Weekly-ish notes on navigating big change


The Adventures – July 2016


Here's a round-up of what I saw, did, and read this month! Follow me on SnapChat for in-the-moment photos + videos!

The News:

  • I'm teaching a full-day marketing workshop for yarn-y people, in collaboration with a yarn rep/store owner this month! Join us here.
  • If you're in the UK, check the only biz-focused workshops I'll be holding during my tour in November! Join before spots fill up! 

The view

IMG_0225 IMG_0212 IMG_0185 IMG_0170 IMG_0139 IMG_0102 IMG_0049

I am so grateful for…

  • Good books
  • An amazing team (thanks Jess + Jay!) that makes things happen even when I can't
  • A quick trip to the beach, before my teaching gig

The Finds:

I’m reading:

I’m eating:

  • Homemade corn dogs – so simple and cute! Take cornbread muffins + pop in a bit of (vegan) hot dog: homemade corn pups!
  • ALL of the basil pesto (I don't measure it anymore, but this is the basic idea)
  • Blueberry pancakes topped with blueberry syrup (just cook the blueberries on medium heat until they pop and get gooey)


How about you? What went well in your month?

Open to adventure

Stay foggy, San Diego. #latergram #tnna

A few months ago my publisher sent me an email that said something like, “Just wanted to forward this in case you missed it, I think you'd be great.” Attached to her message was an email from The National Needlearts Association inviting teachers to apply to teach at their national conference in San Diego.

I immediately thought: that's not really what I do. This isn't for me.

But I left the email in my inbox (which is uncommon – I ruthlessly delete or file or boomerang) because the idea of it appealed to me. Half my family lives in Oceanside and I visit them every year or two anyhow…wouldn't it be nice to get paid to do that?

The email sat there, waiting, until I opened it again to see if it had expired, if it was already too late to apply (I assumed and kinda hoped it was). No, I still had a week left. So even though this still seemed like absolutely the kind of thing I wouldn't do, I put it on my calendar, to remind me when applications closed, and I boomeranged the message to come back on that day.

It's a seriously gorgeous day for #TNNA

On the very last day, both my calendar and inbox both reminded me to apply. And I thought: What's the harm? I'd already developed classes that could serve the needs of TNNA attendees (shops, designers, dyers), so I had material ready. In fact, at the last TNNA conference, several Starship Captains attended…and if I was already helping them online, why not help them live?

So official! #tnna

So I applied. And...I got accepted!
And I worked super hard rewriting the classes (and workbooks) for this particular audience.
Things went all wrong (flight delays meant I didn't land in time to print workbooks so I had sprint across town at 11pm to print + collate…) and yet, it was great.

A fabulous (blurry) night with  @quaternityknits @knitterotica @picnicknits @YarnoverTruck @thedahliascene and more!

I met smart, generous, interesting shop owners and clever, ambitious, talented designers. I got to hug two Starship Captains in person. I got recognized in an elevator, which made me feel like a rock star (it was Corrina and we had a great time hanging out…because I'm not actually a rock star.)

Yesterday's Social Media for Yarn Shops workshop was filled with smart & generous shop owners! Here are two of them, @woolandgrace & @colors91711 #tnna

And it was awesome.

This morning, while I was in Introvert Recovery,  I was thinking  that I almost didn't do this. All because I had an image of what I do and what I'm building with my work and I wasn't open to something new.

This is something we all struggle with – so many people (perhaps well-meaning family members?) give us suggestions for what we should do with our business, that we get into a default mode of No-Saying.
“No, that's not really what I do.”
“No, I'm too busy with other projects.”
“No, I'm not that kind of X (teacher, writer, artist, maker)”

And that's smart. You don't want to do everything. Everything isn't for you. No one knows your work better than you do.

But what if you changed your default position from No to Open?

You might still say no, but you'll first take a moment to consider it. You'll be open to possibility. Open to opportunity. Open to connecting to disparate ideas into something new.

Here. And after a  sprint (.7 miles) through downtown San Diego to  Kinkos before they closed at 11 pm (tomorrow morning's class workbooks!), I'm finally ready. For bed.

This is different from saying an indiscriminate YES to everything, because it comes from a different place. Instead of feeling desperate and needy (for approval, for validation, for acknowledgement), you're coming from a place of willingness and curiosity. What if you DID say yes? What if you took a moment to explore the idea and see if it might work?

This is exactly what I'll be asking myself this year, as I explore my new word of the year: Open.
It's about opening to opportunity, opening to ideas, opening to flow.
Being open in expression, in enthusiasm, in my own power.

What do you want to be open to?

Bravery outside the safe space

Ok, time for another un-awesome truth.

Yay! New pink shoes thanks to my shoe-fairy @lindsaydrake.

You know how I'm teaching 4 workshops in the next few days? Yeah, I'm nervous.

Although I teach all the time, I don't often hold in-person workshops. On top of that, the Western North Carolina Art Councils are not my typical audience. Usually, when you come to one of my classes (in person or online) you already know me. You come because you've been reading this blog, or my book, or you get my emails. You have an idea of what you're getting – a fast-talking, pink-haired, enthusiastic book nerd with a few too many pop culture references.

That's because, like I'm always encouraging you to do, I fill my business with my Right People, and I focus all my energy on serving them. That means I am pretty much always surrounded by people who both get me and like me. But at these workshops, students aren't coming because they know me, they're coming because they're HIA members and they want to learn the subject matter.

This tiny shift is monumental.
It means that, for the first time in a long time, I'm not already totally comfortable. I'm hesitant being my weird self. And the truth is, I debated with myself: is it better to focus solely on the self-selected Right People…or go outside my already-defined comfort zone and serve not-yet-my-Right People.

But even though I still have no idea how it will go, or if I'll fail miserably, I am confident that this is the right thing to do. I know I need to wade out into unknown waters and try something new. Even if I bomb, I need to show myself that I can take the flawed, enthusiastic self and be fully ME in front of perfect strangers. I need to trust that what holds true with us, here, in the safe spaces I've built (on the blog, email, Twitter, and the Starship), will hold true in the Outside World. That openness, bravery, and exploration work for me all the time, and that business help that centers on defining your ideal business speaks to everyone.

Oh, I still stand by my assertion that you should focus your marketing energy on your Right People, 100% of the time. You don't need to try to make yourself uncomfortable and scared. Life provides enough moments to be brave. But if an opportunity comes up for you to meet a whole new audience? One that you just don't know about yet? Take it. Try it.

What Brave New Thing have you done lately? Let's celebrate our bravery in the comments!

PS. Also, thanks to a tip from Alex, I'm using science to calm myself. I'm not nervous, I'm vibrating with anticipation! I'm not sweaty, I'm enthusiastic!