in life. I thought about how I’ve gotten older and sometimes that isn’t there in the same way. This seems to be a universal thing for people, and at least for me I think it has more to do with coming to terms with the reality of our world. We never know exactly how much time we have left so we become trepidatious, reluctant to pull the trigger on risky situations in life.

So how do we take this nervousness and make something positive out of it? In my  acting classes we talked about this often since we actors actually do get nervous. As well, in “The Originals” by Adam Grant, we get very similar advice on controlling it. Simply put, DON’T control it! It’s exceptionally difficult to stop a speeding car so instead of pumping the brakes in vain, redirect your energy. The best performances I’ve ever done, the best interviews I’ve ever had weren’t because I’m a zen master who can control his heart rate and cortisol, but because I was able to funnel the energy into focus, into excitement instead of fear, to embrace its chaotic nature and use it in a way that worked FOR me instead of against.

There are times in life when, as Kristen talked about earlier, that overcoming these fears is critical. So I add to that, embrace the fear, make it your tool rather than an anchor. It is not a perfect system, and I can tell you that there are times when it wins, but this is one tactic in my arsenal that I know works for me, and I hope it can work for you too.
Do you have any tricks for pushing through stresses and fears? Let us know down below, and if you know someone who has something big coming up (or maybe you do!) share this with them so they can have a little help too. Until next time Pengminions!

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YOU Can Be the Key to Innovation

It is not always easy to be different but it

is important to embrace your different. No one has your exact story or your experiences in life. You should bring those with you on any project or any job that you do. You have a unique story so don’t forget to utilize your differences to bring something new to the table no matter what you do. We are all different but our experiences aren’t so far removed from someone else’s that they aren’t relatable on some level.

You could also be bringing a perspective that a particular group had not thought of, based on their individual histories, but would be important in order to reach more people or create a better idea overall depending on what you are pursuing. Innovation cannot happen without a ‘different’ thought.

Innovation involves deliberate application of information, imagination and initiative in deriving greater or different values from resources, and includes all processes by which new ideas are generated and converted into useful products…”

You have to be willing to put yourself out there in order to help the collective. No one can share your story but you. No one knows your perspective if you do not share it with them. This can be in art, business, relationships, ect. In art, theatrical arts for me, we are story tellers. If we are not willing to give of ourselves the stories fall flat and become a hollow shell of the power that they could have had. Or we could miss out on creating the next Hamilton because we were unwilling to share our unconventional ideas. In business, that new product or service may never be thought up if we are not willing to change things up or share our experiences. In relationships, with any and all people we encounter, we could be missing out on new or deeper connections.

I know we talk about innovation in terms of business often but really I think the opportunity to innovate in all aspects of your life is endless and we are the key if we are willing to put ourselves out there and share who we are. I challenge you to stop doing all you can to blend in and not makes waves; MAKE WAVES and share your thoughts. Where do you plan to start sharing more of YOU? Let us know down in the comments. We love hearing from you. Til next time Pengminions!

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She said , “We don’t want to have kids…”

At least that’s the thought right now. Kids might be cool…One day…Maybe?
We often get the “Oh, you will want kids one day” or the “Kids are the best thing to every happen to you” cliches. I am not so sure. We have time if we change our minds and right now I know I don’t want them; possibly ever.
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We can hardly take care of ourselves let alone children.

Why? Because my thoughts on the subject have changed over the years. In a previous blog you found out that I was the oldest of five kids to young parents. All of my aunts and uncles have kids too. When I was younger I figured, I’d end up with kids also, most likely as a youngin rather than later in life. I got older those ideas changed. As I went off to college and started thinking about what I wanted my life to be I started to realize the responsibility that came with having children; it takes away the freedoms that I have and am enjoying as an adult. My aspirations with art and travel are not financially nor time conducive to the commitment that raising a child(ren) requires.

No one, or rather most people, don’t talk about the challenges and down side to being a parent. The cool thing to me is that it IS optional. In this day and age the number of childless men and women has been increasing and the decision process is usually a rational one.

Over the years I have put a LOT of thought into what having children does to an individual and family. As a woman I have come to realize the psychological and physical tolls having kids can have on your being. No matter how much your partner chimes “We’re having a baby!” truly the woman is the only one who undergoes a number of dramatic changes to her life not for nine months but forever. Is it worth it? I’m not sure I believe it is. The physical changes your body endures is more than just superficial.  There is also no way to know whether or not postpartum depression will effect you and to what extent your brain changes. It is not selfish to not want to purposefully affect your being in these possible ways.

In many relationships, more often than not, child rearing disproportionately ends up falling on women in a heterosexual relationship. It takes great effort to keep this from occurring. This can prove difficult when your own upbringing was as such, which was the case for us both. This can be detrimental for those women who have other aspirations than just child rearing.

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Besides, our fur~baby family makes us pretty darn happy!

The happiness that people talk about with their “bundle of joy” also isn’t the case for all parents; some people are really unhappy after having kids and the stresses it can cause. I am quite happy with the life that Richard and I have been building and having kids just doesn’t seem to fit in with our plans as of now. We have plenty of time to reassess as we go on this journey together. Currently I like that our time can be spent only factoring in each other’s respective lives. We are able to focus on our goals and aspirations; not to mention the traveling we are able to do that would potentially be cost and time prohibitive if we had children.

Another reason having kids does not seem right for me is the number of children that are without a home. I have thought if I were to have children that comes with the caveat that its a two for one deal; I would have to adopt as well.  If I’m going to bring a child into this world I am going to take in one that is already here and needs a family. To me it feels wrong to bring another human into this world when there are already so many people that go without. That is twice as much time, energy, money, ect.

Whether or not we have children is to be determined and only time will tell but as for now our reasoning together points toward no. We are completely OK with that because we know that it is a choice and a responsibility not to be taken lightly. What are your thoughts on having kids? Let us know in the comments below. Til next time Pengminions!
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Identifying Hypocrisy

by Richard Furleigh

Hypocrites.

Everyone claims to hate them, yet not a single one of us (myself included) are free from this title. Our intentions may be one thing however time and time again our words and actions betray us as hypocritical. The book “Building The Bridge As You Walk On It” by Robert E Quinn details this as one of his core tenants for leadership, but it is up to us every single day to examine this about ourselves in an honest way.

I know that personally I have struggled with this in some capacities, but with practice and some humility have learned to give honest credence to others voices when critiquing my choices. It is hard to truly look at yourself and admit that you are wrong or could do something in a more positive way, really it is one of the hardest possible things in life that you can do. No one wants to feel like their choices are wrong, no one wants to admit they are the weak point in a particular chain, yet this is the strongest possible thing you can do.

No growth in life ever comes from ignoring problems.

I have found more positive results to looking critically at my own choices than I would have thought possible. It has opened my eyes to others points of view, methods of execution, and knowledge about myself than I would have thought possible before now. Curiously enough it has also helped make me more confident as a person as well. When I know that more factors are taken into account, more voices heard and processed for their truest guidance, and more alternatives explored it means the decisions I come to are of that much higher a quality.

If there is anything you do to help combat your own hypocrisy, or if there is something in particular you need to be held accountable for let us know. We’re always looking for ways to help or improve our own process! Until next time Pengminions!

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