Okay 2017, Here We Go!

Even though there are plenty of reasons to be skeptical of 2017, or even worried as hell, I am starting off the new year full of hope. Even though an orange narcissistic child full of false bravado is about to take office, I am hopeful that we will not, as a country, move backwards. I am hopeful that there will be a powerful reaction to the calamity of the 2016 election, and as a result, communities will grow stronger, news will become more factual, elections will become more fair, art will be more prolific, and people will become braver, kinder, and more empathetic. If you read any political comments on social media you are probably saying to yourself, “She’s crazy!” Well, you may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one…

Winter Solstice

My friend Sonya of KB Design created this image for her Winter Solstice celebration invite. I love it so much. So perfect for these times…

For 2017 I am also full of hope for my family and myself, that we will continue to move forward in the right direction, and that we will have a year of health, prosperity, love, and creativity. In fact, as I thought about my New Year’s resolutions, I decided to put them into those four categories, which I then put into a little table, like so:

Intentions for 2017:
LESS MORE
HEALTH Alchohol and Sugar Exercise and Fresh Air
PROSPERITY Worry Marketing
LOVE Interrupting Listening
CREATIVITY Procrastination Productivity

Originally I had a much longer resolution list, but I decided to ditch it and simplify, because SIMPLIFY is my word for 2017. Because, if I might quote John Lennon again, All you need is love, right? So my intention is to focus on the things I love, and let go of the other things that get in the way. What if we all focused more on what we love and desire the most, and not so much on the things we hate or fear? That’s a pretty tall order right now, I know, but let’s give it a try shall we?

Yes, there will always be those things I hate to do that I have to do, like paying bills, doing taxes, and picking up dog poop, but I sure would like to live with a lot less of the clutter and noise that just get in the way of focusing on what I really want.

I often tell my kids, “Don’t tell me what you don’t want, tell me what you want!” Why is it so much easier sometimes to know what you don’t want? Almost five years ago I jumped out of an unsatisfying career, and I’ve been on what seems like a long slow journey of defining the new one I want, based on the things I love, and it’s a constant challenge to feel confident about my choices, and to figure out how to succeed with them. But it’s what I want, so I’m just going to keep going for it.

There’s nothing like a new year to evaluate and adjust! This year I’m keeping it simple. Because with simplification comes focus, organization, integration, and letting go. That, in a nutshell, is my plan for 2017. 

Wishing everyone health, prosperity, love, and creativity in 2017!
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

Happy New Year

 

My Mom

Mom And Maureen And Me

Growing up my mom was, well, my mom. She was the constant in my life; my security. She was in charge. She took care of my sisters and me, dragged us along on her errands and to her tennis games, made us do our chores, took us to the pool, and helped us with our homework. She was what I knew, and I didn’t think anything of it. I assumed she was like everyone else’s moms. Except for the nights when she and my dad went out…

On those nights there’d be a tuna casserole in the oven, hot rollers heating up in the bathroom, and the smell of nail polish in the air. I would hope and pray that Anna Klein would be our babysitter, and not Mrs. Gluckler. Mrs. Gluckler would make us take a bath and scrub us with a washcloth until we were bright pink, then make us go to bed on time. Anna, on the other hand, let us make fudge and stay up late watching Rosemary’s Baby. Anyway, when our babysitter arrived, my mom would appear – all dressed up in the latest 70s fashion, with freshly polished nails, hair curled and sprayed, bright lipstick on. And I’d think to myself, Wow, she is the most beautiful and glamorous woman in the world! Then off they’d go. I wouldn’t see her until the next morning, and I couldn’t imagine what that version of my mom was like.

When I was a teenager, Mom was still Mom, but I acted like I didn’t need one. Like I didn’t need someone to make me wear snow pants instead of jeans when I went skiing, or make sure I was home by eleven o’clock.

Isn’t it funny though, how as time goes on, Mom stops being ‘just mom’, and becomes a real person? Yes she’s still mom, still always there for you, but you slowly realize how much she’s done for you, and how much you love and appreciate her. You realize how lucky you were to have a mom that was always there, who loved you so much, and always wanted the best for you. You realize that there is nothing more comfortable than spending time with your mom. At least that’s how it was for me.

But it wasn’t until I became a mom that I also really understood the kind of mom my mom was. Until I became a mom, I had NO idea how hard being a mom was. How much my kids would try my patience, push my buttons, ask me impossible questions, put me in uncomfortable situations, and force me make some really hard choices.

My mom had three little girls, three teenage girls (YIKES!), and three girls that went away to college and set off on their own. And through it all she remained trusting, kind, patient, wise, confident, and diplomatic. Don’t get me wrong, I was the boundary-pushing middle child that was always getting grounded and caused her plenty of grief, so she had her moments for sure, but through it all, those qualities rarely wavered.

Three girls on a canon with Mom

Now that I’m a mom, I believe that being a good role model is one of the best things you can do for you kids. I really hope that I’m living my life in a way that inspires my kids to pursue a happy life. Not by how I choose to make a living, but by how I approach each day, interact with other people, and how much I love being with my kids. My mom did that for me, and for that I am forever grateful.

Thanks Mom. I love you!  Happy Mother’s Day!!! I sure wish I had a picture of you from the 70s, all dolled up and ready to go out. Thankfully it remains vivid in my mind. xo

Mom and Me at the Beach

2015 Review

2016 is here, and it feels great.  The holidays came and went in a whirlwind, like they always do, but we had a lot of fun. We slept in, we shopped, we baked, we decorated, and we celebrated Winter Solstice, Christmas and New Years with family, friends, food, and fun. We saw Star Wars and we skied a few times. What more could you ask for? Nothing! But if sure feels good to have it all over with!

Why is that?

xmas Tree 2015Maybe it’s because the holidays are like the last paragraph of the last chapter of a long book, and no matter how good, bad, or mediocre the story, we’re glad when we’ve finished it, and we’re excited to get started on the next one. That’s how I feel at least. I thought 2015 was really good – great characters, full of meaning, lots of fun, with all kinds of unexpected twists and turns. And now I’m ready to start 2016.

Last year I picked a word to focus on for 2015, and that word was “Integration.” I chose it because I wanted to take my seemingly separate endeavors – web development, pillow-making, and blogging – and turn them into a more cohesive thing. I also wanted to integrate more people into my work.

After ringing in 2016 I started reflecting on last year’s word and I was feeling like I had failed; like I hadn’t integrated much at all in 2015. In fact, I felt like I’d done the opposite and dis-integrated. (Ha! That makes me look at the word completely differently now.) But, isn’t disintegrating actually a means of integrating? You know, like how you disintegrate sugar in water, the sugar seems to be gone, but it’s really still there, it’s just in a different form and now you’ve made simple syrup! Hmm…

integrate

For 2015 I really wanted to start working with other people more, like with my office-mate and graphic designer friend. I also wanted to find mentors to learn from. And I wanted to create one type of business that integrated everything somehow.  Well, none of that really happened like I thought it would.

In fact, I quit going to my office when I started my Nordstrom job, and eventually gave it up altogether. Maybe my word for 2015 should have been ”quit!”  Because I also quit doing Todd’s bookkeeping. And Krypton quit meeting. I also quit hanging out on the playground after school. I quit coloring my hair. I quit sewing all of my own pillows.

But that was what I was thinking last week. This week I’m thinking very differently. I’m thinking that I totally integrated things last year. It’s just that I had to disintegrate a little too.

I may have given up my office space, but I got a new one at Nordstrom, as well as new people to work with, and lots of new web development challenges that got me really excited about the work and my abilities. I often thought to myself: This is great! I’m good at this. This is what I should be doing with my life!

I also did a lot of silkscreening, made a bunch of new pillows, sold them at craft fairs, and often though to myself: This is great! I’m good at this. This is what I should be doing with my life!  Good grief.

So how then did I integrate? Well, mostly I integrated internally. I realized that all of the things I’m doing are important to me. They fulfill me and make me who I am.

The whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts.  –Aristotle

In 2015 I worked on my branding and came up with a tag line for my pillow business:

Style. Comfort. Inspiration. Fun.

Turns out that those four words, beyond the pillows, are what I believe in completely. I believe we all have our own personal style that we need to be true to. We want to be comfortable. We need inspiration and to be inspirational. Life should be fun. So no matter what type of work I’m doing – web developing, pillow making, blogging, or “momming”, that is the sensibility I strive for. And that is the integration I accomplished in 2015.

So Fashion Business Cards

And I’m not done integrating yet. But I suppose it’s a constant process…

So what is 2016 going to be about?

It’s hard to say just yet, because I’ve only just started the first chapter. But the word for 2016 is:

Organize!

I need to organize my time, my money (Ha ha! Like I have so much it needs to be organized!), my pillow inventory, my workspace, and my house. I need to create web-sites for me and standard processes. I know, it sounds really boring, but I’m excited about this word, and I’m really excited to get organized and into my groove in 2016. 

HAPPY NEW YEAR!! 

Energy

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about energy.  Well, not as much thinking about it as paying attention to it. And by energy I mean those positive or negative feelings you get when you’re working on something or interacting with someone. You know, those good or bad vibes you get from people, or that happy hum you get when you’re having fun, or that icky heaviness you feel when you’re struggling with something.

Earlier this holiday season I sold my pillows at a couple of craft fairs, and I loved the energy. Local, creative makers, getting together to sell their stuff – the energy was great – positive, supportive, and encouraging. There seems to be such mutual admiration amongst makers. You hear comments like: “Beautiful!” and “I love what you’re doing!” and “What a great display!” and “Wow, that must have been a lot of work! How did you do that?” I’ve had vendors help me with my display, assure me that my prices weren’t too high, and high five me when I sold three pillows to one customer. We chit chat about etsy, selling retail, packaging, and other craft fairs to try. I sold more pillows than I thought I would at these past sales (hooray!), but even if I hadn’t, I got so much out of them. Most importantly I got the validation and excitement to move forward with my craft.

PNA Craft Fair

Last summer I spent a long weekend selling pillows at the Seattle Street Food Festival, then on Monday I went to the office to do my web development job, and the contrast in the energy between the two places of business was extreme. At the craft fair I was outside in the sun and fresh air, people were having fun, and I was proudly (yet nervously) showcasing my work.  Back at the office the lights were off and it was silent.  My coworkers were all in their cubicles, staring at their screens with their earplugs firmly planted, not even acknowledging my presence. Don’t get me wrong, these are good people, it’s just that this is how they like to work.

For most of my life I’ve worked in the IT department, and in my experience the energy has not always been that great, especially at my last job, where it was pretty darn negative. In the IT department I never got a lot of “Wow, I love it!” or high fives when I succeeded. Nope. It was all about requirements to fulfill and problems to solve. Not a bad thing really, but there was a lot more “The data is a mess!” and “The site is down!” and a lot less “Wow, that’s beautiful!”

Unlike the craft fairs, the IT environment at my last job often felt competitive rather than supportive. People talked negatively about each other. Feedback was given only at performance reviews, and not by the people you worked with or were helping, but by the person you worked for. And the drive to do better was tightly connected to the drive to make more money, please your boss, and move into the next pay band.

When you look at the work, though, there’s not that much difference between the process of building a website and making a pillow. You go through the same basic steps: brainstorm → design → prototype → build → test → deliver → repeat.  And I really enjoy doing both kinds of work.  So why is the energy so different? Is it the culture? Or my personality? Or both?

Culture definition

When I took my alchemy class a couple of years ago, one of the first things we learned about was energy and frequencies.  I remember learning that the opposite of love isn’t hate; the opposite of love is fear.  That the highest frequencies are love and enlightenment, and the lowest frequencies are fear and shame.  Like frequencies attract and are harmonious, unalike frequencies cause dissonance and are uncomfortable. That made sense to me.

So is it possible then that the difference between the craft fair energy and the IT energy was love versus fear?  Or was it the way my personal frequencies were interacting with those different environments?

Here’s the thing. It’s not like I spend every day at a craft fair selling pillows.  These sales happen only a few times a year. They are a lot of work, driven solely by me, and when I finally get there, it’s like my performance review. Based on that review, I make adjustments that are, hopefully, lucrative adjustments. This pillow business is run 100% by me, and my success or failure is 100% up to me. That is not the case in the IT department of a large corporation.  And that, I believe, is a big reason these environments feel so different.

The other day a mom friend of mine who wants to get a job said “I just don’t know that I can work for someone else.” And I said, “Well, I don’t think anyone likes to work for someone else.  I think we all need to work for a purpose and not a person.”  Often, though, these are mutually exclusive options. Either you work for yourself and your own mission, or you work for someone else and their mission.  It is a very lucky thing to find a job where you work for someone whose mission you embrace completely.

At a craft fair it kind of looks like the vendors are just standing there not doing much, doesn’t it? But really we worked our butts off just to get there, making stuff like crazy, doing work we love, not because we’re making so much money, or because we might get a promotion, but because believe in the work. It makes us happy. We’re not trying to impress our bosses. Our only competition is ourselves, as we strive for uniqueness, perfecting our craft, and finding the people who connect with and value what we’re offering.

Can I apply that same mentality to web development? I think I can, and I think I am. I really love making websites for people. I really love pushing though the challenges of figuring out the tough stuff. I love working with the business owners. And I love being my own boss. But I think it’s important to pay attention to the energy, and strive for the highest of frequencies.

Christmas is in two days, I haven’t been working much since the kids got out of school, and it’s a totally different vibe right now. The weather has been horrid, we’ve been sleeping in, making (and eating) a lot of cookies, spending time inside, going outside only to get in the car to go shopping. I’ve been feeling a bit anxious, but I know that will all change tomorrow as we celebrate Christmas Eve, and then Christmas, then do some skiing, hang out with friends, and ring in the new year.  I’m really excited for 2016, and to keep the good vibes coming. But I’ll roll with the bad ones too.

Wishing you all the best energy this holiday season and in 2016!

Hooray, it’s Mother’s Day!!!

Today is Mother’s Day and I am so excited to do nothing but relax and soak up the awesomeness of my family.  Right now I am lounging in bed with my laptop and a cup of coffee, with the window open, a soft breeze blowing in.  Miles is sitting at my desk staring at the computer watching a Fred movie.  Is there any sound on earth more annoying than the sound of Fred’s voice?  I don’t think so.  But today I could care less.

Kitty Necklace from MilesAlready I’ve gotten my present from Miles.  He gave it to me as soon as he woke up.  It’s a necklace made out of a domino with a picture of a cat decoupaged on top, and it’s the cutest thing ever.  Nadine has been secretly scheming with her dad all week about my present, and on Friday she said “If a package arrives on the doorstep DO NOT LOOK AT IT!”  The package has arrived – we’ll see if she can keep it a surprise.  So far so good.

Phinney Wood Art Walk 2015What I’m most excited about today is that I don’t need to think about a thing.  For the past week I have been running on adrenaline, organizing an Art Walk Pop Up sale that took place at my space on Friday night and Saturday afternoon. The Art Walk was amazing – we totally lucked out on the weather and tons of people showed up (more to come on that) but I have to admit, I’m really glad it’s over.  After cleaning everything up and having dinner Saturday night, I passed out on the couch at around 8:30 pm while the rest of the family watched Robin Hood.  My house is a complete wreck but I don’t care and I don’t plan to do a thing about it. Today is about spending time with the people I love most, calling my mom, and not trying to get anything done.

I’ve been a mom for almost eleven years now, and it’s hard to remember what it was like pre-kids, when there were only two of us living in this house, our dog Sadie was our baby, and time didn’t pass at warp speed.  Adopting Nadine made me a mom, and fulfilled my dream of having kids.  As soon as they put her into my arms, everything changed.

First MeetingTodd and I struggled with having kids for years, but we never lost faith that it would happen some day, some how.  All my life I imagined I’d become a mom, but I never imagined it would happen by adopting a baby from China. But that’s the way life usually works, isn’t it?  You don’t just decide how things are going to happen and then they happen exactly that way.  There is always an element of fate thrown in there, and fate usually has it’s own plans for you.  But if you stay on the path, and never throw in the towel, you will get to where you are supposed to be.  Keep the faith and you’ll get what you want and more than you ever imagined.  That is why Nadine, and Miles, are my little miracle babies.  They both gave me exactly what I wanted in the most unexpected of ways, and now I can’t imagine my life any other way.

You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

- Steve Jobs

Right now there is a lot of activity happening in the kitchen – Nadine, Miles, Todd, and Victor (our surrogate son/first cousin once removed) are all cooking up something for Mother’s Day breakfast and I love it!  What could it be?  I don’t care.  I am just so thankful that I have a team of people happily working on making this day special for me.  What could be better than that?  What’s better than being appreciated?

Mother's Day Breakfast

I closed my eyes, the kids brought me outside, I opened them, and saw this!

Present from Nadine

This is my present from Nadine – a sparkling water maker (hooray!) – but I just love the wrapping paper!

P. S. Right after writing this post on Sunday morning our internet went down, and has been down for two and a half days.  Horrors!  But having it down on Mother’s Day I think was a bit of a gift.

Happy Lunar New Year!

Welcome the year of the sheep!?  Or the goat?  Or the ram?  I’m going with sheep since sheep are the cutest.  Welcome sheep!!!

Year of the SheepChinese New Year, or Lunar New Year, started yesterday, February 19th with the new moon, and continues until the full moon on March 5th.  I love the Chinese New Year traditions, and in the past we’ve celebrated with friends, traditional food, lucky money, fireworks, and the upside down “Fu” symbol, but this year we don’t have anything planned.  Oh well.  But I’m still really excited to start the Year of the Sheep.

Last year was the Year of the Horse, the year before that was the Snake, and before that it was the Dragon, and before that I don’t know because I wasn’t paying too much attention.  For each year the traits of the animal indicate the type of year it will be, or if you were born in the year of that animal, you should carry some of those traits.  For example, since I was born in the Year of the Horse I would be:  energetic, hard-working, optimistic, sentimental, straightforward, honest, friendly, and open-minded.  (Wow, I sound awesome.)

It is my understanding that a Sheep year should be harmonious, peaceful, creative, full of curiosity and community.  A friend of mine forwarded me this on-line card which I think is such a beautiful way to ring in the Year of the Sheep:

Sheep 2015

Isn’t it cool?  I’m not sure who Dorit is, but I just love it.  The design and the words are so so nice.

Happy Sheep Year!!!

 

The Suzanne Project

Well I guess I just can’t stop talking about 2015.  I had this idea that after the holidays I would jump full force back into all of my projects, and get busy making some money.  And while I have been working on two web projects, I’ve also been spending much of January taking care of a sick kid, doing my state and local taxes, getting my accounting in order for federal taxes, doing Todd’s year-end accounting, signing up for healthcare, reflecting on 2014, and planning for 2015.

So now I know for next year, before I fully embark on the new year, I need to allow myself some time to properly put the prior year to rest, and to get things set up for the upcoming year.  In my last post I wrote about my word for the year: “integration” and how I plan to integrate in 2015, but I also wanted to share another tool I’m using to plan for 2015.

This tool was inspired by Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project.  My Krypton group recently did the coursework based on her book, and part of the coursework was to write your own personal commandments, which she described as overarching principles for living your life, or core values.  The coursework also offered a list of suggested “continuous to-dos”, and a list of “one-time to-dos” to work on over the weeks of the course.  Our Krypton group decided instead to create and share a list of personal commandments, as well as our own lists of continuous to-dos and one-time to-dos that supported our commandments.

Here’s what mine looks like:

I loved putting these lists together, even though it took some time.  I made my personal commandants as short as possible so they’d be easy to remember, but here’s what they looked like before I shortened them.

  1. Be Suzanne.  Own it!  I love to blog.  I love inspirational quotes.  I love self-help books and pod-casts.  I love to design and make pillows with inspirational messages.  I’m a geek.  So what?
  2. Speak my truth.  (Part of being Suzanne.)  Keep asking myself “What do I really want?”
  3. Be patient.  Patience grasshopper!  Don’t rush things.  Don’t get too distracted.  Move forward, with intention, and patiently chip away at what I want.
  4. Be creative.  Think differently.
  5. Empathize. Assume the best in people. Put myself in their shoes.  Go deep.  Listen.
  6. Integrate:  Work, family, health, fun.
  7. Laugh.  Sing, dance, laugh, and be silly.
  8. Keep the faith.  I am moving in the right direction.
  9. Happy = Healthy.  The key to good health is happiness, which includes good food, exercise, fresh air, and fun.
  10. Grow.  Keep learning.  Try new things.  Challenge myself.  Listen.
  11. Be grateful.  Be polite.  Say thanks.
  12. Ask for help.  Mom’s don’t have to do everything.

I probably will edit these commandments and to-dos over time, but I am excited to have them hanging on my new inspiration/bulletin board next to my desk, to help inspire me to accomplish everything I want to in 2015 and beyond.  I highly recommend creating them for yourself.

My 5th commandment is “empathize” which may be the toughest commandment in the bunch, especially when dealing with my kids.  Thankfully I came across a great video on the subject to help me.  It’s a cartoon with the voice of Brené Brown, whom I just love love LOVE!  I’ve seen her in person, watched her TED Talks, and read (and loved) her book Daring Greatly, and this video she did makes me so happy:

Isn’t it great?

Okay then, am I done talking about the new year?  Probably not, but I do think I’m ready to fully jump into 2015.  Finally!

Welcome 2015!

2015So long 2014!  You were an action-packed year, but you are so last year, and I am so ready to move on to 2015.  I probably say this every year, but I am very excited about the new year, and very optimistic.  I have big intentions, and for the first time since I quit my job, I feel like I have a solid direction.  The past two years have been transformative, full of trying new things, and 2015 is my year to integrate it all. So my theme for 2015 is integration.

Merriam-Webster’s definition of integrate is:

All of the above definitions are part of my plan to integrate in 2015.  Here’s how:

1.  Integrate : To combine (two or more things) to form or create something.

Already there are a lot of ways I integrate multiple things into one.  Like my morning commute.  It’s so much more than a commute!  It’s also exercise, fresh air, time with my kids, time at school, time in my neighborhood, time with the trees, the birds, and the weather.  My office is 1.5 miles from my house, I leave at 8:25am on my bike, with my kids, who walk, run or bike with me.  I drop them off at school, chat with parents, continue to my office, arriving around 8:45am, invigorated.

I can’t imagine a better way to start my morning.  I especially love the conversations I have with my kids on the way, like “What is pot, mom?” (we pass a medical marijuana store on our way) and our fantastic brainstorming.  This week Miles and I talked about how much fun it would be to make heavy metal music videos about kid safety.  Using our best satanic voices, we made up lines like:  “Crossing at the crosswalk, cars make rights on red, a big truck may not see you, crush you, now you’re dead.”  Anyway…

This year I intend to integrate more by combining multiple things to make something even greater.  Like Aristotle said, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” I want that to be a guiding principle for me in 2015.

2.  Integrate : To make (something) part of a larger thing.

I put a lot of things on my plate:  blogging, web development, pillow-making, participating in Krypton, Todd’s bookkeeping, and more.  With the exception of bookkeeping, I love them all, but often wonder if I am doing too much.  Should I narrow my focus onto just one of these areas?  Am I compromising my chances of being successful by having too many interests?  Am I nuts?  Maybe.  But I’ve decided to let go of that stinkin’ thinkin’ (as Stuart Smalley would say) because that’s who I am. I love doing lots of things.

Even though they may seem like separate ventures, they’re not entirely.  I feel like they feed each other.  The blogging helps me formulate ideas.  I write about what’s important to me.  It keeps me committed, makes me more comfortable with putting myself “out there”,  and helps me better understand blogging and the platform.  Web development allows me to use and improve my technical skills in a creative way, while working directly with entrepreneurs.  Making pillows feeds my creativity in a more tactile way, but also exposes me to the complexities of creating and selling a product.  Krypton is where I meet with other people on a similar journey so that we can learn from each other.  And while bookkeeping isn’t my favorite, it’s teaching me about accounting and taxes. (Bleck!)

When I look at all of my endeavors, there actually is a theme there.  All of these things are providing me with the creative life I was missing before I jumped.  They’re all helping me move out of the box I used to be in, to create a better lifestyle for myself and my family, and to inspire and support others to do the same.  They’re all part of a much larger thing – my quest for the good life and a new type of future.

So my intention for this year is to integrate these ventures even more, to make them more cohesive, and to make them all clearly part of one bigger thing.

3. Integrate : To make (a person or group) part of a larger group or organization.

Usually when I think of this definition of integration, I think of it on a social level, like racial integration.  But on personal level I want to apply this definition in 2015 by integrating more people into my journey.  So my intention for this year is to integrate mentors, partners, and other people on a similar path into my work. Helen Keller said, “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.”  I want to do so much.

So there you have it.  My intentions for integration in 2015. Isn’t it exciting?

Now to move beyond my intentions, let’s see what the the universe’s intentions are for me.  First my horoscope…

SCORPIOWow, if  astrology.com is right, Scorpios are going to have an amazing 2015!  Here are some favorite tidbits from my horoscope for the year:  “You’re finally breaking out of the dark tunnel of transformation that seemed to last for an eternity. Instead of feeling like a ghost in your own life, you’re going to reincarnate into greatness.”  “This new phase is about breaking free from the limitations of fear, darkness and insecurity.”  “You’re definitely on a quest for meaning and truth.”  “You have not this kind of career support in 12 years, so don’t miss out on this golden opportunity to take your vision to the next level.”  “Imagine releasing all of the chains and emotional baggage that was weighing down your heart and spirit, so that you can totally run free. That’s what 2015 is about for you, Scorpio! Greener and wider pastures, baby!”  Wow, that is exactly what I want!

Next, let’s check Chinese astrology…

goatThis year, starting in February, will be the year of the goat, and the goat is a symbol of peace, harmony, and tranquility.  I was born in the year of the horse, and the horse and the goat have a harmonious relationship, so this year should be favorable, with good opportunities, and according to this site, “The coast is finally clear and your versatility will enable you to get the most out of life.”  Excellent!

So there you have it, lot’s of great possibilities for the new year.   Now it’s time to get started!  I have a feeling it’s going to be a great 2015 for a lot us.

Gong Xi Fa Cai!

Goodbye 2014!

shuffle alongI’m not that sad to see you go.  And it’s not because you were all that bad.  Lots of good things happened in 2014, like:  I celebrated one year of sharing an office space with my friend Sonya, and one year of Krypton meetings.  I started making and selling pillows.  I started getting serious about freelance web design.  I completed 365 ‘I Nevers’ and wrote thirty-one blog posts.  I did Blackbird Iron’s bookkeeping and got their taxes done.  I drew a picture in my sketchbook almost every single day.  I read a ton of books, went to lots of cool places, and had loads of fun with friends and family.  I accomplished a lot in 2014, and I’m proud of it.  But the thing I will remember most about 2014 is that it’s the year I lost my sister Maureen.  And that sadness will stay with me for a long time.  Maybe forever.

However, the biggest reason I’m not sad to say goodbye to 2014 is that I’m really excited for 2015.  Even though I’m kicking off the new year with a wicked cold, the first I’ve had since I quit my job in 2012, and a less than stellar bank account balance, I’m full of optimism and ambition for 2015.  I’m excited to take everything that happened in 2014, good and bad, and incorporate it into my work for 2015.  I don’t have a concise plan (you know what they say about the best laid plans) but more of a direction – some ideas – lots of notes – and several lists.  Instead of a plan I have more of theme for 2015, and that theme can be summed up in one word:  Integration.  But more on that later.  First, let’s reflect on 2014.

At the end of last year I wrote a post on 2013 reflections and 2014 intentions and predictions.  Did any of it come true?  Let’s have a look.  Here’s last year’s list of intentions for 2014 and my reactions.

2014 INTENTIONS:

  • Put some structure back into my life.  Absolutely!  Monday through Thursday, from 8:30am until 3pm, I went to my office to get some un-distracted work done.  On Fridays, during those same hours, I alternated between bookkeeping and pillow-making.  Every weekday afternoon between 3pm and 5pm I picked up and shuttled my kids around.  In the evenings I sewed as much as possible.
  • Focus on work that generates income and start an official business.  I got an official business license, a Square account and reader, set up Freshbooks to generate invoices and manage accounting, sent out several bids for web-site work, participated in three sales to sell pillows, created seven websites (including my own) and an etsy site.
  • Get more help from family members.  One night in April I got completely fed up with people not showing up for dinner, and so I quit.  I said if people didn’t appreciate it, I was done making dinners.  Todd took over until the kids got out of school in June, I cooked during the summer, and when school started back up in the fall, Todd and I started to alternate months.  I absolutely love this new system!  Not only do I get every other month off, which allows me to get so much other stuff done, but this 50/50 system feels so much better.  Because it’s not just about sharing the cooking, it’s also about sharing the planning and the shopping, and sharing it by month makes this easy.  And the kids are getting a bit better at helping out around the house, but this is definitely an area to work on for 2015!
  • Get some house projects done.  We refinished the floors in the back room and touched up the paint, we repainted the kitchen, we cleaned out the shed, and I set up my my little silk-screening and sewing pillow factory.  It may be a very small dent in our very big list of projects, but it feels (and looks!) really good.
  • Read the news once in a while.  Nope.  Didn’t do it.  Don’t care.  Scratch that one!
  • Silk screen!  Yes!  My most favorite accomplishment of the year.  I have two pillow patterns that I’ve been silk-screening, and lots more to come.  Woo hoo!

If I had to pick a theme for last year, it would be:  Action.  I started a lot of stuff.  Plus I started feeling more confident about the stuff I had already started.  According to the Chinese calendar, 2014 (and the beginning of 2015) is the year of the horse, and the horse is all about energy, optimism, and action.  I definitely had that last year.

Then there’s my horoscope.  For Scorpios like myself, 2014 was supposed to be full of change and a new level of commitment.  According to astrology.com:  “After shedding layers upon layers and ancient attachments, you’re ready for the new. This is your year to get crystal clear on what you’re most passionate about and commit to it in the deepest way possible.”  I don’t know that I’m “crystal clear” about what I’m passionate about, but compared to 2013, I feel like I have a really good sense of how I want to live my life, the work I want to focus on, and what is most important to me.  I am totally committed to a new way of making a living, and I am excited to further that commitment in 2015, and to get more crystal clarity about my path.

I also think “2015″ just has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?

Stay tuned for more on “integration” and my intentions and predictions for 2015.  And…

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

To ye future!

 

Merry Christmas!

It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year!
With the kids jingle belling
And everyone telling you “Be of good cheer”
It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year!
It’s the hap -happiest season of all
With those holiday greetings and gay happy meetings
When friends come to call
It’s the hap – happiest season of all!

This song was blasting on the stereo at my house just before Christmas, while I was having a hissy-fit because my kids were driving me crazy.  And I just had to laugh, because even though I was really frustrated, yelling at my kids, I couldn’t disagree with the song.  I love the holiday season!  I love the traditions, the tree, the lights, the cookies, the anticipation, and then finally…Christmas day!  But, unfortunately, there can be some downsides to the most wonderful time of the year.  Like… It turns generally sane adults into glutenous shopaholic lunatics who forget how to drive, and it turns perfectly nice kids into over-sugared greedy egomaniacs who won’t help clean the house.

One of my most favorite things about the holiday season is the Christmas cards.  I’ve always loved making our cards, and for the weeks around Christmas I love that our mailbox is filled with beautiful cards from the people I love, instead of ridiculous coupons  and “Value Pacs” that go straight into the recycle bin.

For the past few years I’ve had fun silk-screening our holiday cards and including a family photo, but this year we had a professional come in.  Back in the fall, at the kids’ school auction, we purchased a photo shoot and decided to use it for our holiday cards.  It was a good friend who was the photographer, and so a few weeks ago we went over to her house, donned in our best holiday sweaters and accessories, and sat in front of a big white sheet while she snapped away.  When she was done, we went through all of the photos and had to make the difficult decision as to which one we should use for our card.

It was tough, but we finally decided on one.  Then our friend worked her magic with PhotoShop, added a beautiful background and meaningful words, placed the order, and the cards arrived in our mailbox a few days later.   Besides the modeling, all I had to do was put stamps and addresses on them.  Beautiful!  Although I was a bit sad we couldn’t use more than one photo for our cards.  So today I’m going to share some of the others, so that I don’t feel like they’ve gone to waste.

First, here’s the one we chose for the card:

These individual photos were added to the back of the card:

This was a runner up:

And here are some that didn’t make the cut:

Photo Shoot

And I love this one that I took of Todd at the photo shoot:

Christmas was three days ago, come and gone so quickly, but the cards keep coming in, and the most wonderful time of the year continues until New Year’s when, thankfully, it is finally over and we can finally go back to our normal lives.

Merry Christmas!