Allison's Book Bag

Posts Tagged ‘Six Word Saturday Meme


We interrupt this blog … major announcement

A year ago I had been taking a path which, despite some twists and turns, felt comfortable. And then wham! New job…. New writing markets…. New career direction…. New volunteer duties…. In the course of a year, everything changed.

Even so, when the seventh anniversary of this blog rolled around in June, I thought I knew what lay ahead for Allison’s Book Bag. There’s power in words. For that reason, I’ve been picking out books to share with you in the midst of the chaos going on in our world. There’s also power in stories. For that reason, I’ve been moving towards posting more and more stories of my cats. I felt safe about my plans.

But that’s when our landlady called with a bombshell. She plans to sell her remaining rentals, including the one we’re in. We probably have about three months to find a new place.

What does that do for Allison’s Book Bag? Maybe nothing. Maybe everything. With each new change that a person juggles, commitments get dropped to allow for new ones. At times one will relinquish those forever; sometimes just for a season.

At any rate, for now, I’m right back where I was last year this time: “Pulling back but not stepping down.” There are reprints I wanted to pull from Animal Ambassadors. Those I’ll add in due time. There are posts already awaiting publication. Those I’ll post in due time. There are Advanced Reader Copies to which I’ve committed myself to review. Those I’ll write in due time. Otherwise, for the immediate future, finding a house is a major priority.

As always, see you around on the blogosphere! And remember: We are meant to thrive in God.


Finished my Principles of Marketing course!

Back in April, I wrote that I would be writing about my new adventures. Some of those new adventures included: finishing a journalism course, updating you on my current administrative assistant job, and sharing news of my volunteer activities. Last but not least on my list of ways I have been reinventing my life since leaving the teaching field is I enrolled in a marketing class this spring.

Even in my twenties, when I pursued my own graphic design business, I have been intrigued by this field. When I started applying this year for jobs, I found myself most drawn to the ones in communication and in public relations. Both of these require some marketing skills. A close friend of mine reassured me at the time that I already possessed some marketing skills, in that I have promoted two blogs. I didn’t feel that I had enough to apply for those types of jobs, but did decide that taking some classes might make me more knowledgeable.

Principles of Marketing has been intense! It’s an online course with a three-month deadline. Students read two chapters per week, answer three questions per chapter, and comment on at least answers per chapter too. We also have weekly quizzes. And then there’s our two term papers. One involved analyzing a business and proposing strategies. Weeks of research later, I submitted a twenty-page paper! The other required one to submit a town proposal. I did that this afternoon. Now I get to enjoy six weeks off from studies before it’s back to the books.

That’s what’s new with me! What about you?


Becoming an advocate for cats everywhere

In the two years that I’ve been involved with Lincoln Animal Ambassadors, not only have I have been writing a few articles a week on a regular basis but my duties have increased. Switching jobs during that time made me realize that I can’t keep up that pace! This led to the decision to become more focused in my efforts. Namely, I decided to become an advocate for cats.

One way I do this is to mostly write about cats. I’ve tried to increase awareness of how amazing they are as pets, how we can enrich their lives, and how we can help homeless cats. Most weeks I feature a cat trio story at Allison’s Book Bag, and you can read my articles about enriching the lives of cats at An Enriched Cat is a Happy Cat and Can Cats Be Trained?

I’ve also tried to put into practice my own messages, by training my cats. Each of my cats being helped with their own specific needs: I’m teaching Cinder to become less guarded about food, Bootsie to be more accepting of crates and strollers, and Rainy to show more patience about most everything. I’m also introducing all three to fun activities such as agility and obedience. Rainy has been doing the agility for months now, and is ready to go public with her skills. That is, she will be once I help her get used to facing all kinds of new situations. I’ll write about our attempts in upcoming posts. In training my cats, I’ve also discovered that my bond with my own cats has been deepened.

Another way I’m trying to become an advocate is through building a network of cat contacts. I share posts from cat rescuers and tell their stories at Lincoln Animal Ambassadors. I’m starting to connect with local shelters to determine their needs and what support can be given them. And I’m helping part of a group that helps community cats to live better lives.

That’s what’s new with me! What about you?


Volunteering is like a full-time job

Looking back over my Six-Word-Saturday posts, I realize that I haven’t talked much about my volunteer life other than two years ago when I wrote about helping community cats. Given that these days I spend the majority of my free time involved in volunteer activities, what follows is a post that’s long overdue.

Let’s start with Husker Cats. This is a group that traps-neuters-and-releases (TNR) cats on our local campus. Volunteers also provide food, water, and shelter. I started by shadowing a volunteer. When she had to cutback on hours, I took on one of her shifts and eventually became a coordinator. I also wrote an article to promote the group and adopted one of the feral cats. I’ve shared numerous stories here about Bootsie!

The other group I volunteer with is Animal Ambassadors. This is a group that helps address the root cause of homelessness by providing spay/neuter and vaccination services, a pet food bank, and education. I started out by writing a few articles for their blog. To better understand the group’s objectives, I decided to invite myself to a meeting. One thing led to another. Now I’m the group’s media chair, which involves duties such as writing press releases and running our blog. I also help with fundraisers and information events.

My involvement with Animal Ambassadors led to a couple of decisions. First, I only queried Lincoln Kids, because I felt that I needed a print forum to promote animal welfare. Now I’m writing two columns for them! Second, because my articles tend to be long and detailed, I wanted to a way to write shorter stuff and hit upon writing a cat advice column. So for, I’ve posted three! I’ll share them posts here over the next few weeks.

That’s what’s new with me! What about you?

One of my big projects at my church job is to create a monthly newsletter. This spring, I started to write my own content for it, besides including submissions from members. What follows is a reprint of an article I wrote about a local entrepreneur.

Baking has always been a part of Kat’s life, even if owning a bakery hadn’t initially been part of her dreams for when she grew up. As a child, Kat spent hours upon hours on top of her grandmother’s kitchen counter, rolling pie crust and mixing chocolate chip cookies. In her teens, she found herself unintentionally taking cooking classes. She started by baking for family and friends, and that grew to baking for friends of friends and co-workers. In 2008, she applied for a vendor’s spot at a small farmers’ market, and her goods went public. Three years later, she was working multiple jobs and still continuing her farmers’ market schedule. A friend advised her to “go big or go home.”

ALLISON: When and why did your start Gratitude Bakery?

KAT: Gratitude opened over four years ago. Like many of the great things and challenges in life, I believe I’ll look back and see a perfectly formed picture. The reasons why and the exactness is hidden in friendship. I walked into our corner building, took a look at the only remaining relic from its days in old Bethany town, and said, “This is it.” In the early days I use to be sure that there was a great reason. A moment when faits would collide and the reason for everything would be revealed. Over the years my belief has changed. If I touch one life with kindness, understanding, or warmth, and find joy in a gentleman’s face when he sits with a cup of coffee, the paper, and cinnamon rolls that reminds him of his grandmother, that’s enough.

ALLISON: What skills do you and your staff offer?

KAT: I am the one woman circus! I prep, bake, cook, clean, wash dishes, order supplies, connect and purchase from local vendors and farmers, purchase weekly goods, purchase fair traded retail, contact and schedule local musicians, work every shift at Gratitude, keep social media going, write the newsletter, deal with emails, make the phone calls and do what needs to be done. I’m in by 4am and, depending if Gratitude hosts a live event, I’m there until 11pm.

I lucked out with my mother! She comes in every Saturday morning. She mans the station, does the dishes, and is one great bakery box maker! She also does much of the background paperwork. If it wasn’t for her, I physically couldn’t do it.

ALLISON: Tell me about Pie Day!

KAT: Pie Day started as an idea a customer brought to me to increase community. Over the years it has become an important part in helping us fund live music with the hope of fully funding ONE music license a year. All pies are scratch baked with fruit from my dear local farmers and served with homemade ice cream. Pie is sold by the slice and you can always take it to go. Last year three of my musicians surprised us with a performance.

It was the most exhausting, enlightening, frustrating and exciting year of my life! This ‘little’ process of finding, buying, restoring, renovating, etc. took 15 months of labor, a few friends, lots of phone calls, a dozen permits, a city planning hearing, and 3 city council meetings. It was a very long process and many folks came with me for the ride to whom I will be forever grateful for!”—Kat, about her first year.

ALLISON: When and why did you start hosting musicians and authors?

KAT: From the beginning! Community is Gratitude’s greatest commitment and hosting Lincoln’s talent has been a dream. Bethany needed a spot that folks could come and feel safe.

ALLISON: How have you connected with musicians?

KAT: Every musician is different. I have a unique and different relationship with each of them! From Bethany local Tim Kettler walking in with his guitar one night, to Laurie McClain contacting me off a recommendation from Dr. John Walker, to hunting Paul Baker and me having to wear down Jack Downs. They’re the best people I know!

ALLISON: What type of offerings are you looking for with open mic nights?

KAT: We have 2 types of open mic. The first is our monthly Open Mic every 3rd Friday. This open mic is primarily for musicians, but we have had the occasional slam poet or comedian. Our Open Mic night has run since the beginning and its a great opportunity for the public to meet our house musicians.

Our second form of open mic is during our monthly Writers’ Night. We feature a local author or poet and finish the night with a mic open for those willing.

Both evenings are open to the public and encourages an audience. A purchase is always required to help keep me open.

ALLISON: What type of promotion have you done? How have social media and word of mouth helped?

KAT: Many of the traditional roads of promotion aren’t open to us and sadly aren’t effective for a small business. Social Media is a necessity nowadays. We have a very active Facebook page. Of course that doesn’t always means it works and does anything. We have a monthly online newsletter that has become extremely helpful in keeping regulars in the loop and giving Gratitude a larger voice. Word of mouth and creating real connection with customers is the BEST and most effective way.

ALLISON: Sell readers on why they should visit Gratitude?

KAT: I run a business with my core values. Everything is made by scratch with my own hands—with local ingredients from farmers and producers in the area. History is important to me and you can taste that in the food. We’ve become known for our scones, cinnamon rolls, and evening soups and entrée. For those who enjoy a business knowing their name, thinking of them when baking their favorite dessert, and having a hug waiting when you need it—you might just become a Gratitude regular.

ALLISON: What are your dreams for the future of Gratitude? 

KAT: We’ll continue to evolve and change. Gratitude certainly morphed into what it is today and I assume I will just need to hang on for the ride! On the day I lock the door for the last time, I want folks to reminisce not only of our foods but of an owner that cared and was kind and a place that was always genuine in business.

Allisons' Book Bag Logo

Summer Reviews

Books can take connect us with strangers, take us to unique places, and introduce us to new ideas. They can also offer hope in a chaotic world. And so I must share what I read!

Each week, I’ll introduce you to religious books, Advanced Reader Copies, animal books, or diversity books. Some I’ll review as singles and others as part of round-ups. Just ahead, there will be reviews of:

  • Joni: The unforgettable story of a young woman’s struggle against quadriplegia & depression by Joni Eareckson
  • The True Story of the World’s Most Beloved Animal Sanctuary by Samantha Glen
  • Brothers in hope : the story of the Lost Boys of Sudan–refugees by Mary Williams
  • The Inner Life of Cats by Thomas McNamee



Cat Writers’ Association
Artists Helping Animals


Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 313 other followers