Fear Rejection? Read This!

I received my first rejection letter the other day. It was a pretty heartbreaking. And I’m not going to lie. I really wanted to “take it in stride,” and “keep my chin up,” and “move forward,” and “dream bigger,” and all of those other things we’re supposed to do when things don’t go as we had hoped. But I couldn’t do any of those things. I felt like I had been punched in the stomach. Like I’d been lead on, then let down. I was hurt, embarrassed, and disappointed.

So I spent the day just being generally morose and mopey.

And then when people started getting sick of that attitude, I had to explain why I felt that way. Which meant I had to figure out why I felt that way. Sure, I was bummed that something I had tried hadn’t worked out. I was frustrated that I had invested time and energy into something I was confident would pay off and then it didn’t. I was defensive about being misunderstood. But it was more than all that.

It was that this was the first time I’ve ever received a rejection letter, so I didn’t have any practice dealing with the emotions that come with that. And that alerted me to a much bigger problem.

Why on earth am I getting my first rejection letter at the age of 32? I can promise you it’s not because I’m SO amazing that everyone in the world wants to hire me, fund my education, and publish my stuff. I’m pretty awesome, but no one is THAT awesome.

It’s because I’m not putting myself out there enough. I’m not giving anyone anything to reject.

When I was little I really wanted to be an actress. I dressed in gowns and practiced my oscar acceptance speeches and worked on my diva demands. But when it came time to audition, I was shy and terrified. I couldn’t even speak. While I yukked it up in middle school drama class, I never auditioned for the school plays because there was a chance I wouldn’t be cast.

In high school I fell in love with stories and majored in writing in college. I was positive I’d be an author or write regularly for magazines. My professors were always impressed with my work and I even won the University’s award of excellence in nonfiction writing. But I have never submitted a single piece for publication. Unfinished book proposals sit on floppy discs (Yes! Floppy discs!) that I don’t even know how to access. While I admire Stephen King and his story of pinning his first rejection letter to his wall as if it was a certificate of achievement, I was just not that brave. (By the way, if you’re at all interested in writing, Stephen King’s On Writing is one of the best books I’ve read about life as a writer.) I just couldn’t believe that anything I wrote was really good enough to be published, so I never even tried.

And so I’ve managed to make a life out of playing it safe. Now I can hear you saying, “But Emily! You put yourself out there every day with your business! You put your designs out in the world for everyone to judge. You write this blog that at least a dozen people including your parents and closest friends read!” But it’s different. I can design an invitation and put it on my site and maybe no one will buy it. But maybe that’s because no one is seeing it! And sometimes 2 years later someone DOES buy it! So putting something out there and not seeing an immediate reward isn’t really a “no.” It’s more of a “not yet.” Just like doing your hair and wearing your tight jeans to a bar and not getting hit on isn’t the same as asking someone out and having a drink thrown in your face.

So where is this long walk down memory lane headed? Oh yeah. To my wake up call. Getting a rejection letter was in no way a signal to stop trying. It was a call to try more. To try harder. To try often and with reckless abandon. To reach way beyond my grasp. To put myself out there in new and scary ways. I actually kind of thought this was something I was already doing. Building a business takes guts. I tell people all the time to stop analyzing, stop asking “what if?” and just go for it. And I thought that was how I was living my life. But if I’ve been able to skate through gently for over 30 years without making many waves, pissing anyone off, or getting any gut-punching rejections, then I haven’t been living big enough.

It’s almost as if I’ve been rejecting myself before I even had a chance to get rejected by someone else. And that is a really sad thought.

But what made this time different? Why did I put myself out there and submit my work when there was a chance it might not be accepted? Because I thought it was pretty good! I thought it would get accepted! And then it hit me–it actually is good. And I really didn’t need it to be accepted because I had already accepted it. So someone else rejected it. Bummer. They’re losing out on the chance to work with me. Their opinion doesn’t all of a sudden make my work not good enough. It just wasn’t a good fit. And in the long run, it’s probably for the best. Because if I’m wasting my time on pursuits that aren’t quite the right fit, I’m missing out on all of the right opportunities. And if I hold back and don’t show anything at all? Well then the whole world is missing out on what I have to offer.

So I’m issuing a call to action. Put yourself out there. Your raw, unfinished, imperfect self. Give yourself a chance. Write something, paint something, apply for something, submit something, enter a contest, try out for a team, audition for a show. Give the world a chance to love you. And if they don’t? Screw ’em. And write a blog about what you learned and get back out there.

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Daily Design Challenge

When I started this challenge a few days ago, it was just something I was doing to give myself a kick in the pixie pants. But then something pretty super happened. I posted a couple designs on instagram (to hold myself accountable) and mentioned I was doing a “daily design challenge” and people perked up! They weren’t just interested in my journey–they were inspired to challenge themselves too! How freaking rad is that? So I’m making it a thing.

Daily Design Challenge by Fresh Paper Studios

Join me on instagram @freshpaperstudios

Before I get too carried away, let me pause, rewind, and start at the beginning.

A few days ago I was listening to some of Sean McCabe’s podcasts. (Side note: if you are a busy work-at-home type and you feel like you never have time to learn, take classes, read books, podcasts could be your new best friend. I listen while cutting paper. It’s awesome.) He mentioned this “Early wake, daily write” thing he’s doing. I thought “Ooo! I should wake early and write daily!” I actually really like getting up before everyone else. Pre-baby, I was an early riser by choice. Post-baby, I was an early riser by force. So when Olivia started sleeping until 7, I followed suit in an effort to catch up on 3 years of lost sleep. But I’m finally at the point that I can go to bed a little early and wake up even just half an hour before everyone and really enjoy that time! So wouldn’t it be great to use that time for a daily challenge?

Only I could feel in my gut that writing daily was not the challenge for me at this time. Down the road? Sure! I love writing and I’d love to do it more often. I think it’s super important. But there’s something more important and more urgent for my personal fulfillment and my business right now.

See, I’ve been feeling a little slumpy lately. Or maybe a lot slumpy. I’ve mentioned before how easy it is to fall into the routine of working IN a business rather than ON it. And despite all of the time I spend reading about business, I’m not actually making time to follow through. Sure, I have legit excuses. Toddler. Busy shop. Dishes. But at the end of the day, they’re still excuses.

And while there are a lot of things I’d like to do to work on my business, (make a marketing plan, systematize various processes, define my vision,) at the heart of my slump there’s this: I don’t feel creative anymore. I think a huge part of that is that I don’t devote time to designing new stuff. Sure, I take on custom projects here and there and that’s fun. But I have never made it routine to just spend time designing for the sake of designing. There’s always an end-goal in mind, and sometimes I think that gets in the way of being truly creative.

So before I talk your head off, here are the rules of the challenge!  Please join me! Sunday is June 1st, so if you like to start things at the beginning of the month, you can wait until then. But I’d urge you to just start now. (If you’re reading this at the end of a busy day and “now” means tomorrow morning, that’s fine too!) There is nothing magical about the first of the month–and please please don’t wait until the first of the year! Start now while you’re thinking about it. While you’re motivated. Before you have time to find a reason not to.

Daily Design Challenge Rules

1. Wake up early
2. Design something

And that’s it! Okay, really, I need a few more guidelines, so I’ll share those too. But if you just do those two things–imagine how you’ll feel at the end of the week! At the end of the month! At the end of a whole year of just waking up and designing something!

More rules if you’re a person who likes rules:

1. Wake up early – it doesn’t have to be really early! Just 5 minutes earlier than you typically get up. You can increase it to 10 later, then to 20 or 30 or an hour. But start with 5 minutes. The key to the challenge is getting your design on before doing anything else. (You can make coffee first. Let the dog out if you must. But don’t check your email or facebook or instagram or pinterest.) So unless you already have plenty of down time in the morning before you start doing your daily thing, you probably have to get up a few minutes earlier.

2. Design something – ANYTHING! If you design invitations, sure, design some invitations. But also try designing a logo. Or a mug. Or wallpaper. The goal is not just to design a whole bunch of new products you can sell–although I’d bet money that you will end up with several! The goal is just to exercise your creative spirit. Like if I were a sporty type I might make the metaphor that athletes don’t just show up for the game, they devote time to daily practice.

3. Starting is better than not starting – You might not have enough time to complete an entire design each day. Don’t let that hold you back from starting. 5 minutes of designing still stretches your creative muscle more than 5 minutes of checking facebook. Partial designs are totally acceptable!

4. Perfection not required – I really struggled with today’s design (I wanted to make an image that’s about the challenge. A design that represents a design challenge? Talk about pressure!) But I’m putting it out there anyway. It’s not perfect. It’s not my best work. But it doesn’t have to be. The point is that I got up and I designed something. And it doesn’t SUCK. (Right? RIGHT?!) But even if it did suck, it’s important to just do it–just for the practice.

5. Share – Everyone knows the best way to hold yourself accountable is to tell people you’re going to do something. I’m posting all of my daily designs on instagram. And I know there are at least a handful of people expecting to see my design each day. That is so much more powerful than just having a goal in my own private head. I don’t know why we let it be acceptable to let ourselves down, but I know I’m constantly breaking promises to myself. Strangerfriends on the internet, though? Well I’ll be damned if I’m going to let them down!

fresh paper studios daily design challenge days one through three

Days 1-3 of my daily design challenge

So there ya go! That’s what I’ll be up to for a while. (Don’t worry, I’m still going to do my mompreneur thing too! Sorry I’ve been absent for a couple Mondays.) I haven’t set an end date like a month or 100 days or anything. I guess I’m not ready to give myself permission to quit just yet. Please join me in the challenge! Everything’s more fun with a friend, so I’d love to see what you’re up to. The easiest way is to get hashtaggy on instagram. Post your designs each day and tag with #dailydesignchallenge And if you’re like me and doing this to get yourself out of a slump, the adorable Polkadot Paper Company came up with #getoutofthatdesignslump (cute, right?)

I can’t wait to see what you design!

Don’t Waste Another Minute Working Toward the Wrong Goal

What’s the “wrong goal?” Anything that doesn’t push you closer to living your dream life. If you are spending 60, 70, 80 hours a week working because “successful business owners work 80 hours a week,” you’re probably working toward the wrong goal. If you’re making money but you can’t spend it doing what you enjoy because your business won’t allow you to take a vacation, you’re probably working toward the wrong goal. If you quit your day job because you wanted freedom and working for yourself feels like prison, you’re probably working toward the wrong goal.

Whether you’re just thinking about starting a business or you’ve been running a company for years, it’s time to sit down and really articulate why you do what you do. And I don’t mean why your business does what it does. I mean why do you even have or want a business?

Heavy stuff.

But necessary stuff. If you don’t know what you’re working toward, how will you know when you get there? I know, that sounds super cliche, but it’s true! Many of us start businesses because we have a great idea or we want to work from home to be with our kids or we make something cute and friends say we should sell it. And at first business is probably slow. So we work and work and work to get our names out there, to market, to sell, to grow. And then we start actually making money and it feels so thrilling! But somewhere along the way we find we’re still working and working and working. And now we’re making some money… but we’re not loving our lives. “But this is just part of the process,” we tell ourselves. “I need to get through this part so I can be successful,” we say.

And then what? How will we know when we got there? When our bank account hits a certain number? When we’re featured in a certain number of magazines? When Oprah gives us her official stamp of approval?

Well let me tell you a secret. Unless you change something about the way you work–and define WHY you work–right now, you’ll be even busier and more miserable if and when you hit that (arbitrary/monetary/outside-imposed) benchmark of success.

So today we’re going to take the first step toward getting on the right path. We’re going to define what the “right goal” really is for each of us.

The first step toward living your dream is defining it

Michael Gerber, author of The E-Myth Revisited (my fave!) calls this your “Primary Aim,” Sarah Jenks and Nisha Moodley (who host a retreat that sounds like heaven) call it your “Why.” Call it “Define Success For You” or your “Life Goal,” I don’t really care what you call it, I just care that you write it.

This is different from your purpose and it’s different from your mission statement. Your Primary Aim is the big picture of what you want your life to look like. And this is how I wrote mine:

1. Go somewhere quiet, pour yourself something tasty to drink (coffee, lemonade, wine, whatever sounds good), and sit down with a journal and a pen. Close your eyes and picture your life in 10 or 20 years. Your dream life, not your “I’m going to be chained to this cubical for 50 years” life. Where are you? Reading on a secluded beach? Skiing the Swiss Alps? Diving off the deck of your lake house? What are you doing? Who are you with? What do you smell and taste? What do you feel on your skin? Sit with this for a minute or two or five. Wait for the smile to come across your face. What emotions are you experiencing just dreaming about this?

2. Open your eyes and write it all down. Keep writing. What’s your typical day like? How are you spending your time? What kind of home do you live in? Who do you see regularly? Write for as long as you can. Make that picture clear. This picture of your dream life is the foundation of your Primary Aim. If you are not actively working toward having that dream life–then what the hell are you working toward?

Don’t get hung up on whether this feels selfish. It’s not selfish to dream or want a magnificent life. And don’t bother trying to make your dream life look how it’s “supposed” to. I don’t dream of living on a tropical beach. I like to be warm, I like visiting tropical beaches, but I don’t need to be washing sand out of places day in and day out. My dream life involves a comfortable home with a large deck. A deck with a view. I dream of drinking coffee on this deck in the mornings while I write and sketch and read and just breathe. I envision entertaining friends on this deck in the evenings. I imagine watching shooting stars with my family from this deck late at night when reasonable people should be in bed.

My vision of my business 20 years from now doesn’t include me clocking in at 6am and crawling home at midnight. I pop in and check in to make sure things are running smoothly and our customers are loving their invitations, I give hugs and pep talks to my employees, I connect with people, I remind everyone to take a break and have some fun. Then I go home and eat dinner on my deck!

3. Take this dream life description–and you may even choose to wait a few days or weeks to really let it sink in– then try summarizing this dream. In some ways this summary will be more concise because it’s fewer words, but in others it will also be more broad. The way I approached this was writing a bulleted list that completes the sentence, “In my dream life I get to…” For me, my answer is

  • Be creative every day
  • Have time to enjoy my family
  • Have the money I need to do what I enjoy
  • Live with my family in a beautiful and comfortable home (with a big deck!)
  • Set an example (for my kids, other women, and young people around the world) of living my dream

4. Now summarize it even more. Write a paragraph or a series of short sentences that really clearly defines your Primary Aim. WHY are you doing all of “this?” (And “this” is whatever it is you’re working on right now.) It might not actually be much different than the list you made in Step 3, and that’s fine! Just think of it as the “pocket size” version of your dream life’s big picture. Something you can memorize and articulate. Here’s mine:

Remember: The point of ALL of this is… To live in and enjoy a beautiful home and life with my family… To have the time and resources to create, laugh, and play… To be an example of dreaming, risking, and achieving.

That’s it! So simple, seemingly attainable, but really what I dream of! I mean how many people can honestly say they spend as much time as they want to with their family? Or that they’re making the money they need to take vacations and just play? So your primary aim might be bigger or it might be smaller–for me, this is it!

5. Write it down and hang it up. Hooray! You just defined your Primary Aim in life! That’s huge! But it means nothing if you’re not looking at it every single day. It’s amazing how quickly we lose sight of our true goals in life when we’re stuck in the routine of just doing doing doing. You have to have a physical reminder of your Primary Aim to keep you on target.  It can be as simple as a post it on your mirror or a card you carry in your wallet, or you can go all out and design a pretty print that you frame or hang on your bulletin board. Whatever’s going to work to get you to actually look at it and think about it.

6. Use this as your filter. You get to make about a zillion decisions every day. Some are easier than others. Some will keep you up at night. When at all possible, use your Primary Aim as a guide to help you make those tough decisions. Ask yourself, “Which path will lead me toward that dream life?” (And if the answer is “both!” then you probably can’t make a bad choice here. If the answer is “neither!” maybe it’s time to bring in an alternative choice!) I find the times I’m most frequently paralyzed by indecision is just in the basic question of what task to do next. My Primary Aim acts as a guide to help me prioritize. When I’m staring at a list of ten tasks–which of them actually allow me to experience my dream life right now? (Playing whole-heartedly with Olivia, going out to dinner, drinking coffee on the deck.) Which will move my game piece forward on the path toward living my dream life daily? (Working on my business, taking risks, putting $20 in a savings account.) Which tasks really don’t align with my Primary Aim at all? (Scrolling through facebook, comparing my work to others’, perfecting my list of excuses for avoiding exercise.)

7. Use this as your pep talk. Sometimes we still have to do things we don’t love doing. Sometimes our daily tasks are monotonous and boring–but still necessary. For example, I really really hate doing dishes. It’s just one of those daily chores that is so unsatisfying because while the dishwasher is running, someone will inevitably use another dish and the sink stack begins again. But the alternative is not doing dishes at all and that’s even worse than doing them. So how does this relate to my Primary Aim? Well part of my dream life is to live in a beautiful home. And to me, part of living in a beautiful home is having a clean kitchen. So while I may not live in my ultimate dream house right now, I can do everything within my power to make the home I do live in beautiful and comfortable. I can clean the damn kitchen. And it may seem silly, but somehow changing my thinking from “I’m doing the dishes because I have to,” to “I’m doing the dishes because I will enjoy my beautiful home when they’re done,” really helps it suck a little less.

Will defining your Primary Aim make you rich or famous or super smokin’ hot? Probably not by itself. But dreaming, writing, and reminding yourself of what your real goals are–your honest, selfish, if-I-could-have-it-all goals–you’re setting yourself on the right path!

Now it’s your turn! I showed you mine, so you show me yours. Go pour yourself a glass of whatever, write your primary aim, and come back and share it in the comments below!

And sometime in the future I may even start sending out weekly or monthly tips and updates! Wouldn’t that be awesome? Sign up now so you don’t forget to sign up later!

What’s Going On Around Here – Random Updates!

So on Tuesday I wrote a whole post, outlining the process I’m going through to take my business to the next level. And while I was writing it, it started taking on a life of its own–it was forming into a little e-course of sorts! What? I never planned for that! But as I wrote and wrote it became clearer and clearer how great of an idea this was!

It would be different than any e-course I’ve seen because I am not a self-proclaimed expert or guru. I’m a student, just like you. I’d be learning along with you and sharing my notes. We’d be study buddies!

So I got super excited and my brain started spinning. I wrote and rewrote and started and started over and started over again.

Then I took a step back. Because this idea was getting away from me. And I tend to jump into things without a clear plan or a real direction. And while there’s something to be said for lovely spontaneity, if this e-course of sorts is going to be any use to any one at all, I think it should be real. It should be planned and thoughtful.

So here’s what I’m doing instead. I am letting you in on the behind-the-scenes reality of crafting an e-course. I’m going to spend some time working on my business. Making it better and bigger and more authentic. I’m going to let you know what I’m doing and how it’s going. Where I’m struggling and where I’m soaring. And as I go, I’ll be crafting lessons and organizing them so that I can launch something real and useful for you.

Doesn’t that sound fun?

Also, over the last few weeks it’s become clear to me that I really have two different blogs here. I have my “mompreneur monday” thing and I have my wedding stuff. (Which I’ve been neglecting! Sorry!) And while they’re both part of ME, I feel like blogging about both of them in the same place feels disconnected and weird. I want my blog to be cohesive and feel natural. So it’s time for a change! Are you ready?

I am moving all wedding- and product-related posts to my website blog. The blog is not beautiful, but it is functional. And it makes more sense to me to bring brides to that site. (Head’s up, there are two posts on there and they’re old!)

Then this blog, will be more of a passion project. Just a behind-the-scenes look at my business and life. What I’m making, what I’m working on in business and at home. My thoughts on mompreneurship. (So pretty much what it already is, plus a little more “lifestyle” stuff.)

I already know I’m crazy to think about taking on two blogs. But really I feel like this is a way to let go a little. I’ve been dropping the ball on “Wedding Wednesdays” and now I have permission to drop that ball completely and just pick it up again from time to time on my website. I also feel like this move gives me permission to blog and talk more freely and transparently on this blog because I’m no longer thinking about it as part of Fresh Paper. It’s just a part of Emily. Connected to Fresh Paper? Of course! But not a part of it.

Essentially, the Fresh Paper Blog will be geared toward customers (and potential customers) and this blog will be geared toward creative people who run or want to run their own businesses. And people who just want to read about what I’m up to because they think I’m so awesome.

Which brings me to a big big question! I don’t know what to call this blog! Now that I have a new focus, I really need a new name. (Well and let’s face it, I need a real domain name.) I want something short and sweet and easy to remember. Cute and clever and fresh. It’s more about me, so do I give it my name, or is that too self-involved? I’m stuck! So I’d love your help! If you have an idea (even if you don’t think it’s a good one!) I’d love to hear it. Comment below!

I can’t wait to take the next step of this journey with  you!
Emily

Mompreneur Monday – My Core Values

If you do any reading about business at all, you’ll run across tons of folks talking about how everything revolves around your core values and you have to define your values and everything about your life and business has to reflect your values.

No pressure or anything.

So this whole values thing has been on my mind since Stationery Academy. And it keeps coming up in webinars I attend and books I read. (P.S. Click on those links to attend an awesome webinar and read an incredible book!) So while I believe my core values have always been in my heart, I think it’s time I really connect with them. Out loud. In writing. And of course–on the internet.

First, the process. How do you figure out what your core values really are? The first step is to take a look at how you spend your time and money. Not how you think you should spend your time and money, but how you actually live in your real life right now. This is a scary process because in my dream world I spend my time and money on important things like family and world peace. In my real life, I spend more time on facebook and more money on coffee than I care to admit. But push past the embarrassment and shame and know that whatever values you are spending your time and money on are okay. They’re values. They can’t be bad or wrong. At first glance, I’m embarrassed that sometimes I lose an entire morning to just emailing friends. But then when I dig deep into why–it’s because I value my friends. I value connecting with them and spending time talking to them. There’s nothing wrong with that!

Another game you can play is “Which matters more?” There are a ton of lists of values out there–just lists of words you can look at and cross off the ones that don’t matter until you magically end up with the 5 that matter most. Except that when you’re doing it, you’ll eventually get to a spot where you still have 20 words and you feel weird crossing any off and saying you don’t value honesty or teamwork! So when you get to that spot, the trick is to pick two words on the list and ask yourself, “which matters more?” You’re not creating a list of all of your values here, you’re trying to narrow down your core values. Your top 5 hills to die on. Your “They can take away our lives, but they’ll never take our freedom!” values. (If you’re Braveheart. And if one of your core values is freedom.) So while yes, I value teamwork.,I love teamwork, and I believe in teamwork, if I have to imagine my life without a team versus my life without the ability to create, I value creativity more.

This is not a ten-minute game. This may not be something you whip out in an afternoon. Let this question sink in. But write about it, too. Your gut will probably lead you to a top 5ish. And as you ponder it and come back to it over the course of 6 months, my guess is your answers will be generally the same as what your gut told you in the beginning.

And now, my top 5!

Creativity – When I look back at the moments I’ve felt most alive, it’s when I’m creating something new. Drawing when I was little, writing, doing crafts, painting, designing invitations, even creating a business. When I was teaching, the lessons I designed myself were the most fun and the most effective. (And losing my freedom to be creative in my lesson planning ultimately lead to my career change!) Creating a little person has been my greatest accomplishment.

Connection – When I first made my list, Family was first and then Friends. But my list was too long. So I had to consolidate! (Tricky, aren’t I?) But the truth is, when I really ask myself what it is I value about my family and friends, it’s the ability to connect with them. And I value that in so many areas of my life. One of the best parts of my job is connecting with each customer in a really personal way during an exciting time in their life. I’m that weird girl who talks to strangers in line at the grocery store. I just like to feel connected to other humans throughout my day.

Entertainment – For a long time I felt guilty about this one. I had a friend who cancelled cable so her family could afford to buy only organic food. And that’s great. That’s what she values. My family spends time and money on tv. Not because we value tv necessarily, but because we love to be entertained. We love laughing at sitcoms and being thrilled by dramas. We also love going to concerts and plays and movies. It’s just something we enjoy together and because I value my family, I value the things we enjoy doing together!

Surprise – So this is a bit of an odd one. But I love surprises! I love being surprised and surprising people. I love it SO much, it’s one of my core values. It’s truly thrilling to me to surprise someone I love and I feel like the element of surprise is something I crave in my daily life. When I look at my invitation designs that have been the most successful, they’re the clever, unique, surprising designs. I think because I love surprises so much, I put more of my heart into those designs and they’re just better!

Growth – I’m a bit of a self-help junky. Well not just self-help, but any type personal and professional development! Webinars, how-to books, classes, workshops, if I could just learn for a living, I would! I enjoy learning about a lot of things (which is why it was super hard for me to pick a major and why I insisted in a dual-specialty for my master’s and why I make drastic career changes) but what I enjoy learning about most is how I can improve in whatever I’m doing at the time.

And if I were to sneak a 6th value into my Top 5 it’s… Beauty – Not in a superficial way. Just in the sense of appreciating when I’m surrounded by beautiful things. I love pretty things and I love that I can create pretty things for people. Life should be nice to look at.

Keep in mind this is my list. Yours will be completely different! We may overlap a value or two, but your list is yours and there’s no “right” list that’s better than yours.

So, you’ve made your list–now what? And now the toughest part of all. Living according to your values. Yes, I said that one way to discover your core values is to look how you currently spend your time and money. So you’re probably living your values already to some degree. (If you find you’re never ever ever making time for something, the truth is you probably don’t value it that much. There’s nothing wrong with that! Just means you need to do more work to figure out what you do value.) But even though your values are a reflection of how you currently live, you probably also want to live better by connecting with those values more often and more deeply.

It doesn’t have to be a big, overwhelming thing, though. In fact, it can be fun! Like when I’m choosing a gift for someone, I can ask “What will surprise them?” or “What can I create for them?” I get more out of the experience by connecting to my values, and I think it results in a better gift for them too. When I’m emailing customers, I sit down with the intention of “I’m going to connect with each person in my inbox today,” and all of the sudden a business task becomes fulfilling. As I build my business, I continually ask myself, “How can I connect? How can I create? How can I grow? How can I entertain? And how can I surprise?” The result is I’m building a business I enjoy working in and a brand that reflects who I truly am.

Your turn! What are your core values? Comment below!

Mompreneur Monday – I want to hear from you!

Happy Monday! This is one of those weeks. One of those booked-calendar-no-breathing-room-gotta-get-it-done weeks. So today’s post is short. Super short.

I want to hear from YOU! I’m working on future mompreneur monday posts and I’m looking for two things: 1) your questions and 2) your stories!

Your Questions – As a mompreneur (or as a budding mompreneur, or as an entrepreneur who is not a mom, or as a mom who is not an entrepreneur, or as a human being, or as an alien, or as whatever you are today…) what do you want to know? What do you struggle with? What questions do you have? If you could sit down for coffee and just have a friendly chat with someone who knows what you’re going through, what would you ask? Don’t hold back. No question is too big or too small!

Your Stories – One of the posts I’m working on features real life mompreneurs and how they chose their line of work. And I need more stories! So if you are a mom and you are working for yourself, talk to me! I want to hear from you no matter how small or how big your business is! What is your business and how did you get into it? (Were you doing something similar before, but for a boss? Did you discover a new passion after a layoff? Did you calculate each move or wing it?) No matter your path, I want to hear about it!

Please get in touch! You can comment below or contact me through my website (which will come directly to my email!)

I can’t wait to hear from you!

Mompreneur Monday – What’s Happening in April?

Wow, so it’s after 5 on Monday and I’m just now sitting down to write my Mompreneur Monday post. Things have felt a little scattered lately, but not in the classic overwhelmed way–more in a new-things-are-brewing-and-I’m-just-too-excited-about-too-much way! So a bunch of different ideas for posts have been rattling around in my brain and I just couldn’t stop and focus on one tonight. Instead, here’s a mash up of the exciting mompreneur things I’m thinking about for this upcoming month!

The E Myth Revisited

What I’m ReadingThe E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber. I told you guys last week about how inspired I was by Jess Lively. Well then she went ahead and outdid herself. In one of her email newsletters, she asked readers to write back and ask any question they want. So I did. And she wrote back! And suggested I read The E-Myth Revisited to help get some extra systems in place in my business to feel a little less overwhelmed by it. At first glance, I wouldn’t have thought this would be a book for me. But wow. Wow. I’m only halfway through, but I can already tell this book is going to change my business and my life. I am not a person who likes to hear that I’m doing something wrong. But Gerber’s style, charisma, experience, and real-life examples are captivating. I never thought I’d be eager to listen to someone tell me I’m doing everything wrong, but I love it! I’m staying up way too late reading every night. So if you’re in a spot where you feel like you’re working too much, or you feel like you can’t separate your business from yourself, or you feel like you’re managing your business on a combination of luck and coffee–this book is for you!

What I’m Focusing On At Home – Cleaning and Organizing! This is something that’s always on my list. But this month it is my main focus. My only focus. Sure, I’ll continue doing great work and aim to be a present wife and mother, but getting my home and office organized will help ALL the areas of my life. Work will flow smoother, Olivia will have more room to play safely, and it will create a space of calm and beauty for the whole family. Plus my birthday’s coming up! So it would be awesome if the house was in order and we could actually have people over to celebrate.

I had a lovely conversation with a lovely mama last week about her new Etsy shop, and afterward she offered some tips for organizing. I told her the trap I fall into is that I’ll clear one surface (my desk or my work table usually) but then it really just shifts stuff to another surface. And then I lose steam and don’t move onto the other surfaces and stuff comes back on to the clean surface. She suggested thinking about steps in a different way. Instead of focusing on one surface, focus on one “layer” if you will. Like all the recycling. Or deal with all of the envelopes.

So today I started! My first goal is to get all of the garbage and recycling out of the house. Garbage isn’t a huge problem in the office, but the recycling! I’m in the paper biz! And since it doesn’t smell bad, it’s so easy to fill a box and let it sit and then just start another box. Today I emptied the boxes. And gathered random paper scraps off tables. And picked things up off the floor. And I got it out. First I just set a timer for 10 minutes and gave myself permission to do only that much. It went by quickly so I did another 10. Then took an instagram break. Then did 25 more minutes! And I’m still not finished (told you–a lot of recycling) so I’ll plug away more at it tomorrow! On this one, I didn’t take before pictures–too embarrassing! But some before and after pictures may be in store for other phases.

New Designs – I’m committing to at least 3 new wedding designs this month! Now that I’ve said it on here and know you’ll be expecting to see them, I have to do it, right? I’m focusing on keeping things fresh, modern, unique, and quirky, with a focus on fun typography and bold colors.

Business Stuff – I’m starting a newsletter! I’m a little nervous, but totally excited about it! I’d be honored if you feel like welcoming me into your inbox once a month! (And then I’ll come back and recap about what I learn about the whole process! You know me.) Sign up for free fresh tips and new product releases right here!

And I think that’s enough for one girl for one month, don’t you think? What about you? What’s on your agenda this April? Comment below!