I read a LOT this summer, today I'll share my very favorite memoirs, mental health books and a lot of brand-new thrillers.
For the past 6 years I've shared my monthly reading list on my blog, and since January 2018, I've shared that list on the podcast (Starting in episode 192). I've heard from a lot of you, that you love to talk books with me, so I'm making even more bookish videos and a book club, you can find all the details below.
Here's the other thing I hear from you- you're busy, you may not read 100+ books/year, so here on the podcast, I'm going to sort through all I read and share them here with you, my FAVORITE books of the season. I'll still be doing the monthly round-up videos here at the end of each month. If you want even more bookish videos, there's even more on Patreon.com/taraswiger
Favorite books of Summer
Let's talk about my favorite books that I read from June – August 2019. I'll share these by category, like my fave mystery/thriller, fave sci-fi, etc. Now, I don't usually read that many new books, so I was going to do a category on new books, published this year…but this summer I read 15 books that were published in 2019! In part because I was reading along with the Modern Mrs. Darcy Summer Reading Guide, in part because I was reading a lot of my Book of the Month Club books.
My fave mystery/thriller books published this year (so far):
All of them are about more than you think they are, they are all commenting on a social issue.
Before I go I wanna thank, Ana of ragtymedesign.com for supporting the show. Anna makes beautiful one-of-a-kind art toys, that are just stunning. Thank you to Janna Ford, for supporting the show and listening!
Remember you can join them in getting extra videos and a Book Club, over on Patreon.com/TaraSwiger. If you enjoyed this episode, leave a review on iTunes, a thumbs up on YouTube, and be sure to subscribe.
Thank you so much for listening and have an enthusiastic week!
Hello! I am back! After a summer of pre-recorded episodes and rebroadcasts, I am back with you in nearly-real-time! Today we are going to talk about how to recover from your summer – whether you took time off, or you got tons of work done, or you did a bunch of craft shows or you went on vacation – how do you get back into it and move forward and reach your goals for the year?
Today I'm going to give you an update on my summer, we're going to talk about how to learn from the summer and move forward, and I'll share some changes I'm making in my business!
First, I have to thank YOU for sticking with me over the summer – for staying subscribed, for sharing the show with friends, for leaving a review on iTunes or comments on YouTube and for those of you who supported the podcast on Patreon – I'm going to be thanking my patrons AND linking them up over the next several episodes. If you want to support the show and get some bonuses every single month, head to Patreon.com/Taraswiger.
Thank you to long-time patron, Jacie of BandofWeirdos. Jacie makes the most awesome geek-inspired pins, patches and I proudly wear my Band of Weirdos pins, Cat Spock and “Slayers Gonna Slay” on my jean jacket.
A giant thank you to long-time supporter, friend, and Starship graduate, Lisa Check of Flying Goat Farm. Lisa is a farmer with angora goats and sheep, whose fiber she dyes and spins into beautiful yarn! If you want to get yarn that is well-loved from animal to needle, head to FlyingGoatFarm.com
I had a summer that NEEDS to be recovered from – on May 30th, two toddlers came to live us, ages 2.5 and 3.5. The sisters are sweet and so loving and they have just flourished. The young one went from quiet and shy to a little chatterbox in the last few months and they are both just so totally fun and silly. ADJUSTING to living with two toddlers has been its own challenge. I spent the first month napping every time they napped or left the house. We're blessed that they were already enrolled in a preschool, and to make the transition as easy as possible for them, we've kept them there, even though it means driving an hour round trip, twice a day.
It looks like they'll be with us until the end of September, they have a court date September 26th, and we'll hopefully know a bit more after that. If you want more updates or to see the very adorable back of their heads, be sure you're subscribed on YouTube, where I share a weekly vlog or your watching my Stories on Instagram, for daily updates.
So now that we're three months in, I'm at the spot where I feel pretty capable of thought, on most days, which is significantly better than how foggy I was all summer. So I've been thinking a lot about how to get back to work, how to move forward.
I know many of you are in the same place. Maybe your kids were home for the summer and so you didn't get as much work done. or maybe you traveled a lot for shows, or for fun. Maybe you don't have any particular reason, you're just ready to move on from the summer and get back to your business.
Plus we're about 4 months from the end of the year, so you may be feeling a bit freaked out about the goals you set and how you're going to reach them.
To start with, we're going to expand on the good. Yes, I am sure that there are a million things you didn't do and a million projects you're behind on. But if you try to operate from a feeling of “behind”, you're going to feel scrambly. (Spellcheck tells me that's not a word, but I've decided it is.) And you can't be productive when you're scrambly.
Let's start by answering the following questions:
What went well this summer? (list anything, even things that aren't work related!)
What in your work was easy?
What were excited about?
What new ideas did you have? (You might need to flip through your planner or journal for this)
What projects are you excited to work on in the next season?
What did you try this summer?
What worked well? What didn't?
Why do you think that is?
(THIS is the lessons you learned this summer! It is so easy to NOT learn them and make the same mistakes again and again!)
Next, let's zoom out:
What were the goals you had for 2019?
(If you've got Map Your Business, pull that out and look at it. It guides you through doing this every quarter but maybe you need the reminder to open it again?)
Which of the goals have you already met?
(You may be surprised! Almost every quarter I hear from a Starship Captain who already reached their yearly sales goal and they DID NOT EVEN KNOW IT.)
Which of these goals do you want to let go of?
(Maybe you just don't care about them, or they aren't the direction you want to move in.)
Which of the goals really excite you?
This is your OFFICIAL PERMISSION to let go of all the goals that don't excite you. You may come back to them later, or never. But let them go for now.
Don’t skip this!
You may be listening right now and thinking, yeah, yeah, review my goal, I'll do that later. I need to get back to work NOW. But please, don't skip this. This is a very important step in being productive AND in staying on the right track.
It is SO easy to just get stuck in the day to day of what you think you should do, without it ever lining up with and moving you towards, what you really want.
It is also very easy to get burned out and disappointed because you're not hitting your goals and you don't feel like you're making progress.
Do you know what solves both of these problems?
Regularly looking at your goals and CHANGING them based on what you really want, what's actually WORKING in your business, and focusing in on how you're going to get them.
Then create a plan:
So the next step is to look at the answers to your questions and start to combine it into a plan: how can you work more on what has you excited? How can you reach the goal based on what you learned this summer? What other ideas are you having?
At this point you may be noticing that this doesn't look anything like following someone else's blueprint for your business. Your plans and ideas might look totally weird. And you know what?
THAT is how you build a business that stands out, that doesn't blend in. Learning lessons from YOUR business, from YOUR customers, then applying them to YOUR enthusiasms. It may lead you down a weird path, but you'll be moving close to what will make you feel fulfilled and to a business and product that YOUR people will like.
I did this process myself, and lemme tell you what I came up with!
But first, a giant thank you to long-time Patron, Marrietta of Inner Yarn Zen. She dyes beautiful yarn and when I popped over to InnerYarnZen.com, I noticed that she has yarn advent packages available, inspired by both Game of Thrones AND Outlander!
Now, when I did this process myself, here's what I came up with:
Even in the busiest time with toddlers, it was always fun for me to do a few things – chat live with my Starship Captains each week, read books, watch booktube videos and make videos about what I was reading, or my planner, or whatever struck me. I participated in several reading challenges and vlogged my way through them (vlog = daily or weekly video journal) and it was SO MUCH FUN.
Now, that's only tangentially related to what I do for work (which is guiding and inspiring women to create sustainable businesses and lives around their enthusiasm). But it was following MY enthusiasm and it was giving me energy (I could do more than just nap!), so I gave myself permission to focus on it this summer.
And it's always easy for me to host the weekly accountability check-in in the Starship, which is great, because I love what the Starship provides to creative women, and I want to open it to even more makers and artists this fall. I've got a list of new bonuses I'm creating and tools I'm making for Starship Captains, and I'll be announcing those soon. You can head to Taraswiger.com/StarshipBiz to be the first to find out about it.
So that's one area of my business and focus settled – I find it easy, it aligns with my goals and with my bigger mission. Check!
But what about this area that was so fun and easy, making more videos and talking about books? Is there a way to integrate that more into my life?
One of the things I tried this summer was participating in the reading challenges, and hosting a book club for my Starship Captains and essential oil customers. That went SO well and had such a great participation and feedback I knew I wanted to do it again. So looking for connections and putting it together with some other new videos I want to make, I realized the answer was to host a new book club for ANYONE who wants to join, and give those same people all the weird videos I want to make every month.
For $2/mo you can support the podcast, get at least one extra video each month, and join my book club – where you'll vote on the book and we'll read it together. If you want to support the show for $7, you can TELL me what to add to my own reading list each month, get a shout out on social media, and pick the specific topics I cover on the podcast. Head over to Patreon.com/TaraSwiger to join the book club and get extra videos.
Nothing about this podcast will change – you'll still get new episodes every Wednesday, FOR FREE, and the full transcript here at TaraSwiger.com/blog. And if you subscribe on YouTube, you get a video every Monday, usually a bit of behind the scenes of running my own business. If you support the show, you get extra videos, the book club, and more, but most importantly you make THIS free show more sustainable, so I can keep helping more women craft the business they want, so I can keep encouraging you through hard times, and so I can keep taking time to parent my foster kiddos.
Thank you so much for being here, wishing you an enthusiastic week!
In this week's rebroadcast we're tackling the pressure to be perfect.
Because of Instagram and Pinterest, I feel like I have to have it all together – I need to take prettier pictures, I need to have the perfect house, I need to only be eating organic greens and homemade cupcakes with handmade banners on them!
Do you know that feeling? Are you feeling pressured by Instagram to pretend like your life is perfect? Today we’re going to talk about this pressure for perfection and at the end of the episode I’m going to share where I’ll be next.
I've been hearing a lot that there is this pressure, from Instagram and Pinterest (and the internet in general) to be perfect, to edit your life perfectly, to have a perfect house and perfect craft and perfect hair.
And when I heard I thought, yeah, that makes sense, I've felt that. There IS that pressure.
Then I was reading an article in New York magazine about Instagram influencers in the fashion industry – how fashion companies are now paying them to wear their goods – which is something going on in every industry and it makes perfect sense – people are paying attention to their phones more than to commercials, so move your commercials to where people pay attention. But what struck me is that the women who follow these fashion influencers, they feel pressure. Pressure to have the newest Gucci shoe, the newest Prada purse. And I reflected that I never feel that pressure. It may be that I live in East TN, but it's also that I don't follow a lot of fashion accounts and I don't demonstrate my own self-identity through high fashion. So it literally never occurs to me to feel any “pressure” to have anything Louis Vuitton.
And I'm betting the same is true for you. From my conversations with you, you're not very likely to feel pressured by these fashion influencers, and like me, you may be aghast and confused that anyone DOES feel that pressure. Like: why does it even matter? Who cares?
But you DO feel pressured by home bloggers or DIY queens or #planneraddicts to have a beautiful clean home or DIY everything or make your planner really pretty.
This is going to sound harsh, but bear with me, because I'm saying it with love: We feel pressured by these standards because we choose to.
This is a red pill moment – There is no pressure. There is no real pressure. you are creating the pressure by the things you're choosing to pay attention to AND then the comparison program that runs automatically, comparing what you see to your own life.
I'm not saying you don't FEEL legitimate pressure, I'm saying there is no *external* pressure. We are making the pressure inside our own feeds and in our own selves.
If you don't believe me, think of it like this – you are the only person who follows exactly who you follow. NO ONE ELSE follows who you follow. They may follow 4-6 of the same people, and then a bunch of food bloggers. Or internet business dudes who post about taking a private jet to the beach. Or teenagers making duck faces. Or fitness bloggers who post daily workouts. So they are getting a whole bunch of DIFFERENT messages about what Instagram (or a home or a life or a business) “should” be.
And if you still don't believe me – look at people who are successful who you don't follow – do they seem to be following the same rules as the people you've been comparing yourself to? Are they beating themselves up for not looking like Elsie or Emma of @abeautifulmess? Or Stephan West of @westknits? Or @negharfonooni? Or Kristabel of @Iamkristabel? Or Sarah Tasker of @meandorla? or @garyvee? or @galadarling? Or @yespleaseplanning?
And if you are comparing yourself to one of the ones I just mentioned, go look at the other ones – all big accounts, all successful businesses (as far as i know,) and all reallllly different – in content, lifestyle, point of view.
And I can hear you right now: But Tara, if I'm going to operate in this handmade world, or in this knit design world, or build the biz I want to build, this is the world I'm living in, I have to know what's out there, my customers will be comparing, I have to live up to what the other people are doing.
99% of your customers are NOT following all the other accounts you follow. In fact, they are likely following more people they compare themselves to, like Christian moms with 5 kids who find time to write daily devotionals and have sit-down breakfast, or people who color beautiful coloring book pages, or women who compete in fitness competitions, or lesbians who take beautiful nature photography while hiking with their perfect partner. So no, they're not comparing you to the other people like you, they're comparing themselves to the other people like themselves.
And if you wholesale, then yes, your retailers do know what's happening in your industry, but they care far more that you deliver what you promise, on time and that you're easy to work with, than if your house looks perfect and you posted a beautiful shot of dinner.
Now, let's be honest – some pressure isn't coming from your own internal comparison software, some comparison is coming from people in your lives. Maybe your friends talk about their fat thighs, or your mom comments on your kid's clothes or your neighbor jokes that your lawn could use mowing. There is PLENTY of pressure to conform to outside expectations, in our every day life.
So let's not make more for ourselves, ok? Let's not use social media, which can be a place to connect and learn, as a stick to beat ourselves with, ok?
I know, there is an automatic internal computer program that kicks off this comparison trap – you can't even seem to stop it before it's swept you away. So let's look at how to keep it from even running.
Who you follow
If who you follow makes you feel bad about yourself, your life, your home, or your business, stop following them. STOP FOLLOWING THEM. Really, even if it's your best friend or your biggest competitor. You can keep the computer program from running if you don't feed it images
Think of magazines – we all know that reading magazines that only show one kind of beauty, one kind of Ideal Woman, warp our ideas of what's pretty. If all you ever see is skinny 14 year old blonde girls shown in magazines, then that starts to become the “norm” of what beautiful is. And your own internal sense of what's beautiful becomes warped and anyone who doesn't look like that is no longer beautiful.
This points to the STRENGTH of the internet – we can control these images. We can't control what magazines and commercials tell us about beauty or home life or business should look like, but we CAN control what the internet tells us is the “norm”. WE get to decide what's on our internets, by who we follow and what we pay attention to.
So fill up your feed with diversity – diversity of people, of ways of running a handmade business, of content, of ideas. If you're following 50 #planneraddict accounts and you feel bad your planner isn't prettier, STOP. Follow someone like me who writes a scribbled to-do list every day (and gets a lot of stuff done). If you think your house isn't nice enough because you can't afford to buy anything except Target, follow someone who has 10 dogs, follow a food blogger who never shows her house.
When it kicks in, stop it.
So part of this pressure we create in our heads? It's there because we keep feeding it. Not just with who we follow, but with what we KEEP THINKING about it. If you notice your Comparison Software start to run. STOP IT.
You get to choose your next thought. Do you go deeper down the path of flogging your imperfections? Do you fret and spiral?
Or do you choose another thought? It’s HARD to change your thoughts, so change your environment. Stand up. Get off internet, go journal, make a cup of tea. Do something to change something. But don't keep telling yourself: OMG, I have to have blah blah. I have to do blah blah. This isn't as good as so-and-so's. It's totally normal to have those thoughts but what do you do NEXT?
So this is your prescription:
Stop following those you have the hardest time comparing yourself to.
Follow a variety of people doing Instagram in a different way.
This week's rebroadcast is all about stretch goals, and reaching for them.
Did you set a stretch goal this year? How do you know what the right amount of stretch IS? How much is too much? What is ridiculous and what is a good kind of challenging?
Today I'm going to answer a question I got in the Starship, my online community, about Stretch goals. How much is too much? What if you're just being delusional? Is there a way to know what's realistic?
I struggled with this question for a while because, like so many questions about motivating yourself and pushing past your perceived limits, it really comes down to YOU. Are you going to stretch yourself? And is a stretch goal motivating to you? And is this goal in particular motivating to you?
First of all, even if your goal is really really unrealistic, and there's not a chance you're going to hit it, that doesn't make it a bad goal. Really! What matters, and I REALLY want you guys to get this:
What matters is what your goal does for YOU.
I've said this a few times over the years, and it bears repeating – your goal itself doesn't matter. Setting a goal is a tool to help you make a plan. What matters is that you HAVE a plan, and that the plan will move you closer to where you really want to be. How do you know where you really want to be? Set a goal that inspires you and delights you!
Yes, you can do some math to see if your goal is aligned with the pace you've been building your business at so far. For example, if you can see that over the last 2 years your biz has grown 20% per year, then your next income goal for 2018, could be 20% bigger…but what if you're tired of doing things the way you've been doing things? What if you wanna make a quantum leap forward and you're committed to doing the work, doing launches, trying new ways of selling? It's totally possible your business could grow 40% or 50% or 100%! How would you know if any of those is “too big”?
If what you want is a doable goal, you need to be really honest with yourself: Are you willing to do what it takes, learn what you need to learn and grow in the ways you need to grow, in order to reach that goal? Are you willing to be different? Are you willing to become the kind of person who could reach that goal?
If me asking you this got you all panicky, take a deep breath, it's going to be ok! You CAN do it. But you have to believe you can do it!
The second way to figure out if a goal is too big for you is to know yourself: In the past have you been inspired by really ridiculous goals? Or have you felt frozen by them?
Look back at something you accomplished: was your aim something huge and scary? Or did you set small doable goals and work towards them?
Some people do best with crazy big goals, others do best with small doable goals – it's entirely up to you and what works best for you. And although it may be more sexy to say you have a huge goal and that you get inspired by something massive – I promise that it's far far sexier to actually get where you wanna go and feel good on your way there.
At this point, hopefully you have some clarity – that there is no bad goal if it helps you make a plan and take action, that you have to decide you are willing to do the work, and you've identified if you do best with a big or small goal. The final thing to think about when it comes to your stretch goal is your own belief. Do you really believe it's possible? Whether your goal is big or little, if you don't think it's reachable, and it's reachable by YOU, none of it matters.
I have worked with so many women over the years who have set perfectly reasonable goals, totally in alignment with what they'd already done and what they were capable of and… they never got there. They started spinning their tires or they just stopped taking action or they distracted themselves with a million other things.
Because they didn't actually believe they could reach that goal, so they couldn't take the action to work towards it. You can't make yourself take action if you don't think it's leading anywhere, if you think it's a waste of time.
You absolutely have to believe in your goal and believe in yourself – so keep that in mind when you set a big goal…do you believe or are you willing to develop the belief that it's possible.
And by the way, it's really normal to doubt yourself 1000x on your way to your goal! Just this weekend I was totally overtaken by a huge wave of doubt about my own big goals and my upcoming world tour this year. But then I remembered: Every time I've stretched myself I felt like this! Back in the saddle and back to just doing what I know I need to do!
I’m wishing you belief in your goal, and yourself, and an enthusiastic day.
Are you unsure of your next step, because you’re afraid of the reaction you’re going to get? Are you avoiding rejection, because you want to have the approval and acceptance of your customers and audience? Yeah, me too.
Today we’re going to talk even MORE about Rejection – so much fun! Back in episode 171, I suggested you need to get a LOT more rejection in your biz, in order to have more success. And dudes, you really liked that episode! I’ve gotten sooo much feedback about how you needed to hear that, and how you’ve been re-listening, which I totally love!
Let’s dive a little deeper into rejection!
It’s one thing to know you need to get straight-up rejection from a specific gatekeeper – like to get into a show, or get a wholesale account with a shop.
But what about all those times that a fear of rejection from your PEOPLE is holding you back?
Maybe you’re afraid to…
Offer a new product
Raise your prices
Go in a new direction
Stop carrying a favorite product
Or just do anything at all that someone somewhere might not like?
When we’re afraid of those things, it’s very rarely the actual ACTION we’re afraid of, it’s people’s reactions.
And we’re not afraid of their happy or encouraging reactions, we’re totally paralyzed by…rejection. Rejection from our tribe.
And this totally makes sense. We are social beings that need to be in community in order to survive and thrive. We need to get love and acceptance in order to lead a happy life so it makes total sense to be afraid of losing that.
The problem is, we don’t need the love, approval, and acceptance of EVERYONE in order to survive. And the more we seek that acceptance and approval from others, the more restricted we become in our movements, in our risks.
What’s holding you (and me) back isn't a fear of rejection or failure – it’s a fear that we’ll lose the acceptance we seek.
So when you feel frozen, worrying about other people’s responses, you need to stop and ask: Whose approval (or rejection) am I really afraid of here? And is that helpful or appropriate?
I’m just gonna tell you – getting the approval and acceptance of everyone in your audience? Not possible. Trying to get the approval and acceptance of everyone who comes in contact with your work? Or even everyone who really might buy your work? Not possible.
Not only is it impossible to make everyone happy (which we all already know), it’s really damaging, to both you AND your business.
You: it makes you doubt yourself (and your self-trust is your best asset). It kills your confidence. It holds you back from taking steps you should take.
Your business: it holds your biz back from awesome things that others might not approve of! It makes your biz bland and boring and kills the sparkle that’s going to make HUGE fans out of some people.
Look, I get it.
I don’t want anyone ever to disapprove of me.
I don’t want to get unsubscribes from my email list or podcast.
I don’t want to get judge-y emails telling me I’m wrong or misguided.
I haaaate when people misunderstand me and misinterpret my intentions.
But friends, we’re not going to get anywhere near our dream lives and our dream businesses if we try to avoid that disapproval, if we try to avoid rejection, if we seek to get 100% approval from the whole internet at all times.
Every new step you take in your business is a risk. You’ve got to take those risks to succeed. And above all, you have to trust your own gut and good sense about your next direction. Instead of turning outward for your audience's approval, or your mentor’s approval or annnnnyone else’s approval, tune in to what you know the next right step is, to the action that will lead you where you wanna go.