Peri Pakroo, Author & Coach

Creative, smart strategies for self-employment & small business.

Weird times and new beginnings

Peri multi

 

Choose your metaphor: Roller coaster, whirlwind, nightmare, earthquake. Any one of these could be used to describe my life in the past year. My last couple posts got you up to speed on the medical issues plaguing my daughter, and I’m happy to report mostly good news since those posts. Her hepatitis (liver inflammation) finally got controlled by medication (prednisone) which she has been tapering off since early March. In less good news her platelets and white blood cells started taking a dive around that same time, so we’re concerned about that. It feels like we’re in the whack-a-mole portion of the medical adventure. She and I are just about to head back to Cincinnati for repeat biopsies so I’m hopeful we get some good news, some answers, and a turnaround on the blood counts.

The other big news that I haven’t had the chance to share here yet is … drum roll … I have launched a new publication!

Allow me to introduce you to my new online creative career magazine, Pyragraph.

It’s the most excited I’ve been about a project since probably, ever. It was no small undertaking, and I never could have gotten it off the ground without the help of my dream team: David Dabney (Technology Director), Alexandra Gjurasic (Creative Director), Turtle O’Toole (Media Director), Mary Schmidt (Business Developer) and Eva Avenue (Managing Editor). We got started last fall when we thought my daughter’s hepatitis was viral and would clear up on its own; then when we learned her condition was more complicated we took a break for a few months. We had already gotten a fair amount of momentum with Pyragraph before that happened, so after a lot of soul searching and deep breathing I decided to forge ahead once my daughter’s condition started improving.

There’s no rulebook or roadmap for stuff like this and I will say it definitely felt very disorienting to try to figure out the right decisions while in that situation and mindset. But at the end of the day I’m very happy we went ahead. (As a side note, I’d love to hear from other entrepreneurs about how they handled life crisis in the middle of launching a venture.)

In a nutshell, Pyragraph is an online career magazine for artists, musicians, designers, filmmakers, writers and other creatives. It offers entertaining, practical information on how to manage creative projects and careers, and keep your creative fires burning.

What sets us apart is that the bulk of Pyragraph’s content isn’t written by journalists or consultants — it’s the artists themselves sharing their career experiences. Our contributors (who are paid for their posts, in case you were wondering) are working artists, designers, writers and other creative folks, sharing stories, practical information and advice about their creative work.

The contributors are amazing and I really encourage you to head over to Pyragraph and read all the great blog posts, feature stories and resource articles they’ve submitted.

So between my family life and Pyragraph and playing music and finding time to just zone out on the couch, I’m not sure how much more blogging I’ll be doing here at peripakroo.com. I’m still fully involved in maintaining and updating my Nolo books, and possibly doing more books and projects with them, so I’ll make sure to include updates regarding new editions and such here as well. And I am continuing to take coaching clients, so feel free to contact me if you or someone you know needs self-employment or small business guidance.

Pyragraph launched in early February and I just managed to publish my first post. Below is an excerpt. Please let me know what you think of Pyragraph, and let your creative friends know about it, ‘K? Each and every referral, recommendation, link and mention helps build traffic which is so essential for us in these early days. Thanks so much!

Getting Knocked in the Head
by Peri Pakroo

“My name is Peri Pakroo and I live at 512 E. Fox Dale Court.” These were the first words that tumbled out of me to my bewildered cousin Parisha after falling and hitting my head (hard) in the ladies’ locker room of the Fox Point pool when I was about 10 or 11. At the time, I had seen a lot of after-school specials and TV movies about amnesia, and the thought that a head injury could make me forget who I was and everything about my life had (apparently) really gotten under my skin. So when my wet foot slipped off that painted wood bench we had been jumping on and I went crashing down, head slamming into concrete, my first reaction was to blurt out this weird confirmation that I’m OK, I know where I live, and that I’m still me.

I’m usually reminded of this story when Parisha teases me about it (which she likes to do, a lot). But it flooded back to me in vivid detail recently as I’ve found myself feeling a little stunned by some life events crashing around me, and needing to remind myself exactly who I am to make sure I’m still intact. Life has been hitting me on the head a bit harder lately, and more often than I’m used to, and I’m smack in the middle of figuring out how to deal with it: emotionally, professionally and creatively.

Sure, challenges are great for learning and personal growth, but what if you’re trying to create in the moment and you haven’t had time to process what you’re going through? What if it’s just too damn heavy to deal with creatively? That’s what I’ve been grappling with.

So let me explain as briefly as I can the main challenge that dropped like a boulder in my path. Out of the blue last June, I noticed my 6-year-old daughter’s eyes seemed yellowish, and it turned out to be hepatitis. She had virtually no symptoms, but blood tests showed her liver was extremely inflamed. The kicker is that she tested negative for all known causes of hepatitis: all the “letter” viruses, A, B, C, etc., and any markers of autoimmune hepatitis. All negative.

Today, nearly 10 months later, she is on medication and much improved, but continues to have concerning test results with various blood cell counts. We are fortunate to have been able to seek out the best docs in the country (I’m eternally grateful for our team at Cincinnati Children’s hospital) but they still don’t know what is causing her symptoms. They have seen cases like it before, but do not fully understand the mechanisms behind it. So while most similar cases have resolved with positive outcomes, no one can promise us what her outcome will be.

Needless to say, it’s all been quite stressful, and I’ve had to get really focused about stress management. I’ve learned a lot about that, but I’ll save that for a future post. For now, I want to share a few things I’ve learned about dealing with crisis when trying to be open and honest with creative work.

Read the rest of the post at Pyragraph.

 

Re-entry, part 2

Peri and Jila

OK, I ended my last post describing our Great Medical Adventure in between flights home to Albuquerque and promised to pick up where I left off on the second leg of my trip. In case you were concerned, we didn’t hit the Bermuda Triangle. Jila and I did in fact make it home and we’ve had a great week of getting back into our groove.

To be honest I struggle with how much to share about this whole saga. This is the kind of stuff I usually handle privately. And it doesn’t really have to do with self-employment or small business. But it has shaken up our lives like an earthquake and I feel I need to just share the basic facts of what happened before I can move on writing-wise.

So, to recap: My 6-year-old daughter Jila developed hepatitis (i.e. inflammation of the liver) last June, but the strange thing about it was that she tested negative for every typical hepatitis-causing virus: hep A, B, C, Epstein-Barr, etc. Another possible cause of hepatitis is ingestion of a toxic drug or poison, but Jila hadn’t taken any medications or been exposed to anything toxic that we could determine. (Believe me, I tried every crafty way I could think of to get her to come clean with me about anything she had ingested that she was afraid to tell me about. I promised her endlessly, for weeks, that she wouldn’t be in trouble if she told me about something she “just remembered” she ate, like something that she found at the park, or in a friend’s family medicine cabinet, anything. We came up empty.)

Another possible cause of hepatitis is autoimmune and metabolic disorders. With autoimmune hepatitis, the body’s immune system attacks the liver. With metabolic disorders, the body fails to metabolize things correctly leading to liver damage. Our family doc didn’t seem to think these sounded likely.

Read more…

Re-entry, part 1

perijilaWell hello, it has been a while. Sometimes life throws you curveballs, and I’ve been arcing through one for months now. I’m now in an airplane with Jila, my 6-year-old daughter, flying home to Albuquerque after a 7-week stay in Cincinnati. Her eyes are white, her cheeks are puffy, and she’s hungry.

When we left Albuquerque on Thanksgiving morning, she was yellow and sluggish, suffering from a second spike of hepatitis (inflammation of the liver) and resulting jaundice since June 2012. That episode had mostly resolved on its own without any medication or medical intervention, but had not completely gone away.

It all started out of nowhere on a normal summer day last June when I noticed Jila’s eyes looked yellow. She had virtually no other symptoms, but I emailed our family doctor just to be safe. His response was that yellow eyes can indicate hepatitis, which he explained meant liver inflammation, and asked if she had had dark urine, diarrhea, stomach pain or bad breath. Gulp…indeed I had noticed these symptoms in Jila in the previous week. The doc told us to go in for a blood test and explained a bunch of stuff about hepatitis to me.

Read more…

Interview with Jessi Campbell of The Octopus and the Fox

You can download it at iTunes, or listen to it here. From last night’s Self-Employed Happy Hour. Please enjoy. Jessi is delightful, just like her store.

Interview with Jessi Campbell of The Octopus and the Fox.

 

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Tonight on Self-Employed Happy Hour…

Well hello! Yes, I have fallen out of my blogging routine ever since this screwed-up summer. But while life/family events knocked me out of the saddle, I’m happy to report that the reason it’s taking me so long to climb back in is that I’ve been hatching some exciting new ventures. One of these is my weekly podcast Self-Employed Happy Hour (details on tonight’s show below) — but there’s more. And it’s exciting indeed. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, I’m thrilled that the owners of one of my very favorite Albuquerque shops, The Octopus and the Fox, Jessi MB Campbell and Belita Orner, will be my guests on Self-Employed Happy Hour tonight! In addition to their website, check them out on Facebook where you’ll find beautiful pics of some seriously awesome (and way-affordable) stuff at their shop which showcases handmade art, fashion, and gifts from dozens of local artists and designers. Tune in tonight, Oct. 3 for live streaming video at 9pm Mountain at www.selfemployedhappyhour.com. After the show you can download the podcast (audio only) at my iTunes channel.

Self-Employed Happy Hour streams live video every Wednesday at 9pm Mountain. There are about 8 shows left in this run before we will take a break, tweak some stuff, and come back with another “season.” Remember, if you log in at the video stream page (www.selfemployedhappyhour.com, which redirects to the Ustream page) you can chat with us live and send us your questions. I hope to hear from you!

 

Tune into Self-Employed Happy Hour tonight

So I’ve done three Self-Employed Happy Hour podcasts so far, and have barely promoted them as we’re still figuring out some technical stuff. But I feel we’re on *relatively* solid technical ground at this point, so I’m excited to announce that my guest tonight will be Elissa Breitbard, founder and owner of Albuquerque’s perennial favorite spa, Betty’s Bath and Day Spa!

Elissa totally rocks the business stuff and I’ve learned just a ton from her over the years. She’s a super-inspiring model of how to do business well on so many levels: ethically, financially, creatively and more. For the last few years she’s added “Mom” to her titles, so she’s just a wealth of knowledge for us self-employed mamas. I’m super-excited to have her on tonight!

Tune in at 9pm Mountain time for the live video stream, and/or download the podcast at iTunes in a day or two.

If you want to check out the previous podcasts go to my iTunes channel.

Thanks for bearing with my wobbly first steps into this fun podcasting adventure!

 

If I had a jingle…

…it would sound like this.

Huge thanks to Sage Harrington!

 

Podcasting and climbing back into the saddle

Back in the saddleSo. About two months ago my blogging routine was interrupted by some family sickness which really hosed our summer in a lot of ways. I’m glad I can be glib about it now, as I think it is mostly over, but wow, it was quite an unexpected derailment from what was initially shaping up to be a lovely summer. In a nutshell, my kid caught a nasty virus out of the blue that has taken a long time to recover from. (Food-borne? Pool-borne? We’ll probably never know.) I’ve thanked the universe a million times (and counting) that it has all been resolving well (if slowly) and I’ve been sharply reminded that there’s just no guarantee that tomorrow will be anything like today.

In a perfect world I would have been disciplined and gotten back to blogging weeks ago, but re-starting can be hard. Once I’m out of a groove it can be murder to get back into it. So I’ve been fretting the last several weeks about how I’d finally get back into the saddle with blogging and work and a crap-ton of other things I’m behind on at the moment.

Well, in some combination of luck and good timing, I found myself diving into a fun new project that seems like the perfect vehicle for blog re-entry. It’s still a little embryonic, but if you’ll pardon my dust I’d like to introduce you to a new small business podcast I am producing, Self-Employed Happy Hour. I describe it as follows on my Ustream profile: “Business coach and author Peri Pakroo and her weekly guests talk about self-employment, small business, freelancing, and related topics like road tripping, parenting and procrastinating.”

Read more…

Taking some family sick days

I’ve been a little anxiety-ridden about falling out of my blogging routine last week so I wanted to do a quick check-in. The truth is we’ve had a relatively minor medical issue in the family that has thrown everything off: between multiple doctor visits and keeping my kid home from art camp all last week, my schedule went totally wack. All will be well soon. I hope to be posting at least a couple times this week. Thanks for reading and I’ll be back soon.

 

So much for our spray park birthday party

The spray park is closed. (© Turtle O'Toole www.turtlevision.tv)

Last weekend we had a birthday party for our 6-year-old daughter, several weeks after her actual birthday because she wanted to have it at a new spray park that just opened in our neighborhood a few days before the planned party. We schlepped everything over there an hour before the party was to start, got all set up at the picnic area next to the spray park, and eagerly awaited the park’s opening at 10am and the arrival of our guests at 10:30. Both kids, in their swimsuits, could barely be contained.

The clock ticked towards 10am…then a few minutes past…then by 10:15 I had a sinking feeling. As we peered into the windows of the offices next to the spray park there were no signs of life. Finally a couple homeless guys came over to me and my daughter and told us, “Oh this place is closed on the weekend.”

I couldn’t believe it except it was obviously true. Our guests were set to arrive in just a few minutes and I felt like a real idiot. Deep breath. Big sigh.

First I looked at my daughter. She visibly drooped at the news. I braced myself for her to fall apart and my mind raced as to how I’d handle it. But she didn’t fall apart. To my immense relief she shrugged it off and started walking back to the picnic/party area, saying in a remarkably relaxed tone of voice, “Well, we’d better go tell daddy!”

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