Saturday, November 28, 2015

Makers Monday

As most of you may know- Black Friday is wrapping up right now in the USA. You know the day when the shops open at like 5am and people get trampled at Wal-Mart? Yeah that's the one.

Well something positive has come about to counteract this day of massive, corporate consumerism and it's called Makers Monday.

Share something you've made and a link to your store or blog and show the world the importance of preserving all things handmade. Let's support local businesses by supporting one another!

Add your Etsy listing, a link to your blog and show something you've made! It can be a craft, artwork, recipe, DIY project or even a story. I can't wait to see the creativity!

Click on the Blue Link to Add your Etsy Listing or Blog Post

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Stop Telling Me To Have Another Kid!

My daughter was only a few weeks old the first time someone casually asked me when I was going to have another baby. (???!!!) As the years roll on the question comes faster and more furiously.

Look, I get it, sometimes people are just making conversation however when they persist things can get awkward. I've gotten into near arguments with people trying to change my mind about having another one rightthisminute.

Luckily for me I should be physically able to bear a second baby but wouldn't I feel terrible if I couldn't? Why should I have to rehash that every time a well-meaning (opinionated) stranger asks about my family plans?

Here are the most common reasons people give for having two kids in a row (always from people with two or more kids in a row) and why I disagree.  Feel free to use these arguments next time you get bombarded.
1. Age Gap

I’d like to have words with the so-called expert who decided there is an ideal age gap between siblings. My brother and I are four years apart and we survived just fine. In fact, I remember HELPING my Mom with him when he was a baby. Once I saved his life when the phone rang and he tumbled into my bath while our Mom went to answer it. 

Truth be told, my bro and I weren’t besties growing up but I that had way more to do with personality differences. If we were one year, two years, or five years apart it would have been the same deal. Now I love that dude to pieces and I’m grateful for him. We even have matching tats because we rule.

I hope my daughter knows that sibling bond someday…just not today.
2. Get the hard years over with at once

Come on! Having two babies close in age means double the hard stuff. You can’t fool me.

Look, this comes down to personal preference. I like to space out life’s tough stuff (within my control) with some fluff in between. Some brave folks prefer to put heads down, kiss fun goodbye for a few years, then look up and see if they made it to the other side. May the force be with you.

If it were me- I would never leave the house. The thought of loading baby/diaper-bag/stroller x 2 would be too draining (good thing I don't have twins or triplets!)

"I’ll take tantrums over breastfeeding, a single stroller over a double, grilled cheese sandwiches over veggie purees, potty-training over vomit, and babycinos over bottles. That’s just me. You won’t change my mind."

These days my two-year-old pals around with me like a little legend. She sits still long enough for a coffee date and I can bribe her with frozen yoghurt while I shop the Kmart home goods section. She even digs sitting in shopping carts while I do the dreaded grocery shopping. Oh and did I mention she’s been sleeping 12 hours a night since age 7 months? Yeah I’m bragging. You would too.
3. If you wait too long you won’t want to go back for another

Whats wrong with an only?

Maybe I just lost the desire to do it again. Are you concerned I’ll have regrets? That’s so thoughtful! 

The prospect of ‘going back to the newborn days’ at any time sounds daunting (and terrifying) but if people tell you that they didn’t have another baby simply because they ‘waited to long’ I'd be suspicious. I know couples who have gone to the ends of the Earth to have a child. If someone REALLY and TRULY wanted another baby they would do it. Even if it meant their comfy routine would be punctuated with newborn demands.
4. The Mother’s Age

Your eggs are wilting! 

Lot’s of Mothers are waiting until their 30’s to have babies because our Mamma’s taught us ‘career first!’ Admittedly there is a bit of biological pressure to crank the kids out close together in this case. I’ve read the stats and they are scary. Yes, our lifetime supply of eggs dwindle and chances of birth defects rise with each passing year.

No denying that it’s statistically it’s easier to get pregnant the younger you are and it’s undeniable you’ll have more energy the earlier you do (but maybe if you’re older you can afford more help). 
So with this one I kind of see your point but to each their own (which is my point about this whole business really).

Just so you know- I’m willing to risk it. And I’m talking about waiting like ONE more year, not seven, so calm yourselves people (there…you’ve gotten it out of me, I’ve revealed my plan).

Defence rests.
What about the risk of Post Natal Depression (PND) a second time?

There is no denying that I had it tough emotionally after the birth of my daughter and it took me a long time to feel normal again.

I’d be lying if I said I’m not worried about battling with post natal depression again but it’s not the only reason I’m putting Rieniets 2.0 on hold.

Call me selfish but in many ways I feel that when my daughter was born so was I. When you only have a tiny fraction of time to yourself as a parent- you try your damnedest to make that time count (once you have the energy to do so).

All I wanted to do was set a good example for my baby girl and in doing so I’ve started following my dreams. I would like one more year to work on those things before I have to scale it all back (which I will happily do for my family). Someday I hope ‘both’ kids will thank me because they will have a contented and fulfilled Momma.

Besides, I’m just not that into two kids in diapers at the same time.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Five Way To Improve Your Time Management

Blog Pal, Jess from Peachy Keen Mumma
I went to this rad Bloggers Brunch hosted by Kids Business Communications two Fridays ago. The networking was meaningful, the sponsors relevant and the speakers inspiring- it was such a worthwhile morning and afternoon! I even ended up on the news last night. How cool is that?

Check out the full report here:

I just wanted to share some tips from Kate Christie about time management (she's an expert on the subject who specializes in working with business women age 30-55 who struggle to balance work and family.) This is definitely an area in my life that constantly needs tweaking. Especially now that I officially work from home, for myself. I'm the only one who can take responsibility for my own productivity.

Kate’s Time Management Tips

1. Start using the word no. 
How simple and glorious is that? Take this first tip and use it as your permission slip. Stop over-committing. Right now. Stop it.

2. Ask yourself- “Is this the best use of my time?”
No quicker way to snap out of a distraction or social media time suck than to have this one on loop in the back of your mind.

3. Think of time as money.
No really. We’ve all heard this one before but sit down an calculate your hourly rate. Then see tip number two.

4. Family is a team sport.
I like this one because I tend to think of my family as a business (when I’m feeling logical as opposed to romantic which happens only about 1.5% of the time because I'm a sap). Everyone on the team brings different skill sets to the group so why not play the position you know best? Time, attention and money may not be distributed evenly at all times but one person's win is everyone's win. Don't forget to celebrate your victories together (which is why I keep champagne in the fridge always).

5. Have a don’t do it list.
Kate gave the example of going grocery shopping in rush hour traffic. Seems reasonable, right? For myself I would add- don’t look at the phone first thing in the morning. As parents our time is limited so try not to fall into common traps which can end up wasting time.
Thanks Kate, for your deceptively simple words of wisdom. 

Monday, November 16, 2015

I wanted to say something about Paris

The only time I visited The City of Light, I was going on my tenth month of living and working in Europe. I had travelled heaps for work (and for fun) and by that stage I was pretty blasé about the whole thing. I was already itching for something new and exotic like Asia.

The weekend in Paris was a girls trip to visit some of my colleagues who were based there. It was meant to be more of a social catch up rather than sight-seeing.
I took the train in from Amsterdam where I lived at the time. As it sped through Brussels I hardly glanced out the window. Eyes instead on some book I was reading and ears listening to whatever music I was obsessed with at the time-most likely Muse and Death Cab.

My friend Ruby met me at the station so I wouldn’t get robbed by gypsies. We cabbed to her flat and after distributing the chocolate penises I brought from The Dam I started getting ready for a night out.

I was so used to the casual Netherlands that I looked a bit like Pocahontas in my outfit as the girls generously pointed out. Clearly I had not spent enough time in sophisticated Paris. Even so, as we stepped into the night we felt like an international version of Sex and The City laughing and hobbling our way down the Champs Elysees with the Arc Di Triomphe in the background.
And then I saw it. The Eiffel tower all lit up against the navy sky. I swear my heart stopped beating. All the movies, poetry, books, posters, and myths about this structure loomed large in my mind. I felt ‘the thing,’ that feeling you lust for as a traveler. It’s a little bit like the rush of falling in love, the realization of how insignificant we are and the reward for living out of a suitcase.
This is the moment- you can hardly see the tower in the background (or my outfit) but I'm glowing.
This momentous steel structure could look like a radio tower if it did not mean so much to us culturally. All the history, the connotations, the importance we gave to her is real and it’s powerful and you can physically feel it.
I remember being grateful to Paris in that moment. Europe had not completely desensitized me to beauty, to wonder and to history. I could still feel it's magic that was an unexpected surprise.

When Paris was terrorized over the weekend I’m sure it was a target because of that significance. Because of what it means to so many of us. Whom ever planned the attacks, they were ruthlessly targeting a collective soft-spot. A little piece of my heart broke for the city of light and a big piece of my heart broke for the world we live in. 

Death, fighting, genocide, and war ravage the middle east every single day. We’ve ignored it for a while and now it’s being shoved in our faces again. We need to do something...but what? It feels so impossible when we individually feel so helpless.
Candles in Notre Dam
Paris is another wake-up call to the Western World that we need to end war and violence- I have no idea how this can be achieved. I just hope it happens before our hearts are so broken that there is nothing left to fight over.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Not Everyone's Cup Of Tea

Quote by Carrie Bradshaw (but let's forgive that).
My day started off with some serious messaging with a close friend of mine. She is quite passionate, outspoken and opinionated especially when it comes to women's issues (no wonder we get along). The problem for her and I is that sometimes our loved ones can try to quiet us down 'for our own good.'

Social media is a place where we can blurt thoughts as quickly as we can speak them but unlike in a one-on-one conversation you don’t have to worry about that ‘fly on the wall’ who overheard everything. Unfortunately (or fortunately) for people like us, the internet is a stadium full of flies with photographic memories, excellent record keeping and their own internal biases. Soapboxes swarmed, we find ourselves defending our opinions to the death.

It's completely understandable that people who care about us may not want to see us dealing with a backlash of comments, replies, frustration and de-friending. Some people are intensely private- I get it because I used to be one of those people- and it freaks them out to imagine swatting at all those opinionated little flies. We look like people on fire but if we didn’t use our voices we would burn up on the inside….And that feels much worse.

When I shared my experience with Post Natal Depression it's no secret that even my own Mother was uncomfortable. She didn't understand why I couldn't just write in a journal. No doubt it was her first instinct to shield and protect me but because of my own vulnerabilities and insecurities it made me feel like she thought I was doing something wrong. I know she was just being a Mom.

When I pushed publish on that first post I felt sick. It was completely out of my comfort zone, sharing my weaknesses with perfect strangers. But you know what? In exposing the worst of me, I was able to air it all out, heal old wounds and become stronger than I had ever imagined. Real strength, not just a projection of strength that would short circuit whenever I was alone.

Removing my filter of 'perfection' I was able to make more genuine connections with friends both old and new and I've been able to be more honest in my day-to-day life, something I've long admired in bold and outspoken people.

I used to care too much about what everyone thought of me. Don't get me wrong, I still care tremendously but if you're not on board I'm okay with that too.

9 Things I Learned While Setting Up A Creative Small Business

I've spent the last two years building my brand (essentially me learning to be comfortable with myself online) and the last ten observing the small businesses many of my close friends have created.

Well folks, I'm proud and excited to say I've gone off and created my own little slice of commerce in the world, ta-da! An online store which houses all of my hopes and dreams for the future. Half-kidding- I'm doing it mainly for the joy.

Anyhoo- I wanted to share what I've learned along the way. Advice in my own words gleaned from friends, family, e-courses, research, blogs, books and hands on experience. 

1. Be Proactive
With technology today I could spend all of my time reacting; emails, messages, tweets, mentions...sound familiar? I read some really good advice in the book Art Inc. by Lisa Congdon, she recommends simply that we 'schedule' time to respond and focus more on being proactive. 

Several times throughout my day I stop and ask myself, “Am I being proactive or reactive.” And that’s all it takes. Seriously- just a simple change in mindset.

2. Don’t sit down without a plan
Unless you want to kiss precious hours goodbye, that is. When I set aside time to work I need a plan. If I sit down at the computer with a bunch of vague ideas about what I need to do I’ll get sidetracked the instant I open my email/ Facebook/ Etsy. Which brings me to the next point…

3. Make a list
I am a list person. Preferably handwritten. My friend even taught me this nifty trick of drawing a blank box in front of the item so you can tick it off once complete.

Lately I have been making lists at night about what I want to accomplish the next day. I kid you not- It's helping me sleep better! Try taking 5 or ten minutes before bedtime to write down some easily achievable goals for the next day. It will not only keep you on track but will give you peace of mind.

4. Get Back on Track
Speaking of back on track, if I find myself distracted or bored, I move onto the next thing on my list. Sometimes I need a change of scene all together so I leave the room for a coffee break or just a quick walk. Anything it takes to keep you moving forward!

5. Keep a Clear Workspace
This might sound obvious but for me it really works. There is nothing that will demotivate me more than thinking about cleaning in order to work- that’s double work! Even if your space is tiny like mine- get yourself some real estate and keep it. You won’t regret it when you have a few spare moments (which you won't want to spend cleaning).

6. Don’t get sucked into the Social Media Black Hole
I spend the majority of my time on platforms I like best and don’t worry so much about the others. I personally love Instagram and Facebook most and tend to dabble in Twitter (Pinterest is an on-and-off obsession). I'm only one person! If I devoted time to all of social media I would have zero life=  zero things to tweet, pin or share about.

Don’t stress too hard about gaining followers either. Social media is meant to be fun…and social. If you are genuine- your tribe will find you. As they say, 200 engaged followers are more valuable than 2,000 fickle ones.

7. Invest in Help if you can
Hiring a cleaner to come twice a month or arranging childcare can be invaluable when it comes to running a business. Maybe think about reinvesting some of your earned income into one of these things so that you can produce more, ideally generating more income. I do these things and the time saved is invaluable.

8. Respek
Seriously. I’m being serious now. If you are turning your passion into a business- don’t call it a hobby. It’s a Biz-Nass and you are a serious business person now. If you respect yourself and your work, others will too.

9. Recharge
I could spend all day working on my business because I love what I do. I think about it when I’m running around after my kid, when I’m doing chores, at bedtime, in the morning- you get the picture. My mind is always working. 

Remember that you need to feed the creative beast and he's a greedy thing. Fill his face with new places, conversations, and yes, even some downtime, and he will spit out ideas and inspiration faster than you can catch. 

Go get it!

What's the best piece of business advice you've heard?

Monday, November 2, 2015

Taking Stock: The Business Lady Edition

Making : Biz-nass Plans.
Cooking : The bare minimum (my attention is elsewhere).
Drinking : Nudie Soda, Apple flavor.
Reading: Big Magic and Art Inc.
Wanting: More space for art supplies and more time for creating!
Looking: Bright-eyed and a little tired.
Playing: With clothes- my style has changed into what? I don't know yet.
Deciding: What project to work on next....
Wishing: I was a morning person.
Enjoying: All the ideas and inspiration running through me.
Waiting: Home reno! Home reno! Patently impatient for completion.
Liking: Scheduling posts in advance- yeah Hootsuite!
Wondering: If I can maintain this momentum.
Loving: Instagram and photography (even though I've used a few stock photos here).
Pondering: The past two years of pouring my soul directly into creative living. It's yielding results!
Considering: Many goals. And then some.
Buying: Some cute, comfy, cheap dresses for Summer.
Watching: The Block. Missing The Bachelorette. Love me some reality TV. 
Hoping: I can make it through today without getting too cranky-tired. I can feel it coming.
Marvelling: That people have paid me actual money for artwork. (!!!)
Cringing: On how much of my life is sucked away by Social Media (Facebook particularly.)
Needing: A time management plan.
Questioning: Directions.
Smelling: Summer.
Wearing: Boyfriend jeans and a comfy T shirt. I have way too many T shirts.
Following: Twitter- It’s taken me so long to really figure it out. What a marvel.
Noticing: How my daughter is developing daily.
Knowing: That I am becoming more obsessed each day by the little human we created.
Thinking: That I continually need to let go and give her space to breathe and grow.
Admiring: My little girl’s determination, independence, strength and even her stubbornness.
Sorting: Laundry, house stuff, art stock, getting prepared to shift into the new part of our home.
Getting: All the good vibes. 
Bookmarking: Quotes about creativity.
Coveting: Old Photos and my Grandmother’s things.
Disliking: My ‘occasional’ lack of patience.
Opening: Lot’s of packages filled with Lavinia’ birthday gifts and naughty Halloween candy.
Giggling: About how much my kid sounds like me; “Let’s do this! How are ya? Mom's the boss.”
Feeling: Loved and supported by my husband. He asked me what my goals were for the next twelve months so he could do everything in his power to help me achieve them.  <3
Snacking: Trying not to. Hard Boiled eggs have been my go-to lately.
Helping: My little seed of a business to sprout.
Hearing: Loving this playlist of acoustic covers on Spotify.

Won’t you take stock with me?

Making :
Cooking :
Drinking :