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Month: April 2013

How to be (your own version of) Awesome

How to be (your own version of) awesome
I just read this post about “boho perfectionism”, and seriously, you need to read it. (Now!)

It reminded me of the OMHG twitter chat last week where someone asked me (and Jessika) something along the lines of

How do you have time to be so awesome?”

I answered with the truth:

Because I spend most of my time being NOT awesome. I sleep in, read too much, watch 8 hours of the West Wing in a weekend. When I do work, I try very hard to do my BEST work. Not to look awesome, or do what I think you want me to do, but to do the things that  only I can do, the very best I can.
So let's clear the air here, ok? Let me be entirely honest about how this pink-haired, plant-powered empire (ha!) exists.

In order to have and do what I want, I have decided to not have and not do a whole whack of things that “normal” people do.

I only cook dinner once or twice a week (Jay is an amazing cook, so even though I love it, I've turned the kitchen over to him). We rarely eat out (only once this month!) unless we're visiting family. I don't have a “home office”, so if I'm working at home it's at the kitchen table (which is in the only room – the “living room”) or on the couch. My usual “office” is whatever empty chair I can grab at Starbucks (the only coffeeshop in my town) or the library (next to the snoring-loudly homeless guy).

The "office" (kitchen table) had a crazy busy day, with #omhg chat & a copywriting client & writing.

 In other words, I'm not living your fantasy of the awesome business owner. I'm also not living  “boho perfection” in any other aspect of my life, no matter what those vegan dinners look like on Instagram.  

Sure, I do “healthy” stuff – I'm vegan, I'm training for a 5k, I strength train (love this app) and meditate/pray – but you know what? It's not for my health. And it's not because I'm particularly “good”. My veganism (which can be extremely unhealthy – did you know Oreos are vegan? YUM.) is compelled by compassion for animals and my complete disgust with factory farming. My exercise routine is entirely necessitated by my years-long mission to conceive children, without drugs or surgery. (Kate said this so well.) I meditate and pray because, well, I believe that's the best way to listen in to the Creator, to guide my life towards more love + compassion (and less stress + trying-to-control-it-all).

And suddenly, all the dogwoods are blooming. #yayspring #foundwhilerunning

But none of this is a sacrifice. None of this is “good” or “disciplined” or anything. I live this way because I (am trying to) let my values inform my actions. My values are compassion, freedom, and exploration. But yours are going to be different, so your Ideal Life will look different. You have to find YOUR deep-rooted desires and then make decisions for your life based on that.

At the same time, none of this is sad or whiny. I wouldn't change anything – I want to live this way. But sometimes, when I see your beautiful living room, or adorable children, or organized studio, I forget a little.

I'm sharing all this because I want you to know – you can have a super-happy life, one filled with the things that matter to you.

But it might not look awesome from the outside. My mother-in-law is sad we don't live in a nicer place. My mom thinks I work way too hard. My high school friends all own their house, and we're years away from that.

But I alone am responsible for defining what I want, and then creating it. And (most days) I am deliriously happy. I am delighted with my life and the person I'm spending it with (and my dog!) and my business. Because it's mine. Because I get to have pink hair and wear pink shoes and snuggle.

I was in the middle of Cobbler's pose, when this happened. On my feet.

I want you to be happy, to have what you want. And I want you to know that it won't come from lusting after someone else's business or life you see on blogs, twitter or instagram. The first step is to define what you want. And then make sure you're not being distracted by what you see in the comparison-chamber of the internet. And then look around: I bet you already have at least some of it. Your hair is great, your handknit shawl is beautiful, your business is beaming.

Let's agree together to change the nature of how we interact with the jealousy-inducing images. Next time someone (or their life or their business) is looking particularly “awesome”, look back around at your own life, not with comparison, but with gratitude. What are your values? What's your personal style? How's it reflected in your life, right now?

Creating a path of connection to customers

createcustomerpath

Wow! Tuesday's post about creating a path of connection really touched on something, prompting emails + tweets from so many of you!

We're all searching for a rhythm to interacting with our community, one that is sustainable for both sides, one that feels generous and friendly and doable. After spending the first months (or years!) of your business searching desperately to find your people, it take s a conscious shift to move into serving your people –  through your marketing and making – to stop pushing so hard and start looking around and talking with who's there already.

But take note! Even if you're in the very beginning stages of finding your People, you still need to think through the customer path, so that every new person who discovers you knows what to do next. This is part of the system you want in place as you begin to reach out to new customers.

Now that we have a path to bring interested readers closer, let's talk about what happens after they commit to us, after they become a customer. The path doesn't stop here, at the door of The Purchase, it can keep going deeper and deeper into your community. In other words, each of your products or services can act as a different part of the path – each one can deepen a relationship with your customer.

Like I said before, every path will look different. Even if you sell products online and never interact in the physical space of your customers, you can still create a path. Even if you only do craft shows in person, you can still create a path.

Here are some things to keep in mind as you lay your path

  • Make it easy to start on the customer path. Have something available for the taste-tester. If I'm on your newsletter and open all your emails and am a fan of your work — how can I first support you? If you're an artist – do you have affordable prints (or even notecards?) If you're a teacher, do you have a book or PDF or email series?For some of your people, this will be the end of the path (even if they love you), but for others this will reassure them that they want to continue on the path with you, into bigger commitments.

 

  • The more time or money commitment required by your product or service, the farther down the path it is. Offer this deeper commitment to people who have already invested in the relationship.

 

  • If you make products, it may seem difficult to come up with further parts of the path. Brainstorm ideas that would either give the buyer more of your products over time, more of your personal time and attention, or a special access to treasured, limited editions.

 

  • Guard your path. It's easy to think we should offer everything we have to everyone who finds us – but this doesn't serve you or them. It confuses a first-time buyer (or scares them off), and it throws your precious time into the hands of strangers. Instead, offer your deepest options to those already on the path – past customers, long-time readers, customers-who-have-become friends.
  • This isn't about keeping the wrong people out, this is about keeping your Right People engaged and interested. A clear path helps you and the customer know what to do next.

 

  • Make it obvious. And then even more obvious. Don't rely on your biggest fans to find your other offers, show it them clearly and with love. Make it perfectly obvious what they should do next if they want to enjoy even more of your work.

 

What's your customer path look like? How do your products guide a reader into becoming a more invested buyer?

 

May 2014 Update: Craft your Customer Path with the new class! Register here! 

Creating a path of connection

connectionpath

If you're listening in to your people, and you're fully showing up to connect with them, the next step is to make it easy for them to connect with you. While it's true that having a host of option (blog, email, social media) gives your reader a lot of choices…it also triggers the paradox of choice. With too many equal options, people are more likely to choose nothing than to choose something. Not to mention, having too many equal options makes it hard for you to keep up with it all, which is oten “solved” by putting the same information everywhere, punishing those you follow you in more than one place, killing real connection.

It's your job to create the path.

If you want to connect with readers and buyers, and help them find your work and make the decision to invest it, then you need to make it as easy as possible for them. You do this by suggesting what to do next, at every step. You do this by creating a path for the reader/buyer to follow.

This pathway of connection includes absolutely every way you interact with people who may or may not be your right people – your blog, email newsletter, social media, guest posts, sales pages, and (once they cross over into Right People territory and pay for something), your connection pathway continues through your products, classes, clubs, retreats.

Today we'll talk a bit about creating a pathway of connection for your reader (before they buy, before they decide if they are one of your Right People), and tomorrow we'll talk a bit about creating a path for your buyer.

Every path is different.

I can't tell you what your path should look like. It's going to be based on what works for you and on what your People use and read (I talk about choosing your tools in detail in Chapter 5 of the book.) But as you plot your path for your customers, here's a few things to keep in mind:

  • The first steps on your path are the easiest to do – reading one blog post, replying to one tweet. This is where the person very first becomes aware that you and your work exist. Next steps on the path require more commitment and more information.

 

  • Honor this commitment your readers are making and the trust their putting in you. Honor it by giving them what they've signed up for. Respect the deeper commitment by matching it – create deeper content, invite them to specials, give them first sneak peek.

 

  • Keep in mind who you're writing for. A guest post is going to be seen by people who don't know anything about you. A tweet may be read by new followers and old friends. An email to your newsletter list is read by people who have committed to hearing from you regularly, and who probably have already decided they like you and your work. Write for the specific audience.

 

  • The farther people walk down the path, the closer they are coming to you. Since such a small percentage of people who read your blog or follow you on Twitter actually take the time to reply to you, treasure each response and give it your time and attention. In replying (or starting a conversation) this person is saying: Hey, I want to connect with you more, I want this to be a two-sided relationship. This is the best! These relationships are the bedrock of your business, so do whatever you have to do to make time for them.

 

  • Make it easy for the reader to move down the path. Once you know the steps on your path, lay them out in order for your readers. Suggest the reader of your guest post visit your blog, tell your twitter followers about your newest post, ask your blog readers to subscribe, create an autoresponder to introduce new subscribers to your work , invite your subscribers to your newest product or service. It's up to you to explain the path to interested readers, so don't wait around for them to find it.(You do know I send special weekly lessons to explorers, right?)
  • At the end of this path is a relationship, an equal exchange. This might be a sale (in which you exchange money for a product) or it might be a collaboration or even a real friendship. As you build your path and invite readers to the next step, remember this! Begin with the end in mind, and ask yourself if you want to say or do what you're doing, if there was a true friend on the other end.

 

Let's take a breather for a minute and acknowledge something. This is kind of scary. If you feel anxious or shy about talking about your Art, then it might be exceedingly uncomfortable to imagine this path, to imagine that you're going to have more and deeper conversations. I think this is why so many people just  default to  “I listed this” tweets or boring blog posts. It's much easier to be boring and impersonal.

But there's a huge upside – it's much easier to invite real fans into your work. It's much easier to talk to people who want to buy what you sell. And the only way to know they truly want it, is to give your fans a way to connect with it and you. I tell clients to look at their newsletter sign-up as a chance for the fans to speak up and say: I'm here! I want to know more!  It's a service.
And here's more good news – when your future customer is connecting to you in new ways, when you're respecting their commitment and fulfilling it with your best work, you'll see that you are both getting something out of the relationship. They're not just giving you money for your art – they are enjoying the relationship. They are delighting in knowing you.

If you're feeling scrambly about launching your book or writing your newsletter, it's likely that your pathway isn't clear (to you or your people).  Finding time to make your art and connect is often as simple as clarifying your connection path and making it obvious to readers.

May 2014 update: You can now learn how to build your Customer Path!

Connection + Your Right People

I was in the middle of Cobbler's pose, when this happened. On my feet.

Last week we talked about the Real Work in your business: Make Art + Connect and Beka commented that it can be boiled down even further: Make art TO connect. I couldn't agree more!

For many of us, making art is how we both connect with our inner selves, who we really are and what we really think, and how we  connect with the world. We learn to see the world, describe it, and share it with others through our Art. (Reminder: Art = what you make. From writing, to painting, to sewing, to teaching, to parenting, to practicing medicine – it's all Art.)

But for lots of us introverts*, we have to make it a point to connect. We have to work at actually doing it, even when our art requires other people (like teaching or writing). It's not a question of if you're with another person, but if you're really opening up to them, being brave and sharing who you are. For example, right now I'm writing in a coffeeshop packed with people, but I'm not connecting with any of them. When I work one-on-one with explorers, I have to practice opening up, truly listening, and being fully present during the whole hour, and in our email conversations before and after. I have to clear my mind and tune in.

Connection was my big lesson last year, and its intersection with art-making is one of my favorite areas of exploration. See, I spent years of my working life thinking, being inside my own head, and only venturing out when I needed something. It was my handmade business that first sparked my curiosity about why other people do what they do. And soon I realized that dedicating time to learning that (via real conversations) was the best thing I could do for business.

I started to explore this intersection of connection and art in my book, where we dive deep into understanding the person on the other end of the transaction: Who is she? What does she want? Why is she buying what you're selling?…after we get clear on you and your Art.  In the book (and in all of my work) I insist that you know the answers to those questions better than anyone else.  How? Your connection. Your conversations. Being open and listening in.

Here's a partial list of what learning-through-connection requires:

Presence. Are you there? Or thinking about 50 other things? (This is why it's hard to connect on Twitter – you're absorbing a firehose of information all at once, from a zillion people).

Openness. Are you waiting to say what you want to say? Are you open to being wrong?

Patience. You don't get to know anyone in one conversation. It takes many conversations, over a long period time to learn what makes someone do anything.

Curiosity. Good news – people are fascinating! Be interested in what makes them act, and you'll be endlessly absorbed.

 

What else is required to connect with your People?

 

* If you wanna learn more about the wonderfulness of introverts (and how to work with or parent an introvert), you gotta read Quiet, by Susan Cain. 

The Adventures

Every week is an adventure and I share the view, the path and the finds on Fridays, with an invitation for you to join me. You can find all my adventures here, or follow along via email here.

Running in 81* weather was made bearable by the FLOWERS. Everywhere. #coloroverload! #yayspring
Rosebud! #foundwhilerunning #lookup
It's a little too rainy out there. #accordingtoBeau
Weeping Cherry = my favorite! A gorgeous day to explore a new neighborhood  & route. #foundwhilerunning #uar
Conclusion: I can't imagine doing this with a whole quilt. Don't like all the pulling & gripping. Will stick with hand quilting!

The Finds

The only thing I can focus on this week is praying for Boston. I wish I could do more, but what we can all do is donate to help the victims. Give here. If you're looking for some distractions, here's what I enjoyed reading this week:

  • I love this post about beauty and our cultural insistence (even in the Dove Real Women ads) that beauty is important to self worth.
  • I feel in love this with quilt.
  • And this one. I'm definitely making it soon!

 

 

 

The only work you have to do.

workyouhaveto

Last week we talked about growth and rest, and I mentioned that setting intentions (or goals) is so “you focus your energy on what you really want, so that you filter out the distractions, so that you find your own path and trust your choices.”

But in order to filter out the unhelpful, the busy work, it's imperative that you do not stop there.  In all the Starship success stories (you get 'em here), the actual map-making only takes a week or so.  But then there's the three months that come after. Those three months are what moves people from where they are, to where they want to be. Those three months are where all the magic happens and people increase sales or finish the big project or launch a new line.

But the “magic” isn't magic. It's Work.

I meet (and read the blogs of) a lot of creatives who are working long, draining hours and still not getting where they want to be, so let's get really specific about the kind of work that makes a difference. I'm not interested in work for work's sake (in fact, I'm pretty much a slacker by comparison to my peers – weekends off, sleep-in Wednesdays, and several weeks of vacation every year.)

The Work that matters.

Before we get to the work, make sure you are working towards something. Big or small, you gotta know the big WHY behind what you're doing. Are you trying to increase your sales? Or find more time off? Or get a book deal? Each of these requires totally different kind of work, so you gotta identify this first. Seriously. Stop working until you know why.

Now that you know why – good news!  In my experience, most creatives only have two kinds of work that actually matter.

  1. Make your Art. 
  2. Connect with the people your art is for.

Make your Art.

I'm using art in the Seth Godin sense, to mean anything that you create that comes from you and who you are. It can be painting, knitting, teaching, writing, singing or ditch digging.
Whatever it is that you make, you actually have to spend time making it! I know it's easy to get seduced into twitter, emails, blogs, and the endless list of things you should be doing to market your work. But before anything else, you have to be making something.

Sound obvious? I think so, too, but I get a few emails a week from people who are “ready to start a business”, but don't make anything, yet. I understand the impulse, but if you want a life filled with creativity, you have to start creating. If you want to be a writer, write. If you want to teach, teach.

Connect with the people.

As you're making your art, connect.
This could be craft shows or online shop + blog or snail mail correspondence with your patron – but someway, somehow, you have to be having a real conversation with the people you create for. This is not the salesy, persuasive, one-sided monologue of a sales page. To connect with someone, you have to go where they are and ask about them, get to know them. And then – the hard part – you have to fully show up, as YOU. Vulnerable, honest and open, you have to be there, with them (for the difference on vulnerability and oversharing, read Brene Brown!). This isn't the tweet where you share a link (although that might start a conversation), this is the back and forth where both people are feeling heard and seen. This writing that scary blog post, this is making a clear and heartfelt ask, this is honoring the equal exchange you and your buyer are co-creating.

 

The good news is: you don't have to do both every day.
If you're like me, you get in moods for each. For example, this week, because of the tragedy in Boston, I've needed to take a break from connecting (because it so quickly led to obsessive reading and crying). So I wrote, alone in my living room, this very blog post, longhand into my journal. I share it today, because I'm ready for the conversation, for the connecting. Last week, I was mostly connecting and not creating – answering questions on the Starship, sharing my favorite quilt patterns.

The trick is to go with your own flow, and still find time for both. To create when you need to create, and not forget about connecting. To connect genuinely and make offers, without ceasing to make your art.

This is the work of your creative life.

If you're not where you want to be, can you identify which one of these is needs more attention? Or perhaps both  get crowded out by the stuff that looks-like-work?

I've been thinking about this a lot lately, because all of my recent one-on-one sessions have come back to this balance of Real Work. Explorers are trying to find a way to do both, under the pressure of a Big Project (launching a book, designing a new line). When you have to go in your Creative Cave to knock out a big project, how do you keep the connection happening? This is the kind of thing we craft a plan for in the Flight Plan sessions.

I did over 20 sessions last quarter, all with Starship Captains, and they were so connect-y, I have committed to finding the space to do even more. I opened 5 spots to non-Starship members for this quarter. If you want to find your own balance of connecting and creating, grab one here.

What does the Real Work balance look like in your work?

 

PS. If you need to be convinced that your Art is art, or that you should be making it in order to survive the new economy, read The Icarus Deception. But for most of us – you already know!

 

 

 

 

Adventures in business: with teacher Gwen Bortner

Today I'm delighted to have teacher, designer and Starship Captain Gwen Bortner sharing her experience with us. You can learn to teach your own craft with Gwen's Craftsy class, How to Teach It

Gwen Bortner, teacher at Craftsy

 

You're a full-time knitwear designer and teacher, which sounds like you get to spend all day knitting with beautiful yarns…what's a typical work day actually like for you?

I actually consider myself a teacher first, so much of my time is spent marketing myself as a teacher, preparing to offer classes and since I travel around the country, a surprising amount of my time is spent in airports and airplanes.  However, that is some of my most productive knitting time, so I don’t begrudge it! When I am in my home office, most of the “work day” is spent at the computer doing administrative things, publishing type activities (for handouts or designs) or marketing. There really isn’t near as much knitting and playing with yarn as one would think (or hope).

 

There are so many ways to make a living as a designer and teacher – how are you doing it? What have you combined and how has that changed through the years?

 

My original business plan went through a number of iterations before morphing into what it is today. And I think that is one of the keys to my success, my ability and willingness to be flexible. But once I realized that teaching is my gift and what I really love and then made that the focus of my business, it almost immediately became profitable.  So now my income is about 85% teaching and the remaining 15% is mostly from some sort of designing either for my own Knitability pattern line or for magazines or other folks purchasing designs. My continued focus is always to increase my teaching income even though that means I am away from home quite often.

 Gwen Bortner teaching on Craftsy

What's surprised you most about what full-time teaching?

 

I wouldn’t actually say I was surprised because I have been self-employed before and worked in the yarn industry for a short time in college, but this is a tremendous amount of work for a relatively small income. There is always a few folks who make it “look easy”. But once you get to know them, you also find out that they had to work really hard and for the most part are still working very hard. And in the end, there is no formula, everyone seems to have to find their own path.

 

What new thing are you exploring (in your business)?

 

The newest thing in my business has been teaching online via Craftsy.  My first course, Entrelac Knitting  was filmed just about a year ago and was easily one of the highlights of my career thus far. So I was very excited when I was invited back to film a second course.  This one is called How to Teach It  and is designed to help both new and experienced teachers of any type of hand craft develop a teaching business. I have long believed that the more good teachers we can develop the more likely our crafts will continue to prosper. Hand crafts just are not “handed down” any more, so teachers are just that much more critical. So I am also looking at developing some of my own online courses for much smaller markets and right now I am taking a course from Diane of CraftyPod to build my skills in that area.

 

What's your definition of success for your business?

 

For me, a successful business is a business that is profitable (providing me my desired level of income) and allows me to do what I enjoy. So specifically success means I am making a reasonable income while sharing my love of knitting, sharing my passion for teaching and encouraging and developing new people. And the bonus is I get to do this while getting to travel, meeting new people and making new friends.

 

What's the next destination you're working towards?

 

So my next destination and the reason I joined the Starship is to figure out how to move beyond the yarn industry.  The Craftsy class, How to Teach It, I think will open some of these doors, but I believe I have even more knowledge and inspiration to share outside the fields of knitting and teaching. So I am not exactly sure where my final destination is going to be, but I know I am ready to start moving beyond where I am right now!

 

Thanks, Gwen!

Now how about you, Dear Reader? Do you teach your craft? Do you want to?

Quilty Goals

It's Friday, when I share my adventures. This week, a peek into my quilting adventures.

Andre approves of the backing fabric. #matcheshiseyes
If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter or Sulia, you might have noticed I'm a leeetle obsessed with quilting.

I even set a tiny little goal to finish 6 quilts this year. Since I had only ever finished one quilt, in my whole life, until I did the two Christmas quilts this year (1 + 2), this is a big deal. I let it percolate without any really planning, until I stumbled on the quarterly finish-a-long. Just what I needed! A way to plot my 6 quilt goal by breaking it up into quarters (you know I love that). So, I'm jumping right in. My quarterly goal is to finish 2 quilts by the end of June.

Let's meet the contestants.

#1. Emerald Isle

(NC, not Ireland)

2012-08-08 19.03.43

This is a collaboration with my mom. A few years ago, before we went on a family vacation to Emerald Isle, NC, we decided it'd be fun to work on a quilt while we were together. Before we left, we each bought 1/2 yard of 6 fabrics, without knowing what the other bought. We only stipulated that they be ocean-y colors. We know each other's style, so we ended up with 12 fabrics that matched beautifully (some even from the same line!)
Quilts in progress

Pattern: None at all.

I convinced my traditionally-quilting mom that as long as all of our pieces were the same width, we could cut them as thick or thin as we wanted, so we just chopped up a bunch and then strung them together into 6  panels. The plan was to make one quilt, but it was turning out to be a really big quilt, so we realized that with some borders and sashes we could each take 3 panels and make 2 quilts – one for each of us! We picked different sashing and backing fabric + basted them while we were together last fall (2 years after starting the piecing).
Quilts in progress
Status: pieced, backed and basted, only needs to be handquilted to be finished. I'm 1/4 of the way through the quilting, and it goes fast, so this should be an easy finish.

This is one I really want to finish by the time we go back to Emerald Isle at the end of June, so I can take pictures of it on the beach.

#2. Red Hot

Ironed, trimmed & layout finalized. Now if only Andre would move.

This quilt came from my obsessions with the #scrappytripalong quilts I kept spotting on Instagram. I would have loved to use scraps…but as a brand-new quilter with no studio space, I didn't have more than a few inches of scraps. But I did have a pack of fabric that Mom had passed on to me.

My stripping station. #notthat #scrappytripalong

Even though these were large-scale fabrics, I decided to be bold and chop 'em up into tiny pieces (spreading out and breaking up the prints I didn't love.) I also did a fabric swap with Kloth and got rid of some of my least favorites, and bought a few 1/4 yards to add a bit more of what I love. I also had just ONE strip worth of three fabrics from this quilt  and they provided great contrast to the more saturated blocks.

Pattern: Scrappy Trip Around the World, 5 blocks across, 6 down.

Slicing up my #scrappytripalong to the new Dr. Who! #yay
Status: Just finished sewing the back together last night! I need to sandwich and baste and then handquilt (I *might* experiment with free-motion machine-quilting this, because Elise makes it sound easy.)

#3. The Tradition

Writing a post about my 6 Quilts This Year goal. This one = made by mom, 12 years ago, just waiting for my handquilting.

This quilt was not made by me. My mom took me shopping for the fabrics when I was 16 or 17 (I was really into blue + yellow, thank goodness I was out of my sunflower-fabric stage by then) and made it for my high school graduation. But there was a problem with one block, and this pattern requires a level of precision that easily frustrates. So away it went…for a decade. When Mom pulled it out (maybe a year or two ago?) I convinced her that we should sandwich and baste it together, wonky square or not.

She let me take it home with the promise to keep my cats away from it and handquilt it by the end of this year.

Pattern: Star Log Cabin. This one, I think?

Quilts in progress

Status: Basted and ready to handquilt.

#4. Blooms and Dots

This quilt only exists in our imagination, but when Mom and I return to Emerald Isle this year, we plan to work on a new quilt together. We're doing the buy-fabrics-seprately thing again, with the stipulation that they be pinks or oranges, in florals or polka dots. There's no way I'll finish it this quarter, but hope to have it done in the next.

Quilts #5 + #6 could be anything! In the world! I'm so excited to see what happens!

 

Whew! 

That's a lot more quilting that I ever really thought myself capable of. But that's what makes it fun, isn't it? The challenge of doing something so much bigger than you imagined?

I feel like I should include some sort of dislcaimer here: I am not an Official Quilter. I don't really follow patterns, and I'm not concerned with perfection. I stayed away from quilting for a long time, because I don't really care about straight lines, but that seems to be kinda integral to quilting, ya know? But diving in, working only with materials I really love, without the pressure to do it “right” works for me, wonky seams and all. The most important thing is to have fun while making it, and snuggling under it when  I'm finished.

As I wrote this post, I realized that a huge reason I started quilting is because it was something to do with my mom. We live miles apart and reconnect when we get together by DOING something crafty.  As a kid, there was always sewing going on, and when I got married and learned to knit, I taught her right away. So quilting, especially when we each buy different fabrics and combine them, is an easy extension of this. I'm happy for the time we spend together (and lonnnnng discussions on what EXACTLY we mean by “pinkish raspberry”) and I'm thrilled to have physical representations of that time.

I really can't wait to finish and snuggle under these quilts! 

 

 

Unrelated to quilting: Next week I'm announcing 5 open spots for flight planning. You can snatch one up before then, if you're snappy.

You don’t always need to GROW.

dontneedtogrow

Although I'm a fan of (and evangelist for) quarterly map-making (setting a new goal, plotting the course to get there), I don't mean to imply that we'll want to grow every month, end over end, for ever and ever.

Most of us are at the place in our business where we want and need regular growth to get to the point of a sustainable,  reliable business (and income.) And we know that just waiting around for that growth to happen isn't going to work. We have to plan for it, lay out a path, and do the work to move towards the destination. A lot of times, this looks growth.

But even before we get there, before we have that sustainable and nourishing business, every quarter (or month, or day!) isn't about growth or sales or money.

Some are for healing.
Some are for resting.
Some are for immersing in the work.
Some are for learning.
Some are for  flow – finding how we work and operate best.
Some are for finishing and shipping.

Those months aren't just breaks from growth – they are the catalyst of growth. They are the fertilizer and sunshine and rain. They build the foundation, repair the weak spots and replenish your enthusiasm. Even when you're not setting the intention to grow a metric in your business, you are still growing, as a person, a business owner, a maker. 

And when you get that sustainable, reliable business (and income) you may still seek growth – in sales or in another metric, like skill growth, project growth, free-time growth.

As you set your destination for this quarter, or you review the last one, don't be discouraged.

Remember that you're plotting a destination not so that you're always striving, but so that you focus your energy on what you really want, so that you filter out the distractions, so that you find your own path and trust your choices.

 

What's your destination this quarter?

The Adventures

Every week is an adventure and I share the view, the path and the finds on Fridays, with an invitation for you to join me. You can find all my adventures here, or follow along via email here.

The view

Happy Spring from Maddie & Buttercup!
I think Buttercup likes me (or having her picture taken). #lambI was asked to donate "those amazing cookies" to a fundraiser. Of course they meant @isachandra's chocolate chocolate chip & ginormous crispy peanut butter. #vegan #nooneknowsHappy REAL First Day of Spring! #baseball #openingdayReason I love baseball season #241: uninterrupted quilting time for me! #yayNeeds ironing, but I couldn't resist laying out my #scrappytripalong. 1/3 done!Just one more row left on my TARDISes (TARDI?) ...and then to find a border for the shawl. Suggestions?Jay jay made the MOST amazing meatballs, from a @nytimes recipe. #omg #vegan

The Path

  • After a lifetime of avoiding working on my quarterly taxes until the very last possible moment (and then remembering it's never as bad as I feared), I think I landed on a solution: Corporate Quarterly Retreats. There's a whole game system in place (leveling up, dance breaks, lots of tea), and I plan to make the retreats even more retreat-y (this time, since I dreamed it up and DID it in the same day, it was just me, the pup, my pjs and lots of breaks). Lesson learned: Find What Works. Don't stop experimenting and playing until you land on a way to do that task painlessless, and with joy.

 

  • Jay made these meatballs (subbing 1 Tbls of flax mixed with water for each egg) and they were AMAZING (pictured above). Easily the best meatballs ever. We *may* be eating them for every meal….

 

  • Speaking of life-changing deliciousness, I was asked to donate cookies to a fundraiser at Jay's work. I send over half of all my baked goods off to work with Jay, so that I can maintain a semblance of self-control. These Chocolate Chocolate Chip cookies are a favorite and they're great for bake sales because the recipe makes over 3 dozen. (And no one cares that they're dairy-free and egg-free, ie, vegan!)

 

  • If you want to try dyeing with Easter Eggs (yarn or fiber, or even wool fabric!) NOW is the time to buy the dyes, while they're crazy-on-sale. Years ago I made a video with instructions.  This is a totally safe project to do with kids!
  • I spent most of my week working with map-makers who are plotting a fabulous Quarter 2. I am SO thrilled to see where they're going. (You can make your own map here.)

The Finds

 

  • I'm completely addicted to You Need a Budget. Read the lessons, get the (free) e-course and then try it! It's really perfect for working with variable income (as we all do) and syncing up with someone else (we both have the apps on our phone and can add transactions on the fly). The stress level in my life has decreased a thousand-fold, just since using it on Tuesday. (I might talk about this more, later, because I have spent years working on my relationship with money.)

 

  • Diane just opened up her super-helpful course, Monetize Your Craft Blog. If you've got a blog, but don't have a money-making plan (or if your plan isn't working) this class WORKS (lots of my students and clients have raved to me about this class). *

 

*I'm not an affiliate for any of these projects, but I am friends with Heather and Diane. So, you know, I'm a bit biased…then again, our friendship was predicated on the fact that I already respected their work before we ever met.

 

What was your adventure this week?

 

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