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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Finding A Wedding Venue

When starting to plan for your wedding one of the biggest choices you have to make is the venue. Venues come in all shapes and sizes and determine when, where, and how you get to celebrate your wedding day and reception. When picking a venue Richard and I knew we did not want to break the bank but since we were going to be inviting about 60-70 people we knew we needed space. We also knew that cost was our greatest concern. To start we definitely, for s’s and g’s, looked at your more traditionally utilized spaces for weddings. They were: $10,000, $15,000, $20,000 and often they didn’t include everything unless you want to pay even more!

*Dead*

So, once we reinforced our gut feelings we sought out alternatives. We knew that we were not looking for an all-inclusive venue because food, alcohol, decorations, cake, flowers, ect. we could and wanted to do ourselves; besides knowing we could find it much cheaper than if we had it included in the venue. We went with a basic, bare community center in Texas knowing we could turn it into something all our own. All for the great big price of, $350. There are many community resources out there that offer spaces indoor and outdoor to hold your event and for a fraction of the cost of most wedding venues.

Before: Venue

Some alternatives can be, depending on size and what you are wanting to do, are:

1.) A local or even destination park – You can often rent spaces at community parks for almost nothing. You might not even have to pay if it is super small.

2.) A beach – Just do your research early on for potential permit requirements or restrictions.

3.) Community centers -They offer spaces that are sometimes really basic and bare and other times quite beautiful. They almost always will be many times cheaper than a true wedding venue.

4.) Have a backyard wedding – If you, family or friends have a nice house that wouldn’t mind offering up their home for your big day you could make it an extremely budget friendly wedding.

5.) The great outdoors – Even some National Parks offer the ability to hold your event in beautiful locations. Check out some of these suggestions, here.

6.) Have your wedding on an off-peak day (during the week) or during the off season.

7.) Use your creativity! You can get married almost literally anywhere! Use venue search terms that don’t include “wedding” and you might find something perfect that you may have missed otherwise.

The greatest key here is start doing your research early. Some of these ideas fill up swiftly like normal wedding venues so getting the process started early is important. Some don’t require as much prep or any permits but you should make sure you find out ahead of time so you know what you are getting yourself into.

Find out the requirements and restrictions when you are researching so you know what you can and cannot expect from a particular site. You don’t want to have paid for particular elements like a band, decorations, alcohol, ect to find out the day of they are not allowed. Know what you want and what you are willing to do without. Not every THING is as important as it may seem. Save money and just enjoy spending time with the people you are sharing this all with.

Remember it is supposed to be an experience of a life time not an experience you end up paying for for a whole life time. What are some unique ideas you have for a wedding ceremony, reception, or both? How were you able to save money planning your wedding? Let us know in the comments; we love hearing about your experiences. 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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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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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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Importance of Getting Outside Your Comfort Zone

by Richard Furleigh

Wake up, drink coffee, shower, work, lunch, work, meeting, home. Routines breed comfort in your day to day life, and in some ways they can help regulate your life and help keep you on task. Simplicity in some aspects of your life (like Steve Jobs’s obsession with jeans and black turtlenecks) can help bring creativity to other aspects of your life, but venturing outside of that from time to time is vital to helping your mind stay agile and flexible.

If you’ve ever run across people who can never seem to change anything in their life there is a reason for that, and needless to say those people are often not the most inspired people in the world. In the tech world I see this all the time and essentially it boils down to voluntary ignorance. There is something new to learn or try yet somehow this inspires fear; this isn’t limited to any age, position, or anything else. Last week I wrote about a friends company who is making them do cold calls to drum up business. As a fortune 100 company this would be embarrassing for me to ask my employees to do. Yet those who are in charge at these stoic institutions refuse to use the same time that they are wasting with the antique to work on a new outreach and cultivation program that they could implement.

This serves as an example in the workplace but there are times in our personal lives we need to break out and do something different as well. It’s colloquial, but the phrase “if you aren’t moving forward you’re moving backward” does have a lot of weight to it. One of my professors is fond of saying that entropy will kill all systems that do not reinvent themselves. Now it’s not about reinventing the wheel every day, but simply finding new ways to work your mind so that you don’t find yourself completely stuck into patterns that will eventually sabotage you.

If you find yourself stuck in a loop here are a few really easy things that you can do to help break out of it:

  1. Dress completely different than your normal style: This may seem like a small thing but I know that how I’m dressed can affect my mood and how I feel about myself and can get you thinking a little differently.
  2. Go take a walk around in a park or space that you haven’t been before: The new surroundings may inspire
  3. Get food at that new place you’ve been meaning to try: A different experience may bring a fresh feeling to the rest of your day. Just don’t get the safe option for your meal.

This may be a simplified list, but it usually doesn’t take much to kick start your creativity and move past those blocks we construct in our heads.

My challenge for you is simple: do one out of the box thing this week. Go sing karaoke, drive the LONG way to work, something that is more than a little weird even. Just see where that decision takes you! If you have some fun with it, or have any other ideas for ways to break out, let us know! We’d love to hear about it in the comments. Until next time Pengminions!

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The Gym Isn’t the Only Way to Workout

~Kristen Furleigh

Don’t give up your dreams of being healthy and strong just because you can’t afford a gym membership. Money or lack thereof can have a negative impact on our ability to believe we can still achieve. When funds get tight one of the first things to go straight to a wish list is a gym membership, and with it our willingness to think beyond to what we will do in it’s place. The whole possibility of being fit seemingly vanishes but it does not have to.

There a plethora of tools out there you can utilize that won’t cost you money but can still give you the health benefits of having a gym membership; so don’t fret. You can make things happen if you are willing to do the slightly unconventional. Richard and I haven’t ever budgeted for a gym membership because we would rather put that money towards an experience or artistic materials which often don’t come cheap. We are still able make working out fun and beneficial for us.

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The great outdoors is a typically free resource available to you almost anywhere you live. Weather can be an obstacle here depending on where you live but for most of us we can suck it up when its a bit warmer or colder than our preferred state of comfort. Go for a run to get your cardio in and utilize the space in a park that has workout stations along the course. You can usually find out where your city parks are by visiting your city website or GoogleMaps works well too. Go scope them out to find out which one offers what you are looking for. We even saw an outdoor workout facility in San Francisco that looked like a crossfit gym!

Did you know that YouTube, besides offering music and cute cat videos, is also a hub for countless exercise videos? You can find workout videos for just about anything you can imagine. From Yoga to full length exercise classes to short, specific muscle focused instruction. If you get bored you can always switch it up with something else.

On the topic of video instruction, if you can rely on yourself to cancel, BeachBody offers free 30-day access to a large number of their programs that you can stream on just about any device. Just remember to schedule a reminder in your phone before your offer expires to avoid being charged! This can be great to get you started with an at home routine. If you are afraid you will forget the steps of the work out you can write them down to reference after your trial period.

If you can find a gym buddy! If you have a friend who has a gym at their apartment complex see if you can join them. Many don’t require a sign in so as long as you have the access code or card to get in you can use their equipment. We did this when my parents lived in an apartment complex that offered these amenities. Remember to always be respectful of others and the equipment in the gym.

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If you are in college or live in an active community be on the look out for free events. We were able to learn acroyoga by joining a club on campus. Summer is a great time to find free outdoor events where they offer instruction that gets you moving. Take advantage of these opportunities and write down what you learn so you can workout on your own.

Investing in yourself will always take time but it doesn’t always have to cost you money. What are some things you do to stay fit on a fitness budget of $0? We would love to try our hand at your approach. Leave your thoughts in the comments; we love to hear from you! Til next time Pengminions!

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5 Things to Inspire Creativity

~Kristen Furleigh

Sometimes the pressure to BE CREATIVE can be overwhelming. At times this makes you feel the least creative when you feel as if you must. First, take a breath and remember it is not the end of the world if in a particular moment you aren’t able to come up with a grand masterpiece. We have to take the time to recharge our creative juices from time to time. Here are a few ideas that might help you; which I can remember to use too when I’m putting pressure on myself to “create.”

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1.) Take time to get outside: One of my favorite things that almost always gets my brain going is going for a walk or hike. Even a walk around the neighborhood can be revitalizing. You don’t have to go into the backwoods on a soul searching journey to become inspired. Find a local park and feed the ducks. Check out your local botanical garden. Anything with some fresh air.

2.) Listen to music: Music can be just what the creative doctor ordered when you are feeling stuck or uninspired. Create playlists that make you feel. You can even break them into particular feelings, moods, life moments. Maybe just a mix/hodgepodge, radio station, or new to you music works for you; do that. No one person’s recipe works for everyone. Apps like Pandora, Slacker, and 8Tracks are perfect. One of my favorite playlists is called Listen to the Grass Grow or I have a few old CD’s that take me back to certain times that I find inspirational that I will pop in from time to time.

3.) Work on something completely unrelated: When we are feeling the pressure to create a particular thing and have exhausted our faculties in a particular moment we need to take our mind off of it and absorb ourselves in another task. This can give our minds the break it needs to become inspired. I cannot tell you how many times my ideas come about when I stop obsessing over them. It can be frustrating because we want to be able to be creative on demand but sometimes you just have to go with how it comes to you and give yourself these opportunities rather than trying to force them.

4.) Use what you know: Often times we forget to utilize the tools and skills we already have. What do you already know how to do and how can you tweek it to help in your current creative endeavor. Our past accomplishments can be a spring board for our future ones as well. Even look to skills you have that may at first glance seem unrelated; there is often a connection you can make between what you have done and what you are attempting to do. Capitalize on this knowledge.

5.) Know when to use Technology or disconnect: When you are overwhelmed technology can be a great resource to get your juices flowing. Just Googling can get you pointed in the right direction. Stumbleupon is an awesome resource because you get to choose interests and it stumbles through the internet to find you related sites. I highly suggest photography, nature, and any offbeat sort of interest to heighten the potential of finding inspiration. On the other hand know when technology is more of a hindrance and learn to disconnect. With the overabundance of social media sites we can get sucked in or constantly distracted by notifications; give yourself permission to turn it off.

**Bonus Tip**  Other People: Spending time with other people can get your mind off of the task at hand allowing you to rejuvenate. They could also be a sounding board for potential ideas. They can help with a brainstorming session or just give you the support you need to recharge.

I hope these tips are helpful to you the next time you are feeling static. What helps you out when your creativity is just out of reach? We would love to try some of your techniques; we are always hoping to learn more! Leave them in the comments. Til next time Pengminions!

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