Weekly-ish notes on navigating big change

Month: June 2014

The Adventures

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

The view

I am so predictable the baristas warm my cup when I walk in.  Ritual: find a chair, write today's list, order coffee: Tall Komodo Dragon (brewed in The Clover) in a mug. And a big ice water. Add a dash of cream + cinnamon.   #taralovesmornings #everyday
You gotta love a downtown with a mountain view.
My go-to travel&teach outfit: @karinadresses wrap & Old Navy flats. (For when I drive for an hour+, teach for 2 hours, then drive home).
Love this quote from @Beverly_army13.  The Starship closes at 4pm EST today, don't hesitate to ask if you've got questions!

I am so grateful for…

  •  Coffee! This week has been a constant battle with my deadlines (and distraction). If I weren't slightly caffeinated, I don't think I'd be nearly finished with my CreativeLIVE class materials. (Here's what I drink at a coffeeshop, or at home)
  • The amazing Starship boarding! I've gotta double-check but I'm fairly certain this is our biggest boarding party ever. Either way, I'm delighted by the smart, clever makers beaming up.


The Finds:

I’m reading:

I’m listening to:

I'm eating: 

  • Butternut Mac. It tastes nothing like mac+cheese, but non-vegans LOVE it. So so good.
  • Tempeh Chili (followed by chili dogs!)
  • Garlicky thyme-y marinated tempeh sandwiches, with roasted red pepper and greens on ciabatta. YUM.
  • Nut granola with almond milk and bueberries.

In case you missed it: 

What adventures have you had?

The Power of Community

Find community aboard the Starship, on TaraSwiger.com

Having a community of supportive, encouraging and whip-smart fellow business explorers completely transformed my business. In today's episode, I share a bit about how my business has been shaped by the communities I was a part of and what led me to create a community of other makers + writers, aboard the Starship. If you're feeling lonely or down, listen in as I share my secret mission and how it involves you.


Note: The Starship closes THIS Friday, 6/27/14, at 4 pm. To learn more, check it out it here.


How to listen

  • You can subscribe to it on iTunes (If you do, leave a review!)
  • You can listen to it using the player above or download it.
  • Subscribe or listen via Stitcher (or subscribe in whatever you use for podcasts – just search “Explore Your Enthusiasm” and it should pop up!).

Find all the podcast episodes here.





Why your business needs community

Ever since I started my business, I've struggled with this dichotomy: I'm an introvert that spends (and prefers to spend!) 8-10 hours a day alone, making or writing, working in my own head and hands… AND I know that community and connection is absolutely the most powerful tool for business growth.
Luckily, I live in an age where I can connect to millions, while still working physically alone everyday. I've been blessed to be part of supportive communities, from the first time I wandered into the then-brand-new Etsy in 2005, all the way to building my own community aboard the Starship. (I'll be sharing more about my personal history with communities and how they've changed my business in tomorrow's podcast.)
But as easy as the internet makes “connecting” –  I know I'm not alone in having a hard time finding real friends and connections, both online and off. For starters, it's easy to think of connecting as just wasting time (even when studies prove that the more we maintain connections, the more successful we'll be.) Or to actually waste time and title it “connecting”. (Refreshing Twitter does NOT equal building relationships.)

On top of the whole time issue, it's really hard to find people who get it, who are not just creative and dedicated to building a business, in the same way we are (with gentleness, curiosity, and sustainability.)

But no matter how hard it is, you DO need community.

Even the most driven among us (and I was raised by two Marines, so yeah, I’m pretty internally-motivated), can’t keep up the sustained, long-term work that a business takes, in a vacuum.
When you don't have support, it often presents as laziness – a lack of focus, or lack of commitment – but beating yourself up is NOT the answer.
The saner (and more sustainable!) solution is to find a support network, to “outsource” some of the accountability to your community.

People to who will check in (kindly!) with you.
People who will give you honest (gentle) feedback.
People who will remind you to celebrate your success!

Whether you find these people on Twitter, Facebook, in a forum or even at your local coffeeshop – knowing that you're not the only one that cares about your business, is mightily powerful. It will motivate you to stay focused, to keep working (even when you want to quit), and to try just a little harder. When you spend time with other businesses, you'll begin to believe that more is possible, and you'll get more and more clear on what the path to your success is.

If you're having a hard time finding a community that will keep you accountable (gently!) and spark your motivation, check out the Starship. It was built for crafters, makers, artists, and writers, who need a bit of support, as they work hard on their own business + dreams (and it closes this Friday!) 

The Adventures

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

The view

My $2/yd fabric. I went ahead and bought the whole 5 yards, so I have back-up.  Question: do you wash fabric before you sew clothes? (It's rayon, a crepe I think)
My adorable bunny-lover. (He saw the bunny, froze, then shook it off and started inside.) #bestdogever
Huzzah! Just opened The Starship for the quarter! So excited to meet who beams aboard.  All the details in the link in my profile. But ask me anything!   #starshipbiz
Morning glories are just so happy. (And they make me feel special, being up early enough to see them) Song of the Run: Do My Thing by Estelle, feat. Janelle Monae (This song is so great!) #foundwhilerunning #yaysummer #summerjam #running

I am so grateful for…


The Finds:

I’m reading:

  • I love that Pinch of Yum shares their monthly income report, but the best part is how the answer the question, “What does it take to make money blogging?”
  • Not much else! Spending all my time writing class materials + welcoming in new Starship Captains.

I’m eating: 

  • Pad Thai, of course!
  • BBQ tofu sammies + summer squash rice casserole (from Cookin Crunk.)
  • THIS was amazing. My lasagna noodles totally broke apart, so instead of rolls, it was more of a lasagna with pieces of noodles above and below a layer of DELICIOUS pesto-y vegan ricotta. Topped with more pesto. I could eat this every day.

I'm listening to: 
The Songs of Summer, since 1962 – this is a great playlist for summer-ing it up!

In case you missed it: 

What adventures have you had?

Just Say No: How to say it {PODCAST}

Just say no

Tired of saying “yes” when you want to say no?

In today's episode you'll learn:

  • How to get comfortable saying no.
  • 4 ways to say say no
  • My exact scripts for getting more time, avoiding aggressive askers, and saying no.

This is the second part of a three-part (free!) mini-class on Saying No (for fun + profit). Part 1 is here, Part 2 is today's podcast, and Part 3 is a worksheet (to apply this to your own business), only available if you sign up below.

Links I mention:

      The FREE worksheet is available if you sign up below!


How to listen





Just Say No: Why your business needs you to say no

Just say no

This is the first part of a three-part (free!) mini-class on Saying No (for fun + profit). Part 2 will be in tomorrow's podcast, and part three will be worksheet (to apply this to your own business), only available if you are signed up here.


I'm about to drop a bomb on you. Ready?

You have a limited amount of time and energy. Everyone does.

I work with many makers who are either recovering from or living with a chronic illness. I also work with mothers, many of which have 3 or more kids. And/or who homeschool.
All while building their handmade business.

Every one of my clients, students, and Captains struggle with limited time and energy – either because they are too sick, or they spend hours each week at the doctor's office, or they spend hours each week with childcare, education, and general taking-care-of-life. Every situation is unique and every single situation gets my sympathy and support.

But they also get a dose of reality – they've got to work within their time + energy limits. So do you.

You – whether you home-school 5 children or you have Chronic Fatigue or you are a healthy, childless 24 year old – you have limitations on your time or energy. Fighting against these limitations will leave you frustrated, angry, and burnt out. Trying to hold yourself to a standard of what you see “other people” do will make you crazy. (Not to mention, awesome isn't always what it seems.)

You'll begin to build a business that you truly love when you not only acknowledge the limitations of space and time, but when you truly start working with in them.

When you explore your own world, what works for you, and what doesn't. When you get crystal clear on your definition of success…and then you go towards it with a realistic plan, based on your REAL LIFE. That's the first step: Getting real, getting clear, and making a plan of what YOU want to do. The second step is Saying No to everything that isn't in line with that.

Say no to everything you don't have the energy for.
Say no to everything that isn't in line with your definition of success.
Say no to every show, shop, and buyer that isn't the right fit for your work.
Say no to every “oppurtunity” that doesn't fit in with your plan for profitability, or your bigger goals.


So that you can spend your limited time and energy on the things that matter on your business. So you can take consistent, meaningful action towards your dreams.

So that you can create a business you'll love, without getting worn out, frustrated or burnt out.

So that you can say YES to a business (life) you do want – the opportunities you want to take, the work you want to do and the people who will most love your work.

What do you need to say no to?

In tomorrow's podcast, I'll share my best scripts for saying no, and on Thursday I'll send you a worksheet to apply this to your own business (if you're subscribed here.) Go on and ask your question about Saying No in the comments and I'll answer it in the podcast!

The Adventures

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

The view

Finally found peonies for sale! (Trader Joe's AVL) #nofilter because they don't need it! #peonies #yaysummer
This day never recovered, even after location change. The solution: knocked off early to get fabric. The fabric store never disappoints! #100happydays #100happytaradays

While Jay picked up his comics, I explored our tiny downtown.   I've been meaning to tell you: I downloaded the app Moves, and it's totally changed the way I think about waiting. I take a SHOCKINGLY low number of steps in my tiny home or working at coffee
Still obsessed with #peonies. #yaysummer

Embroidery done by my great-grandma, hanging in my mom's studio. Grandma knew how to put a bird on it.   (Also used in Mom's logo: bluebirdlegacy on Etsy).

I am so grateful for…

  • A lovely weekend with my family, exploring Nashville
  • The Moves app, it's totally changing my days
  • Clarity of purpose. Is there anything better than knowing that you're doing what you should be doing?
  • The patience of Jay, Mom, and my friends while I freak out over what I'll wear (and how I'll do my hair) for my CreativeLIVE class. It's so obviously the least important aspect, and yet the one I talk about the most often.


The Finds:

I’m reading:

I’m eating:
(I share my favorite meals as they happen, on Instagram. Since there's always at least one person who wants the recipe…here they are!)

In case you missed it: 

  • I had a great conversation with Mei, of Tiny Hands, about how she got her work on a popular TV show (and in many magazines and blogs!)
  • Next week I'm sharing a much-requested (free!) mini-course on How to Say No. Get the whole thing in a handy PDF (with worksheets!) here.

What adventures have you had?


PS. The beautiful embroidery of birds, above, was made by my great-grandma. You can see the whole thing in the header of my mom's shop here. (Did you know you can get wool from her sheep?)

Press + Productivity with Mei Pak of Tiny Hands {PODCAST}

Mei Pak of Tiny Hands on TaraSwiger.com


Today I'm happy to be talking to Mei, of Tiny Hands jewelry about how to get great press and be productive. Her work has been featured on Park's + Recreation, in the Huffington Post, Daily Candy, Everyday with Rachel Ray…and lots more!





We talk about:

  • How exactly she got her work worn by the lead character of Parks + Rec
  • Good press builds
  • Mei's Golden Rule of approaching the press: Know The Editor
  • Connect and pitch the press (exactly how she got on Cool Mom Picks)
  • Her explorations into rocking Facebook
  • What she's enthusiastic about = Craftivity

BONUS: You'll get free shipping when you use this link to her shop!

 Links to what we talk about:

If you're wondering what great press will really DO for you, I've written about that here. 

How to listen

  • You can subscribe to it on iTunes (If you do, leave a review!)
  • You can listen to it using the player above or download it.
  • Subscribe or listen via Stitcher (or subscribe in whatever you use for podcasts – just search “Explore Your Enthusiasm” and it should pop up!).

Find all the podcast episodes here.



What I’m reading: June 2014

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 and find all the posts here.

Here's what I'm reading  this month! (Details on the blog.)   What are you reading?

What I read

The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg – This was so great! I find myself applying this to my own life and my work with clients already! I highly recommend it!

Hyperbole and a Half, by Allie Brosh – This is hilarious (dogs!) and poignant (a great description of depression).

The Eventual Millionaire: How Anyone Can Be an Entrepreneur and Successfully Grow Their Startup, by Jamie Tardy – Despite the title, this book is less about being a millionaire and more about starting a business and growing, based on how millionaires have done it. I tend to avoid “get rich” books, and this book is far from it. Jamie has a great podcast with interesting interviews, and she's taken all she's learned and turned it into a great getting-started guide.

Sitcom: A History in 24 Episodes from I Love Lucy to Community – As a kid, I feel completely in love with I Love Lucy and Lucille Ball. We got all of the shows from the library, and then I read all of her biographies. Friends was our Thursday Night standing Roomate Date. So when I spotted this book at the library, I had to grab it. With it's look at sitcoms from I Love Lucy through Friends all the way to Community (which I love) was a fun (if somewhat nerdily academic read.)


What I'm reading

How about you? What are you reading? 

 Disclaimer-y Disclaimer!  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.

What you “should” have done. {PODCAST}

How to get perspective when you're frustrated by slow growth...or just not being where you "should" be. Podcast on TaraSwiger.com | Explore Your Enthusiasm

Inspired by your response to last week's email, let's talk about how to deal with the frustration of what you “should” have done already – the business you should have, the progress you should have made, where you should be. The best way to deal with this frustration: Perspective. In today's episode, I'll share a few ways to get perspective:

  • The truth about how long it takes for other people.
  • A birthday-inspired list of what you've done.
  • Review your own goals.
  • Dedicate yourself to taking action. (Make a map, if you don't know what to do.)


Links mentioned

How to listen

Your Turn!

What have you accomplished this year? How has this shifted your perspective? 


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