Weekly-ish notes on navigating big change

Month: July 2013

Get the help you need (and stop wasting your money)

Crepe myrtle (& tiny moon) #foundwhilerunning

Without quite meaning to, I've been writing a little series on exploring the support your business needs (this is just one area you might want to explore.)

Now that you know what you need, and you've explored your options of getting your partner's support, it's time to branch out  and get support from the whole wide world.

Instead of thinking about all the options out there, focus in on your needs.

When you thought about what you needed, what where the tasks that came to mind? (Take a moment to write them out!)

Now, for each item on your list, who would be the best person to help you with that?


Some of your options for support:

  • Teacher
  • Mentor
  • Assistant
  • Professionals (lawyer, accountant)
  • Community of peers (other businesses)
  • Community of Right People (your buyers and supporters)
  • Real-world community
  • Family


Go on and take notes on your list!

The next step is to find the specific person you need. 

If, for example, you are new to sharing your thing with the rest of the world, you might just want to read a book about that. But if you've read a few books and your problem is actually DOING it, perhaps you need the accountability of other explorers. If you need ideas for your newest product – don't ask a teacher or other businesses – go right to your community of buyers and talk to them about what they love, use and need.
The trick here is to remember what you need specifically – the actual tasks or barriers you currently struggle with – and then to seek out what will help you overcome (or accomplish) it.

Even though this is simple, are you doing it?

Or are you taking every class that's offered, and buying random books? Do you have lots of general knowledge, but no idea what to do for your specific situation?  I know – it's tempting to download and stockpile it (without using it) because you don't want to miss out! I'm guilty of this too! But this gather-everything-and-then-sort-it-out method is why you feel overwhelmed. It's why you still feel unsupported.

Don't get me wrong, I totally believe in investing in your business (and your business education). I wouldn't offer books, classes and support if I didn't know it was helpful. But it's helpful for the people who have the specific need. The best investments I've ever made  have been those that filled a need I had right then, or that related to a new adventure I was embarking on. 

So what do YOU need? Where can you find it?





During this exploration of my own relationship to support, I made two big changes to my business, which I'll be sharing with you Thursday (you can subscribe so you don't miss it.)



The Adventures

Every week is an adventure. I share my adventures via images + notes, and you’re invited to join in.
You can find all my adventures here, or follow along via email here.

The View

Cat nap.
Morning, glory! #foundwhilerunning #nofilter    (#plankaday = :35 & :30)

What's a girl to do, stuck at home without computer? Recover a pillow with narwhals, obviously.

The Finds

Best Moment of The Week: Receiving an email on Monday, from Katie of Yarn Love. You can read the entire email here (or at the very top of the page here.)

I've been looking forward to reading Homeward Bound, so I was interested in the excerpt in Salon. I was bummed to discover that it left me cold. It's well written and interesting, but the whole premise of “New Domesticity” is so based on the urban, upper-class woman as to be totally outside of my own experience of craftiness and homemaking.  In my family, even my extended in-law family, located in the corn fields of rural Ohio and the mountains of Appalachia – this is just how we do things. My dad (the most “urban” of my family, in Southern California), just harvested and canned over 120 lbs of tomatoes. An ex-Marine, 50 year old Harley rider – he's hardly trendy. Despite being one of those crafty 30-somethings who bake because it's fun, I'm bewildered at the author's  telling (at least in this excerpt) of this bougie “trend”.


And now for something I loved reading: Stay on the bus. Found via Kim, this is just a fantastic reminder to keep going, even when you feel like you're not “unique” enough.


After years of being the “breadwinner” of the family, I really love finding other women who are willing to talk about. This post on Sweet Fine Day is beautifully honest.


My college roomie (and dear friend!) Allison lost her dad to cancer 5 years ago. I'll be sharing more of her story soon, but I just wanted to let you know that I'm donating 10% of ALL of my sales (of the new class, the signed books, Map-Making Guide) to her Obliteride (wherein 100% of donations go towards cancer research), until she rides on August 9. Donate directly here. 


What did you discover in your adventures this week?


How to know what you want

Dinner was here.

Last week we talked about asking your spouse for support (and wow, did we talk about it! Thank you so much for sharing your stories on Twitter and via email! ). One of the things I heard over and over was that Step #1: Identify what you need and want is actually really hard to do. And I totally agree!

So, before you get the support you need (from anyone!), you have to know what you need…but if you don't know what you need…what do you do? Are you just stuck support-less and alone?

Um, yes. If you don't figure out what you need and ask for it clearly, you won't get what you need. Even from yourself!

(I know this sounds drastic, but think about it for a minute. If you don't know that you're hungry…do you remember to eat? If you don't know that your kid is cranky because they're tired, you don't know to give them a nap. Knowing what you need is central to communicating clearly in any area of life, business, or the universe.)

Now that we've established that this is pretty much the foundation of everything, let's talk about how you figure out what you need.

You explore. 

You pay attention to what you feel. You notice the cues. You experiment with doing it one way, and then another.

This sounds simple (and really, it is) but it requires that you look up from the everyday tasks of running your business (and life). It's too easy to get caught up with the Must Dos and ignore what all the Doing is actually accomplishing. Exploring (especially if it's new to you) might take a while of practiced effort to become the default. But soon, it's part of your daily life and you integrate the things you've learned from your explorations.

When you start exploring things, when you start noticing what you need and what's working, your relationship to your business (and maybe your spouse, kids and friends) changes. Instead of just powering (or flailing) through every day, you begin to see the big picture. You being to listen in to the lessons your business wants to teach you. Suddenly, you and your business are on the same team, and you're in sync with what it (and you) need.

To explore support

  1. Notice what feels really hard. Whether it's getting dinner on the table or your newest product launched – what feels just ridiculously undoable? What's the thing stressing you most right now?
  2. Pay attention the next time you do this thing – are you making it harder than it has to be? Is there a simpler way?
  3. Ask yourself – Do I have to do this? Do I have to do this? Can anyone do it? 
  4. If someone else can do it (or a part of it) – identify who this person might be
  5. Ask them for help! (Use the suggestions here.)


A little more about exploring

We've been talking about exploring your business for years. We've covered a lot of the elements (trusting yourself, permission, confidence, experiments) and we've explored a lot of individual areas of your business (blogging, profit, marketing, pricing, people). But in the past year, I felt something was lacking.  I want to explore EVERYTHING. I want you to, at any time, be able to explore ANYTHING. I want to create an apply-it-to-anything system for exploring in an easy-to-integrate way.

 That's the beauty of exploring! You can explore anything. You can do it whenever and to whatever. You can explore your shipping system, your blog-writing, your photography, your customer intake process. Whatever isn't working (or is just a total mystery to you) – you can explore! Without waiting for anyone to teach a class on it – you can learn what works for YOU and that's so much more effective than learning what someone else does!

Let's do it! Let's Explore YOUR biggest problem!

After more than a year of planning and writing and practicing on the Starship, I've finally done it – I collected the best bits of explorations and put them together into a system for you to use to explore anything! I'll share my favorite Exploration Tools, tips and tricks for changing the relationship you have with your business. You'll have a chance to ask me any of your questions, meet fellow explorers and become more adventurous in a gentle, loving environment.

You can join this exploration right here!

Get your family (+ spouse) to support your business

Beach pup. #adventure

Yesterday we talked about getting more support for your adventure. The first challenge many new explorers experience is…their family. Getting support, encouragement, or even just surviving a hailstorm of questions and doubt. It can make you feel like your family is the last place to get support, but, honey, having at least one person who knows you sooo well, and believes in you can do wonders for your confidence (and thus, business).
Today, let's talk about you can bring your family on board with your adventure, and specifically, how you can ask your partner for more support. *

Your family is a double-edged phaser. They can be an area of support…and a reason you need outside support. Getting your partner behind your business idea is the thing that just about every new business mentions to me – How do I get them to respect this? How do I get them to see this as a real thing? And a bigger one: How do I get them to respect the money side of thing? (Hey, I wrote about that here!)
The answers to these questions are as unique as the situation. In most cases, you've got to have a series of conversations. In some instances, for some partners, you need hard proof and Spock-like answers. (I have a list of answers here, regarding the Starship, but I really need to create a book full of Spock-like answers for every aspect of your business, don't you think?)

But no matter who your partner is or what you need, you can find a way to talk to them.
Your job is to figure out:

1. What kind of support you need. Do you need them to take the kids for…how many hours? Do you need them to make dinner? Do you need them to get behind you by investing money in it?

2. What their brain will understand (this is probably easier to know the longer you're with someone – if you haven't figured this out yet, I promise it'll help every aspect of your relationship!). Some people need charts and graphs. Some people (like my Jay) don't want too many details, but want to know you have a plan. Others have extensive experience with “big” business and won't understand that the rules are different for a one-gal-show. Yet others will have no experience with anyone they know being self-employed and the whole thing will seem like a ginormous risk. Others (like me!) have self-employed people everywhere, thus they see it as a normal career path.

Knowing what they need to know (and their own risk-tolerance) and presenting your request to them in a way they understand will make everything go smoother.


3. How you can ask for what you need + deliver what they need in a way that respects you both.

Here's the truth – your relationship has an agreement in place. You might never have spoken it, but you've come to embody it through the years. The agreement might be about who does the dishes or who provides child care or who “deserves” a break when they get home from work. Every relationship has an agreement, no matter how progressive and feminist you both are (your agreement might be that there's no gender-based roles! That's an agreement too!).

When you start to ask for what you need, what you might be asking for is a change in the underlying agreement of your partnership. This can be scary for both partners.  You can sidestep some of the fear and conflict if you first notice what your current agreement is and acknowledge it together. And then, start talking about changing it.
You see, if you just rush in with all these changes, without acknowledging that you are fundamentally changing the foundation of your relationship,well, you're really shaking up the world of your partner, which can lead to a response that's defensive or aggressive.
It's not that they don't want to support you, it's that you're asking for more than you think. You're asking for a total shift.


So! Your job here is to acknowledge the current agreement (together!) and start talking about a new agreement that would suit your new goals.

Of course, it's possible that your current agreement suits your business growth just fine and no roles are changing. But just recognizing the underlying agreement will go a long way to understanding every kind of support you need.

The final step – start talking! Ask them how you can explain this in a way they'll understand. Let them know how important this is to you. Ask for the kind of support you need. And ask, over and over. In every moment, when you need support, ask for it. Be specific.

Say: I really just need you to listen and reaffirm that this does suck, I don't want any advice for fixing it.
Say: I really need help finding solutions to this.
Say: I need a hug.
Say: I need to spend another hour finishing this project. Could you please do X, even though I usually do?

Don't wait for them to notice what you need! Ask for it! 


And above all,  assume the best.

If you have a healthy, loving relationship, assume that your partner is trying their best.  Assume that any mistakes are not malicious. Assume that a miscommunication is just that, not a sign of DOOM. Assume that if you ask, clearly and without blame, they will step up.*

Assuming the best of people tends to bring out the best in them.

Although this is a little outside of what we usually talk about it here, I think it's important to address. Because you are not alone. If your partner seems unnaturally (for them!) dismissive, or unwilling to give you the support you need, you're not alone. I hear this from women all the time. And it's ok. It's not a sign that you've partnered with a total jerk*. There's hope for working this out and shifting even the longest-held roles. And it's ok to ask for what you need.


All of the above applies to asking the rest of your family, with the added step of figuring out who you can truly ask for support, and what relationship will not support a direct request. (It's ok that you have some relationships with your parents, siblings, in-laws that are not built for this kind of mutual support.) Once you have recognized that this a relationship that can provide the support you need, remember to ask for it in a way that the other person will understand and appreciate. And keep asking for it. And, of course, assume the best.



How do you get support from your family and partner?

What have you learned to be the best way to approach them?


*I am not a relationship expert! I have a happy 9 year marriage (after a childhood surrounded by unhealthy, abusive partnerships), and have spent my life surreptitiously studying what makes happy, supportive relationships last…and performing experiments in my own marriage and that of my clients.
This is all assuming you're in a healthy, non-abusive relationship. If you are with someone who doesn't respect YOU and your smarts, creativity and general awesomeness, that's something else entirely.



Your business needs a better bra

And by bra, I mean support.

(Although we don't all always wear bras, isn't it a better metaphor than…athletic supporter? Yes, I thought so)

Starting with a few moments of The Declaration of You (#tdoybook) to spark today's writing. Delighted to find my pal @leonie_dawson  inside!  Great choice, @whenigrowupcoach @jessicaswift!

I've been thinking about support lately, and it seems to be in the air. Last week I put aside a whole workday morning to read and take notes on Leonie's handbook for hiring a team to support you. I'm in the process of bringing in some extra help (more on that later) and I wanted Leonie's take on it.

And then, with lovely serendipity, Leonie started writing about her team on your blog (here & here), a Starship Captain started offering her own support services…and it got some Captains asking –

Does my business needs more support?

The answer is, every time, yes.

But not every business needs the same kind of support. There are so many ways to get support in your business – free or paid, temporary or permanent, deep or surface.

So, yes, your business (and you!) probably need more support than you have right now. Here's a (partial) list of where you might gather support.

Your fellow business explorers
Your community of buyers
A team of professionals that work in your business

The support you need might be:


Over the next few days, we'll talk about how to get support from each of these in more detail. Before we dig deeper, start thinking about it…


Where could your adventure use more support? Where could you find it?

PS. If you're thinking about hiring support for your business, Leonie is doing a live Q+A for members of her Academy. I'm a member (& affiliate) and I love the resources inside (I never use the forum and still get tons out of it), so I heartily recommend joining and asking her questions!


The power of choosing (and quilts)

This week, as we've been map making in the Starship, I've been thinking about my own goals, and my investment into the belief that This Is What Works.


Even though I'm always exhorting you find what works for you. Even though I'm always reminding you that what works for someone might not work for you…there a few things that I stand by as Good For Just About Everyone. Map-Making is one of them. Not because you need to grow. Not because you need to do more.

But simply because, this is what's bumming you out.

When you feel like you're not going anywhere, when you feel like you “never finish anything” (a phrase I hear a lot!), the problem usually can be boiled down to one thing: you don't have a direction. All of your dreams and hopes and ideas live in the puffy land of One Day. And so you beat yourself up, you feel bad, you don't think you know/act/ARE enough.

And, darling, that's just not true.


You are enough. Brave enough to follow your dream. Strong enough to do the hard work. Smart enough to make the big decisions.


The reason you're stuck is because you don't know which way to turn. So, by making a map, you pick a direction. You just pick one. ANY direction is fine as long as you start making movement towards it. The Map doesn't care what your destination is. The power is in CHOOSING. Choosing to focus yourself. Choosing a path. Choosing to figure out what will get you there. Choosing to take action. Choosing to honor your dream by making it do-able.


Once you get in the habit if taking consistent action toward your hopes, you might not need a map, you might be able to wake up each day and just do what you need to do, without creating some big plan.

Then again, you might be the kind of person (like me!) who likes to have milestones to reach, who likes to set crazy challenges to test what you're capable of.

And that brings us to what I really planned to write about today – my crazy quilt goal. Last March I decided to try to finish 6 quilts in 2013. I joined the Finish-a-long to keep me on track. Last quarter I hoped to finish two..but I only completed one. This quarter I want to finish the two I've started and get as far as possible on a brand new quilt.

Here's the two I've got so far:

Red trip

(You can read more details here)

I am so close to being done! I just have 8-10 short hand-quilting rows left! I'll share all the details when it's done!


Blooms & Dots

This is another collaboration with my mom. We each picked 9 fabrics, cut them in strips, and are piecing all 18 fabrics into our own tops. I'm still not 100% sure on my layout, but I have a 40″x40″ panel done so far.



What are you choosing this week?

What's the goal you're working towards right now?




The magic of Mile Markers

This drive never fails to thrill. #avl #ilovemountains


Imagine, for a moment, that the path in your business – your to-dos and goals and plans – are a roadtrip. If I wanna drive from here to LA, I have choices. I could drive up to Minnesota (hi, Vanessa!) or down through Alabama (hi, Mercedes!), or I could just drive due West. If I fly, I'm going to end up going East first, through Charlotte.

What matters, as much as where I end up, is what I go through. That is going to determine how long it takes me, the experiences I have, and how satisfied I am overall with the trip.

Sure, I don't know all the tiny towns I'm going to drive through. I don't know all the sites I'm going to see. I don't even know if I'll change destinations halfway through. But picking the right Mile Markers (some of the in-between stops) will determine all that.


In Map Making, one of the first things we do is to make a list of Mile Markers. These are the things in between Where You Are and Where You Want to Go. These are the road signs you are going to pass on your way. To many map-makers, they seem like something extra. Not all that important.  But, after 2 years of watching map-makers reach (or not reach) their destinations (and learn lessons either way), I've come to learn that the Mile Markers are the map.
Mile Markers set your course, they pave the path between Here and There.

They help you:

  • Determine the direction you're going to go (through Alabama or Alaska?)
  • Focus in on what matters – and ignore all the distractions
  • Build confidence – each Mile Marker is a point of celebration!
  • Keep momentum – you only have to focus on the little bit of road between you and the next Mile Marker.


A lot of us get tangled up in is tasks that are unrelated to the destination.
We make To Do lists that are full of “extras”. (ex, I want to get press coverage…so I'll post on Facebook. I want to sell more blankets, so I'll post a tutorial.) Mile Markers can help you narrow down your to dos into the tasks that will move you in the right direction.

Setting appropriate, helpful Mile Markers is a process that takes time, trial + error, and lots of paying attention to what has worked (and what hasn't). But you learn all of this by doing it, again and again (and reviewing!)


What's your next mile marker?

The story of a quilt: Emerald Isle

Four years ago, my family rented a house in the Outer Banks, on Emerald Isle, NC. My mom and I both brought fabrics in shades of blues and greens (without knowing what the other would bring).



We pieced together strips, without having a definite plan. We thought we'd have enough to make one quilt, but we were delighted to discover with an added border, we had plenty for 2 tops!

And that's where progress ended. We went home, put the strips away…and let it marinate for over two years. Last summer while I was visiting for a weekend, mom pulled the strips back out and all of a sudden: we were ready. We picked our own fabric for borders and the back and we had my top and back pieced together by the end of the weekend.


And so I took my quilt sandwich home with me, in hopes of finishing hand-quilting it by this year's trip back to Emerald Isle.

I quilt mostly on the couch, while watching TV or movies with Jay, after work. When we have a road trip ahead of us, I'll even quilt while riding!




Four years after our last trip, four years after we started the quilt, we returned to the island, with the finished quilts in hand! Here's mine, front & back:



This quilt is the first in my quest to finish 6 quilts in 2013. To stay on track, I'm participating in the 2013 Finish-along, and you can read about my goal for this quarter here (I'm just a bit behind). Take a minute to admire the other Q2 Quilts in the FAL on She Can Quilt.

Oh! And here's Mom's!



The Adventures

Every week is an adventure. I share my adventures via images + notes, and you're invited to join in.
You can find all my adventures here, or follow along via email here.


Last minute warning! The Starship closes tonight! Beam up here.


The view

Mom just me this. Pretty much our best family photo. Ever.
You can't forget this step of packing. #catsofinstagram
Goodbye, ocean. #smooches
Our next collaborative quilt. #bloomsanddots
Our digs for the week.

The Path

  • I am bubbling with excitement for my upcoming to trip to Boston! I'm planning a series of workshops around the city (each with a different focus + a prize for everyone who comes to all of them!) and the registration for the first one just opened. I'll be teaching how to develop and FILL a class where you can share your creative skills (painting, knitting, writing!) at Cabot Street Studios, thanks to an invitation from Ana. (Want me to teach in your city? Shoot me a note and let's plan something!)



  • The highlight of the week is overwhelmingly the responses I got to this email. I've added a few of the stories (with permission) to the Love + Praise page.


  • The second best thing of the week? My FOURTH self-employment anniversary! I celebrated here + with my own quarterly review and planning (I use this mini-book + Leonie's Money Game (which you can find in her Business course here or as part of the Academy))





I plan to spend the rest of my weekend snuggled up with this stack of books. You?

Explorer Club of Book Lovers – July!

follow my enthusiasm by reading…a lot. And once a month, I’ll share (some of) the books I read last month and the books I intend to read this month. You can share your list of books in the comments, or we can talk about any of the books that you want to read along with me.
Sharing my July book list on the blog! #linkinprofile #reading

What I read in June

I can't believe I hadn't read The Handmaid's Tale before now. I was amazed by how modern this story of a distopian future felt (right in line with the Hunger Games and Divergent, with a young female narrator navigating a not-so-distant future). If you think much about women's rights, this book will delight (and frighten) you.

Just like Divergent, I gulped down Insurgent in one weekend. Fun and face-paced, I can't wait for the final part of the series!

I was super-honored to be an early reader for my friend Kyeli's new book about loss and motherhood, Time and Again. If you've ever struggled with fertility or wanted to save your younger self, you'll enjoy it! (Crying alert! I bawled my eyes out!)

Also read:
The Great Gatsby
Loving What Is


July's To Read List


(For more reading inspiration, visit the comments of June'sMay'sApril's, and March's book club.)


What are you reading this month?

What was your favorite book of June?



Please note! I’m an affiliate for Amazon, which means I get book money if you buy through the links I’ve used here. (So far, I've earned enough for half of a book, or one grande soy latte.) GoodReads is a free tool for tracking what you read. I read all of these books via my library, which I strongly recommend!

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