guy opening shirt“C’mon, hustle up!” yelled the coach. Ugh. I hate hustling up, I thought. I was a 7-year old kid who wanted to watch airplanes fly overhead instead of playing left field, so hustling was not exactly my forté. 

While my history with the word “hustle” may not be the same as anyone else’s, it definitely turns off a lot of people. Maybe it’s all those gangster movies where somebody’s always suspicious of being “hustled,” or it’s the image of that skeevy guy who’s always hustling his friends to get in on whatever questionably crappy venture he has going this week.

Safe to say that the word “hustle” carries some icky connotations. Which is why I hate using it. These days, when I picture somebody who’s “hustling,” I think about those guys on instagram posting pictures of themselves in a private jet or next to a tricked-out Lamborghini. Or both at the same time. Do they really fly in private jets sipping champagne every day? We don’t really know, but they are hustling, so… maybe? The idea seems to be that if you’re not hustling (while leaning on a bright yellow Italian sports car), you’re probably shooting heroin on the couch, binging every season of Duck Dynasty. It seems that you’re a failure if you’re not hustling.

Sometimes it seems that everyone who “hustles” automatically craves private jets and impractical race cars. When you finally get your Level 5 Hustle Badge then woa! It’s a set of toned abs and a pair of $1,000 designer sneakers. I don’t want to know what’s waiting for me in level 6.

Can we stop the hustle train? I want to get off.

Now “rustle up” sounds really good, like we’re going to rustle up some grub. I like to eat, like, a lot, so rustling I can totally get behind.

I have an alternative to the hustle. Let’s cancel hustling altogether and start talking about passion and community. Let’s go back to doing those things we love because we love doing them and they sustain us – spiritually and yes, of course, financially.

Hustling sucks. Hustling feels like keeping up with the Joneses. Hustling is McMansions,  Tony Robbins and his n’ hers Hummers in the driveway. And aren’t we over all that by now? Okay, but can we be over it?

Instead of thinking you need to be hustling all the time, ask yourself some simple questions.

What are you happy with in your life? What do you want to change? What things are you seeking that are someone else’s idea of success and not your own?

There are no wrong answers, unless they’re someone else’s answers. You. do. you.

I know you probably want to earn more money. Maybe you’ve tried some online programs, maybe you feel stuck in a full time job that’s not fulfilling you, possibly you’re finding yourself suddenly unemployed with kids at home. You’re looking for a side gig. You need money and you want to feed your soul.

It’s totally possible. The answer to achieving those two things may not look like anything you’ve ever seen, or anyone else has seen, and especially not something advertised online as the “right” solution for everyone. That’s because it has to be designed by you, for you.

The first step is to cancel the word hustle. Don’t participate. Stop hustling. Go ahead and delete it from your vocabulary, unless you’re streaming a Paul Newman film. You can get the things you really want and create the life you want to live without the pressure of hustling.

Take a few deep breaths and think about what a happy, successful life looks like to you.

I think that when you see it, and you keep it in your mind, you’ll automatically start moving towards it. And yeah, you’re going to have to work hard. Just forget the hustle.

Rustle it up.

1930s hair dryer

Guess what that is. It’s a hair dryer from the 1930s. Isn’t it swell? Back then it seems like household objects were designed specifically so they could also look good hanging on a wall. Which is what I did in 2008. I created wall art using the retro hair dryer and painted cardboard. It was cool, then we moved and I never got around to recreating the piece.

I was reminded of the wall art when I cleaned up the screen print studio this past week. I’ve been meaning to take on that project for several years, but print jobs kept getting in the way. Not bad for an excuse to avoid cleaning. I’ll take it.

The recent CoronaVirus Stay-at-Home orders (suggestions?) have meant that the screen printing business has slowed down quite a bit. But it also brought me a gift in the form of time. While the printing business took a breather, I was suddenly staring at a studio filled with old rags, boxes, dirty screens, dirty presses and dirty, hoarded art stuff like that hair dryer. I was also fresh out of the excuses I used up in March like, “Somebody might have commented on my twitter post!” With no twitter friends to save me, I faced reality and picked up the broom.

It actually turned out to be super cathartic. Aside from the aforementioned hoarder hair dryer, I found lots of other useful things I can use (uh, fishing line?). Besides sifting through old junk and breaking down boxes, I also created a new water filtration system. It reclaims water from the studio, filters it, and runs outside to water our roses.

This is your brain on stay-at-home.

I have more to do. And it sure would be great to have the presses running again. But the experience brought me a sense of newness, like refreshing my browser and seeing images show up again. The business is refreshed. I’m refreshed. I feel like we’ll be ready to go when things start opening up again.

I know that it’s going to be different from here on out. It’s never going to be 1938 with super arty hair dryers ever again and it’s never going to be like it was before “social distancing.” In many ways, that’s a good thing.

This little interlude has woken up my brain to new ideas for the business that I think will help diversify our offerings so we’re not just depending on print orders. I’m actually pretty excited about the future.

Have you had any breakthrough experiences lately? I want to hear from you! Add a comment below, or send me email at dj at littlesidegig dot com.

Create. Feed. Share. We need you right now.

David Lee Roth jumping

I get up, and nothin’ gets me down

You got it tough, I’ve seen the toughest around

And I know, baby, just how you feel

You got to roll with the punches and get to what’s real

– Jump, Van Halen

If the current Unpleasantness® has accomplished anything, it’s that it has put the whole world on a level playing field. No one is immune to the virus. No one is immune to the financial issues that COVID-19 has brought on. Of course some can weather it better than others (looking at you, David Geffen), but even yachts have to be restocked with toilet paper and it’s possible those people are tearing up perfumed copies of Cosmo like the rest of us.

We’re into week… something-or-other of Safer At Home, or as I like to call it, I Was Already At Home Anyway But I Used To Have More Peanut Butter.

My own businesses have been, let’s say paused for the moment. While I still have a stack of hoodies to print from a previous order, new orders are on hold for the moment. We do have clients who need stuff, but they are being cautious with their budget.

It’s okay. I’m cleaning up the shop, printing existing stuff and I’m building a new water filtration system, which I have wanted to do for a long time. Our used water is going to keep our rose garden blooming through summer. We’ll come out of this even more sustainable than before. Smelling like roses, even.

In early March, I was getting ready to launch a new book. Hmm. Well, I could go ahead with my launch (no one is stopping me) but I have a feeling that most people are not paying attention to that kind of thing right now. Even if I launched, I’m pretty sure my results would be skewed because of the COVID-19 chaos. I wouldn’t really know if sales (high or low) were a result of the fun times we’re experiencing.

So I’ll wait. It’s okay. It’s ready and I can move on it when the time is right.

One thing I refuse to do is stop creating and sharing.

This is a unique time, for sure. It also offers opportunities for all of us. Whether we are self-employed, newly working from home, or just got laid off, we have opportunities.

If you are self-employed, I feel ya on the slowdown. I’m in the foxhole right next to you. Maybe we can share our resources and come out of this even stronger.

If you are new to working at home, with kids constantly texting you pizza emojis from the other room, I get it. I’ve been working from home for over 12 years (as a homeschooling parent, no less). It’s not you, it’s just the way it works sometimes. Cut yourself some slack.

If you have suddenly found yourself unemployed, I’m sorry. I really am. If I could hug you, I would. I know that’s likely your number one priority right now, finding work – a full time job in itself. And I know it can be hard to get creative when you’re scared about the future.

In case you might think that I don’t understand how unemployment works, I’ve been down that road more than once. I know what it’s like to avoid the phone, dread checking the mail or even looking your apartment manager in the eye. I’ve written about it before.

But I know in my heart and from my own experience that we always have opportunities. Right now we have the opportunity to be generous with each other. We have the opportunity to take stock in what we have. We even have the opportunity to be optimistic about our future, even if it doesn’t feel pragmatic at the moment.

I urge you to do something to feed your soul, in spite of the drama swirling around us. Be creative in whatever way is right for you. Make something good, even if it’s just for you.

Feed the world with good things, fun things, weird things. Drown out the gloomy voices in your head with loud singing. Make something yummy and share it. If you’re reading this, you’re alive. You have something to offer. Someone needs your light right now.

Ow oh, hey you

Who said that?

Baby, how you been?

You say you don’t know

You won’t know until you begin

Might as well jump.

And Why We Need a Little Billy Ocean Right Now

As I write this, we are several weeks into self-isolation around the globe. The coronavirus pandemic has put the entire world into weirdsville. I almost never use the word collectively, but in this case it fits. Collectively, we are all feeling much of the same fears and anxieties, not to mention dealing with our own personal versions of isolation.

Right now we need to realize that whatever we’re feeling is cool. If we’re angry or anxious, we need to acknowledge that. If we’re feeling generally upbeat, we should allow that to happen without guilt. Our feelings are going to change throughout the day and over the course of the next few months. It’s part of being human and it’s totally normal that we feel what we feel.

Maybe you don’t want to feel angry or anxious. I sure don’t, but sometimes there it is. Hi there, feelings. Now go away, I’m trying to make a sandwich. 

Since we can’t just swipe left on our bad feelings, there are a few things we can do to get into a new set of feelings that we like better. Here are a few things I’ve been doing lately to change things around for myself:

Get Outside

Before March happened, I would run or walk in my neighborhood. It helps me think, relaxes me, and as a bonus my heart tubes won’t clog up like a sewer drain full of baby wipes. So I’ve continued my routine like nothing has changed. I don’t encounter anyone closer than twenty feet, so we’re all safe.

Seeing the sky, trees, dogs, and waving hello at neighbors has been a huge boost for my overall outlook. This morning there was a woman walking around our ‘hood with a giant steaming mug of something. Just walking. Drinking. Being alive. Sometimes that’s enough.

Get Creative

I know. Getting creative sounds awesome if you’re all happy and feeling it. If you feel like crap, how the hell is that supposed to magically happen?

For me, getting creative can mean doodling. Working on my Rubik’s Cube solve time (I’m under three minutes now). Folding paper into little cranes. Writing blog posts like this one. Working on my side gigs.

Maybe you can’t imagine getting into Picasso mode and pooping out a masterful painting right now, but that’s okay. Making a sandwich and getting artful with the mustard might just work fine.


Speaking of sandwiches (I think I’m hungry, are you getting that?), cooking can be a super mood lifter. My wife has been throwing herself into new sourdough creations and old savory standbys lately. It feeds her soul and we all benefit (which is also why I need to keep to my running schedule). 

You don’t have to whip up a masterchef-level meal. Just make something yummy and easy and put some love into it.


I admit that I have never been a fan of the Facebook. I’ve hopped in and out over the years, mostly to admin my business page (because it’s a marketing sin not to have one). Personally, I hate getting caught up in the politics and, currently, the depressing news of the day.

Recently, I’ve changed my outlook on Facebook. I’ve purposefully set out to get on there and just connect with people, new friends and old. Commenting positively or with jokes (a lot of my comments are engineered to make beverages squirt out your nose) is one thing I can do that also helps others. I’ll DM connections just to say hi and ask how they’re doing. I scroll right past the negative posts and don’t spend any time on them (or at least I try, I don’t always win at that game). 

For the most part, connecting on social media and through email has been super positive these days. Just knowing that other people are out there, waving at each other online helps.

What Billy Ocean Said

The world is never going to be the same. When the pandemic is over, we are all going to be living in a new society with new ways of working and living. That’s not all bad. We’ll come out the other side stronger and hopefully more connected to each other.

One of my favorite mood-lifting songs is, not surprisingly, from 1985. It’s got motivation, a danceable beat and the video has three celebs as backup singers with killer moves. I double dog dare you to not get a little boost in your outlook.

“I’m gonna put this dream in motion, never let nothing stand in my way.  When the going gets tough, the tough get going. I’m gonna get myself ‘cross the river, that’s the price I’m willing to pay.” – Billy Ocean, When the Going Gets Tough (the Tough Get Goin’)

The cool thing is, we don’t need to wait for a global pandemic to do any of this stuff. Any time we feel anxious or sad or just not feeling much at all, we have stuff we can try.

I wish you all the best during this time and after. If this post was helpful to you, please share it with friends. Also, come hang out with me on twitter.

Photo by Mikayla Mallek on Unsplash

This week hasn’t started out like we all thought it would. Things have been escalating pretty quickly and none of us were prepared for how this would play out.

Jenni and I are extremely fortunate in that we’re used to this routine. We already work from home and we homeschool our 12-year old. Yeah, we’re those people. No, we don’t bring prune and hemp bars to parties or hand out little end-of-the-world pamphlets at the bar, but admittedly we are outside the norm.

I know you’re dealing with a lot of shit right now that you’re not used to. Maybe you’re not exactly sure how this whole working from home thing is supposed to be done. Your company probably wasn’t prepared for that, either. Do you wear pants during video conferences? Do you still shower every day? Maybe you’re stuck somewhere between what’s the proper protocol and how much can you get away with?

I know, let’s throw kids home from school every day into the mix! Yay! It’s like a snow day that seems like it will never end. Schools weren’t really set up for this situation, either. So now all they want to do is play Minecraft and watch Frozen and you feel like crap because you really should be helping them get an education but you still aren’t even sure how to use Zoom or Slack for work.

And let’s not even mention that you bought everything you needed for the next 2 weeks except extra peanut butter and it’s the ONE THING that would make the day seem slightly more sane.

Deep breath. 

This sucks. You are not alone. You are going to get through this.

It may help you to know that as homeschoolers (technically “unschoolers” to pile on a little extra weirdness), we aren’t always getting it right, either. We do our best but we still have to wrestle the kid away from YouTube sometimes. He’s 12. He doesn’t always want to read the stuff we assign him or work on the project he started (ironically, he was working on a thing about the Black Plague. heh). Some days are tough. Some days are easy.

Forgive yourself.

This situation is nowhere close to normal, so don’t try so hard to make it that way. Let it be weird and unpredictable and not ideal.

Do your best to get through the day, figure out your own work routine. The kids are not going to miss out on Harvard because they spent a week at home without an established curriculum. Don’t try to replicate the experience of sitting in a chair and being attentive for 8 hours a day.

Forgive yourself.

Do what you can to stay healthy, stay sane and make sure the house doesn’t burn down. If you can do that over the next eight weeks, you’re doing an amazing job.

And hey. If you need to unload or ask a question or whatever, reach out. I’m @workathomedj on twitter, or you can send me an email: dj at workathomegeek dot com.