Setting Up Shop: Step One

April 16, 2014 § 1 Comment

I am really excited for all of you to go on this Etsy journey with me! If you are interested in setting up your own shop, already have one and just like to stay connected with other Etsy sellers, or are just intrigued by what all goes into starting a new business, I hope that the things I share here will be fun for you to read about!

For me, long before there was an Etsy shop, there was dreaming. I knew I loved creating things and I so envied those lucky ladies and gents who were able to work from home being makers. I’d salivate over posts of others going to the Indie Craft Parade, to South by Southwest, or the National Stationery Show. Yet, I felt in no way capable of making anything that people would pay me to work on from my home.

If you’ve been reading this blog from the beginning, you were actually witness to this struggle of wanting more, but not feeling talented enough to make this “life of the creative” happen. Despite my lack of belief in my abilities, little by little, I latched onto my desire to make. In my spare time, I wrote posts on here, worked on DIY crafts, and observed others in the creative world. As I mentioned in my post the other day, it wasn’t until several months after my dreaming began that I really identified what it is I wanted to do and gained the confidence that I could train myself to become good at.

But that dreaming period was critical. If I hadn’t really wanted a change and identified what I wanted to be doing with my life, however vague it was, I don’t know that I would have just stumbled into the opportunity I find myself in now. That active dreaming, seeking out my heart and the Lord’s heart, and taking risks was so crucial to getting to where I am today.

So practically speaking, how can you go through this process as well?

1. Identify other dreamers in your life and surround yourself with them. Several of my friends were also on journeys to discover what they wanted to do with their life, right at the same time I was. Realizing that our dreams didn’t look the same, but that we were all reaching for that next thing, I started planning dream sessions for us. In my head, I had these grandiose plans to organize monthly nights for all of us to meet, brainstorm about our dreams and network {with wine and cheese, of course!}, but those never really panned out. But I did have regular breakfasts and dinners with friends where we dug deep into what we were passionate about. We shared our hopes with each other, bounced ideas back and forth, and created some serious accountability.

One of my favorite dreamers is Sallie. Sallie and I have been best friends since we met and lived together in college. Both of us have been DIYers our whole lives and we share the same hopes of being moms who own creative businesses one day. We started meeting for breakfasts last year and would use this time to daydream together about the future.

The thing I love about our time together is that it’s action-oriented. After talking through her dreams to open a jewelry shop, Sallie literally left breakfast one morning, went to the Mart, bought a ton of supplies, went home that night, created four or five items, opened her Etsy shop Sally & Bea, listed the items, and started that business. Talk about lighting a fire under me! Watching her take the ideas in her head from dream to reality that quickly was such motivation for me. It was through that experience that I actually took the first step to move towards quitting my job. And since then, she continually pushes me to actually just start working – to tangibly put something on paper, start the Etsy shop, list an item. This kind of orientation towards action is so valuable in a dream friend!

We had breakfast this morning and here are some shots from our dream session.

 

 

And here are a few pictures of the gorgeous jewelry she makes!!

I am blessed enough to have an entire coalition of dreaming friends in my life. What a blessing it is to think big about the future with others that you care about!

2. Utilize resources available to you to unearth your strengths and passions. I’ve mentioned before, but Storyline by Donald Miller was an incredible experience for me. It helped me look at all of my life events up until this point to see what God has been doing throughout my story. It then had me categorize the different roles I play and how God is using each of them to help tell his overall story of saving many lives. It was through this experience that I realized a corporate role was never going to be the best use of my strengths or the gifts I’d been given.

Additionally, Lara Casey has an AMAZING series on goal setting and making things happen. This process helps you find who you are at your core and what you’re all about. It will dig deep and reveal things in your heart you didn’t even realize about yourself.

Consume Ted Talks, Fast Company articles, and books/blog posts from people who inspire you constantly. You’ll start to notice patterns about who you’re gravitating towards and what rabbit trails keep you up all hours of the night because you just can’t stop reading about them.

Take strengths and/or personality testing. I am a junkie of this stuff, but truly believe that assessments like Myers Briggs, StrengthsFinder, StandOut, and DISC are incredible tools to help you understand yourself, what motivates you and what types of careers fit you best.

Finally, I’ve heard Jennie Allen writes amazing books that help you uncover what God’s created you uniquely to do. I want to read Restless immediately. And checking out her blog, she looks my age, which makes me super inspired to read her stuff because how cool that someone my age could be a published author?!?! So cool.

3. Find a mentor. Once you’re nearing the culmination of your dreaming and you have an idea which direction you’re going in, seek out a mentor. Cason and I struck up a fast and easy friendship at my corporate job. Sharing a love for all things colorful and sparkly, we knew we were destined to be friends. Cason began an Etsy shop {When It Rains} three years ago with her sister selling bright and fun paper products. Watching her artfully juggle a booming small business at home, while kicking ace at her 9-5 was inspirational, to say the least. So when I started thinking about a paper business as well, Cason became a go-to mentor of mine. We had regular dinners, along with two of our other favorite dreamers, Lauren and Emily, where we’d dream and I’d learn from her. Cason, her sister, and two of their insanely creative friends recently started an awesome blog called You Can Sit With Us – you should definitely check it out for some creative inspiration!

It’s always such a blessing to have others that have gone before you who are willing to share. In addition to Cason, Mattie at Puddleduck Paper Co. was an amazing encouragement and help to me. Her stuff is gorgeous as well! Be sure to check her out on Etsy or on her website.

4. Talk to someone. Last but not least, counseling. Y’all. I know that working on our mental health can have a really negative stigma even now in our anything goes society. People don’t want to be seen as crazy or unstable. But I truly believe everyone should meet with a counselor. It is so good for your well-being. My particular counselor helped me cut through the clutter of the “shoulds” and the shame I felt over wanting something different and helped me to realize that God might be calling me in this new direction. If you’re interested in meeting with an incredible counselor in the Atlanta area, I can’t recommend Mazi Robinson enough. Breakthroughs happened y’all. So good. Also, she is certified to teach Brene Brown’s The Daring Way Workshop and has one coming up in May. If you want to really get vulnerable and dig deep to find out what you’re made for, you should so attend!

There are so many other dreaming resources available, but this is a good list to get you started. This dreaming is so critical to finding what unique thing you feel made to pursue. Doing this heart research also prepares you to put forth the time and effort it’s going to take to get a business off the ground and to keep it running for years to come with joy and excitement each day.

Dream away with me and share your journey, please! It would make my life!

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Well Hello There!

April 7, 2014 § 1 Comment

Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeyyy everyone! I have so. many. things to tell you. Life has been in-saaaaaane over the past few months and I’ve wanted to tell you everything, but so much of it required silence until the right moment. So instead of getting on here and not being able to talk about the things on my heart, I decided to just stay silent until I could really share. So here we go!

Right around Christmas 2012, I started thinking a lot about the fact that I didn’t really have dreams. As a person who likes to live my life with whimsy (hence the blog name), it just seemed odd that I didn’t have a big vision for my life other than becoming a grandmother. While I still feel that is the most exciting life accomplishment ever, I still have about 30 years in the meantime to do stuff. And when I thought about those 30 years potentially being spent in a corporate office day in and day out, it made me really sad. But, I didn’t have anything else identified to work on for those three decades. I knew motherhood was high on the list, Lord willing, but I also knew that I’d want to have other work that was mine to be doing.

So January 2013 began the journey of figuring out what my dreams were going to be. I prayed for the Lord to make it clear to me what his calling and purpose for my life was. I asked to know more about him and how I fit into his overall story. As I mentioned in my New Years post, be careful what you wish for. While I asked for what I should do first and then for me to know him better, I only felt like I knew what to do after he taught me some very difficult lessons about the type of person he wanted me to be. And after listening to this sermon, I realize that is probably the way he always works.

To my utter dismay, just as I embarked on this journey to discover my dreams, work only became more difficult – and not just because of my new revelation of potential 30-year corporate sadness, although that definitely contributed. I had been moved off of work and a team I loved and received an entirely new role that was not even remotely related to my skill set or background. And while on paper it should have been a good fit for me, I nearly fell apart every day coming to work. I learned that a lot of this had to do with my personality type {an ISFJ through and through}. Through learning more about how I function, I realized that being a “big ‘L’ leader” {I now hate this phrase} is not something that I desire or that will ever come natural to me. People with my personality type are much happier when working hard behind the scenes, creating beauty and helping others {several ISFJs become counselors, social workers, interior decorators and administrators} – and these were all callings that felt much more comfortable to me. This was the first step in learning where I needed to go.

At first, I thought that I really just needed to get back into my previous role that I loved. That way, at least working in a role I felt qualified to do, I could buy some time to figure out what I wanted to do long term. So after working up lots and lots of courage, I had a discussion with my then boss to figure out if we could make a transition. It didn’t go very well. I walked away from that discussion feeling discouraged and like God really wanted me to stay in this tough work for a while. So head down, I grinned and bore it for about six more months. In the meantime, I suppressed my dream journey, thinking I really just needed to go through this season of dissatisfaction at work because that’s what God wanted for me. I prayed through this time to find joy in my circumstances and for the Lord to make it clear to me when that time of pushing through could be over. But honestly, I never really felt like I heard from the Lord. He felt really distant to me, which only made things harder.

Well in September, I went to a ladies retreat where this counselor spoke about living life well. She talked about how as women, we often live lives full of worry and shame, but that isn’t God’s best for us. The words she spoke just shook something deep inside of me. Those dreams I had been striving to identify earlier in the year started whispering in my head again, saying “remember me! remember me!” I didn’t know what I was supposed to do yet, but I knew that what she was saying was meant for me and that I needed to really do some soul work with her. So I started seeing her monthly and just digging deep into what was happening. Why was I, a person normally filled with positivity and general excitement about everything, living this flat-lined life, numb to things going on around me, purely to try and keep myself from feeling this pain?

I realized a lot of things.

I first realized that I was ashamed to be so upset about work. It revealed idols in me. And I didn’t want to be a person who idolized work. So this shame had just been keeping me from really engaging with any of it.

Once we got past the fact that work was an idol for me, really brought it out into the open, it didn’t eliminate the fact that the work I was doing was sucking my soul out. Once I really started dealing with my thoughts, I realized I didn’t believe the work I was doing was important, and on top of that, I didn’t feel good at it or qualified to be making the decisions I was making. So you’d think that would be enough for any normal person to say, well this is obviously NOT a fit, so why don’t you just go get another job?

Well then we got to an even deeper heart thing – I have never known another career outside of this one. In fact, I had been basically groomed for this company since I was a wee one. This was my “destiny.” And the company is a fantastic one. They do incredible things, treat their employees beyond anything you can imagine and actually conduct business based on biblical principles. It’s a place people work their whole careers to get to. And I had gotten in straight out of school. Why would I ever want to leave? The voices in my head kept saying, “You can’t leave. You’re being naive. You’re being ungrateful. You will never have it better than this. You are stupid to think leaving will make you happier. The grass is always greener. God wants you here. You can’t leave.” And more than that, many people on the outside were saying the same thing. So it just reinforced the thoughts in my head that I must stay. It became this really beautiful glass prison. More than anything in the world, I wanted to leave. But I just kept reminding myself that was the absolute most foolish thing I could ever think. I had to stay. Once we got here and I said these things out loud – I knew it. They were lies. Not all of it – it really is a great company, people really do work their whole careers to get there, and leaving should not be taken lightly. But having to stay to be happy and successful wasn’t true for me. And God did not require me to stay to be doing good work. I could leave and still be working towards good things.

This was a massive breakthrough for me. Massive.

But it still wasn’t the end of my journey. Knowing I could and should leave was great. But what on earth was I going to leave for?

So I just started soaking up resources to help me unearth what would really bring me to life. I read everything I could on my personality type. I read Every Good Endeavor by Tim Keller – his new book on work. I soaked up podcast after podcast, and Ted Talk after Ted Talk. I scoured the entire Fast Company article set on work life happiness. I went through Storyline by Donald Miller with my dear friends. Storyline really helped me to see that corporate life was never going to be consistent with who I am as a person. I needed to be doing something that was more about the heart than the bottom line. We were getting warmer!

Then I got to design the rehearsal dinner invitation for my sister and brother-in-law’s wedding. And it was so fun. And people liked it. And it just got me thinking – I could do this. It’s what I did in my free time. For years, on my sick days at home, I have download fonts all day and made random things. I pin 10 prints to every one other type of pin on Pinterest. I get super excited about gorgeous hand-lettering. These are the things that get me excited.

I never heard a big voice from heaven calling out, or even giving me a small sign, that this was what I was supposed to do. But feeling like both options were good and could serve the Lord, I felt the freedom to just make a decision. So after some serious talks with Joel about finances and reality, we made the decision that I would quit my job this year and we would embark on this journey of creating my own business.

And the second we made that decision, the Lord just snow-balled everything. Connections came out of the wood works, resources laid themselves at my feet, and a job became available. One that would help me get out of the 9-5 grind and into a creative setting at fewer hours. One where I could be inspired and learn and come home and build this thing. We weren’t expecting it to happen so soon. But after some serious prayer, we realized that it was the right moment. Why not quit now {even without a single bit of the business started} and start building it? Even if we are poor for a little while, we decided better now than when we have kids and I have no time to build something new.

So at the end of February, I gave my notice and I was out the door by mid-March. Insane.

So now my days are spent going to my little part-time job, crafting all day, and then I come home and work on building my Etsy business. I don’t want to grow an empire, Lord willing, I just want to create a small business selling wedding invitations, save the dates, birth announcements, Christmas cards, and other life happening announcements. My big dream is to eventually start a non-profit where I {and hopefully other creatives} create prints with inspiring quotes and verses that we give away to women going through difficult times living in different types of institutions {think homeless shelters, nursing homes, prisons – is this even possible?!? I have no idea!}. If I am so encouraged by these words beautifully laid out as a reminder to my heart, maybe some of them will be too? And then I will hopefully be able to give back so that those women can receive counseling as well. So we’ll see what the Lord does with all that!

It’s been a crazy journey – but I have such peace that this is what the Lord was calling me towards. I had a lot to learn before it was time to venture out. Most importantly, I think the Lord taught us that we craved control too much. We have always had these plans about finances. We needed to do A in order to be ready for B and thennnnn we could achieve C. Because then we would never be in an uncomfortable situation. I think this is good to a certain extent. We should be wise and good stewards of the gifts we’ve been given. But as much as we wanted to be, we were not asking for the Lord to be in control totally. So I think that silence from the Lord I mentioned earlier was intentional. I wanted him to tell me what to do so that I could be 100% sure it was the right thing and know that he would take care of us, because that’s what he wanted for us. Instead, he stayed quiet and required me to just make a decision. A decision that may or may not be the right one. But that would require me to trust him. To trust that if it were the wrong thing, he would catch us and take us to where he wanted us. To have some faith. To be brave and know that he would be there for us.

So here we go, trying to be wise and plan a little, but ultimately to trust him to provide. It’s going to be a crazy journey, I’m sure, but I’ve never felt more excited about what the Lord is going to do.

I plan to chronicle my journey through creating an Etsy business here so that any of you hoping to do the same thing in the future can use it as a resource. Others have been so gracious with sharing their time and experiences – I want to do the same. So please be sure to check back and go on this adventure with me!

What If You Really Started Following Your Dreams?

July 12, 2013 § Leave a comment

Lately, it seems like several of my conversations with friends have turned to these dreams we have of doing something BIG. I’m sure that part of the reason for this subject coming up is my own deep interest in dreams of late. But many of the people I have been talking with have brought up their passions on their own. They have been feeling this whisper that they were created for important things, bigger things than they are doing now. And they want to start exploring them.

Louder

*source unknown*

I know that our generation has been labeled as very entitled. And I desperately pray that isn’t my heart. When I talk about following dreams, it isn’t about becoming famous one day or even doing something that impacts the entire world. I just really believe that the Lord created us for unique things that he prepared for us before we were even born. And I want to work towards doing those things.

Ephesians 2:10 – For we are his workmanship, created in Chris Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

If you look at the immensely talented believers living (or who have lived) in the public eye, you’ll begin to notice a common theme.

1. Michelangelo: When asked about how he made the David, he said, “It is easy. You just chip away the stone that doesn’t look like David.” In his older age, he said, “Many believe – and I believe – that I have been designated for this work by God. In spite of my old age, I do not want to give it up; I work out of love for God and I put all my hope in Him.”

2. John Coltrane: If you follow Tim Keller in any capacity, you have probably heard his story about John Coltrane and A Love Supreme. After a period of wandering, Coltrane wrote in his liner notes, “In the year of 1957, I experienced, by the grace of God, a spiritual awakening, which was to lead me to a richer, fuller, more productive life.” While Coltrane didn’t talk about his experience with the Lord in detail, an old bandmate says, “He told me, he says, ‘I respond to what’s around me,'” remembers Tyner. “That’s the way it should be, you know? And it was just—I couldn’t wait to go to work at night. It was just such a wonderful experience. I mean, I didn’t know what we were going to do. We couldn’t really explain why things came together so well, you know, and why it was, you know, meant to be. I mean, it’s hard to explain things like that.” (Read the full NPR article here.)

3. Mariano Rivera: Rivera is commonly thought of as the best ever closer in baseball. He has a pitch known as the “Cutter” that is basically unhittable. When asked about how he learned to pitch like that, he says, “All of a sudden the ball started moving, cutting, in a way I’d never seen before. I wasn’t doing anything different, yet it had a life of its own. So, tell me, how do you explain that? [Mendoza] kept asking me what I was doing to make the ball move like that, and I had no answer. To me, the pitch was a gift from God.  How can I really teach this pitch if I can’t explain how it came to me in the first place?” (Read the full Hardball Talk article here.) Then again in an interview with New York Magazine, the author relays his conversation with Rivera, “Even as Rivera denies that his talent belongs to him, I steal a look at his magic right arm. ‘You don’t own your gifts like a pair of jeans,’ he says. By that reasoning, I venture, you might say that even the cutter doesn’t belong to you. ‘It doesn’t,’ he answers, nodding emphatically. ‘It doesn’t. He could give it to anyone he wants, but you know what? He put it in me. He put it in me, for me to use it. To bring glory, not to Mariano Rivera, but to the Lord.'” (Read the full New York Magazine article here.)

The thread that weaves through each of these quotes is that they all felt uniquely blessed by God to do something. They couldn’t even explain how it happened. It was just natural.

Stay Passionate

*source*

As much as I’d like to, I don’t believe that we were each created with the ability to do something as well as the three individuals above. But I do believe there is some gift within us that we were uniquely created to do and would be so effortless to us, we wouldn’t even be able to explain how we did it. It’s just like breathing.

So my question is, is what you’re doing now effortless to you? If not, I don’t think you should go and quit your job immediately. I just think each of us should begin praying for the Lord to reveal to us what He created us to do. Purpose is something so many of us live without. I think it would be interesting to see what the Lord would show us if we asked Him to.

Question of the Day

July 2, 2013 § 1 Comment

Steve Jobs

*source*

Have you ever watched Steve Jobs’ commencement address to Stanford University? If not, and you have a quick sec, I highly recommend watching this. I have seen this speech bring grown men to tears. (Really.) It’s inspiring to hear this man who affected so many of us talk about living out your dreams and learning from your failures. And it’s a little bit strange. I don’t know about you, but I don’t really expect to hear the leader of a technology company talking about something as right-brained as following your dreams.

But, not only did Jobs talk about this, he also credited much of his success to creating audacious goals and going for them 100%. Yes, he was brilliant. But if not for having a big dream and the courage to strive for them, he implies that he may not have ever impacted the billions of people worldwide that he did.

I don’t know that I will ever impact the entire world with my life. But I love the idea that setting big goals and striving for them can bring about incredible change, at least in the lives of those around me.

I want to live a life of intention and dreaming big.

So all of this brings me to my Question of the Day: What would the world look like if each of us were intentionally using our gifts to impact the world around us?

I feel like each of us were given strengths from the Lord that make us extremely good at some.thing. And if we were searching our hearts and praying earnestly, what would God show us that we were made to do? And if we were each doing that thing, what would the world look like?

If you dig too deep, it can become a big, daunting question, riddled with theological hesitations. But if you leave all that out and just think about it at surface level, it is really quite simple.

So I’m going to keep asking this question… prayerfully seeking out that which I was made to do.

Friday Favorites

June 28, 2013 § Leave a comment

  • Design*Sponge’s Living In feature this week was The Sandlot. First of all, I LOVE Living In: (I mean, Moonrise Kingdom, You’ve Got Mail, Chocolat, AmelieMidnight in Paris?! Amazing.). Secondly, I concur with every sentiment they had about childhood movies and the fact that Sandlot actually continually exceeds my memories every time I watch it. Thirdly, how cool (?!?) are the pieces they chose to feature? I want to buy them all for my future children!!!
  • My friend Morgan is a very talented writer and blogs about her life on her blog, Morgangster. (I know – she’s so cool!) She blogged about the steadfastness of the Lord the other day. It was such a good reminder of the Lord’s constant presence, in circumstances both good and bad.
  • Morgan also highlighted Karla Pruitt on her blog and I’m in love. This Georgia On My Mind print is going to make its way into my home.
  • Also came across a new blog: Sweet Peach. It is a great addition to my obsession with Garden & Gun and all things classically Southern.
  • Romantics Anonymous. If you have Netflix, love chocolate and are a slight francophile, please go watch this. Now. Whimsy at its finest.
  • I’m loving Zara for women and SuitSupply for men this week!
  • Also, searching for a classic black pump for work. It is not an easy task. 1, 2, 3, or 4… just to start with.
  • Really thinking the next part of my home I need to get in order is my vanity. Here are some of the pins inspiring me: 1, 2, 3 and 4.
  • And finally, I think that EssieButton is everything a blog should be. She just gets me. Loved the Get Ready With Me video this week.

I leave you with this inspiration for your weekend. Start dreaming now!!

Dreams Don't Work Unless You Do*source*

I Want to Be a Dreamer

May 1, 2013 § 3 Comments

Do you have dreams? Not like the dreams you have at night, but the big, get you pumped up about life, inspire you dreams?

For the first 26 years of my life, I was not a dreamer. I have never felt overly talented at anything, no matter how passionate for something I may be. And therefore, up until recently, I have enjoyed just being an encourager of others’ dream following.

This has always been a good place for me, because I feel like if I had dreams, I’d want someone to give me affirmation that I should totally go for them. And I think this will always be a unique way for me to love others. (Exhortation = spiritual gift, y’all.)

But at Christmas, I realized that just because I’m not an amazing artist or singer or writer, it doesn’t mean that I don’t have dreams. The Lord made us in His image and this means we make things. So right now, I’m on my journey to figure out what it is God created me to make. I’m hoping this can be a place that helps me find out just what that might be and where I can dream about it out loud.

Where Am I?

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