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!

Working Lady Mindset

January 10, 2014 § Leave a comment

Do you think you’d be healthier if you had less stress in your life? I certainly have always thought that.

Well this TED Talk from psychologist Kelly McGonigal shares some extremely interesting research on the effect of your beliefs about stress on your life. Perhaps stress was really made to help you achieve things, but your mindset about it has been all wrong.

This was extremely fascinating to me and really helps me have a better mindset going into what I would normally consider a stressful day.

One of the most incredible lines to me was: “Your stress response has a built-in mechanism for stress resilience, and that mechanism is human connection.” What a wonderful reminder that we were created to help each other go through difficult things.

It’s so tempting to avoid people when working because you think you just don’t have time to talk. But we’re there to help each other cope. I couldn’t be more thankful for those work friends in my life who bring me encouragement and remind me that I can handle the tough times.

What do you think about all of this? Do you think it’s kind of hokey? Or do you think she’s onto something?

No matter what, I think her benediction was pretty awesome. Take it with you throughout the day and live inspired: “Go after what it is that creates meaning in your life and then trust yourself to handle the stress that follows.”

Working Lady Resources

November 13, 2013 § 2 Comments

A couple of weeks ago, I shared my thoughts on the working lady mindset. The bottom line was: there are a lot of things out of our control when it comes to our working lives. But the main things we can control are our attitudes towards others and ourselves, our beliefs about others and ourselves, and our beliefs about what God has to say about our work.Make Ourselves Strong

While I have certainly not done a marvelous job about controlling my attitude and beliefs every day since writing that post, I do believe that mentality is starting to creep in more often and ruffling my feathers during my pity parties. A little voice in my head keeps whispering, “Remember the Gospel applies to your work. Breathe.” So I’m going to keep trying to listen to the Holy Spirit and allow Him to comfort me in these times of weakness.

But in the meantime, I have some resources {!!!} that I think might help you learn to move from a stress-oriented mindset to a calm one, some that might create a working environment that helps stimulate creativity and positivity at work, and some that might just help you start discovering what your life story is going to be about while you continue working hard. As you read through them, keep in mind this might be a good formula for a baby-step-oriented thought process of moving from where you are to where you want to be down the road.

REMAIN CALM: Where you are right now is not only a reality, but it’s a gift. Therefore, try to release stressful thoughts to the Lord and work on being thankful for where you’re at. Give yourself grace to not feel over-the-moon all the time and you might find that the lack of pressure to love it every second might be a welcome relief.

 

STIMULATE CREATIVITY AND POSITIVITY: After you’ve slowed down and let yourself breathe a little, do your best to create a work environment that is positive and gets your creative juices flowing. These dress-your-tech designs have been such a fun addition to my cell and computer. As soon as I open it up, instead of seeing a boring company logo, I’ve got these encouraging phrases and beautiful designs welcoming me into the working day. And the Anthro desk accessories and notebooks are a lovely way to spruce up any desk.

 

THINK ABOUT YOUR LIFE STORY: Finally, after you’ve learned to be thankful for where you’re at and done your best to improve your work environment, start thinking about what you want your life story to be about. The resources below are a mixture of encouragement, how to, and future options. I am starting Storyline with some dear friends on Friday, so I’ll keep you posted on how effective it is.

 

Overall, I hope these tools will be helpful in contributing to a healthy mindset and potential launch into determining what your life story and purpose are going to be about.

Let me know if there are specific resources you’re interested in and I can do some research – I love learning as much as I can about creating positive work environments!

 

Working Lady Mindset

October 17, 2013 § 1 Comment

I am a 9-to-5 worker bee, chugging away in a corporate job. You know this from my Working Lady Style posts. My reality is working 40-50 hours a week, coming home, trying to find time to work out, cooking dinner, eating with my husband, and then having about an hour, maybe two, for free time in the evening. So while I only spend a little over a fourth of my week working, it ends up feeling more like three fourths once you add in sleeping, eating, working out and thinking about work.

But as I read more and more blogs, I’m starting to realize that many bloggers out there are creative professionals, typically working freelance jobs or owning small businesses. Or sometimes blogs are written by full time workers, but they don’t talk about their work life a lot, mainly because it is an escape from work for them.

While I completely understand that and often feel the exact same way, I still find myself yearning to read something that I can relate to. Something that acknowledges the joys and challenges of working in a corporate setting. Resources that could help with finding joy in work, maintaining work-life balance, or even just where to find some amazing black pumps.

So instead of twiddling my thumbs, praying for that blog to drop into my lap, I’m going to start dedicating some of my time on here to the working lady life. I’ll continue with Working Lady Style posts, but will probably add in some posts in the realms of Working Lady Mindset, Working Lady Resources, Working Lady Reads… things like that.

If you are one of those lucky few working in the creative realm for yourself, then my hope is you can still pull some nuggets of fun/truth/wisdom from these for your own working life, too.

If this is a horrible idea and you hate it and it’s boring, please someone let me know! I need more truth-tellers in my life, people!

To kick things off with a bang, let’s talk about the Working Lady Mindset. I don’t know about you, but this is a typical day’s progression for me:

  • 8:45-9:00: Show up to work, grab some coffee/tea, open email
  • 9:00-10:00: Calmly sift through all the emails from the night before and the morning, respond to any emergencies, start focusing on the big “to-dos” for the day
  • 10:00-11:30: Attend the meeting that was supposed to be an hour, but went over by thirty minutes, start mini-freaking out over the new to-dos collected during the meeting
  • 11:30-12:00: Head back to desk, trying not to make eye contact with anyone because there’s no time to chat, there’s stuff to do! Work on to-dos from last meeting, already forgetting the ones from the morning
  • 12:00-1:00: Either lunch meeting or grab quick lunch and eat and work at desk
  • 1:00-1:30: Prepare for next meetings
  • 1:30-3:30: Attend two meetings, start super-freaking out over the new to-dos collected during those meetings
  • 3:30-5:45: Again, try to keep  head down so no one talks to you while you try to get all the urgent to-dos done, get through about five of the fifteen big ones
  • 5:45-5:50: Really think through if you can leave or not, decide you should. Pack all the relevant print-outs/notebooks into work bag, thinking working at home is going to happen, has to happen tonight
  • 5:50-6:20: Get home, put work bag down, never touch work. Too tired

Overwhelmed*source*

Not sure about you, but that seems a little out of control. Do I think everyone works like that? No. I’m a rare breed of crazy. But I do think the busyness resulting from the digital age is a reality for anyone working in corporate [slash life!], and whether you’re good at taking things step-by-step or not, most still would admit to a decent amount of stress and pressure when working.

This doesn’t seem super healthy. I get home feeling like the world is totally out of control [which it is – how have I not figured out that is just a result of the fall?] and uber stressed heading into time with my husband. And to be super transparent, my stress level has gotten to a point lately where I am not a fun person to hang out with in the evening. I’m either zoned out/shut down/vegging out, or worse, crying.

Not all of the things that are contributing to this are in my control, but some of them are. And that’s what I want to talk about here. [Longest intro to a blog post ev-ver?]

Today's To Do List*source*

What do I have control over in my corporate world? I have control over my attitude towards others and myself, my belief about others and about myself, and my beliefs about what God has to say about my work.

First of all, this has not been an easy journey for me, and I would say I’m literally on the first leg of it. But glimpses of truth are starting to peak through the clouds of unfocused lies, and I know this is right.

When I am letting stress control my life, I end up treating others and myself poorly. My attitude towards people, when I’m in this state, is that they are a nuisance and a distraction. I have things to get done, and interacting with a human seems like the biggest waste of time because those are precious minutes I could have had to knock out a few to-dos. My attitude towards myself is also one of constant frustration. Why can’t I get everything done? Everyone around me is keeping their stuff together? Why is it so hard for me? Just get it together. This attitude is damaging. It belittles relationship and community, and it creates unfair expectations about myself that can cause me to believe long-lasting lies.

These lies I start believing are so terrible. I believe that the opinions of others matter most, that their opinions of me are that I am not a hard worker, that I am selfish, that I am childish, and that they really just want me to be perfect all the time. About myself, I believe all the things I think others believe about me: that I don’t work fast enough, that I don’t think strategically enough, that I am a waste of a full-time position at a company that is very difficult to get on board with. And this just spirals me into this black hole of negativity and fear.

And finally, this makes me believe that God thinks these things about me too. While I would tell anyone to their face that I believe God loves us unconditionally, deep down I must think that I must perform to be a “good” Christian. And while I know I don’t have to work in ministry to be serving God, I think I have warped this belief that working with excellence serves God, so therefore, I must work perfectly and better and better and better, to show that I am serving God wholeheartedly. Well that’s just crap, right? I mean you write it down, and you realize the lunacy. But somehow I have let myself live there, in this crappy lie.

So that’s a LOT of talking I’m doing. But what does it boil down to? I have a renewed commitment to believe the truth about what God thinks about me, to believe the truth about myself and others, and to then have a good attitude towards myself and others.

Coffee and Jesus*source*

I will believe that God’s love for me is not based on how hard I work. It’s based on his Son’s righteousness that he purchased for me that I have no way of ever earning. It is done and finished. And therefore, I have the freedom to do my best, without being unhealthy. God has given me the manna I need each day to get done what I can that day. And he created me. He knows my limits. He created them. So this outworking and outserving myself is not something he asked of me.

I will believe that others believe the best about me. I know not everyone has the privilege to work at a company filled with as stellar people as I do, and therefore this may not be a realistic belief for everyone. But I am truly surrounded by phenomenal people. Sure, we make mistakes sometimes and get frustrated with each other sometimes. But for the most part, we know we work with the hardest workers in the world and with people with intense integrity. We are also a very loving and forgiving bunch. So why should I believe that they are constantly judging my work, when I don’t have that thought about anyone else in the business? And as for myself… I am a hard worker. I can be selfish, but as a whole, I really like working hard to serve others. And I am not a child (most of the time). I choose to believe that I do good work, and that where I fail, the Lord can more than make up for it and help me to grow in those areas. {You have no idea how big of a statement all of that is for me!}

Finally, I will then let those beliefs funnel into a positive attitude towards the people around me. I won’t look at a conversation with a person as a distraction. I will look at that as a huge blessing, that I get to work with people I think are the bomb dot com, and that I should soak up as much time with them as I can. And who knows how we can save each other time down the road by sharing what we’re working on. And community helps us to see that everything’s not such a big deal. We’re not saving lives here or anything. And I will have a positive attitude towards myself. I will give myself some grace and realize that finishing a to-do list doesn’t define me or make me a bad worker. Having my stuff together just means working as hard as I can in the 40 hours I’ve been paid and then living a balanced life at home too. Not being a walking robot that can only talk/think/breathe work all the time.

Relax*source*

That was quite the novel, so bravo if you made it all the way down here! But the majority of my readers work with me anyway, so I figure they might need to hear these truths too. If not, then it was just good for me to have some accountability to start focusing on the truth.

The next few posts shouldn’t be this long. I’m hoping to share some really encouraging resources that people have shown me lately. I’m a development junkie, so I hope that you will love them as much as I do!

Where Am I?

You are currently browsing the Working Lady category at with whimsy.