Weekly-ish notes on navigating big change

Month: December 2013

My big crazy goal…results

I've got a lot of help hand-quilting.
This year I set a huge crazy goal: I would make 6 quilts in the remaining 9 months of 2013. That might not be a lot for some people, but considering I had only made a total of 3 quilts in my whole life, it was just big enough to be inspiring.

Today I've written about the power and magic of setting big crafty goals, over at Sew Mama Sew. You can read it here.

Since I think it's a safe bet that I'm not going to finish another quilt in the last few days of the year, I wanted to update you on my goal (and show you my newest quilt, which has been an internet-secret.)

This year, I finished:

  • Emerald Isle (pictures and full story here).
  • Red Kaffe (more below).
  • Candy Christmas (more below).

I started

  • A baby quilt.
  • Crystal Coast, another collaborative quilt with my mom.

No, I didn't reach my crazy goal of 6 finished quilts. But I DID finish (and start) more quilts than I have in any other year. And I know how 2 handmade quilts in my house and gave my mom another fabulous gift. I've also had more quilt ideas than I do what to do with. (Next up: something like this and this.)

Red Kaffe

This quilt started as a fabric bundle my mom bought. Last December she passed it on to me, because she just wasn't into the colors anymore. I got obsessed with following #scrappytripalong quilts on Instagram. Even though this fabric bundle was nothing like you'd usually use in a quilt like that, I decided cutting up all those big prints would make an interesting, fractured quilt. (You can read more about the details here.)
Bound and washed and perfect. Beau approves.

I finished it around the beginning of August, but it still hasn't had an official photo shoot.
Inappropriately obsessed with my adorable hand stitches.
Final verdict: SUPER HAPPY.

Candy Christmas.

After writing this post on holiday gift-crafting, I had an epiphany: My mom really appreciates a handmade gift. She cried when she opened last year's quilt. So if I'm going to craft for anyone (I hadn't planned to), it's gotta be a quilt for her.

I had this epiphany late in the afternoon on November 14th.

I went right to Fabric.com and started to click around for fabric ideas, then found Stitched in Color's Penny Patch QAL and knew it was the perfect pattern. I hit the fabric shop on November 15th and bought everything I'd need + found a few pieces that would work, left over from quilts mom + I have made together:
After looking through my scraps, I have everything I need! #quiltsbyChristmas

I starting cutting on November 19th…
Onto the neutrals! #quiltsbychristmas

And kept working…
Today's to do list.

All squares finished, back to the design wall. See any weird spots? #pennypatchqal

I pieced the top in two nights, the week of Thanksgiving.
Off the wall and ready to sew. Tomorrow. #pennypatchqal

I sandwhiched it late Wendesday night, so that I could be handquilting during the Thanksgiving drive.
Sandwiching the quilt top. #pennypatchqal

And then I spent every spare second, for 3 weeks, handquilting with cream thread, inside the big squares.
My weekend plans. I must finish hand quilting this weekend so I can sew on binding this week.

On December 18th I trimmed it…
Trimming before binding! #pennypatchqal #yay
and machine stitched the binding to the front:
Sewing on binding while watching Charlie Brown. Perfect.

and handstitched the binding to the back:
Hand stitching the very last bit of binding...in the car on the way to the gift recipient. #stitchfaster

I finished it in the car on the way to Mom's house on December 20th and wrapped it on the trunk of my car, in a parking lot.
Finished! Wrapped it on my trunk, in a parking lot.

And I gave it to Mom the morning of December 21st!
The finished quilt reveal. #yay #pennypatchqal

Moms new Christmas quilt, on top of last year's Christmas quilt. #nofilter #pennypatchqal

Final Verdict: TRUE LOVE.

How about you?

What goals did you set in 2013? Which do you reach?

We're reviewing our year inside the Starship this week, and finding our own North Stars to guide in 2014. Boarding closes next week, so beam up before then!




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 News:

Today officially begins my holiday! You won't be hearing from me in your inbox or on the blog until next Friday. (The exception is the Early Boarding Party – they are getting the Lessons of 2013 e-course, for free.)
I'll answer all emails from customers + the Starship-curious and I'll be welcoming in new Captains within 24 hours. But all social media replies, chatty emails and the such will be on hold. (You can follow my holiday shenanigans on Instagram.)

Take this moment as a chance to set your own holiday boundaries. 

What do you want to do?
What do you not want to do?
How can you make it easier to maintain your boundaries?
(Hint: turn off all notifications, beeps, and pings. Check it when you want to.)

The View

The tree! I love it so much I can't stop staring at it!

2011's ornament. (I launched The Starship...which has slowly changed my life in a zillion wonderful ways.)
Found this note on top of my Christmas decoration box. Past Tara is the sweetest.Let's take a tour! This year's ornament. #tardis #doctorwho

I am so grateful for:

  • The joy a few strands of twinkle lights bring.
  • Enthusiasm. Following it.
  • Creating something new + wonderful + appreciated on a whim + a hunch.
  • The brave new Captains who beamed up this week.


A few of the recipes we made this week

And for family merriness (aka, vegan sweets for non-vegans. Even 14 year old boys approve!)

(Why yes, I will do anything Isa Chandra says! Feel free to send me her newest cookbook!)


The Reads: 

Need something to entertain you during the holiday quiet? 


Don't forget! The Starship + Solo Mission are both boarding now, and close soon!


Do you have a business? Or do you have a hobby?

Do you have a business, or do you have a hobby?

What does Bar Rescue have to do with your crafty business? 

Watch the below video to find out, along with the three things that distinguishes a creative hobby from a creative business.

Can't see the video? Click through to watch it.


Do you have a business or do you have a hobby?

The difference:

  • Do you have a bigger vision?
  • Are you eager and willing to do the work of a business?
  • Are you in it for the long haul?


If not, that's fine! Enjoy your hobby!

If you're not sure if you want a business, check out this post on Fresh Stitches: Do you really want a business? 


But most of the people who write me DO have businesses!
I bet you do, too. As Alex Franzen likes to say, you are not confused. You know what you want, you see your bigger vision.

So why do you doubt it? Why do you question? 

Is it that you need accountability to stick with the hard bits (and encouragement that you are not alone)? If so, check out the Starship.
Or is it that you need to make your plan more do-able and less vague?

Or maybe it's a question of confidence (hint: you don't have to wait) or believing it's possible (it is!) or knowing how to spread the word?

So how about you?

Do you have a business? Or do you have a hobby?






Beam aboard for 2014

Beam Aboard the Starship

The Starship is now boarding!

You can read all about it here, but I wanted to fill you in on what I'm excited about!

The Starship only opens once a quarter*, in order to make sure everyone gets started from the same place (and to ensure that I have time to get to know everyone and their business).

*To keep it small + personal (other Captains connect, collaborate and befriend each other) only 12 new Captains will beam up this quarter (to join the 40 who are already aboard). After that, boarding closes until March!

You see, the Starship is a place for weekly accountability, monthly review and anytime-you-want-it question-asking…but I've learned over the last 3 years (!) that it's not enough to have resources, you have to know where and how you want to use them. Unless you start with a plan and intention, all the resources can overwhelm you. So I've built in  plan-making, intention-setting rituals + resources, so that you will use what you bought.

Here's how you'll make that plan: 

1. Get oriented in the Starship.

With a quick email series, you'll learn how to navigate the resources available to you. You'll also learn how to make a Clear Ask, so that you get the help you need (I use this in all my communication!)

2. Get oriented in your own business.

It's vital to know where your business is, right now. (Not just where you want it to be, or where you think it “should” be). We'll do this by starting the Chart Your Stars Guide, on December 27th. And to make sure you get the most out of it, you'll get a brand new e-course (with 6-7 lessons) to help you find your North Star, make your own Star Map for navigating your dreams, and setting Destinations that actually matter to you.

3. Make each dream do-able.

On January 6th we'll start Map Making. With a 6 day e-course and a dedicated forums, you'll identify your next Destination (for the next 3 months) and break it down into do-able To Dos. This is where everything you dream about doing because practical.

4. Learn how you best work.

After you've got your do-able To Dos…you actually have to do them. Through forum posts and weekly check-ins and monthly reviews you'll identify how you best get work done, and we'll help un-stick you when you get stuck.

5. Stay on track.

Every month you look back and review your Adventure so far in a super-quick Reassesment Log. You can see where you swerved and what you learned. We're there to cheer on every mile marker you reach!

After 3 months, every quarter, we start again with Map Making and review – so that you're always moving forward, always identifying the next Destination and going after it with the freshest information on your very own business. (This way we avoid the I forgot about my New Year's Resolutions! problem.)


Along with this cycle of review + doing, we also have one live class a quarter (you have immediate access to over a dozen downloadable classes.) In a live class, everyone (who wants to) takes the same class in the same week, completes homework and gets their questions answered.

The classes this year are:

Pay Yourself: 6 brand-new video lessons + apply-it-now worksheets on finding the profit in your current business and paying yourself (finally).
Craft Your Customer Path: Identify and create the path your customer will take to buying your goods. We'll talk about effective email newsletters, social media, and systematizing it all, while building relationships and loyalty.
Explore You: Figure out how to apply what IS working in your business to what IS NOT.
Holiday Sanity! In Q4, we focus all our energy on making a great holiday season, in our business and in our lives


You don't need another thing to remember. 

Have you ever bought an online class and then didn't know what to do or how to navigate the space or what happened when? I hate that! So I've built the entire process to come to you easily + simply.

 That's why Starship Captains don't have to remember ANY of this. Everything I mentioned just comes to you. You don't have to remember to check a website, or log in, or anything. Every Wednesday I send an email with a mini-lesson, reminders about what we're doing (the Map Making, the classes), and an invitation to the weekly chat. So if you take a week (or month!) away, you have a chance to jump back in, every week.

Any questions?


PS. Every class, workbook, and Guide I've mentioned comes FREE with your Starship membership. You'll get access to absolutely everything I do (including exclusive access to one-on-one sessions) without having to buy a thing.



Image is from this article on different colored stars. Fascinating! 





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

Office view.

I greet the day with a cat on my head. #catsofinstagram
Making chana. #yum #vegan #whatveganseat
Spent my afternoon note-taking & brainstorming improvements on next year's version of...everything (Starship, #mapmaking, Solo Missions). #loveagoodproject

As fun as travel is, there's nothing like making your own  food exactly as you like. Butternut pasta (recipe linked on the site) & roasted brussels.  #whatveganseat #vegan


I am so grateful for:

  • The deeply encouraging responses to my Big Lesson.
  • The editing powers of my Number One. (I really can't say this enough.)
  • Warm woollens in cold weather.
  • Coffee.
  • Puppy snuggles.
  • Spending all week planning, writing, and creating wonderfulness for Solo Mission pilots.

A few of the recipes we made this week


The News: 

This week I announced my newest offering, The Solo Mission, to the email explorers. Since I didn't really say much about it here, I wanted to share a bit about it with you:

Planning and thinking about the new year isn't enough. It's not enough to  plan the best year. You have to have know how to actually follow through. You have to have a system or habit of making your dreams do-able.

And when I talk to you – crafters, makers, writers – this is what you tell me you're missing. You struggle to take action, to know if it's the right action, and to keep your momentum.
It's not enough for you to know about marketing, communication and exploration – you can't do anything with that knowledge until you have a system for applying it on a regular basis.
But on the flip side, I'm surrounded by makers who DO reach their dreams. The Starship is full of artists who reach their income goals, yarn makers who quit their day jobs and designers who become published authors.
I want to help you become one of those dream-reachers this year. 
I've taken everything I've learned from explorers who DO reach their dreams, and I've created a plan for your Solo Mission.

Here's what we know works: 

  • Define what you really want (get crazy-clear).
  • Make a map of the steps in between you + your destination.
  • Work on doing the to-dos every day.
  • Regularly review what's going well (+ what's not) and adjust your map accordingly.

But it's hard for you to keep this up on your own. Life gets in the way – you get swamped with orders, your kid gets sick, you take some time away.
My job is to make your success unavoidable – no matter what life throws at you. Although I can't make you take action, I can provide support, encouragement and just-right questions to set you back on your path, again and again.

Introducing, the Solo Mission.

Find out more and join here: https://taraswiger.com/solo-mission/
(Since announcing it, at least 1/4 of the spots have been snapped up!)


If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask in the comments or via email!

My biggest lesson 2013

My Biggest Lesson of 2013: Possibility

Each year (well, since last year), I sift through my last year and look for the Big Lessons. These are things life taught me, whether I wanted to learn it or not. This year, my lesson is simple. So simple it's bordering on cheesy:

More is Possible. 

This year has been one of transformation…and while that's true every year, this year I transformed in ways I truly never imagined.  And that's just the point: You can't imagine what you're capable of. There's always more possibility, more opportunity, more to learn.
My own imagination of what's possible in any given situation is wildly out of touch with what's actually possible.

In order to convey the lesson of POSSIBILITY, I have to tell you a story. This is a story I haven't shared yet, because it's potentially triggery and full of sad parts and moments days of laying in bed crying and there's no happy ending. (There's no sad ending either. There's no ending, because it's not just a story, it's my life.)

This is the story of possibility, and how it taught me who I am.  

It begins in January, 2013,  at the doctor's office. I've made an appointment, after over 5 years of trying to conceive. The visit was disastrously brutal. I had a panic attack, a big sobbing-can't-breathe panic attack, and the doctor couldn't even begin an examination. So instead we talked.

What the doctor said was equally brutal: You need to lose weight, 20% of your body weight, in order to improve your chances of conceiving. She tested my thyroid, but other than that, my best bet to fix whatever else might be wrong was to lose weight.

This was exactly what I was afraid of.
I had no idea how to do it.
It seemed totally outside of the realm of possibility.

(Let's a stop a moment for perspective – until this appointment, it had never occured to me to worry about losing weight. I thought (and still think) I'm adorable + functional for what I wanted out of life: my husband thinks I'm sexy, my clients are delighted by my big, beautiful brain, and I  have cute clothes I feel fun in. While I had the occasional “I'm a giant” feeling around particularly tiny friends + clients, I focused my energy on body acceptance and feeling great in my skin.)

But suddenly, losing weight was  an alternative to more invasive doctor visits and just like that, I found a compelling reason to do it.
This seemingly impossible, unattractive thing (losing weight) was tied to something I was willing to work for (a kid!). I was now highly motivated to figure it out.
Whether it's impossible or not, I had to at least try.


My biggest lesson of 2013

So I did what I always do. I made a map. I read lots of books. I researched online.
And then I created a plan for exploration, using the system I teach. Here's how:

Identify your intention and your definition of success.
This has to be intimately related to your Big Why. Why the heck are you doing this? For me, it's about avoiding the doctor and starting a family. Boiled down even more, it's about feeling strong + capable + independent, while bringing more love + community into my life. Knowing that, I could only shape a plan that included these elements (in other words, a plan that made me feel deprived, ugly, or weak wouldn't work.)
Pay attention + accept the truth. 
You have to know where you are now, to figure out how to travel to the next place.
I started tracking my calories + my activity, not to change anything, but just to gather information of what was really happening. What I learned was surprising: it's not at all that I consumed too many calories, but rather that I didn't eat enough during the week (I often have coffee for breakfast and forget about lunch) and then was starved and ate all the things during the weekend. Without paying attention to what was really happening, I never would have recognized the changes that would truly work. This book explains why “eating less” is not the answer.

Make a plan for experimentation.
Don't just try a bunch of stuff and hope it works. Develop a plan (based on what you've learned from experts and your own experience) to put into practice what you've learned.
I found a bunch of things to try (that met my requirement for making me feel strong + capable), established a system for putting the new habits into place (just one at a time!) and tracking their effectiveness. Tracking + reassessing (using this process) is the best and only way to know what is really working.

The experiments I tried (and liked enough to continue):
– Running. I started with Couch to 5k app, but found it much easier to stick with Up + Running's 5k class.
-Bodyweight Strength Training. I really love the You Are Your Own Gym book + app. (I use the 10 week plans inside the app + never have to wonder what to do, which is really important to my sticking with anything).
– Eating breakfast and/or lunch. My not-eating-enough habit had slowed my metabolism (I was always cold, sleepy, and never had an appetite – all signs of low metabolism.)
– Giving up added sugar. I gave it up for a whole month, and while it made no difference in my weight loss, I finally stopped craving sugar at every turn. Just like with the workouts or with being vegan, I have a much easier time when I know exactly what to do and can't argue with myself.

Measure the right things.
Measuring is the key to knowing what's actually working. But your measurements have to line up with your values.
My plan was not based on results (amount of weight lost) but on experimentation – since I didn't know what would work, I couldn't measure success by results, only by information gathered and lessons learned. I considered my day/week/plan a success if I was trying new things and paying attention. (In other words, my measurement was simply: consistent daily action on my plan of experimentation.)

It worked (kinda).

I ran a 5k in May.
I'm training for a half marathon.
I'm down three dress sizes and have lost 20 lbs (half of the doctor's suggestion).
I'm significantly stronger physically: I can carry groceries, hoist my suitcase into the overhead compartment and walk all over Boston – all of which I couldn't do before.

But more than that, I learned that I was all wrong about what was possible.

About 2 months into this, I had a big epiphany: I didn't think I was the kind of person who did this. Who was fit, or active, or…physically capable of hard things. All my life, I had assumed that it was a different kind of person who could run, get stronger, take care of her body.
I believed (without knowing that I believed it) that in order to be active, I'd have to be a different kind of person. I didn't really trust that I could be ME and be this new thing.

And that's where possibility sneaks in. 

It creeps up on you:
Maybe I can do this. 
I am doing this! 
Holy cow, I did it! 

And that's why this is not a story about weight loss, but about possibility. Once I realized that I was (unknowingly) limiting what was possible, I started looking around at other areas. What did I  believe was possible for my business? For my teaching? For my family? For my day?

Rethinking what's (im)possible for me, Tara, to do if I'm still completely myself, has opened me up to a pile of new opportunities. I started teaching in association with a non-profit (and am working with a second one to plan business education for artists). I'm planning a full weekend retreat in New England . I'm teaching at the industry event for knitters/crocheters (the biggest percentage of my clients). I welcomed more people than ever before into the Starship (and I'm about to open it again). I created something for people I hadn't been serving.

Possibility wants to sneak in on you, too. 

But you've got to open the door. You have to suspend your disbelief about what you're capable of, about what's impossible in your world. You do this through exploring: exploring all the places doubt is hiding, exploring all your assumptions about your life, exploring all those things that both intrigue you and scare you a bit.I'm sure there are other things that I've assumed not me, and I intend to discover them and upend them this year.  I never in a zillion years thought I'd ever blog about health or weight loss, or even share this story with anyone. But I need to share it, in order to recognize the truth:

Anything can be a window into growth, anything can be a symbol of possibility.*

For me, this window was a health journey. For you, it might be starting to follow your dream, building a sustainable business, exploring a new artistic endeavor.

You can start letting the possibility sneak in by looking at what you've already done that you thought was impossible.

What did you do in 2013 that you believed in impossible?

PS. I'm feeling quite hesitant about sharing this…but then I re-read last year's lesson about Connection


*Tweet this

Adventures in Business with Jill Wolcott

Jill WolcottToday I'm exploring with Starship Captain Jill Wolcott. Jill is an award-winning teacher who combines a wealth of knitting knowledge with a great sense of humor to make her classes both useful and fun. Jill is always thinking about knitted garments, how they fit, and how to guide knitters toward a successful knitting experience.  She recently published an ebook of knitting designs: The Goddess Collection.




People have this fantasy of what it's like to be a full-time maker. But what's a normal day for you really like? 

I don't really have a “go with the flow” life.  Weekdays I get up at 6:30, make coffee, tidy up, look at email and Evernote (my assistant works from her home), shower, then hit my office.  My office day is spent working on patterns, marketing, administrative things, book projects, creating classes and class materials, and whatever is on my list.  It almost never includes knitting.  The closest I get to knitting is picking up needles to figure out how I can better explain how to do a technique or maneuver.  I do a lot of editing, drafting, redrafting, initial charting, and a lot of grading sizes.

On Wednesdays I leave my office about 10:30 and go downtown to teach at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising.  I'm usually pretty tired at the end of six hours there, but I am a favorite instructor and have been given an outstanding faculty award 11 times in the 14 years I've taught there.

I do volunteer work for TNNA and am part of the Starship and Cat Bordhi's Visionary Authors group.  I also have an elderly mother and we do things on Thursdays and Fridays when I can get away.  She is a long-time knitter so is always interested in what I am working on.

Wendy works with me from Pittsburgh, PA.  She is like the third lobe of my brain and is beginning to take on more pieces of my day-to-day work so that I can explore more, create more, do more.  I would be lost without her.  I have another assistant who comes into my office twice a week and does hands on things–from winding yarn to finishing work on projects.  She does shipping, tracking, and entering things into my bookkeeping software.  Again, without her help I would surely be buried in my own mess.

Most of my samples are knit by paid knitters.  They are a brave lot who embark on projects that are often still in process.  They must be my eyes as I am not seeing what is happening except through weekly photos.  I have someone who works as a project manager to keep the knitters on track–and make sure I answer questions and address problems.

I have a tech editor who works per hour.  She has a wonderfully detailed brain and asks me lots of questions to make sure my work is clear.  I also have a copy editor who works on my longer work.  She is primarily looking for consistency and continuity.  Both are knitters who understand why I like to take a different approach in presenting my patterns.

I knit after I quit work in my office. I cook dinner most nights, and I knit afterwards until I go to bed. I am not usually knitting samples; I am either working on new design ideas or making a second sample or one of my designs for me to wear. I make the final sample myself only if there is a quick deadline or if it is a small item. We've found that I am not reliable at finding problems in the patterns, so it isn't usually a good place for me to put my knitting energy. All my knitting is related to my business and I have no time to knit any one else's patterns, but I do love to knit.

Weekends are often where I find time to follow new ideas or do things I want to do but don't need to do.  I have a wonderful husband who likes to spend time with me–some of it without knitting needles in my hands. We go to a fair number of jazz and world music performances, plays, and author/artist lectures. We both read a lot, although knitting cuts into my reading time!

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

As mentioned above, I teach to make money.  It is the only reliable money source I have.  I am working on making it possible to offer classes via video with live check-ins so that I can continue to teach those classes online  without it being a live performance.  This will make it easier for people to fit it into their schedules too.  Right now those classes are for knitwear designers of any stripe.  I hope to have classes for knitters in 2014 as well.  I do not teach at retail knitting shows right now because I simply do not have time.  I do some limited work for magazines, and sometimes do consulting work.

I don't think the work of a designer has changed much over the years. With Tara's help I am finding the courage to do what I believe I want to put out into the world, even though it is a little different.

Jill Wolcott designs

What new thing are you exploring now?

I have just launched what I call Studio Space.  This is a subscription program to invite knitters to share their knitting time with me and other committed knitters.  I have framed my first offering around my Goddess Collection, but I think this will end up being the beginning of the program, and not our sole focus.  My other new thing is eBook pattern collections, and online classes.  I want to write books too, but need to get some of these other wheels turning more effectively to allow that to happen.

What's your definition of success in your business?

For my business to be successful I need to balance expenses and income, but that isn't the whole picture for me.  I would like some recognition for my skills and talents, but primarily I would like to know that I am helping knitters find pleasure and satisfaction in the actual making of knitted things.  I would like to be able to make a living too!

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

Jill Wolcott Knits Studio and mastery of marketing!


Thanks so much for sharing your workday and adventure with us, Jill!


Jill's a Captain in the Starship. You can meet more Captains + learn if it's right for your adventure when you sign up for the free mini-course here. 




“I find great resources among the other Starship members, and I really love having the weekly accountability (if you want it) of telling someone what I’m doing.  This is making a ton of difference in how I get my work done, how I value it, and how I prioritize my time.
In the 2.5 months I’ve been on the Starship I have seen real differences in myself as a business owner, and my ability to see how to move my business ahead in the direction I want it to move.”
-Jill Wolcott, Jill Wolcott Knits


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

This ornament is almost vintage, made in high school I think. #tarastar
2 pies for 2 family gatherings. Wishing you sweetness & love today!
The view out front. #snow #yay
My great-grandma's fave grocery store, still awesome.
Spinning and knitting samples of mom's first roving.
Hideous dressing room, lovely bridesmaid dress.
My coworkers BOTH want to be in my lap. (That's @LindsayDrake's Sadie)



I am so grateful for:

  • Community + belonging + family
  • Decorating Mom's tree with “vintage” ornaments (the first picture is an ornament I made in Junior High)
  • The ability + resources to travel to spend time with loved ones (I'll never get tired of being grateful for this)
  • The editing + clarifying genius of my Number One. She has made this (brand-new, kinda secret) project  infinitely better!
  • Trying on a bridesmaid dress I liked. I really will wear it again!
  • Being recommended (by several sweethearts!) for an interview with a journalist! So flattering + appreciated, no matter what comes of it!


The Finds:


These are the recipes we made this week:

(With all this traveling, we ate out a lot. Or favorite: Tomato Head!)


6 Thoughts on Before Happiness

6 thoughts on Before Happiness
This month I've been reading Shawn Achor‘s second book, Before Happiness, and HOLY COW. I can not get over how very applicable it all is to what we do here, in exploring and crafting a business (and life) we actually love. I took copious notes all through reading it and wanted to share just a few with you. (I highly recommend reading the book for yourself!)

Love this book! Talking about it tomorrow on the blog. #holidaysanity
Here are a few of my thoughts as I read:
1. This book isn't so much about Happiness, as it is about having the life (and business) you really want, by paying attention to how you perceive the world around you. As a positive psychologist researcher (“positive psychology” is the branch of psychology that studies successful people as opposed to other areas of psychology which study the ways we can be unwell), Anchor is reporting on experiments (both his own and others') on how perception shapes reality.

2. When we talk about perception vs. reality it sounds a little woo-woo (but the science shows it's a measurable fact!), so you can think of it like this: In the middle of winter, after days and days of sub-freezing weather, a sunny day in the mid-50s causes you to exclaim that it is SUCH a nice, warm day! But a sunny in the mid-50s during the heat of the summer, will having you commenting on how cold it is. This is an example of how your perception changes the reality. The same temperature warms you up or has you shivering. The temperature (reality) is the same, but the perception of the temperature changes.

This same perception/reality thing comes into play in your business: Is a month with a $1000 in sales a “good” month or a “slow” month? Neither answer is objectively right or wrong, it depends on your situation.
So this book is about that,  and about whether you are choosing a positive (and true) reality or a negative reality (which might also be true, but closes you to finding more opportunities and paths to success).

3. I love reading about studies about this, because it reflects exactly what I hear from YOU. Many of you have amazingly brilliant ideas and you did have lots of enthusiasm…until you started to focus on the competition, on all the hard work, and how very many things could go wrong. The enthusiasm and energy drains out of you, until you can't see any of the opportunities in front of you, and you can't spot any path that would lead you to success.

I was delighted to read that it's not just you, it's how our brains our wired (watch out for danger, in order to stay alive!). But I'm even more delighted to have learned ways of getting around the Inner Eyeore, to help you find the light + enthusiasm again.

4. As I suspected based on experience, celebrating successes (and being reminded of them) really is a proven path to success. Yay!

5. Your map needs to be centered around your very own meaning markers (Yep, Shawn uses the same language I've used in the Map Making Guide). It's not enough to just set goals or have dreams – they need to be centered on what really matters to you, and how you are going to most enjoy getting there. I talk more about this in this video+ I'm editing the Chart The Stars guide (available only to Starship + Solo Mission captains) to not just  discover what matters to you, but to remember it over and over during your normal everyday planning.

6. I  could very easily list every point in the book that lines up perfectly to what we already do inside the Starship + Solo Missions. (In fact, I started a big list for myself.) But I think it's sufficient to point out that all this science and knowledge is useless unless you apply it to your business – not just once when you read it, but again and again as you reassess and reorient as you move forward (which, by the way, is one of the best ways to make sure you end up where you want to be).

In order to make it truly useful, I've baked the book's “success accelerants” right into the experience of being on a Solo Mission or in the Starship. You don't just learn about them, you'll act  on them, simply by opening the emails and filling out the worksheets.


My goal is to make your success, towards your very own dreams, completely unavoidable.

For more thoughts on books, check out the discussion around the New Domesticity

Explorer Club of Book Lovers – December

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!

It's book talk time! What are you reading? Find my list on the site!


What I read in November


What I'm reading in December



What are you reading this month?

What was your favorite book of November?




Disclaimer-y Disclaimer! I’m not in any way coerced into saying nice things about anyone's book. 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.