When life gives you lemons.... write about it!

I have been seeing sooooo much news about homelessness lately.  Now, I completely accept that the Almighty Google may just be targeting me.  But, when I am encouraged to sign-up for Nextdoor, a "social network for your neighborhood community", and a large percentage are about homeless in the area.  Well, I wonder.  Maybe the world is just changing and seems like very few are truly ready.

So, how do I deal?  I write!  And today, I have finally taken the plunge and signed up to be a Creator on Medium.

Here is my first post:

Beautiful, Brilliant & Talented: Another facet of Homeless life in the PNW

My husband & I are currently living out of our 1986 GMC Suburban in Vancouver, WA and became houseless last year near the end of July, because of a predator, a person who was supposed to be family, who claimed to need roommates to help afford his apartment and once discovered that he was illegally subletting low-income housing that he did not qualify for, proceeded to misuse the local authorities to get us thrown out on the street.
And after, I saw another creator's post where it seems I am not the only one who is seeing this stuff:

It is good to hear others are seeing the same problem I am.

It is good to hear others are seeing the same problem I am. If people would just stop & listen, sit with each other, embrace each other, see each other's value.


How Conditional Love Destroys Family

Has anyone ever been treated with "tough love" by a family member? I'm sure most of you have. Myself, I have come to believe that this behavior, while may have good intentions is often detrimental to the mental health and stability of the individual.

Take my mother, for instance. She is the single-most sweetest person I have had the pleasure to know. Admittedly, this is partially due to her mental illness, but nevertheless, her quickness to forgive and willingness to sacrifice with a deep concern for others are the parts of my genome that I proudly display on my sleeve.

As a result, whenever I encounter opposition, I tend to try to understand and empathize first, compromise and support next, and forgive and forget, if all else fails. But, recently, this modus operandi has been severely challenged. The more I think about this happening, the more I realize how this is not the first time. In fact, there has been a pattern of this approval-rating behavior in from my maternal family since I was very young. And worse, it not only affects me but everyone else in and around the Felton women.

I have always been the type to have to "learn the hard way", as my late Grandmother would often suggest, usually accompanied with a chuckle, when I told her about the latest catastrophic science experiment. One, in particular, involved a Barbie tea party, using a toy barbeque set and a tiny bottle of Tabasco sauce. The tea didn't taste as it should, of course, but being born in New Mexico, I was not put off by the spice. Rather, I was annoyed that there was so little to go around and it was gone before I had a chance to discover the exact number of drops that were necessary to achieve flavor without too much bite.

My sense of curiosity and perseverance has continued to serve me to this day. Although, as I matured, and through experience, I tend to make fewer mistakes now and know better when to pull myself away from a tough problem to let the ideas and findings percolate. I don't know how many times I have been hit by an "Aha!" moment while doing some unrelated activity, like flying a kite, reading a book or playing a game.

One of the things my Felton family has always valued was education. Which is good, because I happen to love it, as well! Although, due to mitigating circumstances, involving sexual abuse by a Paternal family member (from my father's side), which finally ended when I emancipated myself at age 16. Of course, the Felton matriarch came to the rescue, purchasing a futon, at first, and several months later, after speaking openly of the many years of sexual abuse, was shipped back to live with my Grandmother. So, needless to say, once I graduated High School (which was a feat of its own), I was NOT ready for college full time. I was ready to work, to serve, to mentor. So, naturally, I signed up for work-study at the Paradise Valley Community College computer lab, helping all walks of life operate the complicated machinery. And I was a natural, troubleshooting the printer queue and network in one moment, and reminiscing with an elderly re-entry student about how there didn't use to be mice for computers, in his day. I was not, however, as interested in writing long essays on English literature or arguing about the merits of Sine vs Cosine in solving Polar Equations with my Calculus instructor.  So, to say the least, my attendance lapsed and I found myself working various sales and support positions until, at age 23, I finally broke down and got "that stupid piece of paper" and enrolled in Collins College, a now-defunct technical/art college, and 3 years later, walked out with a BS in Networking Technology.

Before graduation day, I had landed a "sweet gig" working in the Education industry as an internal Technical Support Analyst for Universal Technical Institute, Inc and quickly worked my way over to the Software Development shop.  My "helium hand" got me far and fast in the corporate world.  But, sometimes, fast is too fast, and I found myself out on my heels right before a big promotion into the Quality Assurance group.  This loss hit me hard.  Why?  They had convinced me early on in the relationship that I was a member of their corporate FAMILY...

The word, FAMILY, holds a deep meaning in my heart.  I do not impose it lightly.  I have discarded genetic family that I did not consider deserved the title in the past and am not afraid to do so, to this day.  Equally, I am cautious to add anyone to this list.  Although I freely admit, in search of acceptance and love, I fell into several romantic relationships in my young adult years, where my vision was shrouded.  In fact, after abruptly leaving a serious relationship in the mid-2000's, largely due to his addiction to fetish forums, favoring the admiration of a new piece of virtual meat to the ready-and-waiting familiarity of yours truly, I acquiesced to the apparent curse of the Felton women, to never know true love and found a way to be happy with that.

Being alone, older, and, thankfully, childless, was still challenging, to say the least.  A life of consistent trauma and loss finally caught up with me, manifesting itself in the form of persistent Panic Attacks, leading to a diagnosis of Generalized Anxiety Disorder and subsequent medication.  At this time, I was still working with UTI, the automotive educator, being still in favor and alignment with the office politics, I was encouraged to take a leave of absence, which I took advantage of and consequently named Operation Recuperation and wrote several blog entries about:
Even though I struggled, at the young age of 29, I was happy to be alone, with the idea of being single for the rest of my life.  Plus, I had plenty of friends and social circles to laugh and cry with.  As a member of the SCA (An international volunteer medieval re-enactment organization), I often found myself at backyard barbeques and campouts one weekend and Gaming Parties with my Alumni buddies the next.  Being an accomplished woman in STEM, I had no shortage of suitors.  Still, to this day, my marital status is inquired and I have become adept at quelling the oncoming crush, utilizing various methods that seek not only to accept to flattery but make clear my lack of availability.

In April of 2009, my perceptions and assumptions surrounding love, passion, and career were changed, to say the least.  A match-maker friend of mine called me up one evening, after work, while I was contemplating a jaunt to the local used bookstore.  She asked if I was into "Younger overweight guys", which made me chuckle, but could understand based on the previous man I was with being older and petite.  I decided to allow her this pleasure, and with Thor's Myspace pictures plastered in my mind, drove down to meet up with him.  Not interested in a relationship, but not minding a roll in the hay, I found him pleasantly intellectual, yet not presumably so.  Striking me as gentle and shy, underneath an animated sheath, I felt allowed to be myself and easily attracted to the beast.

I took him home that night, spent the next week easily enjoying his company, deciding that it would make sense to take a break, reconnect with other friends and family, testing to see how we each felt about continuing to see each other.  See, neither of us intended to get into a relationship.  Thor had come off a heartbreak within the last year and had, decided himself, as well, that he was better off not having one.  We had agreed to part for two weeks but found after only one, that we couldn't stand the silence any longer and by the end of the month, found ourselves moved into together in a new apartment, in Mesa, near his lovely mother, Patty.

It has been almost 9 years since meeting and falling in love with Thor, but it feels like it has been dramatically more.  It has not all been butterflies and rainbows, to say the least.  Rather, the financial and emotional struggles we have experienced, have time and again, proven to me that we are strong, we are resilient and we can survive the Apocalypse together.  His strengths and weaknesses match so strangely perfect with mine, that we have often found ourselves clashing with each other, pinging off each other's fears and frustration.  But, through all the tears and turmoil, we come to an understanding, empathize, and find a way to help each other overcome and break through to a more meaningful existence.  In addition, we allow and encourage social interaction outside of ourselves.  Because no matter how much we love or hate each other, we love and hate the world, too.

It is on this last matter, that I feel most proud of when it comes to gauging the success of our relationship.  We are often observed by people, upon seeing our interaction, that we sound like an old couple, but still in love.  And when asked how we came to be, I often come back to the thought that we demand brutal honesty from each other.  No matter the issue, no matter how much it might hurt to hear, we need to, we have to because if we don't, it will only build up and create animosity between us.

This brings me to the recent Happening...

A couple of weeks ago, my Auntie Joanne, after hearing of our more recent challenges, messaged me to ask to have a private conversation with her.  Upon clarification, she meant without Thor in the room.  Out of respect for her wishes, I waited until I had a free morning when Thor was otherwise occupied and grabbed a quiet room at the local library.

Before pinging her that I was available, I had already started to develop some anxiety surrounding the purpose of the meeting.  Was someone sick, dying? Were they simply worried about me?  Right out of the gate, I was hammered with a statement that still rings in my head.  Last night, the reverberation of its effect was so loud that Thor woke to a midnight crying session.  Come to find out, in the span of a single paragraph, my whole Felton family, not just Auntie Joanne, wanted me to know that if I ever decided to leave Thor, they had plenty of money and would help me to start over.  Ummm...

Wha? Start Over? Let me think, I have started over, with and without Thor more times than I have fingers, maybe even toes.  Regardless of that fact, why would I do that?  So, I naturally, I asked why they would only help if I was without Thor?  And tiptoeing and diving around the questions, the only response I got was something incredulous like "adult decisions have adult consequences". Near the end of the conversation, after I attempted to acquaint her with how Thor has been a positive influence on my life, helping me deal with my Anxiety without medication (which, its use along with the Depo birth control shots, had been a contributing factor towards a life-threatening Deep Vein Thrombosis event).  And only after I explained that I prefer the peace brought on by the nomadic life, did she relent to the simple core of worry, wanting to make sure that I was safe and happy.  After assuring her that my life was in no danger and that I was happier than I have ever been, she still could not directly answer my question about their opinion of Thor.

So, I can only imagine, and I have, the fears and Anxiety about the opinions of the Fucking Felton Matriarchy.... about MY LIFE, MY HUSBAND, MY CHOICES.... 

All I have to say is: HOW DARE YOU!  All of you, are abused and alone!  I pity you!  To say the least, I am disappointed to have come from your stock.  These are the parts of my genome that I DO NOT SUBSCRIBE TO.  This and previous statement about your "OPINIONS" feel like poison in my heart and I am feeling the urge to pull out the thorn, never to let it's sweet fragrance tempt me again.

I don't pretend to know all the secrets to love an happiness, but I will continue to attempt to transcribe some of them here on my blog. In the meantime, tell me what you think. Is blood thicker than Conditional Love?  If so, why should it be?


Dear Universe....

Today, I submitted this here:

Hello? Universe? 
I know I haven't talked to you in a while, but I really need your help.
If you recall, the last time I asked for your help, you gave me the strength to leave home at 16 in order to escape my emotionally destructive Aunt and sexual abuse by my cousin.  And I think I have been paying it forward ever since. But, I sometimes wonder if I have done something wrong to anger you. 
Just to bring you up to date...  I have been working in software development for quite a few years now (20+) with a focus on the Education industry.  I also serve as a mentor on Codementor.io/tekNorah and love working with creatives, like yourself, to get things done!  About four years ago, I quit my "day job" and started working as an Independent Software Engineer and Project Director for Small to Medium-sized businesses in the Manufacturing, Automation and Integration spaces.  My previous experiences convinced me that Innovation is Dead for Corporate America and helped to expose my real passion: the Freelancer community! 
Currently, I am focused on building a Freelancers Network for like-minded people that want to work with other independent freelancers on larger brand/web projects. The network consists of Dev, Design and Brand professionals, with a range of skill levels and rates with the goal of budget flexibility, while remaining focused on quality.
I am asking for your help one more time.  Would you mind sending me some paying clients? I know it is a bit tough for everyone out there right now.  But, I think I might just not be barking up the right tree or something.  Rent is really late this month and my relationship with my roommate us really shaky right now.  Plus, my husband is going crazy because he is without his instruments for over 2 years now, which we had to sell in order to eat at the time. 
We have a food bank nearby and moved up to Vancouver, WA in January this year, in order to let the green heal us and it has done a great thing for us.  But, it is starting to look very grim and I don't want to crash and burn so far from family. 
Just a reminder, our rent and bills are only $615 per month.  I am willing to wait, but we are also down to paper towels for toilet paper.  Ultimately, I just need some traction, so we get enough together to buy an RV and buy my Husband's music and recording equipment back. I know you want to hear his art and it breaks my heart to see him this way.  He is so patient and loving.  If it were just me, I would just live in a shelter right now.  But, he wouldn't do well in there and would end up homeless, I just know it.

Thank you for listening!

If you or anyone else needs some help with their website, software or project management, please reach out to me anytime. My email is: tekNorah@tekAura.com or message me using the social links at the bottom of my about.me page.

If you think I'm awesome sauce and just want to donate, you can send me money directly via paypal.me/tekAura or subscribe for rewards on Patreon.

And if anyone needs help with money, please check out this website.  Who knows? Maybe your story will resonate.


Freelancing In A Nutshell

I never thought my first post on LinkedIn Pulse would be about a talent service. But, here I go. I have been a freelance software developer and project manager for almost 3 years. Yay?!

My biggest challenge on this journey has been finding clients that can afford to keep me interested. People love to work with me, not because I am a yes person, but because I am patient, friendly and a realist.

Unfortunately, this often results in clients that don't live up to my expectations. Often, these clients do not make essential decisions and/or do not provide essential information in order for me to provide the level of quality I have promised. So, I found myself transitioning from Independent Software Developer to Project Manager. Sufficient requirements gathering is hard. But, it also absolutely necessary for success.

This is where I hope toptal will fill in the gaps. I myself have thought about starting my own talent agency and/or creating a project management tool the freelancer/small business space. Honestly, I probably will still do it. But, I need to regain my lost capitol first. Toptal appears to be the most promising option on the market right now. Where many other freelance bidding platforms fail, toptal would succeed.
Job Bidding Simply Does not Work

Freelancer and Upwork is filled with employers who want to pay too little for quality work and in turn this attracts low-skilled workers who overpromise and underdeliver. Sound familiar to anyone?

Essentially, this system is flawed at its core. If you allow someone to ask for a logo for $5, they will do it and they will get bidders for $1 or $3. However, what guarantee do you have that the work is original? What if you get caught? Are you ready for a lawsuit over a $2 logo? I wouldn't want to be that person.

I mean, if you are willing to spend $600 on your iPhone, why can't you spend at least half of that on the logo that represents your brand, your reputation as a new business owner.

As a freelancer looking for legitimate work, I have bid on 1000's of jobs on these websites over the past couple years and none have ever turned out.
Barking Up the Wrong Tree

Ok, so, these leads are not a good match, right? Right. But, I still believe in the quality work and fair compensation in the freelancer community. Everyone knows that you are only as good as your next contract. Well, what if all contracts were good. No, what if they were great?!

Toptal's concept appears to addresses this issue. Not only do they screen their freelancers, but they also screen client contracts.

So, I applied today and I will continue to post about my Toptal experience as a freelance developer.

Don't let me down Toptal Web development community, don't let me down. I want to join your community.


Market Research for the Entrepreneur

Primary and Secondary market research are the two basic types of market research.  Secondary market research is available, often at little to no cost through Trade Associations, Public and Government resources.  This type of research is often performed first because it gives you a general sense of viability and feasibility within a particular market sector or geographic location.  Detailed census data, for instance, can tell you about the consumer's attitude and tendencies. Primary market research's purpose is to provide specific feedback on consumer interest in an offering.  It is important to be careful to use a method that is appropriate for your target market. As mentioned by Karen Plesner in Part II of her video, using online surveys are only useful if people are willing or able to fill out a survey.

It is often difficult to determine how valuable a particular research activity will be to your bottom line.  However, it is often the assumption that market research is worth its weight in Gold.  Most will determine a marketing budget, then spend as smartly as possible, creating a diversified plan that addresses the highest priority marketing activities first. As a start-up, it is a good idea for the entrepreneur to start by focusing on secondary market research in order to determine market saturation and identify competitors.  This research, in particular, should help to determine your initial offering, to include the four P's: Product, Price, Promotion & Place. If these estimates warrant further research, an entrepreneur should follow up with primary research activities in order to solidify these assumptions. Primary research activities should start before launch and continue as part of their iterative innovations in order to gain momentum and become sustainable in the chosen market sector.  The entrepreneur should think of secondary research as a way to discover and verify which target market with which you need to focus your primary research activities.

Market research is often perceived too expensive or difficult for the entrepreneur to perform on their own.  Due to this, there is a market for Market Research!  If you are fortunate enough to have venture capital before research activities are performed, you could subscribe or contract with a market research firm.  However, keep in mind, there are many free resources available to the entrepreneur.  There is no set dollar amount that represents a successful marketing strategy.  A start-up should be prepared to invest most, if not all of its available funds, after expenses, into market research activities during the initial phases. Every minute the entrepreneur uses on performing their own research also increases the company’s knowledge, which will tie directly into the attractiveness of the start-up to potential investors and clients.

Ultimately, the entrepreneur should perform marketing research prior to any direct advertising.  It is not only a waste of resources, but also very frustrating when you find out that your advertising efforts have fallen on deaf ears.

The above excerpt was an initial response to Week 1's Discussion Question in the Market Research for Entrepreneurs course at Full Sail University by Shannon "Norah" Medlin.


Norah's 2¢: 5 Reasons Why Receiving Is Harder Than Giving

Thank you for this soothing camaraderie.  Coming from an abusive childhood, I  have developed a deep disdain for narcissistic behavior.  So much, that at times, I have to fight hard against the association of guilt when receiving a gift.  Last year, I quit my Corporate job to


Norah's Notebook: Why Innovation does not belong in Corporate America

Since leaving the corporate grind last year (haha! I can say that now!) and restarting my Software Development firm, tekAura, I have come across many articles in the start-up community that keep on selling our secrets upstream.  The only saving grace is that I don't believe the corporate goons are capable of comprehending the underlying message. Anyone that has been a part of a corporate innovation initiative or two, or three hundred... you know what I mean!  It takes a unique kind of person to recognize the fallacy in these efforts.  After all the paper prizes and shiny internal disposable marketing packages, some of start wonder.... where is the change they keep talking about?  And one day, you stop, take a moment to look around and find yourself in a sea of drones, a sea of vacant button pushers.  Then you realize why everyone thinks you are nuts!  You make them look bad, you make them work harder.  Those people don't want to help, they don't believe they matter.  Why?  Because you have proven to them time and again they are worth less than the dirt from the smoking corner out in the parking lot.  So, no wonder you can't innovate.  You don't listen, you don't include, you don't care.  Whether because passion and drive is beaten out of you over the first 5 years of dedicated service or because you have given in to the executive bottom line requirements, management continues to struggle to translate your hidden agenda in actionable results on the cutting floor.  For this and many other reasons I will likely detail for the rest of my life, I was inspired to write the following comment on an article titled, Stop Stifling Entrepreneurs in Your Company:

Corporate environments have never and will never be truly interested in innovation.  While some, like Google and Pixar may carry the intention forward, there will always come a point, due to it's sheer mass, when the demands of production quantity exceeds quality.  If left to their own devices, Executives are much more interested in acquiring Entrepreneurship capital after most of the Research & Development activities have been completed, which is the most expensive part of any project.  They would much rather purchase a product during its maintenance phase and ride it until it retires, maintaining warranty contracts and neatly billable work hours.  Entrepreneurship is innately risky, most do not have the guts for it.  Even those of us that do are constantly seeking a formula for ensuring success.  It is this unique individual, this brave soul, who should and does rightly serve society well by being ahead of the curve and willing to release a project at its peak potential.  Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it...   More and more Entrepreneurs are leaving the Corporate facade for rough waters and choosing not to create a rapid business development portfolio that only adds superfluous layers to the start-up soup, but rather, build a small B2B firm.  These creative houses incorporate social responsibility into every project and drive true innovation within the economy.  The most sustainable ones stay small and flexible.

Year in Review & Future Ambitions

Every year, about this time, most humans on this earth participate in some form of the New Years Resolution. This peculiar ritual was practiced the ancient Babylonians, Romans and continues to be deeply entrenched in tradition for Christians, Jews and Catholics. Being born and raised, but, ironically, never baptised, by a strange mix of Christian denominations, I was free to extend my religious studies into many others.  And have since developed my personal belief system, which includes a form of this practice.

As a natural Engineer and Project Manager, I tend to contemplate a sort of casual postmortem.  Instead of simple list of things that I wish I would have done better, I tend to perform a more detailed analysis with several areas of incremental improvement.  Ironically, seldom do I write it down this internalization.  However, this year has been especially tumultuous and I find it helpful, if not necessary to post it here.

The year began halfway through our first year's lease at our current residence at Missions Springs Apartments in Tempe, AZ.  Working at University of Phoenix as a Technical Support Analyst for 2 1/2 years, I was growing cynical and tired of the dead end corporate world.  I had come to realize that no matter what feat of intellectual prowess or participation, I was left abandoned at the bottom of IT pit. The depth of despair plummeted as the middle of the year approached and I reached a certain logic that the corporate world was no longer the adventure that I had once hoped.

In June, my frustrations with destructive micro management had reached a peak.  With a prospective freelance contract on the horizon, I jumped ship and cashed in on my savings.  This extreme disgust propelled me to leave the corporate life behind permanently.  In preparation for this realized independence, I enrolled in the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Masters of Arts Degree at Full Sail University in September.  The program is extremely accelerated.  Each to be completed in only four weeks.  This week, I started my fourth course, Market Research for Entrepreneurs.  A more lengthy review of the program will be sure to follow.  However, for now, suffice it to say that quality education is determined by the student, not the faculty.

I ended up taking leave from the program for the month of December in order to focus on some contractual responsibilities, family and come up for air before plunging head long again into the chilly rugged rapids of the great river of Business.  Feeling prophetic in the coming of the New Year, I find myself wading in the calm pools between each challenging rapid.  I am reminded of a great movie, The Unsinkable Molly Brown. Those of us in the Molly Brown Fan Club love the rapids, we grunt and scream and cry, we persevere and hunker down and ride out the rough patches, to arrive on top, a hootin' and holler'n.

Ok, ok, enough of that... I think my cowgirl genes are peeking out... :)

Back to the subject at hand.... My plans, you ask?
 My ambitions, you are seeking?  Yes, well....

Besides all the selfish usual wishes and hopes to improve health, find time to play and move into a house (finally!!), in the spirit of Entrepreneurship, I would rather focus on mission and vision.

Without revealing too much of the boring detail, we are getting BIZ-aYY over here!!!  A comprehensive plan is about to launch, my friends.  This is a year of big changes.  Business ideas and plans are coming to fruition.  Our innovation engine is going to be taking a few thousand laps.  We are building revenue streams, creating new channels. Video channels, that is.  And networking, lots and lots of networking.  All of you that have paid attention, that have stuck with us and proven your worth.  We are soon to call upon your talents!  Lets build something significant, something to be proud of, something.... well, that just doesn't suck!