Sweet Valentine’s

Hi all.  I hope you are having a fantastic weekend.  I’m super excited because I’m on my way to the Interior Design Show.  The trade show always inspires me and gets my juices flowing . . . creatively.  Considering all the things I have on the go right now, I need some inspiration!

Anyway, I have been doing my usual Internet crawl this morning and realized two things; 1) Time flies!  I cannot believe it is the end of January already, and 2) Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching.

I’m going to share a little secret with you.

I don’t believe in Valentine’s Day. (Did a cupid somewhere die just now?)

Truthfully, I don’t “celebrate” Valentine’s day.  Don’t get me wrong, as a child I loved giving and receiving cheesy valentine cards, the abundance of chocolate and even the little gifts my parents would give us.  For me it was always an added bonus because my birthday is a couple days away, so it was a pre-cursor to the “big” event.

As I matured, however, Valentine’s day became less and less about showing love and affection and more about guilt, sadness and anger.  Feeling hurt when you’re significant other didn’t do something memorable or angry if the gift was late or forgotten.  Valentine’s Day became more about disappointment then happiness.  As well, as I got older, my Valentine’s gift got looped into my birthday!  People who have birthdays near Christmas can feel my pain . . .

Eventually it got me thinking,  and I realized that I no longer wanted gifts or chocolates or cheesy valentine cards.  Because if someone really loved me, they had 364 other days of the year to show it.  A random bouquet of flowers from Elijah, on a random day, for no other reason then because he wanted to means so much more to me then a little teddy bear holding a heart on February 14th.  Knowing that he bought it because he felt he had to takes all the romance out of receiving it.  I don’t think that love should be isolated to one day.  I understand the celebration part, but for me, everyday is a celebration.

I also understand that being in the internet marketing business means that I have to take advantage of Valentine’s Day and monetize it to bring in money.  The internal conflict is raging!  However, I know that there are men and women out there who look forward to it and who are very good at making the day special, and I am here to help them make that possible.  I guess I’ve just been jaded.

Just food for thought.  You know what would be really specially, springing your gift or surprise on your loved one a day or two before Valentine’s Day.  Not only will it catch them off guard, and seeing that look of surprise on their face will be worth it.

Should We Sell This Blog?

Should We Sell This Blog?Veronica and I are at a point in our life together where things aren’t all peaches and cream – not pertaining to our relationship, which is the strength that drives me, but in terms of financial stability.  Since I lost my job back in May and made the decision that I would do whatever it takes to be making enough income online to not have to visit my old friend, the cubicle, ever again – it’s been an interesting road.  On a personal level, I haven’t paid my student loan or credit card bill in over 3 months, by choice, and that’s not what bothers me because I’m only 27 and credit can be repaired.  On the flip side, Veronica has been working away doing her 40 hour work week and developing an increased sense of frustration towards the gutless operations of a major corporation – especially one that’s preparing for the Christmas rush.

Not only does her discontent break my heart because she has to put up with this shit, but it also keeps a constant flame under my white ass because I want to be THE man that can provide for her – and hopefully make enough money so she can leave her job by the end of the year, which is a goal of ours.

Where’s your head at?

Over the last month or so I’ve been feeling a strange combination of depression and desperation, fueled by an abnormal, almost mutated drive to succeed online.  The desperation causes me to not sleep and spend 12-16 hours a day sitting on this lap top.  The depression hinders my focus and ability to stay motivated when things don’t work as planned – like my latest site flip.  The drive is something that I’m used to, especially when I have my back against the wall with nowhere to run.

Am I afraid of failure?  Absolutely terrified.  Am I dreading the thought of having to get another pointless job, and not being able to work for myself?  Every single day.  Would an immediate financial boost improve my current situation?  Probably.  This is where the thought of selling TheAtHomeCouple.com makes it’s entrance.

I was unable to sleep last night, and stayed awake until Veronica left for work at 7 am this morning.  The thought of cashing out on all my hard work for a quick money fix was haunting me beyond belief.  I began to think about how much this site would be worth on the market, and what I could allocate that extra money towards.  I began to think of how much weight it would take off Veronica’s shoulders, and enable her to put some money aside for herself – which she hasn’t done in months, as well as my responsibilities being the man in our relationship, and the deeply rooted pride that is commonly associated with that role.  I then asked myself a simple question that really helped open up my tired eyes:

Would selling this blog solve our current financial needs and increase the chances of us accomplishing our long term goals in life, and online?

Fuck no.  Cashing out on this blog would be the biggest sell out move I’ve ever pulled in my 27 years.  This blog is a symbol of the very goal we are trying to achieve, and not only would I loose the respect of my peers, which is everything to me, but I can almost guarantee that the new owner(s) would not have an easy time filling my blood soaked shoes.  I woke up today around 5 pm, ashamed at the thoughts that were racing through my brain.  I immediately felt a need to email every single subscriber we have and tell you how much we love you, and want you to succeed.  How much your struggles and triumphs keep us going, and knowing that we’re not alone in this vast, cold world online makes all the difference.  I realized how many amazing people I’ve met, and great friends I’ve made – and I could NEVER put a price tag on that.

Note:  I just received an email from an Affiliate Manager at affnet.com, saying he’s been researching our site, loves what we’re doing and would like to talk about advertising on our site and other business opportunities.  Ironic, considering what I was just finished writing about.



Couples Who Work Together – The Copreneur Concept

Couples who work together - copreneur

I recently had a mini vacation from work; Friday, Monday and Tuesday off.  5 days in total.  It wasn’t enough time to really do anything substantial, but it was enough to get me thinking about spending all my time at home, and with Elijah.  Please don’t misconstrue, I’m not worried about our relationship but working at home will definitely change the dynamic of our journey up to this point and is yet another chapter of our lives together –  cue violins.

I’ve mentioned before that I tend to get looks and concerned comments when I tell people, especially the ones I’m related to, what our long term plan is.  A lot of the intrigue that’s generated around our business venture is the fact that we are both going to be at working at home together.  People seem so curious about how this is going to work out, as if watching a science experiment.  Here are my well thought out reasons why I want to work from home with Elijah:

  1. I won’t have to get up at a godforsaken hour in the morning
  2. I can wear my sweatpants to work, provided we are not leaving “the office”.
  3. We will be able to save some money, not having to worry about transportation expenses.
  4. I will have more time and energy to focus on other things I’m passionate about, like design and art.
  5. Elijah and I will learn and grow together in many ways.
  6. Down the road, when we have a family, we will be able to spend lots of time with our children.
  7. Our family will function as a sole unit.  Working, living and loving together.

I can tell you from experience that in today’s world of “each parent off to a separate place of employment” the family unit is broken down significantly.  For example, both my parents worked for the same company but in different positions, and in order to save money on a babysitter for my brother and I, my parents worked opposite shifts.  My mother worked from 6:00 am to 2:30 pm and my father worked from 4:00 pm until midnight.  Between the time my mom arrived from work and my dad was getting ready to leave, they had half an hour every day to see each other.  I couldn’t imagine only seeing Elijah for 2 1/2 hours each week.  Not to mention the fact that as children we barely got to spend time with our dad, except on weekends.  I would prefer not to reenact  this scenario with my own family, which is why I want to have my home and profession be of the same entity.

Let’s explore this concept shall we?

Its seems as though the concept of working from home or working with your partner is “new” or “trendy”, when in reality it’s the way the family unit functioned for most of our existence as humans.  Throughout history the family worked, and played together.  It was unheard of to leave your loved ones for any reason, let alone to work, and in any situation where productivity was essential for survival there was evidence of a family involvement.  Think about working on a farm where the family is an economic , as well as social unit.  It is only with the industrial revolution that home and workplace became a separate entity – each with it’s own set of guidelines and relationships.

Elijah and I have always felt that we “gelled” and worked exceptionally well together.  Every challenge or large project we’ve taken on in our relationship has been successful.  We’ve always been on the same page and it’s crucial to share the same passion or vision when attempting to go into business together, therefore maintaining focus on the bigger picture allows you get past all the smaller issues.

There are several guidelines available to working with your life partner from home.  At Uplift.com, Alicia Fortinberry has been working with her husband Bob, for almost 20 years.  Here is some of her experience sprinkled with my words of wisdom and interpretation:

  • Don’t separate work from the rest of your life.  It will never happen as smoothly as you want it to, so view the work as a continuum of the relationship.  If you share the passion, then it isn’t a burden.  Elijah and I talk about the business a lot and it’s as much a part of our family as our cat Shandy is.
  • Work with other people.  This makes so much sense to me.  Working with other people keeps the juices flowing and provides fresh ideas and a sense of support – as well as mental break from your loved one’s brain.
  • Maintain a nexus of friends outside of the core relationship.  This is so important, even in a non-work relationship.  One person cannot meet all your needs, no matter how great and supportive they are.  Women need the presence of women and men need the presence of men.  It is common these days that couples who work and live together fall into the trap of neglecting outside relationships, whether it is because of lack of time or trust.  Allowing the other to “step out” of the relationship and just be with friends or family is important at every stage in any relationship.
  • Explore and maintain shared beliefs.  In our society, as well as throughout history, common belief systems are the most significant bonding tools.  This is true in any single relationship, where if there is no basic agreement on core values and matters of faith, there is little chance of the relationship surviving.  Although this topic is not always on the forefront of the success of a relationship, it definitely plays and important part in the endurance of one.
  • Develop relationship rituals.  These are things that as a couple you do by agreement and awareness.  Going for breakfast every Sunday or going for a walk every evening are examples of rituals.  Don’t confuse these with habits.  Habits are things that are done without even consciously thinking about them.  Rituals renew your sense of togetherness and commitment to each other.  The breakfast date is one of the things that Elijah and I try to do as often as we can. Going to bed together at the same time is another one – although he usually gets up after I fall asleep to blog and brainstorm into the wee hours of the morning.
  • Work out mutually agreed roles.  This clear definition of responsibilities is necessary because it eliminates confusion and hostility.  Having clearly defined roles in the business and in the home life allows each partner to know what they are responsible for and what they have authority over.  As a couple, Elijah and I should try to figure out who is better qualified for each task, and then let eachother focus on it.  We’ve never been practitioners of gender based stereotypes and that won’t be starting when I eventually quit my job.  These roles shouldn’t be considered concrete either, they will change and shift as time moves on and life progresses, allowing us to complement each other when needed.  Balance.
  • It is also important to remember that while the roles and tasks are divided, there may be times when one person may have to work harder than the other.  This may result in anger or animosity, however it is the natural cycle of life.  Even at my day job there are times when I am much busier than my colleagues and I get jealous of their momentary freedom, but eventually it switches.
  • Be honest and concrete about what you need from each other.  It is never ideal to second guess what your partner wants or needs.   This again applies to all relationships.  You can’t expect him or her to decipher the code of facial expressions or subtle grunting noises.  Communication is so important in any relationship, business or personal, so never be forced into the position where manipulation is necessary to get what you want.  Communicate as clearly and as often as you need to.

This list definitely puts things into perspective for me.  This new venture is not going to be all butterflies and roses – it’s going to be something that we have to work very hard at.  I have a couple of points that I would like to add to this list that I’ve picked up along the way:

After working at a residential summer camp in many different positions, and for many years, I learned that there’s no time for laying blame when things go wrong.  Shit happens and there is not much you can do about it except find a reasonable solution as soon as possible.  Here’s and example of what I mean:

Task: Sixteen kids all waiting to go on a canoe trip.
Problem: The canoes floated away after not being tied up correctly.
Solution: Quickly organized a beach day with games and swimming.

When it comes to kids quick thinking is mandatory, and with business I think it works the same way.  The more responsibilities and tasks we add to each others roles, the more problem solving is going to be required.  Better to get good at it now instead of when things are much busier.

I also think it’s incredibly important to keep having fun with each other.  This is the reason that our main goal with the online business is to be mobile and travel.  I’m so excited to experience new things and explore places I’ve never been, and even more excited to do it all with the man I love.  Eliminating the staleness of the day-in- day-out will keep the relationship fresh and vibrant.  Even if travel is not possible immediately, trying new restaurants, or exploring a part of your city that you’ve never seen together will be something you’re sharing that’s not related to work.

I recently came across the term used for defining what Elijah and I, and many of you are attempting;  Copreneurs.  It is used to categorize couples who are exploring entrepreneurial paths together as a team.  I like this term because it highlights the fact that we are a team – which is something Elijah and I have always thought of ourselves as.  Our successes are so much more rewarding because we are able to appreciate them together, and realize that we wouldn’t be where we are today if it weren’t for each other.  If one of us succeeds, we both succeed.

We’re on our way to starting this journey together, and there will definitely be highs and lows – but I think if we can keep focused on our goals, and each other, this will be the smartest thing we’ve ever done.  So here’s to practicing what we preach.

Stay classy,


5 Ways To Keep Her Happy

5 Ways To Keep Her HappyMost men know, whether young or old, that one of the most important elements to a healthy relationship is happiness.  I’m a firm believer in the saying “behind every king is his queen” and as long as your queen is happy, you will thrive and your kingdom will flourish.  Being raised predominantly by women I’ve grown to build a sense of security knowing that the women in my life are taken care of.  We all know that if your wife or girlfriend is unhappy things can be hellish, so take some time out each day and make sure she knows how special she truly is.

For the last 4 years Veronica and I have faced some serious hurdles, and since moving in together a whole new set of obstacles have threatened our relationship at one time or another.  What amazes me is that after all this time (which isn’t much compared to some) we are happier than ever, and continue to build our status towards being the ultimate power couple.  If you haven’t the faintest idea of what I’m saying, and believe that the way to keep your woman happy is making sure she always has a sink full of dishes to come home to, please read the following points carefully. 🙂

  1. Women love surprises – This does not mean you should scrape ends to buy her a new purse or the latest $160 LuLuLemon hoodie twice a month, but simply keep your eyes and ears open when you’re out together as she will constantly give little hints to what she wants, or needs.  Coming home after work with a little surprise every now and then really helps to keep the smiles abundant.
  2. Cook for her – If you’re incapable of a simple stir-fry or ricotta-stuffed manicotti, you better get learning!  They say the way to a man’s heart is his stomach, well I believe that the way to a woman’s smile is Mexican food or any chocolate based dessert.  If you cook for your woman on a regular basis she will boast and brag about you to all her girlfriends at the office, and your reputation will become impenetrable.
  3. Do more than apologize – The last thing any women of character wants to hear is the you were right, I was wrong line.  Let her know why you were wrong, and what you will do in the future to prevent the same occurrence from happening.  She wants to feel secure knowing that you actually took the time to think about your actions and will make an effort to change for the better.  If you’re apologizing for sleeping with the nanny you have an entirely different problem.
  4. Get to know her friends – It took me a while to realize the importance of becoming acquainted with Veronica’s friends, but I’m glad that I did – some of them are now good friends of mine as well.  Before I came galloping along on my white horse, reeking of scotch and cotton candy, her friends were the people who kept her happy.  Spending time with her friends truly opened my eyes to a whole different side of her which I loved, and in turn making me want to spend time more time with them – killing two birds with one stone.
  5. You can never give too many hugs and kisses – I know it sounds kind of corny, or obvious, but it’s true.  When life sinks its fangs into your timetable it can be difficult to find the quality time to accomplish any of the points I listed above.  In the extreme situation, not having the time or energy to be intimate can also put a serious damper on the happiness meter – this is where hugs and kisses are important.  After being with someone for any substantial amount of time, people naturally become comfortable and take the small things for granted.  This can turn a once beautiful partnership into a vile dance of bickering and frustration.  Hugs and kisses on a regular basis – especially hugs – can really keep things somewhat balanced when the crap of life hits the fan, and you’ve run out of Mr. Clean Magic Wipes. :p

One of our goals before this year is over is to have both of us working online, and from home.  If we are unable to keep each other happy, this goal will never be accomplished.  Being a young couple in our late 20’s makes it that much more important to know what keeps us excited and laughing – for the many years to come.