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261: 37th Birthday Lessons

"Just Take a deep breath it's gonna be alright." -Tara Swiger TaraSwiger.com/podcast261

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It's my birthday month, and that means it's time to review my year and share the lessons I learned from another year on the earth.

Each year, on my birthday, I share a  bit about my birthday review process. Just like we do at the new year, I look at what was great, what wasn't, and what lessons is my life teaching me?

To do this birthday review, I use the monthly questions found in my book, Map Your Business. The book has these questions every month for 12 months, so you can start whenever, and make reviewing your month (and planning for the next) a regular part of your business (and life!). You can find the book at on Amazon.

At the bottom of this post, I've linked to all the past birthday posts – they go back 10 years – this will be the eleventh! And I gotta tell you, I read back through last year's transcript and it was SO GOOD. I needed to re-hear the lessons I learned last year!

This year, it was epic.  Big big changes in our lives!

The not-so-good stuff

Before I get to the good stuff and lessons, I want to share the negative side of this year. Now, this isn’t actually bad, it’s stuff I chose, but I don’t want this whole episode to sound like everything is perfect. I made sacrifices this year, but they were my choice to live the life I want, so I was happy to make them.

I didn’t travel as much as I have in past years, although I did go to Columbus, Salt Lake City, San Diego, Charleston, and together we went to see my parents in Oregon and Cookeville, TN. We also went to Asheville a lot.

Also, my business didn’t grow as much as it has in the past. That’s because I didn’t work in it as much as I have in the past, and I made some explicit choices to cut back on some things, which I knew would be a short term loss in exchange for a long term gain of time and energy for other projects. You can hear more about how I streamline my business in episode 224.

This year’s good stuff

  • We became parents! I became a mother! No big deal, my world was just completely shattered by a 3 month old, a 2 year old and 6 week old.
  • Finding meds that work for my mental health.
  • Figuring out how to run a business and be a mom.
  • Learning the foster care system, inside and out.

Lessons learned this year

Motherhood + entrepreneurship is no joke.

I know, y’all veteran moms are saying, uh, yeah, duh.

But I’m gonna be totally honest – I knew it would take a lot of time and energy, but I was not prepared for how much of my BRAIN it took over. I mean, we have no warning, so it’s always a little crazy, but I literally could not think my own thoughts for the first 2-3 weeks. It was all baby thoughts, all the time. Thinking of even my own needs, like to shower or to read a book was not even an option.. and so of course the deeper, thinky stuff like my business was just not even accessible to my brain.

Now, that is for a short(ish) time, but even after we’re used to each other and it becomes less of a shock that THERE IS A BABY IN MY HOUSE, I never fully recovered my thinking brain. So that makes dong things like strategic planning, or heck, even writing a podcast REALLY hard.

And so the lesson was: it is more emotionally and mentally intense than I was expecting and also: everything will be ok. It’s ok to not be at 100%. It is OK to feel slightly slow all the time.

I need more grace

One of the things I struggled with most during this transition to motherhood (which is still ongoing, just on pause until we get the next placement!), is being really hard on myself. I have never been a perfectionist, I am always saying “oh, it’s fine. Done is better than perfect.” I’d rather have something done and then fix and upgrade and improve on it than try to perfect it from the start.

So I was totally surprised when I became so hard on myself for everything related to child care (especially with the toddler). I was disappointed I didn’t feed her even more whole foods. I was disappointed I snapped at her. I was frustrated when her nap didn’t happen. I think it’s that I didn’t see that, just like my business, this parenting gig is a progressive thing. You don’t have to get it perfect the first time, you just doing your best and something less than your best because you’re tired or annoyed and it all works together to be fine.

The good news is, I recognized this. I recognized that so much of being a foster parent is out of my control, and I was being really relaxed about not being in control of the system and the big stuff (will she go or stay? How many visits per week?), I was instead trying to exert control over the situation by controlling myself, controlling my parenting, and constantly beating myself up for not doing enough.

So when I recognized it, I talked to other moms. I talked to some of you on Instagram Stories and I talked to moms in real life and I decided to give myself more grace. Grace to be imperfect. Grace to mess up. Grace to even make the wrong decision sometime, knowing that it’ll be ok.

I know I’m not alone in this and I know it’s not at all about parenting – it’s about being nice to yourself vs holding yourself to some impossible standard.

So I’m gonna invite you to give yourself some grace.

My business will survive!

As Jay put it as we were talking about this episode, I learned that  “your business can survive your lowest point, and your highest stress.” Because, seriously, that’s what this year was full of. From having the worst depressive episode last summer, to the stress of having a 2 year old who is a total stranger – I put my business on hold more this year than I ever have. Yes, I streamlined and planned for the first maternity leave (when we got our placement in October)… but right as I was starting to work again, she went home. And then it took me a while to get back in the swing of productivity and we got our 2 year old friend. And it took me over a month to get a handle on any kind of productivity. She stayed 3 months so I got into a good workflow during the days she was out of the house… but then she left. And 2 weeks later we got a baby for a week.

All that to say, one maternity leave is great, but all of the unknown and the emotions, and the wanting to not to commit to anything, because I may have to cancel at the last minute… it’s hard on me and hard on my business.

And yet… my business is resilient. My audience won’t all leave. Actually, most won’t even notice when I go silent for a week or two, as long as my promises are fulfilled (students get what they bought and the podcast keeps dropping each Wednesday morning).

Now, my business is extra-resilient because I set up lots of systems to keep it running (again, I talk about those in episode 224 and teach you how to do it in my workbook at TaraSwiger.com/leave)

But I always had a little bit of doubt, I worried that if I didn’t do X or Y or if I cancelled on someone or didn’t follow through, everything would fall apart. And while it did slow down, it did not fall apart.
I wanna share that with you, because I know a lot of you have the same fear. So just take a deep breath, it’s gonna be alright.

Taking care of myself is everything

This year really challenged me to step up how I treat myself. Emotionally, by giving myself more grace, but also physically, by ya know, actually taking time to shower, to go walk in nature, to diffuse the essential oils I’m craving. I’ve known this for a long time, but when I didn’t really have anyone depending on me to be at my best, I would tell myself that it wasn’t important. Even though I know I’ve had my biggest business growth and had the best mental health in the years that I was running longer races (2013-2015), I told myself it wasn’t worth the time.

But I am working on changing that message, on valuing myself enough to take care of myself. As Jay says “Your entire job and business is based on you being the best Tara you can be. It only survives if YOU are feeling great.”

So although I’d love for us to take care of ourselves simply because we are valuable, I’ll be honest that I had to have another reason to convince me. Knowing the kids in my life deserve my best, and knowing that you and the business deserve my best – has convinced me. (This is classic enneagram 2, I’ll do it to help someone else.)

Because of this lesson, I created a free 5 day Challenge for y’all, along with a workshop. It walks you through 5 days of just doing teeny tiny things to take better care of yourself. And after the challenge is over, I’m sharing my own journey of taking better care, in monthly exclusive letters. You can join at taraswiger.com/takecare

Thanks so much and have another enthusiastic year.

Past Birthday posts

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.

211: On my 36th birthday

Regular review is essential to thriving in any business. Each year on my birthday I review what I’ve learned over the past year. Learn more about all the lessons I learned this year at TaraSwiger.com/podcast211

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It's my birthday month, and that means it's time to review my year and share the lessons I learned from another year on the earth.

Links I mentioned:

Past Birthday posts:

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.

The magical power of celebration and review

I just celebrated a birthday! As I do each year, I looked back on the last year and, well, my whole life. Today I share what that review looks like, all of the other ways I build review and celebration into my business, and how you can review your last month. Listen to the episode at TaraSwiger.com/podcast110/

Play

I just celebrated a birthday! As I do each year, I looked back on the last year and, well, my whole life. Today I share what that review looks like, all of the other ways I build review and celebration into my business, and how you can review your last month.

 In this episode:

  • My Annual Birthday review
  • Weekly celebration
  • Why I start with the question “What's going well?” in the weekly Starship chat
  • Monthly review (a part of both Lift Off and Starship)


You can find the Monthly Review questions in Challenge 6 of the #monthofbizlove workbook! Get it here! 

My past birthday posts:

  • 33
  • 32
  • 31
  • 30
  • 29 (I opened the Starship!)
  • 28 (I launched this site!)
  • 27

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’ve learned in 33 years

WhatIveLearnedin33Years

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Today's my birthday! In today's episode, I look back at all the awesomeness of the last year and share what I've learned about my business (and life).

Past birthday posts:

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!).
  • Get all the blog posts, email lessons + podcast episodes in your inbox, subscribe via email.

Find all the podcast episodes here.

On my 32nd birthday

Rocking the bangs & the pink sweaters & the flyaway hair way back in...86? I think I'm 4ish. #tbt

It's my birthday! Yay!

It's become a kind of tradition that I reflect back on the last year + share what I've learned (and accomplished) each year on my birthday.
Finally cold enough for tights, sweater, shawl. #yayfall
Of course, I always do this on my own, for myself (I talk about that more in tomorrow's episode)…but I also share it here for two reasons:

  1. It takes time.
    I think that, when you're looking at anyone's life and business from the outside, it's easy to miss just how long it took them. (More on that here). By sharing the last year (and a quick brief on the years before), I hope that it helps you see that everyone's growth goes slowly, piece by piece.
  2. Celebration is important.
    It's more socially acceptable (and comfortable!) to be modest, humble and self-effacing…to the point where we skip over acknowledging our accomplishments and move on to the next thing. (Claudine and I chatted about just this!) But celebration is important – it keeps you going, it reminds you of your awesomeness, and it builds your confidence so you try the next thing. Since I build my work around encouraging others to celebrate, I have to do it myself in order to have integrity. It's my hope that, as uncomfortable as this may make me, it serves as a model for your OWN celebration.

Auditioning all-over pink for Boston trip. Will it last the whole week? (This after 3 washes). #hmm

A look back…

Last year, I reflected that you never know where a tiny step is going to take you

Two years ago, I shared my secret of success. Then I started leading in-person workshops, finished two quilts, and explored my enthusiasm. I trained for (and ran!) a 5k
Three years ago, I explained why I was giving it all away and opened the Starship. The following year I got a book deal, wrote my book, and gave my first live speech. It was a sparkly year, full of firsts + traveling + feeling like a rock star.
Four years ago, I welcomed you to this site. The following year I moved from individual classes to building a community for makers, and got my first “big” client. My house was broken into (multiple times) and we moved suddenly into a 10×10 room, with all our stuff in storage, for 3 months. It was a rough year, but by my birthday I was feeling brave.
Five years ago, I was at the beach, about to quit my dayjob. That year I became self-employed, and opened a yarn shop (and quickly closed it, when I recognized that I wasn't having fun). It was a year of boldly following my enthusiasm through fear.
Six years ago, I was working full-time in an office, making yarn at nights and weekends, growing my business.
Seven years ago, I was teaching and dyeing custom colors for a local yarn store.
Eight years ago, I was managing a paint-your-own-pottery studio, beginning to dye yarn, but hadn't even dreamed of starting a yarn company.

After missing the first day and a half of the beach thanks to the flu, I'm that much more thankful to finally be in the sea air. #windy

This year, I feel like I fully let my enthusiasm become by business advisor and I doubled the Starship membership, opened the Solo Mission, and created 4 new digital workshops.
Later, Boston. See you tonight. xoxo, your new girlfriend.
I also got brave + bold with my in-person teaching: I taught at the national trade show for the knitting industry (!) in San Diego (and learned an important lesson), two workshops in Boston, at community colleges and arts councils around North Carolina, and signed a contract to teach with CreativeLIVE. I dedicated myself to helping you explore your Enthusiasm, by hosting the Exploration Party in July and by starting a podcast (Explore Your Enthusiasm) last month. Oh, and I totally redesigned by whole website.

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

I found a good balance between work and play- I finished 2 quilts (and started 2 more), I started painting and I picked knitting back up.

Emerald Isle quilt

But I definitely made less this year than others, because I spent a lot more time outdoors: I ran my first 10k, in the Redwoods (and of course, trained for it most of the winter).

Hiked 4 miles to swim at the falls (& then 4 miles back. Oof).

I went to the Outer Banks with my extended family, took a roadtrip with a college roommate, watched the sun set on my brother's boat, visited my dad twice, celebrated a friend's wedding, and met a whole host of students, friends and fellow biz explorers during my travels. Jay and I spent endless evenings snuggled in with great food and our favorite TV shows.

More from my goodbye to the Oceanside Pier yesterday, because pretty. (& running though CLT requires pretty).
There were, of course, less-than-awesome moments. Beau had a weird growth on his mouth, that required several hundreds of dollars in vet visits (and one surgery)…to discover it's just an bacterial overgrowth of skin and nothing to be worried about. There were misunderstandings, hurt feelings, and one friend-break-up (Jay's). There was hope and possibility, disappointment and impatience.
The rain is busy pelting the petals off the trees, so I wanna remember this moment in last week's run. #yayspring #foundwhilerunning

But really, when I look back, I can't remember much about the bad, sad, or exhausting. I remember the beautiful spring runs, the seabreeze, the hugs, conversation, smiles, and gigglefits. I remember the moments when I felt loved or understood. I remember that this was a year full of love and opportunities.

And that's all I can hope for the coming year.

The Adventures

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

 

Pro-tip: put a cookie sheet under your cobbler so when it (inevitably) boils over, you don't scorch strawberry juice in your oven. #oops #yum #vegan
This is happening! Strawberry rhubarb pie!Driving little bro to the airport, knitting @ttldesigns Stacatto. #carknitting #brothersisteradventureIntrovert Recovery Day a rousing, lazy success: painting, reading, cleaning, chili-cooking, pie-making, and now there's a kitten on my belly and a dog at my feet.

Adventure Notes

  • This pie was delicious. I didn't have a pie crust made, so I left it crustless…and it was delightful.
  • I just started knitting Staccato, and several knitters have commented they want to join me. Let's have an impromptu knit-along! Just weet/Instagram with the hashtag #staccatoKAL to share your pictures + progress. You can see the yarns I'm using on Ravelry.
    • MONDAY is my birthday! Yay!

Some very generous friends wanted to send gifts…only to realize that my address isn't anywhere. If you want it, just ask.

 

Happy Birthday, Dyl!

The brothersDarling Pickle,

On this moment (just a minute after midnight), 9 years ago, you came into this world.

I was 350 miles away, in my dorm room, just 2 months into my freshman year.
But I knew you were coming and I couldn't sleep. My (new) friends gathered in the floor of my (tiny) room.

The phone range – you arrived! I hung up the phone, trembling, tears streaming down my face. The room erupted in squeals, hugs, laughing, crying! We were celebrating you, my Dyl, your birth into my life and into our family.

I'm still friends with those girls and we all recall that night with fondness. They can't believe you're as big as you are.

Dylan in chair

But I can. I'm so proud of what you've grown into.
Hardworking. Silly. Smart.  A great snuggler. Awesomesauce.

(and lest you think I'm just here to embarrass you – I'm sitting in Starbucks with tears streaming down my face as I write this!)

To celebrate our friendship, I'm giving away free shipping in my yarn shop, because I don't know how else to include everyone in our celebration. And I really do want EVERY one (in the whole world!) to know how happy I am to have you as my brother.

1043847999_08b6b5d46c

But since I know you don't give a snot about yarn, we'll celebrate today in a way befitting your 9 years: pancakes (with choclate chips + M&Ms), a double feature, video games, making our own pizzas.

So let's get this party started!

All my love,

Sis

PS. If you're not the birthday boy but you want to party in a yarn-y way, snag some yarn and put “Pickle” in the Message to Seller and get free shipping, all weekend.