Weekly-ish notes on navigating big change

Month: August 2012

The Adventures

The view


TARDIS swatch :: airport :: river :: mountains :: Redwoods :: ocean :: bridge


Mega Exciting!

Tomorrow I'll be in teaching a workshop on finding your Right People in Seattle. If you haven't bought your ticket yet, DO IT! I can not WAIT to meet you and hang out! Party Time! Excellent! (huh?)

The finds:

  • Confession: sometimes I get so wrapped up in working (I love you guys!) I totally forget to eat. Here's an article with scientific PROOF that I should be eating breakfast. Consider me chastised.
  • While we're talking about mornings, did you read this about the things the most productive people do each morning? (Me? I write this here blog + articles for clients, then email, then editing.)
  • During my trip, I've been reading The President's Club, a fascinating look at the personal relationships between past presidents. Interesting enough that I didn't even grip the armrests during my three flights.



That's it for my adventures this week, how about yours?

The Map is Not the Territory

Last week I was talking to  a map-maker and she said, You know, that goal I set, the endpoint for the map, it just doesn't fit anymore.

The map is not the territory.
Although maps are so vital to planning where you want to go, they're not the same thing as real life. Building your business, meeting your goals, exploring the world, it looks nothing like you thought it would.
Even if you crafted a really excellent, detailed map.
Even if you created it based on experience, and wisdom, and you thought we were traversing the same forest you've already been in.

Nope. The map you make is very different from the experience you have.

And that's a good thing!
The map is a guide, it's a starting point.
But the territory, the actual reality of moving towards your goals, that's the good stuff. That's growth and learning and adventure.

So if you made a map and set a goal and now you're only 1/3 of the way through it, and you look around, and you say, What the what? That's ok.
No, it's perfect! Because you are finally out of your head, off the page and on the real path.

You haven't done anything wrong, you've just learned more. So take out your map and edit it. Add in the rocks you didn't know were there. Build a bridge over that raging river. Take a side trip to refuel.

Whatever you learn from the territory: use it. Apply it to your map.

Or maybe you need a whole new map with a whole new endpoint. Maybe you realized halfway there that there is not where you really want to be. That's ok too! Find a picnic table, right there in the middle of your real life and make a new map.

(I totally stole this phrase from Alfred Korzybski. When I read it, I couldn't believe how totally it reflected map-makers experience!)


For more map-making inspiration, see Melissa's, Amy's, or Kristine's.


The best insurance policy

The best insurance policy is your well-loved community + your best-work products.

I've been convinced of this for a long time, but last week I had a chance to help prove it.

You see, Starship Captain Heather had a bad week. A really terrible week where she learned that her son was going to need to have emergency surgery. Far away. And there were about a zillion extra costs that go with traveling unexpectedly…not to mention all the extra stress of, you know, SURGERY for your child!

During our weekly Starship chat, she shared this with us (and I'm only sharing it here wit her permission) and she started talking about getting a day job.

Wait, I interrupted. Don't you need the money right away? Isn't this, like, an emergency? Won't a day job just take way too long to give you any cash even if you could land one this afternoon? 

Yes. Absolutely. 

Then let's focus on what you have right now, the resources around you to alleviate some of this stress.

You see, Heather isn't just a mom and a completely hilarious knitter. She's also a podcaster, a book author, a knitwear designer, and, oh, about a zillion other things. She's the patient soul who edited my book. She's created and given away her podcast  for free since 2006, and so she's created a community of people who know her, love her and want so much for her to keep making podcasts. (Her podcast is reading classic stories, so you can enjoy them while your hands and eyes are busy with your knitting!)

So there are her resources: A community that she's already generously given to, that she's created with hard work, and zillions of conversations, and squillions of friendly emails. And a host of products that people love and want to buy.

All that's missing was the link, so that's what we talked about in the rest of the chat. How she could link up the community with her products, in a way that felt good to her. She didn't want to ask for handouts. She didn't want to feel gross about it, or turn people off.

And she didn't need to. I knew (even if she felt funny about it) that people love her and want to support her, but she has to give them the chance. 

And so she did. Just a simple blog post explaining the situation and then collecting the many ways people could help while also getting something they really do want.

And the response has been breathtaking.

It's not just that people have bought stuff, it's that the whole community has joined in telling other people about it, that they've sent her best wishes, that they've reached out.

Now, instead of feeling alone and at a loss, she knows she's supported. She knows she's cared for.

But this isn't just about Heather. It's about you and your business. It's about the fear about emergencies.
It's knowing that a dayjob is just one check, from one place, but a community is an insurance policy.


You can't do this all the time, of course. Everything isn't an emergency.
But it's nice to know that when you've invested the time, created the work, and built the relationships – they're there when you need them.



Now, go see if you don't want a knitting pattern or two.

How to Experiment: Tools + Systems

The secret of epiphanies + clarity? Showing up with pen + paper everyday. (soy lattes don't hurt either)

This week, I'm not really here. I'm in the Pacifica Northwest, admiring beaches, rocks and evergreens. And yet, I'm still here. I'm still experimenting every day.

Systems! And Tools!

Remember that Step #3 of creating an experiment is about gathering the support and tools you need?
For my experiment (and life), I needed tools + systems that would help me collect my ideas (especially since they're multiplying daily), a time + space to write (and write extras), and a way to keep the blog going while I was gone. Here's what's working.


Evernote: I use Evernote for everything: words, pictures, voice memos. If I want to remember it, it goes in Evernote. I use it everywhere: I have Evernote Clipper on my browser, so I can clip quotes or links I want to remember, Evernote Web for a quick addition while I'm working on something else online, Evernote on my iPhone for ideas when I'm away from my computer. Basically, if it's got an internet connection, it's got Evernote (and I pay for Premium so I can see my notes when I'm offline, like when I'm flying!)

WordPress: My blogging software lets me schedule posts ahead of time or keep them as drafts. All of the posts this week were written as drafts last week, then edited a bit and scheduled. I also use WP on my iPhone to do quick edits (but I don't love it), and I'm trying Blogsy on my iPad during this trip.

Noon: coffee + Starship chat

Journal: You've seen it before, it's by my side at every moment of anything. If I have an idea or even a sentence I like but I don't want to stop my writing flow and put it in Evernote (clicking away from a window can be detrimnetal!), I write it down. When I'm having a conversation with someone and I get an idea, I write it down. It just seems less rude to me to take handwritten notes then to pull out my phone and start typing while someone else is talking. I also use my journal to map things out visually or make connections that don't warrant a whole note.

iPhone: Of course I use it for Evernote and WP, but I also use it as a camera, to take pictures with my iPhone of ANYTHING I see that I want to remember: book titles, a funny sign, something a business is doing right (or wrong). Oh, and I use the voice to text software all the time, to make notes while I'm driving.

Focus Booster: Perfect for making sure I'm doing some writing, even on the busiest days. Just 20 minutes of writing per day adds up! (This post was written in 2 20-minute bursts) I like to leave the ticking sound on, it keeps me focused.


Catching ideas: This is absolutely the most important system. Without knowing what to write about, I can't write!

(If you sit down at a blank page everyday, with only the plan “to write”, you will likely be staring for a long time. Knowing what to write about is 80% of the battle (in my highly scientific studies).

Of course, you already know the tool I love for this is Evernote, and so the system is simple: Write EVERYTHING down. Don't count on memory, don't count of weird symbols. Write the idea out, as much as you have, as soon as you have it. Pull over the car if you have to (or turn it into a song until you can pull over the car.) Write out as much as you have, because you will not remember later.

Writing + Publishing: I already spend most of days writing (whether it's for and to clients, or in the Starship, or materials new classes), but writing for the blog needed it's own space and support. No email, no classes, no client work. And it's not enough (for me) to just plan to do it, I have to have it fit into the flow of the whole day (or everything else will take it over.) What this looks like in practice is that almost every morning goes like this:

  • Get up, get ready, go to coffeeshop (so my house doesn't distract me)
  • Sit down with oatmeal, coffee and journal and get out anything that's in my head – usually a To Do list for the day, plus random stuff (ideas for new products, what I want to make for dinner….whatever is asking for attention, it gets out on paper so it'll leave me alone)
  • Check email for important, urgent notes from paying people (clients or Starship Captains), every other email waits for later.
  • Open Evernote to pick an idea (sometimes I have these schedule, sometimes I just go with the one I'm most excited about)
  • Start Focus Booster (for 20 minutes, followed by a 5 minute break)
  • Open up 750words and start writing. When the time goes off, copy my writing into a blog post (if it's nearly ready) or Evernote (if it's a bunch of scraps).
  • Get another cup of coffee, answer emails (or hang out on Twitter) during the 5 minute break.
  • Set time for either another 20 minutes, or just 9 minutes (depending on how many client calls or commitments I have scheduled) and edit the post so it's ready to post (either the post I wrote that day, or one from the day before), add photos, links, and schedule it RIGHT THEN. (Even if this takes me over the timer, it's important I finish it)

And that's it. If it's a client-heavy day (Tuesdays) or a Starship filled day (Wednesdays) or if a client is doing something big (like releasing a new video, or going to a trade show), that might be the only personal writing I do all day, and I'm done with it by 10am. If it's a Monday or Thursday (Sacred Writing Days), I'll set the time for another 20 minutes later on and write posts for the future, or work on class materials. I write for clients, so Sacred Writing Days also include 20 minute chunks of writing for them.

I've laid it all out here nice and neat but the fact is, life is messy.

Some days a client email distracts me for an hour. The important thing isn't the time I write (but having a structure and a normal time is super helpful) but that no matter what, I write for 20 minutes everyday, 20 minutes that's prompted only by me. Not a Starship question, not a client project, just 20 minutes of writing what I've synthesized from all the other projects.


Because building a business has to include building something of your own. Reacting to outside stimilus is tempting. It shows up and it begs for your attention. As long as you're looping through responding and reacting, you're not building something of your own, something will last beyond that email, or that one package. Whether your art is your writing, your designing, your drawing or your knitting, you have to have time to express what's in your own head, not what other people are asking for.

And lest you think 20 minutes isn't enough, it's how I wrote the book in 6 months. No matter what your experiment is, it only needs (your equvilent of) 20 minutes.

What are the tools and systems are supporting your experiments?

The Adventures

Welcome to a new little weekly thing, wherein I bring together the scattered pieces of a digital life. Each Friday I share pictures (from Instagram), my favorite links (I usually tweet them), and whatever else I think you’ll like. This is totally inspired by Colleen and Elise. See all the Adventures here.

The View

My kinda beans #pink #nofilter

The colors of my morning.
Seeing Singing In The Rain. On the big screen. #bestdateever
Pink beans :: picking the right belt for my Seattle workshop :: making this hummus :: colorful morning :: seeing Singing in the Rain, in the theater!

The Places

  •  The most important thing I did all week was admit that you're dangerous…and I like it.
  • “Every project you do broadcasts your intention.” I was looking for something else, and found this, about working for free.
  • I'm totally biased, because I'm Kelly's Idea Partner (yeah, we made that up), but I'd love her Bear + Bunny videos (secretly about writing for your business) no matter what.
  • Another person I'm biased towards (because she's just that great): Cairene. And she's got an ANTHOLOGY. Read it. Now!

The Finds

  • Thanks by WS Merwin is the poem that won't leave me. We are saying thank you…
  • “Practise makes permanent. The more you practise the wrong things, the more you lay on the hard drive and the harder it is to get rid of it.”  It's about archery, but it's true about everything, don't you think? 
  • A Dr. Who inspired shawl? I'm all over it. Cast on this week!
  • If this week had a song, it'd be Brand New Key, by Mad Tea Party.
Next week I'll be adventuring on the West Coast. Do you have any suggestions (coffee, yarn, fabric, food) for Brookings, OR or Seattle? 


You’re invited! Seattle Workshop 9/1

Eep! I'm so excited to invite you to my first-ever live, in-person workshop!

At the bus stop

Find your Right People: How to woo + keep more customers

Your tribe.
Your community.
Your people.

Whatever you call them, your business needs them.

Those people who love your work and feel a deep thrum of recognition when they see your newest creation.

These are your Right People.

They are the ones you  buy from you, rave about you and support you.
With your Right People, you don’t have to wonder.
You know they’ll love what you make.
You know what you make will sell.

But how do you get Right People?
And once you have them, how to get them coming back? 

Seattle library

In this one hour workshop, you'll discover WHO you want in your business and HOW to get them there. The class will include instruction, worksheets and plenty of time to ask your specific questions. We'll cover:

  • Finding Right People
  • How to let your Right People know they are right for you
  • How to keep them happy + satisfied
  • Any questions you have about your Right People
Saturday, September 1, 2012
12:30 PM
Phinney Neighborhood Center
6532 Phinney Avenue North
Seattle, WA 98103
Price: $35.00 per person
Got questions? Ask 'em in the comments.

Recipe: Earl Grey Shortbread

Earl Grey Shortbread! Recipe from @amysnotdeadyet #vegan
Today I'm super excited to be doing something completely different: collaboarting with Amy to share a vegan (and non-vegan) recipe!

This recipe is so simple and so straightforward, it was uber-easy to make it vegan: I just substituted Earth Balance butter for regular butter. That's it! I've included the vegan recipe below, but you should definitely click through to see Amy's pretty illustrated recipe.

These cookies are what I think of as proper British biscuits. Not overly sweet or powerful, they're fragrant and mild and just the right kind of sturdy to stand up to a warm cup of tea. We used Earl Grey here, but I'll be making these again with Vanilla Rooibus (and vanilla instead of orange zest) and Ginger tea (ooh, with fresh grated ginger instead of zest!). Because of the short time and limited ingredients, these are the perfect thing to make when you're staying with friends and want to impress them with your sophisticated baking.

I was worried that the vegan butter might not create the right kind of texture, but these were like a perfect cookie pie crust. Sturdy, with little crumbling in your hand, but a lovely crumby-ness once you bite.


Vegan Earl Grey Shortbread

Time: About 10 minutes to blend up, 1 hour in the freezer, 15 minutes in the oven.


1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon finely ground Earl Grey tea leaves (from about 2 bags)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) Earth Balance butter, softened
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 tablespoon finely grated orange zest


1. Whisk flour, tea, and salt in a small bowl; set aside.
2. Put butter, sugar, and orange zest in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low; gradually mix in flour mixture until just combined.
3. Transfer dough to a piece of parchment paper; shape into a log. Roll in parchment to 1 1/4 inches in diameter. Freeze 1 hour until firm, or chill overnight in fridge.
4. Preheat oven to 350°F. Cut log into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Space 1 inch apart on baking sheets lined with parchment.
5. Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until edges are golden, 13 to 15 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks. Cookies can be stored in airtight containers at room temperature up to 5 days.
6. Enjoy with a big mug of tea and an episode of Dr. Who.
A few notes
1. I used Mighty Leaf Organic Earl Grey (because it's what I had, because it's my favorite!), but the tea leaves are not ground up small. They're long and lovely…but much too big for this recipe. I crushed 'em up a bit, but when I remake this recipe, I'll be sure to grind them even smaller, because wherever the pieces were too big, they added a touch of bitterness to that bite of cookie.
2. The top of your cookies probably won't get golden, because vegan butter doesn't do that the way real butter does. To see if they're done, check the bottom, which will be a nice golden brown color.
3. The Earth Butter gives it a pleasant, mild butteryness, but I bet you could kick that up another notch by replaced a tablespoon of the powdered sugar with brown sugar (that'll give it that buttery/carmely-ness you associate with butter cookies).
Additional toppings:
Because these cookies aren't sweet, I started thinking about tasty toppings to sweeten 'em up a bit.
I dipped a few in chocolate, because I'm crazy like that. To do that, melt some chocolate chips (or a dark chocolate bar) is a small, flat-bottomed ramekin. Dip the edge of the cookies in the melted chocolate and set aside to harden, or munch them while gooey. Mmmm.
Next time I make this, I might make an orange glaze, by mixing a 1/4 teaspoon orange juice with a few spoonfuls of powdered sugar. Adjust the sugar until you've got the consistency you want (add lots more powdered sugar and really whip it up for a full-on frosting.)


To see her darling illustrations (and get the non-vegan version), visit Amy.


PS. This is totally new for me, and I'd like to know what you think! Would you like more vegan recipes? Should this collaboration be a recurring thing?

The dangerous work we do

Writing about vulnerability.

I have to admit, after writing last week's post about commitment and change, I was overwhelmed. I wanted to hit the delete button. I wanted it to all go away. I didn't want to put myself and my thoughts and my commitment out into the world. This was all a bad idea. How can I be so vulnerable so publicly?

But then I saw it all around me.

It's not just me, you feel it too. When you do your best work, when you launch it into the world. When you create hilarious videos, when you try something new. When you write a sales page that's real and true and you.

Suddenly, you're not so sure. You don't want to have it out there. You want to take it all back.

The thing is, we never talk about it, but this is dangerous work.

When you create from your you-ness, and share it with the world, and sell things that were created to hold meaning, it cracks you open.  While you're working and building and improving, your work is shoving a big crowbar into your heart and prying open the door.

It may not happen at all once. It starts slow, with you finding the thing you love to make. You clarify it and improve it and add more and more of you and your vision and your style. And then to sell the thing, you're not just making it, but you're also talking about it, and you, with people who used to be strangers. You're sharing your inspiration, your thoughts, your passion. And suddenly you're sharing real parts of yourself through your art and through the conversations about the art.

When this fact dawns on you, it seems vulnerable and dangerous. If you're not expecting it, it can feel wrong. Like maybe you need to scale back, or sit back down or just shut up for a while. Maybe you're talking too much about yourself? Maybe your people don't really like what you're doing?

I've seen it happen again and again, when you share something really great, really magnificently you and people love it and react to it and you and you start feeling really heard, really understood….and then the weight of it all hits you.
Suddenly, you doubt it viciously.
Doubt that your thing was good or that people loved it or that any of this is worth anything.

And that's ok. That's an internal security system that's trying to keep things safe, and keep you protected.
But you don't have to believe it.
You can choose, instead of retreating, to step forward. To step towards more connection and more vulnerability and more of your best work. You don't have to get tangled up in doubt, you can make yourself safe and  see the truth:
That what you did was brave, and you're feeling a little overwhelmed by it, but that you're on the right path.

It's when you step into more vulnerability, more heart that you create more connection. To your internal reserves and to the external world. To the people who love and appreciate you and your work, and to the inspiration all around you. You touch them (with your work), you let them touch you (and shape your work). As you sing this, of course.

This isn't easy. And I don't have the answers on how to do it (I'm still figuring it out for myself*).
What I know right now is that it happens. If you work through the system of sharing your thing, and you really experiment and find what works for you, you'll also open and unfurl.
So I wanted to let you know that, yeah, this is a thing. And if you're feeling it right now, it's ok.
You're on the right path. You are doing absolutely beautifully.

*I can not recommend this book enough if you're interested in how vulnerability creates connections. 


Experiment Report: Week 1

“What you appreciate, appreciates.”

I think I first heard this from Sarah, but it's one of those things we just all know to be true. When you turn your attention and intention to something, it flourishes like flowers in the sunlight.

Whether it's starting a business or learning to knit, anything you give your time and effort to, improves.
I knew this…but yet, somewhow, everytime it happens, I'm surprised. When I started the experiment, I didn't expect what happened: a flurry of new ideas. My idea bank appreciated.

Within a day of just setting the intention to write here daily, I had a rough outline of a schedule and a small list of real posts. Those first few ideas were difficult. I had to reach for them, to really think about it. But within two days of actually writing, I was brimming with ideas. I was recording them via voice note on Evernote, scribbling them down in my journal while cooking dinner, even waking up thinking about it. Where there once was a dearth, now there's an abundance.

What changed? 
Me. I started to bring attention everywhere I looked. I began to turn stray thoughts into full-fledged ideas.  I opened my eyes, and suddenly I can see the possibilities.

It's not that it's easy to write five things worth publishing each week. I still have to set aside the time, sit down, block out the time from other client work. (I'm scribbling this in the Dr's waiting room.) Honestly, I feel a little behind on everything else.
So it's not that this is easy – turning your attention to one thing necessitates that you're turning it away from something else.

But it's also encouraging: if you want to improve something, give it some attention.

That's it.
Just focus on it, a bit everyday or in one lump of uninterrupted time…and you will get movement or learn something.

Where could your business use some appreciation?

How could you give it some attention this week?
If you've joined the Experiment, how's it going? Are you seeing an appreciation of your skill, interest or ideas?

The Adventures

Welcome to a new little weekly thing, wherein I bring together the scattered pieces of a digital life. Each Friday I share pictures (from Instagram), my favorite links (I usually tweet them), and whatever else I think you’ll like. This is totally inspired by Colleen and Elise. See all the Adventures here.

The View

Anniversary dinnerIs there anything better than getting real mail, so sweet and handwritten you tear up? Thanks, @lindsaydrake, for cheering up my afternoon!

Farmer's market haul (we found a local grower of chile peppers) :: Quilting with The Doctor :: Roasting :: Anniversary dinner :: Thanks

The Places

  • Monday I started a Grand Experiment and asked you to join me. Have you?
  • After the Experiment started, the scaring-myself just didn't stop, with thoughts on commitments and crickets.
  • I've been using the Translation Guide on my client's work for years, but I finally shared how to make it work on your own, right here on Rena Tom's lovely site.

The Finds

  • I'm probably the last person in the world to discover the joy that is Dr. Who. My extended family has been into it since the 70s, and of course the whole knitting world has been laughing at the inside jokes since forever…but Kyla's claim that it really is that good finally flipped the switch. And it flipped hard. After just one week we're on Season 2 and going around saying “Exterminate!” in screechy scary voices. I might even be having dreams about it.
  • My new favorite thing is Literary Jukebox. A song paired with a quote. This is my favorite. But this one too. Just listen to them all, ok?
  • I found this great handmade bag, thanks to Twitter. But I still can't decide between it or this one.
  • A good chunk of this week was fixing up the email adventures I send out. Now you can get all the blog goodness in your inbox. Clickety Clack.

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