Weekly-ish notes on navigating big change

Month: November 2013

A Thank You Gift: pay what you can for Holiday Sanity.

Pay What You Can for Holiday Sanity

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Hanukkah!

Happy official beginning to the holiday season!

To thank you for reading, replying and spending the year with me, I'd like to make it easier than ever to get some Holiday Sanity into your life.

For the entire weekend, Holiday Sanity is available for what you can afford to pay. Just click here, fill in your price, and you'll get your copy via email next Monday.

Here are all the details:

1. Holiday Sanity is retired for the year on December 2nd. Since it comes with a four week Stay Sane course, I want you to get the full experience before the holidays are over. The Kit (along with the Pay What You Can pricing) ends Sunday night. If you miss it, you miss it.

2. I will STILL give $5 to My Very Own Blanket for every Kit sold. My Very Own Blanket provides handmade blankets to kids in foster care. I love this charity + I'll be donating $5 for every kit, no matter how much you pay. If you pay $5 then the entire price of your kit will go to the charity. (If you pay less, I'll be paying the remainder out of my own pocket.)

3. Your Kit will be delivered to your Paypal email address on Monday, December 2nd, by 5pm EST. (My Number One + I are offline all weekend.)

4. Ordering is simple – just click here and fill in your price. The is Kit is normally $29. (Note that Paypal won't accept a payment of $0.) I will be back online to answer any questions on Monday, December 2nd. (Please ask your question via email, not on Twitter or Facebook, so I'm sure to see it!)

5. Wanna pay more than $29? Fantastic! Your generosity will go help cover the donation to My Very Own Blanket + will spread the Sanity to women who weren't able to afford to pay.


Thank you for exploring with me this year! I wish you a weekend full of peace and sanity.




Wanna share it with your friends? Feel free!

Just click here to tweet about it or


The Adventures

Every day is an adventure. I share the view, the gratitude and the finds on Fridays – you’re invited to join in. You can find all my adventures here, or follow along via email here.

The View
Last nights pumpkin pie brownies turned out beautifully. So beautiful Jay packed half the pie for "work friends."  #yeahright #breakfastofholidaychampions

Tonight is Test Thanksgiving. Pie crust, pot pie filling, folding it all into hand pies. And pumpkin pie brownies (pictured here). #piecrazy #holidaysanity
Beau thinks I use too many exclamation points. #dogblocked
Amazingly delicious pumpkin chocolate loaf. Because I'll make anything pumpkin, anything @isachandra says.  #whatveganseat
Oh dear. English Paper Piecing templates somehow came out of printer, onto my paper cutter and into my hand. After only 3 days of obsessively reading every blog post ever written about them. #followyourenthusiasm #epp @craftypod & @thezenofmaking are dang


I am so grateful for:

The Finds:

“Gratitude is giving up all hope for a better past.”

It got me thinking. What would happen if you gave up hope for a better past? I work with people with really awful pasts: abusive childhood, cancer diagnosis, chronic illness. (Yes, we work on businesses, but all this comes up and informs any new adventure.) So I bet you have a past that you spend some time wishing was better. What would happen if you gave that up? If you stopped going over and over the things that went wrong, the people that hurt you, all that you missed out on? How much simpler would your present be?


  • Craft Friday! A great idea from Beverly, let's make instead of buy on Black Friday! (I'll be snuggled up with family, so crafting is inevitable!


  • If you're dealing with your worst case scenario (cancer, divorce, parental illness), Vanessa will help you unlock your inner Sensei, figure out what help you want and need, and then get bold enough to ask for it. She just opened these sessions, and I made her promise to raise the prices SOON, so grab one while it's ridiculously affordable.

Since someone always asks, these are the recipes I've made this week:

You can find everything I plan to make and do this season here on Pinterest, and all of the vegan recipes I plan to or have made here


Need a better plan for your holiday cooking and making? Holiday Sanity can help! It closes in just one week! 

How to do the right thing, every time

The worst quilting assistant ever. He lays on the notebook but refuses to take notes.

A regular question I hear from clients + Captains, whether they're just starting up or are fully  self-employed is surprisingly simple (and utterly frustrating) :

What's the right thing to do next? How do I know if I'm doing on the RIGHT things?

This gets to the heart of what frustrates me about working for myself. There's no one tell me what to do next. There's no one to tell me if I should be doing that. Or if I'm wasting my time.

In your business, not only do you have to decide what to do in any given moment, but you also have to determine afterwards if that was a valuable use of your time and energy. Whether it's how to market your newest pattern or what project you should start next – you're in a constant question flow: What now? Was that right? How can it be more effective next time?

(This is why we're so drawn to business “experts” and their Do Exactly This classes. We just want to know that we're doing the right thing, at the right time, and that all of work is not for nothing.)

But the fact is, only you can decide what the right thing is, in your unique situation, every day.

You can systematize this process so it isn't so hard, in order to spend less time stressing and more time making. The system/flow that I teach is simple + powerful:


When you reassess, you're not judging the results, you're only gathering information. You're looking to see that you current calendar and to-do list is filled with Next Right Thing.
How do you know if something is the Next Right Thing?

The Right Things:
Matter in the long-term.
Bring you closer to a goal you truly care about.
Create an experience you enjoy.
Generate the feelings you want to have.

What's on your list that doesn't fit the above requirements?

(Hint: Most things that you do simply because you “should” aren't “Right Things.”)





The Adventures

Every day is an adventure. I share the view, the gratitude and the finds on Fridays – you’re invited to join in. You can find all my adventures here, or follow along via email here.

The view

Why yes, we did install a new car stereo system.  By ourselves. #SwigerTeamFTW

I have washed the dog, the laundry, the dishes and baked a bubbly #vegan apple crisp. I can haz pjs & book now?

It's a day for bright tights, lots of writing and a free fancy coffee from my barista. #happyworkday


I am so grateful for…

  •  Inspiring conversations with people doing fantastic things.
  • Planning my own holiday wonderfulness.
  • Writing flow
  • Being part of an awesome team- we installed the new car stereo on our own. We're amazing! (It plays podcasts in the CAR. Magic!)
  • The sudden burst of quilting-making obsession. I might make this. For a Christmas gift.
  • The effects of Holiday Sanity (like this.)


The finds


What adventures did you have this week?





The Sick + Tired Holiday Survival Guide

Sick + Tired Holiday Survival

I'm dedicated to helping all makers have a happy and sane Holiday season…but I know it's extra-hard if you're sick, tired or sad. Not only do you struggle to have the energy to do all the things, you might also be feeling guilt or disappointment about not being able to do everything you want to.

Today I'm happy to  bring you the perspective of a Starship Captain who has been there, and helps others get through it. Vanessa Laven was diagnosed with cancer in September of 2010, and as she shares in our conversation below, she was going through the worst of the chemo during that holiday season.

(If you can't see the above video, click through.)

Watch our conversation to learn: 

  • The key to making the most of the season, no matter how you're feeling.
  • 3 things to help you enjoy the holidays
  • What to say to someone who is struggling/sick/sad during the holidays (How to avoid the sad head tilt.)


Stay sane during the holidays
The key to sanity is in getting it allll out of your head and into a plan. The Holiday Sanity Kit helps you do just that, along with a community of supportive Sanity Seekers, and a four week e-course to keep you on track. Find it all here. 

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.

What this is all about.

Finally cold enough for tights, sweater, shawl. #yayfall

This is not about making more sales.
This is not about making more money.
This is not even about following your passion.

What we're doing here, together, is exploring your business to make it more sustainable, and more in alignment with your values, vision, and self.

But it's not so that you can get more customers, pay your bills or do what you love.
Those are metrics – they help us measure how sustainable and healthy your business is.
But they are not the real why.

This is about personal responsibility.

The real goal, the reason for you to build a sustainable business + to take the time to explore it is because you are responsible for your life + happiness. You are the only one who is going to create the change you desire.  You are the author, the actor, the stage.

When you begin to take responsibility, when you start to follow the threads of your enthusiasm towards a craft, a business, a calling, you grow more confident.

With that confidence, you are able to bring more peace, joy and love into the world.

You start to wonder…if you can start a business+ provide for your family, what else can you do? If you can define success for yourself, and work in a way that works for you, where else can shift your expectations? Where else can you bring integrity and wholeness?


This is really about bringing more peace, joy and love to the world.

Making your art brings you joy.
Sharing your art is an expression of love.
Living in alignment with your values (whatever they are: beauty, peace, freedom, self-expression) brings you + your family more joy and peace.

 But how you go about it matters. If you pile on “shoulds”, expectations and other people's values, you'll crush that spark. You'll suck out the joy, the expression of love. You'll miss out on the confidence because you'll never fit in someone else's mold. And when your spark is crushed, your work won't have the same power to move, inspire or change the world.

This is huge, world-changing stuff, but it doesn't have to be a huge production. You don't have to sell* a zillion things to change your life (or someone else's). You don't have to create the perfect, peaceful workday to take joy in your work.

You only have to explore.
Pay attention.
Revisit your expectations.
Define success for yourself.
Make your own map.
Look for ways to integrate your values into what you do, how you talk about it and who you serve.


PS. I call the above “exploring” – an active verb – because you'll never be done with it. This is the real work of your art, the real work of changing the world.


*You don't have to sell anything to change the world. But this is for the makers I work with, people who are called/inspired to share their work by selling it. If you're not called/inspired, know that you can take personal responsibility in another way.


The Adventures

The view

Every day is an adventure. I share the view, the gratitude and the finds on Fridays, and you’re invited to join in.
You can find all my adventures here, or follow along via email here.

Today's favorite tree! #yayfall #foundwhilerunning
Stella doesn't mind me writing...as long as I don't want to use the mousepad.
The view from today's hike: all of Johnson City.

I am so grateful for…

  • My yearly tradition of picking “favorite” trees became a mini-series of photographs. I am so glad I captured these fleeting moments (all tress pictured are already bare!)
  • I just can't get enough of hearing your Holiday Sanity stories.
  • My town's ONLY coffeeshop has been closed for repairs so I've been working out of the library. It's beautiful, quiet, with abundant  plugs.  (I'm also thankful that the coffeeshop reopens tomorrow so I can return to proper caffeination levels!)
  • Wool provided me with hours of that delightful lost-in-a-novel feeling.
  • My writing project is going splendidly – I finally have a clear vision of what I'm creating.
  • I went to my first ever write-in and I actually spoke with humans! A major achievement for this introvert!

The finds

  • I love reading about Abby and Kim's internal rules for adulthood. It certainly got me thinking about my own rules, and difference between stated rules and unstated (but accepted) expectations.
  • If you want to start selling digital sewing patterns, you gotta read Abby's new book. She sent me a copy and after a quick skim, I can attest that it has everything you need to write the pattern, make it available online, and launching it to the world!
  • Amy's once-a-month Floating Gallery closes TODAY. Get your geek-loving art here.
  • Stacey of Fresh Stitches shares her thoughts on making gifts for those who will appreciate it + Xiane of Three Ravens starts on her own Holiday Sanity adventure. Do you have a Holiday Sanity story? I'd love to hear it!


What adventures did you have this week?



How to deal with your family + maintain Holiday Sanity


Do you dread those family dinners where everyone has an opinion about what you should be doing?


Last week a Holiday Sanity Seeker  asked:
How in the world do you deal with family members who keep making lame suggestions about my business? They're treating me like I'm not capable of doing this myself!
Ugh. I know, this is totally annoying and wish I had a magic wand that I could wave over all family members so they'd just be supportive of your venture!
However, the fact is, we can't do anything to change what someone else says. You can absolutely ask them to back off, but they're unlikely to be able to stop themselves.

You can't change your family, but you can change how you receive it.

In this week's video I share my favorite thing to do when someone gives unsolicited advice.

(If you can't see the video above, click here!)


Just remember one thing:

What a person says is about them, not about you.

Remembering that whatever someone says is about THEM and not YOU is not easy, but I hope it helps you navigate the holidays!
For more help with holding onto your sanity, check out Holiday Sanity.

What do you do with meddling advice? 



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.


Explorer Club of Book Lovers – November

I follow my enthusiasm by reading…a lot. And once a month, I share (some of) the books I read last month and the books I intend to read this month. You can join the informal book club by sharing your own list in the comments!

November Book Club for Business

What I read in October

Whew! I read quite a bit this month (thanks to all that time in airports + the following Introvert Recovery days).

My favorites:

The good:

  • I got a good start on the ginormous Steve Jobs biography but had to return it to the library about halfway through (he's just made Toy Story with Pixar!). Whenever it comes back in, I'll pick it up again.
  • Turning Pro was fantastically inspiring. I'll probably be writing more about it soon, in the style of this book review.
  • Someday, Someday Maybe. Lauren Graham's novel is funny and tender, and felt a lot like being in my early 20's. Fun + quick!

The meh:

  • The Culture Code. This was interesting, if a bit reductionist. All the same, it helped me understand a little more about what drives people's buying decisions.

November's To Read List

  • I already slurped up Erika Lyremark's smart book on the 2nd day of the month! It is a collection of her stories from stripping (yes!) which she transforms into business lessons you can apply to your own work. So inspiring, I read it in one day (and came up with a whole new offering!) Best yet, you can download it free when you join her list!
  • A carry-over from last month's list, I'm hoping to get to Shawn Achor's second book soon!
  • Wool is the mega-successful self-published sci-fi novel. I've been hearing about it forever and I just started it last night. Gotta read anything with “Wool” in the title, right?!
  • If You Want to Write, by Brenda Ueland is one of my all-time favorite books. I checked it out again to get me through NaNoWriMo.
  • Wired for Story is another writing-fuel book.
  • Allegiant is the third book in the Divergent trilogy and I am on pins + needles waiting for this book to come in for me at the library!

What are you reading this month?

What was your favorite book of October?

Disclaimer-y Disclaimer! Srini sent me Turning Pro + Erika gifted Think Like A Stripper. But I’m not in any way coerced into saying nice things. Or course I’m biased when my friends write a book, but I don’t mention things I don’t like. Read the usual disclaimer here.


The Adventures

Every day is an adventure. I share the view, the gratitude and the finds on Fridays, and you’re invited to join in.
You can find all my adventures here, or follow along via email here.

The view

Today's office: the big window at the library.

Finally cold enough for tights, sweater, shawl. #yayfall

Philly cheesetofu sandwhich & mac+cheese (cashew) = best Saturday lunch ever. #becausejayisthebest #vegan #whatveganseat
GREAT mail day! Got #veronicamars stoic herd& tshirt AND my #TNNA teaching contract!

My (current) favorite tree. Yes, I pick favorites. And I drive around to check on them. (I do this in the Spring too)

I am so grateful for…

  • My library. While my usual workplace (coffeeshop) undergoes renovations, the library is a lovely place to work (all outside photos are from the library! Isn't it lovely?) Also, the librarians are great, and my favorite one is a knitting Dr. Who fan. (!!!)
  • The gorgeous color everywhere I look.
  • Feeling powerful, by dealing directly with something I'd been avoiding.
  • The possibility of my NaNoWriMo project (not a novel)
  • This short email from a live workshop student: “This is the best thing I’ve done for my business!  I appreciate your insight, the worksheets, and your insistence that this must be done.”
  • Tomatoi.st – it's keeping me focused and reminding me to stand up every once in a while.

The finds



(click through to see the video)


What adventures did you have last week?