Work-life balance for the perpetually busy: Join my Circle

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Before you read this, you should go learn about Creative Coast Circles from the other two charter hosts, Andy Cabistan and Casey Herrington.

Look, we all struggle from "busyness." We're all employees or employers or entrepreneurs or parents or husbands or wives or children or siblings or, more likely, some combination of all of those things. We all need sleep, exercise, food and a bunch of other things for healthy living.

Before you get mad about being asked to do one more thing, remember the old Zen proverb, "You should sit in silence for twenty minutes a day, unless you are too busy, in which case you should sit in silence for two hours."

On the second Wednesday each month at 1 p.m., I will host a Circle at Gallery Espresso, on the southeast corner of Chippewa Square in Savannah. We'll limit the group to seven participants, and we're willing to be flexible on the time and location after a few meetings, BUT understand that The Creative Coast requires commitment for this: you must attend each month.

We'll discuss things like routines, understanding the difference between important and urgent and in general flush out how everyone deals with the everyday challenges of being able to enjoy your life.

Our first meeting will be August 10. Fill out this form to RSVP. Hope to see you there.

Know what you’re good at, know what you’re bad at

Last week at our local 1 Million Cups event, we heard from Ted Dennard of Savannah Bee Co..

The company has been around for a while now, and has grown greatly thanks to Dennard being willing to step back and admit what he's not good at. This is him:

A photo posted by Savannah Bee (@savannahbeeco) on

Dennard told us he graduated college with a degree in religion and philosophy, and went on to become a beekeeper. "Is there any money in that?" people would ask him at networking events. "Now that you mention it, no!" he'd reply.

So he started bottling honey. And making labels. And putting labels on the bottles. And fulfilling orders. And then remembering to get his bees to the right place for the one week a year they could make honey from tupelo, or another place for the week a year they could make honey from sourwood or whatever else.

And then he bought a giant warehouse, and the bank gave him $150,000 to fix it up. He didn't realize that amount of money goes very quickly.

When the company started to grow, Dennard realized he couldn't do everything. So he went back to the stuff he knows well, and hired a CEO.

Savannah Bee now has five owned-and-operated retail stores and has products (honey, honeycomb, honey-based products like lip balm and lotion, and mead) distributed all over. The company recently landed a seasonal distribution deal with Target for this year, so look for products wherever you are.

All this growth over the past ten to fifteen years because Dennard knew he was good at beekeeping and bad at business. Remember to take stock of where you are, and not only what you need to improve, but whom you need, as well.

Gribble House


Six-year-old Thelma says hello to us at Gribble House.

In 1909, a triple ax murder took place at the downtown Savannah home of Eliza Gribble. The crime was never really solved. Just before she died, one of the victims said her husband, JC Hunter, did it, and he was tried and convicted, but then had his death sentence commuted to life in prison and he was later pardoned.

It seems Hunter walked with a cane and was in his 60s. You'd think one of the three victims could have gotten away.

The house was torn down at some point in the 1940s or '50s to make room for a warehouse, which still stands on that spot and is used for things like parking and charging Segways for tours.

And at night, the building opens for the Gribble House paranormal experience. It's no ordinary ghost tour.

First, you sit in a welcome room, where your guide for the night plays you some of the recordings made during some visits, and then you see a video from the show "Ghost Adventures."

You're next invested with a flashlight, an AM transmitter, which apparently ghosts can manipulate, a K-II meter, an infrared thermometer and another sensor that lights up "when a presence is nearby" and "can be manipulated by a presence blinking the lights" — I'm putting that in quotes, because, well, I don't know what the actual science is and I don't know what this device was originally created for.

The guide brings you around to the places you're likely to find a presence, and lets you explore for an hour or so. Our K-II meters didn't do much of anything, but the other device lit up quite a few times, and we got some interesting audio out of the transmitter (hear a snippet at the top of the post).

Overall, it was fun. If you're in town, go enjoy the experience. And then you can walk down the street to Lulu's Chocolate Bar, where you can get something to eat or drink, like, say, a piece of pecan pie with some homemade caramel pecan ice cream.

Rest, recover


This is how I feel today. [credit]

Those of you who know me personally know it has been a wild-n-crazy month for the Shear family.

On the night of Nov. 4, tenants signed a lease on our house in Central New York under the condition that they could take possession at 4 a.m. on Nov. 17, which means we had to be out Nov 16. That means we had to pack up and clean a house, plan movers and find a place to go in 11 days (they signed after 8 p.m. and we were going to have leave early on the 16th, so we didn't even get that 12th day).

We got a 24-foot rental truck and a trailer for one of our cars. I drove the truck, Jenny drove my minivan behind. We pulled out at 11 a.m. on the 16th, drove to a hotel in Harrisburg, Pa., that night, where I worked a full shift, met some folks from work in the morning (we all work from our various residences, so it's always cool when we get to meet each other), and then hit the road again for a 10-hour drive to Charlotte. The next day, we pulled into my parents' place in CHarleston, S.C., and promptly collapsed before waking up and heading to Savannah to unload all our stuff into a storage unit.

That was Nov. 19, and the next day, we rested.

On Nov. 21, we began our search for housing, keeping in mind we had a 2-hour commute each way from Charleston and I had to be at work at 6 p.m. We made the trip six times in eight days leading up to Thanksgiving.

On Monday of this week (Dec. 1), we signed a lease on a house in the Georgetown section of Savannah. On Tuesday, the electricity went on and yesterday they turned on the water. We're hoping to only have to take another trip or two down before we won't have to return to Charleston except to visit.

We're blessed and grateful to have the kind of family that says, "Hey, you need to take over a small room in the house for a few weeks? Go ahead!" We're also really happy to be able to settle into our own space and start putting the house back together soon.

But today, we rest. It's really important, actually. Your body wasn't meant to go hard 16-20 hours a day for weeks on end. It was designed to do some work, recover, do more work, recover, do some more work, and recover.

Over the next couple of months, as we get embedded into a new community and, let's face it, a new culture, expect there to be some community-building posts and some stuff I discover about the city, which has a very interesting history.

About a book: Savannah, or, A Gift for Mr. Lincoln by John Jakes

If you've not been to the city of Savannah, Georgia, I can't recommend it enough. It's antebellum south – that is, it was built before the Civil War, and it's progressing in the small business and craft movement. The original city was built on a grid around a series of squares – in-neighborhood parks – that range in size from a couple of live oak trees with a half dozen benches to Forsyth at the south, with a fountain and a theater space and a cafe and plenty of space to run, play some pickup soccer or what have you.

It has a river running through it (the convention center is on the opposite bank from much of the old city, and a ferry will swing you across so you don't need to drive the bridge back and forth), and most of its eastern suburbs are islands.

Literary novelist John Jakes writes a lot of historical fiction, and his Savannah is such a book. It takes place around Christmas, 1864, as Sherman is marching from Atlanta, torching cities along the way, headed for Charleston via Savannah (Charleston, S.C., is about an hour and a half up the freeway – they would have approached by water). Its protagonists are a 12-year-old girl and 14-year-old boy; he heads to the front lines, she is a rebellious sort – the kind of rebel who kicks a Yankee in the shin and runs off yelling, "I don't care if I just kicked Sherman himself!" When, in fact, she did.

The book includes some personal exploration as regards slavery, lots of Yankee-Rebel relationships and, of course, there's war, thievery and Christmas.

My favorite historical bit, though, was something about Christmas. By the 1860s, Christmas was starting to become more popular, but the most conservative people still considered a slave holiday, instead exchanging gifts on New Year's Day. Stores were non-committal, selling "holiday" gifts instead. Sound familiar?

It's a very fast, easy read, and my local library appears to have plenty of Jakes' stuff on its shelves, so I'll be reading more this year.