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Month: November 2012

A flip through my Holiday planning

 

I can't tell you how tempted I am by December Daily. I love the idea of having holiday-specific books that can come out with each year's Christmas decorations. But with the weekly Project Life, I don't need a whole other scrapbook, ya know?

So instead, I updated my traditional holiday planning guide (I can't believe we've been using it  for 3 years!) with a scrapbook of recipes and decorations.

At the end of the season I'll have a compendium of what I wanted to do and what I actually do. This way, next year I stand a chance of remembering the decorations I wanted to make or the recipes I wanted to try (and which ones worked…or didn't).

To get started, I added in pictures from last year. When we put up this year's tree I'll add an extra page.

I also made notes of what I want to change or redo this year.

 

And I couldn't leave out our favorite ornament! (The Yay sticker comes with the kit.)

Of course, there's also business-y pages in the book:

 And the beloved Giant List of Doom:
Don't let that list scare you! The Guide is all about breaking it down into do-able to-dos and getting it done.
You can see that I altered the standard weekly list a bit, by adding a little right hand column that includes the ongoing stuff I want to do each week (blog, read, run)..and I also got smarter about adding stuff to the week, splitting it into work and play.

As the Holiday Sanity kits are filtering out into the rest of the world, I've just loved seeing how everyone uses it to plan the season.

Here's Amy's,

and Rebecca's List of Doom:

Everything you see in the above pictures (except for my own photos!) comes with the kit:

 

 

How do you organize this busy time of year?

Do you have your own system or are you using Holiday Sanity?

 

PS. $5 from every kit goes to Red Cross Disaster Relief. Thanks to your planning genius I was just able to make another donation, right before hitting publish! Woo!

 

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.

How to enjoy the holidays as a maker

I really do love the holidays. From watching the Thanksgiving Day parade to wrapping gifts to tree-lighting to gift-making, I adore so much of it. But it's easy to get sucked under it, into the swirl of buying, and needing, and obligating. 

To keep it joy-filled, I'm creating a series on How to Enjoy the Holidays As…. The first in the series was focused on cooking, and today's is focused on making.*

Being a maker during the holidays can be a double-edged sword. On one side, there are all these fabulous things to make! Decorations! Ornaments! Gifts! Wrapping. But on the other side: expectations. Others have expectations of you (they expect handmade gifts), and you have expectations of them (you want everyone to appreciate what you make!) It's easy to feel discouraged when expectations aren't met.

But let's opt out of those expectations and craft the kind of holiday you really want. Here are three questions to make sure you enjoy being a maker this season:

1. Who is handmade-worthy?

Remember: Gift giving isn't about you. It's about the gift-receiver. And not everyone on your list will appreciate a handmade gift…no matter how awesome it is. It isn't about you, it's about them. Instead of trying to win them over, release those expectations and accept them for who they are.

While the internet forums are full of makers + their horror stories of rude gift recipients, let's skip the drama. Don't make a gift for someone unless you're 99% sure they'll love it. It's a waste of your time and holiday cheer.

That may sound harsh, but it's very kind in practice- you can focus your attention on what they will love, and give yourself a break. You're giving them a gift to bring joy to their life – so give them what will bring them joy. Maybe that's a handquilted quilt, or maybe it's a candle in their favorite scent, or a book by their favorite Food Network star. Your gift can be thoughtful even if it's not handmade.

2. What do you love making?

I don't know about you, but I find the holiday season incredibly seductive. There are all these tutorials and ideas and crafts I've never tried! Maybe I'll take up lace tatting for a traditional snowflake ornament! Or woodworking for a book shelf!
But remind yourself: your probably crafting more in this coming month than usual. Focus on what you know you're good at and that you just love doing for hours and hours. As much as I love knitting, I just can't do it for hours and hours (my sad little wrists!), but sewing is comfortable and interesting, so I'm making quilts for Christmas.

3. What are the experiences you want to create?

Just like the foods we make, the crafts we spend time on will shape our holiday experience. Do you want to be snuggled with family around the tree? Or stuck in your studio sewing that last bunting for the tree? It's not an either/or scenario of course, but make sure you leave time for the experiences you want to have (Holiday Sanity can help you schedule that in).

Another way of thinking about the experiences is to think about what you can craft to create traditions- do you want a handmade ornament to pull out of storage every season when you decorate the tree? Or a handmade menorah to light (and pass down to your grandchildren)? Or stockings for everyone? Set aside a little of your making time (perhaps in the new year) to create these traditions.

What do you do, as a maker, crafter or artist to enjoy the holiday season?

*Got a thing that makes the holiday season hard-to-enjoy? Or got a tip for how you bring the joy? Leave me a comment and I'll include it an upcoming post in the series.

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.


Holiday Sanity, from Tara Swiger

 

The Holiday Sanity Kit gives you the space, questions, and system for learning from your busy holiday season. Make plans, get to work…and then reassess what actually worked and what didn't.
Grab yours here.

How to enjoy the holidays as a vegan

 

I had a lovely Thanksgiving yesterday, how about you? All my planning and baking turned out great, and my vegan dishes got 4 thumbs up from the 13 year old twins. Now that the holiday season has officially begun, and the meal-including invitations are starting to fill our our calendar, I'm thinking a lot about how to enjoy the season as a vegan.

The cardinal law of being a vegan (or vegetarian, or gluten-free) is simple: Bring your own food. But beyond that, figuring out what to bring can be a challenge. Here are a few things to think about before you pick a recipe:

1. Find the spirit of the event.

Every holiday party has its own personality. Thanksgiving with my in-laws is about big plates of food and every sibling and cousin in one place around the long table. Thanksgiving with my mom is hot chocolate, cookies, tree lighting and craftiness. For some families, it's that Norman Rockwell brining-the-turkey-to-the-table moment.

Before you explore your vegan options for an event, take a second to acknowledge what you want to experience and what you love about it. Is there anything you don't want to feel you're missing out on? What doesn't matter as much to you? How can you take part in the spirit of the thing?

Can you spot the vegan options?

For example, at the big Swiger family dinner, everyone brings several dishes to share, so it's no big deal for me to bring 3 vegan dishes. Jay and I can load up our plates with food we love, and no one notices except to compliment it (out of the three sweet potato options, mine were the only ones completely devoured!).

2. Focus on the seasonal flavors.

 

A lot of vegetarians try to recreate the entire omnivore meal plan, which can be interesting, but is it really what you want?

 

What are the flavors you're most exited about? Focus on recreating those, or make sure there'll be a vegan option. The thing I always loved about Thanksgiving is the stuffing: sage-y, thyme-y, savory; paired with tart cranberries. I've made veggie stuffings in the past, but this year I made a chickpea tart that had the same flavor. My husband loves desserts, so I brought us a vegan version. Neither one of us ever cared about the turkey, so I don't worry about Tofurkey or Field Roasts.

3. Bring what you love.

While it's awesome when your uncle falls in love with vegan black bean empanadas, don't drive yourself crazy pleasing others. Be content that as long as you love it, and it improves your experience: it was worth the effort.

 

And now that you have some ideas for how to pick, here are the recipes I've used (and loved) in the last few years:

  • Black bean squash empanadas, from The Veganomicon – brought to last year's Thanksgiving, and gone to moans and compliments in under 10 minutes.
  • Festive Chickpea Tart– made the night before (but not baked) and then frozen. It thawed as we drove the 3 hours to meal and then baked for 30 minutes. Delicious!
  • These sweet potatoes – they beat out the other two options on the table.
  • Brownie Pumpkin Pecan pie – easier than it sounds.
  • Elvis cupcakes, from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World – a family favorite! Banana cupcakes filled with peanut butter frosting and topped with chocolate ganache.
  • Maple pecan pie – made this for just us…and I'm smitten.

What do you do to enjoy the many eating opportunities during the holidays?

 

This is the first in a series on “How to enjoy the holidays as a…” (Maker, Introvert, Writer, etc)

Have any suggestions for what I should cover next?

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.

Feel Good Experiment – Review + Renew

Even though October is long over, I've been holding off on reporting back on October's experiment…because I love it too much and don't want it to stop! And then I remembered: I'm in charge of my experiment! It can go on as long as I want! And just like that, the Feel Good Experiment became a 3 month study in awesomeness. Through the end of December, I'm focusing my scientist microscope on what feels great and how that effects my business (and life).

But before Month 1 of the experiment gets too far in the past, let's look at what worked and what surprised me.

Timing:

It was the best time and the worst time for this experiment. We had two deaths in the family, plus a road trip to visit grandpa before he passed away. Lots of hard stuff, emotions, crying. But feeling good and cozy is exactly what we (not just me!) needed this month. Without the daily reminder of the experiment, I might have slipped into head-down, just-work mode to catch up at work, and just-be-sad mode at home. But the Feel Good Experiment reminded to look around and identify something that would, well, feel good.

The expected good things:

 Homemade Pumpkin Spice Soy Chai

 Following the Enthusiasm. This led to quilting, Project Life, and lots of baking. I'll talk more about this soon.

 Music. My Happy Sparkly Pandora + Spotify playlists are vital.

Reading – especially Quiet and Daring Greatly.

Permission + Attention. Ah, permission. It's the simplest thing: just allowing yourself to want what you want. But it manages to escape me entirely when I'm working. I like to think it's because I get so into the flow, but I have to admit that sometimes it's just because I zone out while clicking. But this month, I tried. When I was tired, I rested. When I was hungry, I ate.  Giving myself permission to feel good meant paying attention to what felt good (and what didn't) and then trying something else, even if was outside my scheduled workday.

Untitled

Holiday Sanity. Creating it, writing the Stay Sane course, and now, chatting with the students is everything I had hoped. I'm also smitten with the cute stickers I created.

Writing, using Sarah's prompt: What is most true right now?

Connection: I built in SO MUCH of this into my month, since part of my hypothesis was: “Connecting with people always feels better than disconnecting (even when it’s scary).”  I had appointments to chat live with Brooke, Sarah, Melissa, Rebecca, Amy, Steph and Anna…and it was so invigorating (and felt so good!) that I'm building more one-on-one time into the Starship.

The unexpected good things:

Saying goodbye is never easy, but Jay's family made it a beautiful, holy experience. I was honored to be a part.

Fitness. Who knew? Paying attention to my phsyical body and challenging it was the big surprise this month. I don't know what came over me, but now I'm training for a 5k in the new year. This is so far outside my personal comfort zone (or my life experience) that I never would have expected it.

What's next:

Just listing out everything here is a great reminder to revisit it. But I'd also like to add on an extra reminder, so that I don't forget n to pay attention to what feels good. Each morning, when I start my day (whether it's a workday or not), I'm going to answer the question in my journal: What do I want to feel today? What would feel good?

What about you?

Did you join me in your own Feel Good Experiment?
How'd it go?
What to join me now? Here's a primer on creating an experiment, and here's my hypothesis at the beginning of this experiment.
If so, what are some of the good-feeling stuff you wanna try?

 

Leave a comment to join in!


(Want to publicly express your Feel Good Experiment? Pin the buttons in this post on Pinterest, or put 'em in your sidebar, and link it back to this post.)

Funerals, travel, and holidays: how to make your business more sustainable, from the hard times out.

How to build a sustainable business from the hard times out

As some of you know, I was out of town last week for a funeral. My husband's grandpa died. And it was hard, beautiful, and…exhausting. When we got back into town, I couldn't think clearly enough to work.

Funerals, deaths, and heck, even the holiday season is stressful enough without also having to think about your business, and your bills.

I'm blessed that I was prepared: the Holiday Sanity Kits continued to sell, the payment plans on the Starship came in on time, new people found my site and signed up for emails and got their How to Explore lessons, my bills got paid – because it's all automated and mobile-ready. The Starship, which can't be automated (the live chats, weekly emails, forum answers all require my time and attention), still sailed on – because I have systems for communicating, organizing, and responding on the go.

As I came back to work yesterday to deal with my swelling inbox, I thought about all that had happened in my business without me even looking at it. The people who got to know me because of what I've created here. The people who started pursuing Holiday Sanity. Not because I did anything special, but because I'm working very hard to build a business that can survive life.

It's easy to say that funerals and travel (and busy holiday seasons) are unusual. To assume this is something rare. That the this is just a bump in your otherwise stable business. That dealing with that kind of rush of orders (or personal life) is just something you have to survive for a few months.

But the fact is, this IS your business and your life.

Messy, sad, busy, exciting, exhausting, time off for recovery or traveling and handling whatever comes up.
Sitting down to write, standing in line at the Post Office, answering emails.
Your business is built in the quiet, focused, planned times.

But it's not really a  business until it survives through the messy, busy, scattered times.

How your business behaves in the hard times is a sign of its overall health.

 

If you can't take an afternoon off to bake cookies, or you're buried under holiday orders – this is a sign that your biz needs to get healthier. Instead of looking at this crazy time as something to get through, approach it as a time of training and information-gathering.

In these crazy times, your business is telling you what it needs. It might be automation, scaled up production or shipping efficiency  This is what your business needs to not only thrive when you're busy, but to grow into what you want it to be.

Instead of powering through the hard times (and holiday season!), learn from them. Take notes, make lists, experiment.

What is your business (and life) telling you it needs right now?

 

Need to take an extended leave from your biz? Check out my course with Stacey Trock of FreshStitches: Take a Break (without breaking your biz!)

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.

 


Holiday Sanity, from Tara Swiger

 

The Holiday Sanity Kit gives you the space, questions, and system for learning from your busy holiday season. Make plans, get to work…and then reassess what actually worked and what didn't.
Grab yours here.

A confession: Project Life

Confession: I have a new secret crafting love.
It's a secret because, well, it felt a little 90s to admit that I have been…memory-keeping.

project life cover

the title page

A decade after giving up on any kind of scrapbooking (the more I developed my own voice, the fewer things I found that reflected it), I found myself unable to click away from Becky Higgins' Project Life system.

Because it's so simple. And I didn't have to use teddy bear stickers. And there was sooo much great inspiration. Like this one. And this one.

But the real reason: I take over 300 photos every month, and I was doing nothing with them.

When Instagram came along, I was thrilled to have a way of sharing them. But let's face it: my family is not on Instagram. My parents, my in-laws, those aunts, uncles, grandparents – they're not even on Facebook. And those are the people I wanna share photos of my dog being cute with, or that great restaurant we just found. Not the entire internet.

And those are the moments I want to remember…but I never open my old photo folders on the computer.

Boston Project Life

Project Life hooked me because it was so specific: print enough photos for these slots each week. And then move on.
That's it.

It's not open-ended or vague or someday.
It's right now. This week.

But I debated (with myself) for a while because I don't have kids, and so many people use it to document their kids. Which is great…but it made me wonder – is our life interesting enough to have photos every week? I mean, I find our life fascinating…but will I have enough photos each week?

And then I found Elise and Kelly and Amy. They aren't using PL to document kids and I love looking at their pages.

So I tried it, and it was magic.

It reminded me all over again that I love our life. Exactly as it is. Yes it's stressful and messy and it feels unfinished most of the time (the business is growing, we want to buy a house, have a garden, maybe move, the list goes on and on.) But this our life now. This is our family now. This is my work now. This is our home now.

Not to mention: travel. In the 6 months since I started Project Life, I've been to Charleston, Boston, San Diego, Seattle, the Oregon coast, the redwoods, and local towns (Asheville + Knoxville + Cookeville + Cleveland, TN) multiple times. We've gone to two Red Sox games (at Fenway + SafeCo field), Dollywood twice (yes!), my book launch, a funeral, a dad's 50th birthday party, and a grandpa's hospital bed. I wouldn't be able to remember all that, or what it looked and felt like, if it weren't for Project life.

And then there's this other, less-tangible reason.

I live in my head and on the page. I'm either thinking, reading, talking or writing. And when I do it all digitally, there's no proof. There's nothing tangible. I love making because it creates something physical, something outside my own head, a thing that I can hold on to, show you, give you. Project Life lets me do this with my memories. It gives me and Jay a way to remember that car ride, or the first time I met my newest friend, or the way the animals kiss each other.

How I do Project Life

When I started thinking about Project Life, my very favorite posts were those where someone completely outlined their process. This made the whole thing more do-able and less scary, so I'm going to share my process here.

First of all, I have my phone photos set to import automatically into Dropbox, so my pictures are always on my computer. Each week (somewhere around Monday or Tuesday), while I'm working at the computer, I take a break from work and open up my photo folder. I pull out my journal and make a little outline of what the photo pages look like. I open up Walgreens.com + log in.

I check the calendar and then flip through the photos the first time, to see what the major 'events' were. Some weeks it's travel, but most weeks it's just normal life stuff. Maybe I worked on a quilt, or baked a lot of cookies. When I see a photo I love, I upload it to Walgreens and scribble it on the template of the layout. I may actually put the photos in the sleeve in a different way, but the template lets me know that I do have a picture for each slot.

If all my photos are the right orientation for the layout, I can do it in as little as 10 minutes. If I have a lot of Instagram photos I want to print (which are square), it takes a little longer because I have to put them in a 4×6 template so they print correctly at Walgreens.* I just open up Photoshop, open a new document that's 4×6 and 300 dpi and drop the photo into it and resize. If I want to put the photo in one of the smaller 3×4 spots, I resize it to take up half of the 4×6 template, and I put another one in there with it (so I can print two at a time).

*Sometimes I print square photos, but I don't like to wait to get them in the mail. I've used + liked MoPho.

I upload it all to Walgreens and complete my order. Most times, if I'm only printing a week's worth, the cost is under $2. I often add in photos that I know my mom or mother-in-law will love and print a few for them too. (Neither of them print photos, so they love this.)

If the very mention of Photoshop sends you running for cover, be encouraged. You totally don't have to use it! Just take pictures to fit in your sleeves, and leave a bunch of “white space” in a photo you want in the smaller spots. That's it. When I'm travelling for a long while, I don't even worry about where they'll go, I just print 4-7 horizonatal photos, right from the Walgreens app on my phone, to the closest Walgreens.

Cookie Project LifeA week I didn't take many photos…but now I have my favorite cookie recipe!

Once my photos are printed, I'm usually so excited by looking at them, that I open up my book that night and start sliding them in. For most photos, I round the corners and pop 'em in the slots. I look at what other slots are left, and then I look through the “other” stuff we have from the week. Jay's learned to put all ticket stubs, funny bits of paper and pretty packaging in one spot on my desk (right next to the Project Life book), so it's pretty much all together. I find a paper from my stash that matches the photos or the mood, and cut it into size to fit the empty spaces. I think about what I want to say about one or two of the photos and write it on a label. If Jay did something special that week, I give him a label and ask him to write about it. By “write about it” I mean 2 or 3 sentences, so there's no pressure to be profound or even interesting.

And that's it! I don't do it every week (sometimes I'm so busy creating a new thing that I forget all about it until I've already closed the computer for the day), but catching up a few weeks later gives me a chance to reminisce over “old” photos.

Used a french fry bag from the local chain as “paper”.

The stuff I love

  • Amy Tangerine 6×6 pad – She's the only person designing stuff bright enough for me, that isn't all girly all the time. The 6×6 pad is the perfect scale.
  • Use-anywhere stamps. I love Elise's, Kelly's and some of the Studio Calico stamps (especially arrows, stars and other stamps that let me say “I'm talking about that picture there.”)
  • Colorful tape. Target had a 6 pack of neon tape in their kid stuff (next to the markers) and I LOVE it. I use it for everything (and I'm including it in every real-mail Holiday Sanity kit.)
  • Thicker alphabet stickers. Especially this font. I wish they made this in every color. (I hate the cardboard or sparkle thickers, they don't stick and they end up on our socks, on the cat's belly, and three weeks later they stick in my hair as I pull on the shirt that was washed with the socks that picked it up, and I go around all day with an “L” on the back of my head. My reputation as the weird girl at the coffeeshop is safe.)
  • A black and a neon pink double-tip Sharpie.
  • Project Live photo sleeves
  • Project Life White Signature binder

How I keep it fun

I'm notorious for dropping long-term crafting projects (like, say, knitting a sweater), so I knew I had to keep this simple and a part of a normal week in order to keep going. Here are some of the things I do to keep it fun:

I don't worry about the number of the week.
A lot of Project Lifers started at the beginning of the year, so they number their weeks (like this.) Since I started in the last week of April, I don't worry about what week of the year it is (also, my brain just doesn't work that way.)

I don't care about the length of a week.

Some two-page spreads cover 10 days, some cover 2 (like my birthday weekend of fun). If I forget to take pictures during a hang-around-the-house week, I just combine it with the next. If a 10 day trip is epic, it may take up 3 spreads. It doesn't matter. All that matters to me is that I date the pages somewhere, and that I remember the stuff I want to remember.

I do what I feel like doing.
If I want to stamp, I stamp. If I want to make it bright, I make it bright. If I just want to put the pictures in there, I do that. I worried for a while that Jay might not like it..but I realized that as long as I didn't stick a pink flower on his head, he don't care. He loves looking at the pictures, but I don't think he even sees the other stuff. And he LOVES that I love it.

I don't have a kit, but…
When I started, all of the kits I liked were sold out. So I've just cut up paper I already had to fit in the slots, and put labels on them for a blank slate to write on. I've used old scrapbook paper (remind me to tell you about the scrapbook store I worked in, in college), water color paper, copy paper, my old paintings, junk mail, wrapping paper. Whatever. I've experimented with a few things, but there's very little I actually like the look of for the long-term. However! It'd be a lot faster if I had a kit, and I am so looking forward to the Seafoam kit.

 

And I leave you with a quote that sums it up perfectly:

We’re not aiming for perfection, people. We are aiming to document life.” – Becky

How about you?

Do you print your photos? What do you do with them?

 

 

The Adventures

Every week is an adventure…and this week was Sandy, Holiday Sanity and CraftLit.  Past adventures can be explored here

 The View
Beau is better than any personal trainer. Here he's saying: steps! We love steps!

Andre finds the sewing machine a warm snuggler.Too many cups of coffee later: the Digital Kit is done! Formatted, uploaded, buttoned.  And $5 to Red Cross Disaster Relief. #sigh

 

The Delights

Making it about more than us.
This week was completely swallowed by Holiday Sanity. And feeling…conflicted about talking about the holidays when so many people are struggling to put their houses (and lives) in order. So I asked myself: What's worth talking about right now?  And the answer is clear: When Holiday Sanity is more than just me and you…when it makes a difference for people who don't even know us. And so, $5 from every Kit goes right to the Red Cross. Or donate directly.

Heather
I got to talk to Heather today, about crafting a season full of meaning, while ditching the culturally-imposed stress. It's the highlight of my day because Heather gets it. And she's got the best voice ever. AND she's reading Jane Eyre on her podcast, so you can “read” my favorite classic while knitting, painting or packaging up orders. Subscribe to her podcast right here.

Steph
I had video funtimes (aka, an Exploration) with Steph this week and yeah, she's exactly as awesome as you'd guess from her work.  She threw a Rockstar Geek Wedding and she's humble, hilarious, and on my must-stalk list. Get to know her on Twitter and then buy your nephew (or me!) a Kirbymkay?

 

The Finds

How was your week? What were the delights?

How to stay sane with too much to do

From where I'm sitting, right now, without getting up or moving around, I can see three unfinished projects:
1. Christmas-gift quilt
Laid out my first #quiltsbychristmas quilt...and this guy had to test it out.

2. TARDIS shawl
Knitting the TARDIS shawl with the Doctor.

3. Granny Square blanket
Working on the #grannysquaresampler while the boys watch MIB for first time.

And in the corner, the wool ready to be spun into this month's Monthly Yarn Mail. On my printer, the proofs of the Holiday Sanity Kit. In my browser, tabs open for gift ideas.
If you took a look around your studio/living room/cave I bet you'd see the same.

Personal projects.
Gift projects.
Business projects.

This is a reality of any business, but it can be especially overwhelming at this time of year, where we add on gift-giving, special baking, and parties to our usual list of projects. While sometimes it's fun and invigorating, sometimes it's…not. The press of so many projects and so much to do, and the timeline-yness of it all can weigh on you.

But the problem isn't really the number of projects (really), it's how you feel about them. Are they overwhelming you? Depressing you? Or exciting you and energizing you?
Do you feel like you know when you're going to do them?
Or are they all begging for your attention rightthisminute?

A few years ago, as I was preparing for a cross-country craft show in December, it all piled up on me. I had this crazy to do list and it all had to be done NOW. It felt stifling and I was dreading everything about the holidays. Instead of giving up on it, or cutting things out, I decided to find a way towards Sanity – a way to do what I wanted to do and actually enjoy it. I shared it with a few friends, and led the first session of Holiday Sanity  and it was an instant classic. Last year the Starship Captains asked me to do it again. And this year, they started asking about it over the summer.

But the secret to Holiday Sanity isn't a secret: it's simple.

You gotta look at that big hairy monster. And transcribe it.
I've created a Kit (digital or printed, real-mail) that helps you do just that.

But as I look around at my projects, the fact is, I'm so grateful.

As I see the flooding, the cold, the stress of those affected by Sanity, I realize how blessed I am for the (dry) knitting and quilting projects. For my heater running, for my pets safe and snorgling, for my lovely, ridiculous internet connections (like you.)

As I started finishing the Holiday Sanity Kit, I realized I was no longer comfortable with it only offering some sanity and calm to you, I want it to be a force for calm and warmth and joy to those who have bigger concerns than their to-do list.

$5 from every Holiday Sanity will go to the Red Cross, for disaster relief.

I considered just doing my normal thing (donating on my own, and not telling anyone), but that minimizes the power we have here, together. We have a real community of caring, funny, smart creatives, and together we can do so much more than I could do alone. And besides, everything I have to give comes from the work we do here, together. Everything you have to give comes from the combination of your creativity + your community. So let's honor what we've created together, and give together.

We have the power to shape our own experience of the holidays, that of our families and friends, and that of people we'll never meet.

Donate directly to the Red Cross here, or grab a copy of Holiday Sanity here.

If you choose to give directly to the Red Cross, let me know, and I'll add your donation to the total we've given as a community.

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

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