Weekly-ish notes on navigating big change

Month: November 2010

Confession: I love Christmas

Oh, it's not fashionable.

It's so much easier to HATE Christmas.

The commericalization.
The consumerism.
The obligations.
The unreachable expectations.

Yes, I can't stand those things.


It's my choice to partake in the consumerism.
It's my choice to fulfill obligations that I don't want to.
It's my choice to spend time with people I want to spend time with, to do the things I'd rather do, to set boundaries.

And when I choose right…

When I choose based on sanity and wholeness and boundaries and sovereignty…
When I respect other people by being  honest and kind…
I love the Christmas season.

Oh, I don't care a thing about the actual day.
What matters is the season. The festivity. The fun.

Christmas, when I choose it, is full of

rarely-seen friends
relaxed travel
crafting time
hot chocolate

But, here's the catch:

I have to choose.

To choose the spirit of generosity over consumerism.
To choose the peace instead of the obligations.
To choose the ease instead of the struggle.

And it's not easy to choose.

Sometimes it's not all the much fun (especially when others challenge my right to make my own decisions).

But it's still mine to choose.
And it's yours.

Want more survival tips? Check out the (free) Definitive Guide.

Sign up here to get more on surviving your business adventures, no matter the season.

Good Shtuff: Thanksgiving Sanity Edition

Good Shtuff is a weekly-ish look at what I’m reading and thinking about. This week, it’s all about tomorrow: Thanksgiving (for Americans) and the many ways the holidays can knock you around.

Don't Lose the sanity!

Family driving you crazy? Feeling the smoosh of peopletrafficmoneyACK? Fabeku's kit is the solution to all that. Seriously. Breathing stuff, sound stuff, being present stuff. I sound like an infomercial, I know…but that's because I LOVE it.
He's @fabeku on Twitter.

Permission to save your sanity

I was feeling a little overwhelmed trying to get everything for my trip while still doing all the usual emailing/twittering/etc and then I remembered this post by Charlie Gilkey.  When I break up my tasks into Create, Connect and Consume, I realize that, to make all the yarn for the show, I may just need to immerse myself in the Create stuff and move on to the Connect + Consume stuff a bit later. I don't recommend it long-term, but giving myself permission to slack on my reading + answering has helped ease the ack.
He's @CharlieGilkey.

Money Sanity

Travel, gifts, all the accoutrements of the holiday season are just waiting to pounce on your money sanity.  Briana's brilliant Money Balloon is how I'm hanging onto mine. This is a full-fledged, totally unscary tool for looking clearly at your personal money facts + planning for future money awesomeness.
She's @BrianaAldrich

What are you using to hold onto your sanity?

Short week

I woke up this morning feeling flustered. I leave for Seattle in less than two weeks and the list of things I want to do before I leave seems to be growing instead of shrinking.

And Thanksgiving is Thursday.
An entire day spent lounging around with family, without my wheel or computer nearby. I love it, but it's cramping my to do list.

And I still need to tell everyone that I'm going to be in Seattle + Portland.
And plan meet-ups.
And send yarn.

And and and.

And then I took a deep breath, took a sip of tea and remembered: I don't have to do it all.

I can get help with some of it (find out how you can help here).
I can skip some of it (my email is back to “answer only on Monday + Friday” status).
I can build my days the way I want (who says I need to stop spinning to make dinner?).
I can sink into the enjoyment of Thanksgiving, knowing that it will rejuvenate me.

So today, in keeping with what I sent in the SparklePointer, I'm taking the stress out.
I'm organizing my to-do-before Seattle list, baking bread, planning to be offline for the rest of the week, spinning yarn, teaching a class.
I'm doing what I can, when I can, knowing it will all somehow get done (it always does).

How are you taking it easy this week?

Gluten-free Thanksgiving

I know I don't write a lot about baking and food.
But I always mean to.

It's a big part of my life and the opportunity to bake whenever the mood strikes is one of my favoritist parts of being self-employed.

My inspiration in sharing is Shauna's gluten-free Thanksgiving baking extravaganza.
This weekend, I'll be updating this post with my gluten-free contributions to my Thanksgiving dinners (yes, plural). You can follow (in pretty much real-time) on Twitter (me or everyone with the tag #gfbakingchallenge).

The Recipes

Here's what I'll be baking from (with changes noted in each section):

Gingerbread cookies + pie crust
Cornbread casserole


Remember that I mentioned multiple meals? The first one is tomorrow with my family and the second is on the actual Thanksgiving, with Jay's ginormous family.

We have to travel to get to the actual Thanksgiving, so I'll need to make the stuffing that I'm taking at least a day in advance (refridgerate it and then bake it when the turkey comes out of the oven). Since the thing with Jay's family is HUGE, I don't want to take an untested recipe (especially since I'm not entirely sure it will hold up with making it so far in advance), I'm testing the recipe this weekend for my mom's meal (you'll note, I don't mind serving her an untested recipe!).

All that to say: I made the stuffing this morning, but I'll be making it again this Wednesday. We'll see how this turns out.


I followed Shauna's recipe pretty much exactly except:

  • I started with Bob's Red Mill Wonderful White Bread. It's a mix that is so simple to make. I bake a loaf nearly every week and it's my toast, my sandwich bread, my everything.

Sauteeing for stuffing

  • I only had one loaf, which was plenty, because I'm the only one that has to be eating this stuffing (at both Thanksgivings, there'll be a big, platter of glutenous, meat-filled stuffing).
  • To the meat-filled point, I used veggie stock instead of chicken stock.
  • Since I had less bread, I used slightly less stock (maybe 3/4 of a cup).

This is what it looked like as it went into the fridge. Tomorrow I'll put a picture of here of how it looked baked (and how it tasted).


I'm using this recipe, only for the gingerbread.

I'm using the dough to make a crust that my mom will fill with her cooked-down-pumpkin + spices mixture tomorrow.


The changes I made it were simply because I don't have the 500 kinds of flours it calls for. Here are my substitutions:

30 g buckwheat flour = 30 g sorghum flour (I had it on hand, I have no idea if it's an appropriate substitution)
30 g teff flour = 30g amranth (I had it, it seemed properly hearty)
50 g sweet rice flour = 50 g brown rice flour


Oh, and I used only 1/4 tsp of pepper instead of 3/4 because, well, I just don't want peppery cookies.

And that's the great thing about this recipe: it made enough for a pie crust (pictures tomorrow!) and enough for a few cookies.

To bake the cookies, I rolled out little balls, rolled them in sugar, baked them until they looked done (I was pressing out the pie crust and lost all sense of time…I might have overbaked them a smidge). Delicious!

Cornbread Casserole

Tomorrow morning I'm making a casserole like my grams used to make: cornbread dough (I'll use this, but she used the jiffy box) + one can creamed corn. Stirred all together and cooked for 30 minutes it is DELICIOUS. Just the right amount of corny-ness, but bready enough that it doesn't feel like a vegetable.

More about how it goes tomorrow.

Got Questions?

Just a quick note to let you know I'll be answering your questions, celebrating your successes and just generally hanging out for about an hour on Twitter at Noon ET today.

Ask your questions and get to know other crafters + business-minded by putting #craftybiz in your tweet and following along here. If you're new to Twitter this is a great way to meet people and get the hang of it.

See you there!

Good Shtuff – Businessy smarts edition

Good Shtuff is a weekly-ish look at what I’m reading and thinking about. This week, it’s all bussiness-y smarts.

Emblematic smarts

I love what Lean is doing here: testing an idea by offering it for free. Get an “embelem” for your business, for FREE, right here. Seriously. Awesome.

Do it all smarts

Leonie is my business guru. Everything she does is shiny and sparkly and awesome and hilarious and smart. Especially when it comes to explaining why you can totally do lots of different things in your business.

Confusion smarts

Business is simple. Except when it's confusing. Sometimes you don't need MORE specifics, you need to sit with the confusion. Mark says it best:

“If you’re willing to take the time needed with the concepts, not rush too fast and furious, then it all begins to click. Suddenly the relationship between your heart, your business and your clients makes sense.”

You can read more of his smarts here.

One on one smarts

Like Mark says above: Your biz doesn't need a one-size-fits-all solution, it needs personal work and learning and growing.
Which is why I do one-on-one work: so you and I can look at your business (or dream of a business) and decide what it needs more of (and what it needs less of). We bring clarity and focus, giving it time to soak in.
Even though I just announced that I'm scheduling into January and it's already filling up, you can see if it's right for you, here.

One step forward

Last week I sent this as an email to my SparklePointer people. I got so many responses saying “This was exactly what I needed to hear! Thank you!“, that I've decided to share it here. I hope you find it encouraging!


While we've been talking about holiday planning, I've gotten several messages from you saying you're not there yet….but you really hope to make 2011 the year you start your business, or grow it into income-generating support.

I love these messages because it tells me that you are right on the cusp of the Doing.

Wait, let's back up.
In my experience with crafty businesses (or, really, any business), there's often a looong period of time where you consider selling what you make. In this stage you may even take some “steps” like signing up for etsy, listing a few things with hastily taken photos, or starting a blog (or maybe a whole string of un-updated blogs).
You think. You dream.

This is an important stage. But this is not a business.

The next stage is Plotting.
It's different for different people. For me, it involved a crazy amount of research (mostly business books) and writing down every idea I had. For others, it involves sending emails to people who might help (like me!). Or reading the Etsy forums. Or finding some blogs.
The difference between this stage and the first?


At this point, you know, that you WILL do this sell-what-you-make thing. You will.
You may not know how. Or when. But something has shifted.
It's real.
But it's still not a business.

This plotting may eventually lead to Doing.
This is the stage where you make it happen.

If you hang out in the plotting stage too long, doubt will creep in.
Is it real?
Is it possible?

Stay in this doubt too long and you slip back into the Thinking stage.
Everything seems too hard. Too confusing. Too out-of-your-range.

So how do you move from Plotting to Doing?
By making one decision.
A decision to commit.
When you turn that Surety in your heart into something tangible.

The decision can be anything.
But it must involve investing in your business (investing = risking time or money or your comfort on something that will yield returns).
It can be signing up for a class.
It can be DOING what you learned from a blog post, a class, a friend.
It can be getting one-on-one help + gentle accountability.

Anything that you can look at when doubt seeps in and say “No, this isn't just a dream, I AM doing it.

(Note: Afraid of moving to Doing too soon? Think you need more Plotting before you commit? Be reassured: you will ALWAYS be plotting.  You never stop Plotting. I've been Doing my yarn biz for 4 years and I'm still Plotting and changing and experimenting. )

While the new year, the year of you moving from Plotting to Doing is still over a month away, I wanted to get you thinking about this. Wanted to remind you that you don't have to stay the Thinking or Plotting stage.

You can move forward.

I want you to move forward in the way that is right for you, whether you use my classes or blog or one-on-one help or not.

If you do think that what you need to move forward is focus and prioritization, I'm now scheduling personal helpfulness through January. If you'd like more information about how I can help you get some clarity with the next stage (or just help you from slipping back), let me know here (you can tell me a bit about your biz, real or imagined or just send a blank note) and I'll send you the information.

If this isn't what will help you move forward, then I'd like to encourage you to find what will work.

And remember: experimentation is a good thing.
Try one small thing. Try another.
It's only business 🙂

Wishing you a weekend full of thinking, plotting and doing,


If you're here from Scoutie Girl Welcome! We've been talking about planning all month: planning for money, planning for sanity, remembering that we're just fine, even if we haven't planned.

Worried about your holiday crafting? Today I share some thoughts on planning it in a mindful way, over at Scoutie Girl.

I struggled to write all day.

I feel antsy, distracted, constantly checking my email, twitter, etc ad nauseum. Now it's 2:24 and I'm writing long after I'm usually done and then *bing* I remembered.

Just yesterday, in our #withlimits twitter chat (good advice there, even if you didn't take the class), we talked about scheduling in breaks. Taking the time to remember to drink water, stretch, walk around.

As soon as I remembered, I stood up.
I'm in a crowded coffeeshop, so I walked over to a slightly-less public place and strettttched. I'm sure I'm now the weird pink-haired girl who stretches wonkily, but hey, my head cleared.

Then I went up to the coutner and ordered a water.
I was self-consious (even though I already bought my coffee), but I noticed the feeling. Realized it wasn't so horrible to keep me from actually getting the free water.

I remembered that Heidi calls that anxious, antsy part the puppy. As with any puppy, you need to talk it on a walk. Feed and water it. Play with it.

And here I am.
Writing. With something to write about!
My point (and I do have one!) is that maybe what's missing is a break.

Start small (streeeetch! yawwwwn!) and add on.

Grab a water.
Make some tea.
Take a nap.

I promise, it'll help.

Good Shtuff – Relationships Edition

Good Shtuff is a weekly-ish look at what I'm reading and thinking about.  This week, it's all about relationships: with customers, family and limits.

At your service

Just last week I was overwhelmed with a helpful urge and put out the call on Twitter:

How can I help? Ask me anything!

I love the people I got to know over the next hour, so I was delighted to read Jonathan Field's experiment with the same helfpful spirit. Inspired by this post, I'll be offering my help at least once a day, all week.
He's @jonathanfields.

At home

While helping everyone build the craft business they want is a huge priority for me, my marriage is even more important. I really appreciated this clear-eyed look from IttyBiz at prioritizing relationships for the self-employed.


The relationships in our lives can serve as catalysts and as limits. Recognizing those limits (and figuring out a way to work WITH it) will help you avoid the frustration of smacking into them unwittingly. We'll be talking about all forms of limits in today's class and there's a few hours left to join.

What have you been reading this week?

It’s ok

It's safe to say that I am more excited about the Holiday Sanity program (and all you creative smart people who are joining me) than I am about actually doing the planning. Which is why I invited you to keep me (and each other)accountable. This afternoon is where it all starts, but before we get going, I just needed a little reminder:

With all this talk of holiday planning, it may overwhelm you.
I know it does me.
I finally filled out my own mini-guide (yeah, I shared it with you just to convince MYSELF to do it!) and then all I wanted to do was nap.

And so today, it seems important to know: you don't have to do everything.
You don't have to be perfectly planned.
Or have life balance.
Or know what's going on.
It's ok, just as you are.

Whether you have a family, or an illness, or just stress.
Staying on top of it all, seeming perfect, having your stuff together.
That's not the goal.

The goal (or at least, my goal) is to notice.
To interact with the stuff that comes up, instead of ignoring it and hoping it all works out.
To get help when I need it.
To rely on my community.

This is just a friendly reminder that wherever you are, with your business, with your holiday planning, with your life is exactly where you're supposed to be.
And I'm so glad that you're there. And here.

(If you do have life-stuff that makes you worry you can't run a biz, check out tomorrow's class with Kirsty Hall, about working Within Limits)

1 2