This is 40

This month I turn 40.

As this notable birthday approached, I kept waiting to feel some sort of feelings about it all. An impending and overwhelming sense of mortality, perhaps. Maybe a surge of youthful recklessness, an irresponsible spending spree, or the desire to become a yoga teacher. I was ready for anything.

Instead, I decided to close my business, learn about WWII, and start investing in higher quality clothing items, particularly those with elastic waistbands.

Not bad for a going over the hill journey.

As the big day got closer and closer, offers for parties and gatherings to celebrate came my way, but none of it felt right. I’ve never loved big celebrations where I’m the focus of attention. What I was craving was quite the opposite: Alone time. Quiet. Vast open space and a bed to cocoon in, alone.

Yes, a solo weekend away at the Oregon Coast is what I wanted for my birthday!

Luckily, my wife understands these introverted needs of mine and doesn’t take it personally. I’m certain this in one of the contributing factors to our 16 years together. That and our uncanny ability to get all of each other’s jokes, however dry or cryptic.

My weekend away arrived, and with it a flurry of excitement mixed with a bit of anxiety. Would this time away in fact be relaxing and rejuvenating, I wondered. Or would I feel unsettled, unsure of what to do when I got there, missing my family or feeling guilty for having this gift of time to myself?

I eagerly packed my hiking clothes, yoga clothes, bathing suit for the hotel hot tub, pajamas, slippers, a knitting project, two books and as many journals, tarot cards, colored pencils, markers, my DIY pedicure supplies, and enough toiletries to do skincare treatments for a gaggle of 30-somethings. I had no idea what I would end up doing all weekend, but I wanted to set myself up for some of my favorite pastimes.

The first few hours I was at the coast did feel unsettling. The possibility of doing anything I wanted felt daunting. With the absence of dependents or an outside schedule to guide me, I was literally unmoored. So I did what I usually do when uncertainty strikes: I walked.

I took to the beach and meandered over rocks and chunks of shell-studded sand. I peered into briny tide pools glistening with clusters of mussels and the pastel-colored tentacles of dozens of sea anemones. I watched wave after wave roll toward the shore and crash into the rocky coastline. I scanned the surface of the water for whale spouts. I took deep, unhurried mouthfuls of sea air and kept moving, one foot in front of the other. Eventually my shoulders relaxed and my mind stopped spiraling. By the time I headed back to my hotel, my head felt clear and open.

I could do whatever I wanted, But I didn’t have to do it all. Now and moving forward into the next decade of life.

Over the next 24 hours, I settled into an intuitive schedule of resting, eating, walking, reading, soaking, writing, and sleeping. Thoughts of the outside world mostly faded away and it was just me, listening to the waves.

I didn’t have any huge revelations or breakthroughs on my weekend away. But what I did experience felt far more powerful. I felt affirmed in my path and content with myself.

This is the true gift of turing 40.

Summer Bummer : Living Without All the Answers

“Are you having a good summer?” she asked with a hopeful smile.

I took a deep breath and felt just how tired I felt in my body.

I could see that she too was tired. A fellow mom and entrepreneur, she knows what it’s like to be juggling a very full life. And so I knew I could tell her the hard truth: No.

I was not having a good summer.

The intensity of that realization hit me like a tidal wave.

Summer is supposed to be a fun, carefree time, right?! I felt anything but carefree.

What was I doing wrong?

That afternoon on the way home from work, I cried. I had to pull over at a park and let the tears flow just to ease the tension and fear of all that had been going on.

Business had slowed down drastically in the spring at the shop. In an effort to cut down on some expenses, I was working more. I had been agonizing over some other business decisions for weeks, and I was having trouble turning off my brain. 

I am also launching my new side hustle: mentoring creatives. And hosting out of town family friends! With an already packed schedule, my self-care routine was out the window.  I was impatient with my children, I had hadn’t been making anything, and I hadn’t seen mu friends in weeks.

Which all adds up to less laid back summer fun with the family. I felt stretched thin and perpetually tired.

After being sick twice in under a month and suffering from insomnia, I decided it was time. Time to take matters into my own hands again instead of letting life run away with me. I’d like to say I created the opportunity for myself, but we happened to have plans to meet family for a weekend in the mountains. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect!

I decided to unplug from email and social media and say yes to all the fun opportunities that came my way that weekend.

We picnicked in the mountains. I waded in a lake with my kids. I cast on a new sweater project for fall. My sister, mom and I made a pie together. I went down a waterslide on a double inner tube with my wife. We let the kids eat all the treats and stay up past their bedtimes. And I did my best to clear my head of all things business related.

I came back not only refreshed, but a little bit lighter. I don’t have to have all the answers right now. I don’t know what my life and businesses will look like six months from now, and that’s okay.

Sometimes letting go of trying to hold all the pieces together and figure everything out opens you up to see new solutions or let the answer arrive in its own time.   As I get back into things it will be easy to slide back into worrying about what happens next.  But having taken this time to reset will help keep me moving forward with less stress.

For the rest of the summer, my decisions will be ruled by finding joy, being present with my kids, and reconnecting with myself. And just in case: I plan to have another unplugged weekend at the end of the summer!

Now I’m relieved to say that yes, I am having a good summer.

 

Live Your Bold, Creative Life: Intuition & an Ass Kicking


My alarm was set for 3:45 AM on Friday morning. But you know how it goes when your brain is both excited about the day to come and anxious that the body won’t wake up in time to make it happen. You either sleep terribly or you wake up super early. Luckily for me, I woke up just one minute before my alarm, and was able to let the anticipation of the weekend to come wash over me.

I was headed to the Radiance Retreat, a gathering of women that was part personal development, business seminar, and fitness training.  This last part was outside my comfort zone, but something told me I had to be there.

I was looking forward to disconnecting with my real life. Things had been rough on the sleep front with my littlest. The days toward the end of the school year had gotten so full and hectic. And then there was all the shit going on in my head.

You see, I have been contemplating a bold move of my own. A move that would result in me living a bigger, bolder, life and putting even more of myself out there in the world.

I want to help women connect with their own desires to live a bold, creative life.

I dream of doing this through one-on-one engagements where we can connect on a deeper level and get to the heart of your big dreams. We can move through your roadblocks, and I will help you get clear on the exact steps you need to take to get you moving in the direction of your dream.

My dream of becoming a Creative Coach feels audacious and exciting, and I love thinking about it! But this dream was also bringing up all my inner gremlins. I was stuck in a cycle of self-doubt that boils down to one thought:

Who am I to think I can help other people?

I’ve been wavering about whether or not to take the plunge for MONTHS. There are always a million excuses why you shouldn’t do the thing you’re dreaming of deep inside.

Here are some mindset roadblocks I’ve experienced:

  • I don’t have enough time.
  • I don’t have the money to invest.
  • I’m already doing so much.
  • No one wants to hear what I have to say.
  • There are already so many coaches out there doing it better than me.
  • What will happen to my existing business?

But the simple truth is it’s all bullshit. It’s all a way of holding yourself back, of playing small, of not living the life you desire.

These doubts and excuses create noise in your head, drowning out your inner voice. Your deeper intuition that knows exactly what you should do.

I’m just as guilty of falling into these traps as the next person. Ironically, I have a lot of tools for moving through those doubts and fears to get to the good stuff.

But in this case, I wasn’t able to use them on myself. I was allowing myself to fall victim to my tendency to people please, to put others’ needs and wants before my own, and to get so full of ideas and doubts that I couldn’t even hear my own voice anymore.


So back to this weekend…

I was in emotional pain when I arrived, desperately hoping to gain some clarity of purpose about all of this. If that didn’t happen, a couple of hours reading on the beach would do. I just needed a break from the cycle of relentless questioning I was in.

What I got from the experience was so much more.

Connection to new friends and time to connect with myself.

Acceptance as-is from other women

Motivation to stop wavering and move forward with swift and decisive action

Tears. There were tears within the first 30 minutes of this retreat. We cut through the surface and dove into why each of us was there and it got intense very quickly. Which was so good because it liberated us from the small talk and encouraged us all to connect openly and with integrity.

Laughter. When you’ve connected about the tough stuff in life, it feels really good to laugh with people.

Relaxation.  I gave myself permission to opt in only to those activities that really excited or challenged me. Looking at the schedule for the weekend ahead, I saw that the second afternoon included a 2.5 hour workout session. Instantly upon seeing that, my gut told me a big NO. Not because I was scared or nervous — I went to other exercise activities — but because I knew it would be the best opportunity to get some downtime at the beautiful beach. It was one of the best decisions I made all weekend! When I shared that I was choosing beach over barbells, it opened up that possibility for some other women who had been questioning.

A kick in the ass.  Jill Coleman is an incredible example of doing what you want with an unwavering certainty that what you have to offer is valuable and that you deserve success. Her business has evolved over time and she is now offering up her own brand of business coaching. I was riveted by her confident, unapologetic approach to business and the transformations hers has taken over the years..

At the end of her talk on the last day, she offered up a big challenge: Put up a buy button on your website by midnight that night. Cut through the excuses and doubts and just get it done.

So I did. What are you going to do?


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Introducing the Live Your Bold Creative Life Clarity Sessions

You have big dreams, but they tend to stay in the idea phase. You’re afraid to move forward. You don’t have the time or money right now. You don’t know what step to take.

I’ll help you:

  • Gain clarity on the big dream you can’t stop thinking about
  • Create an action plan to get you moving forward
  • Get unstuck and release some of the beliefs that have been holding you back

Putting something out into the world and offering yourself up to others who need what you have to offer is more important than holding on to your old beliefs. It’s bigger than your to-do list and your lack of tech knowledge, or the numbers in your bank account. The thing that you do or make or say has value beyond all the other self-doubt and negativity in your head.

I’m stepping out of my comfort zone and moving forward in my dreams. You can too. I hope you’ll join me on this journey. Click the link below to grab your spot and start living your dream life.

I’m ready to live bold!

Yarn Along: Addictive Knits & Reads

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At the end of the day, I look forward to my knitting time.  It’s a time to relax, slow down, and let the act of knitting help clear my mind of the day’s events.

This project is simple with just enough going on to keep me paying attention.  I started it on our family vacation last week, and it was the perfect travel companion.  After the first repeat or two, I didn’t need to look at the pattern all the time, which made it great to work on by the pool, in the room at night, and on the airplane.  Now I’m playing an intense game of yarn chicken as I try to use up as much of this beautiful yarn as possible.

What would you do if you found out a treasured piece of artwork had potentially been stolen during World War I?  What would you do if faced with serving German soldiers and being seen as a traitor was your only chance at being reunited with your husband?  It’s been a while since I’ve read any sort of historical fiction, and I’m finding this version to be very good.  It’s been thought provoking and entertaining all at once, the perfect kind of reading for me right now!

Knitting: Shaelyn byLeila Raabe in Madelinetosh Pashmina, Forestry

Reading: The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes

What’s on your needles and on your nightstand this week?

A Weekend Away

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Over the weekend I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the wedding of a childhood friend back in my home state of Idaho.  This trip was exciting on multiple levels: reconnect with good friends I haven’t seen in ages; spend time with my mom & sister; spend time alone; all the knitting, reading, and watching I could handle.  All of these things were lovely, and I came home refreshed and ready to jump back into my daily life as mom, wife, friend, and business owner.

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I cast on two brand new projects in anticipation of all the knitting time I’d have on the plane and in the hotel.  I brought the book I’m reading and my iPad to catch up on things I’ve been wanting to watch.  I was set up!  I may have eaten chocolate in bed and ordered room service a time or two.  It was glorious, and relaxing, and the perfect  blend of solitude and social interaction this introvert needs.

For the knitting crowd: I cast on a Renfrew hat in Road to China and a Brush Creek Cowlette in Brooklyn Tweed Loft.  (you can view my Ravelry project page here for more details)  The hat is finished, and after a gentle block will be on its way to a dear friend who is about to need it as a chemo cap.  The cowlette has given me a couple of problems, and I’m not sure what will happen to it next.  Let me just say this: you should do a gauge swatch, even if it’s for a fingering weight shawl/cowl thing, of which you have knit dozens.  Experience doesn’t always trump the tricks Gauge has up her sleeve!

And now this week is halfway through, and we’re beginning October!  I’m looking forward to all that this month has to bring.  Hope you’re having a good one.

Sundrenched

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Time away from home, on adventures big and small, is an essential part of what brings me happiness.  This may be a bit ironic since I  consider myself a homebody.  And yet I regularly need a break from our routine, a breath of fresh air, and new sights to help clear my head, bring my priorities back into focus, and jumpstart new daydreams.

And that’s just what our most recent trip to Florida did for me. At first, it was all about playing in the sun and spending time together. As our trip stretched on and we really settled in to the un-rhythym of family life on the road, it hit me.  So many of the things that stress me out, cause me worry or upset, don’t matter. They just don’t!  Sure, this is easy to feel while on vacation, that’s half the point of getting away!  But I am feeling this acutely right now, and want to hold on to it for as long as possible.

My other vacation revelation has to do with work.  Life goes on all around us, whether we’re there or not. Both of our jobs were moving along smoothly without us. This took some careful pre-plannig, but we were able to leave and not look back (for the most part) for 10 days.  It’s not necessary to check email after hours, work on the weekends, or be preoccupied with work while at home.  I can’t help but wonder what we can both do on a weekly basis to maintain this feeling and separation.

And during those 10 days, we had nothing but each other, and that truly is all that matters. I fell more in love with my wife, our family, and our life on this trip. And that makes me insanely happy!  And being happy means I have more energy for friends, work and family, hopefully without too much fretting over the small stuff.

So even though I woke up at 3 am and feel bone tired this morning thanks to a 3 hour time difference, I am so grateful.  Grateful for the time and the ability to take off into the sunshine for 10 days. Grateful for an adventurous family that helps push me outside my comfort zone. Grateful for the uninhibited, playful excitement of my 4 year old.  And yes, grateful for the warmth of the sun and a brief reprieve from the cold, wet, grayness of our winter.

Yarn Along:: Beginnings + Endings

I’ve been reading a new book, the sweeping sequel to The Passage.  It’s complex and moving, even a little sad and scary at times.  It’s epic and will probably take me a bit to get through.  And that’s okay, especially with the help of a before-work-mocha and reading moment from time to time.

My fall sweater is nearly finished!  I am actually ready to start the ribbing on the second cuff and will hopefully be done tonight!  Just in time to jet off to Hawaii for a long weekend with Sweetie to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary.

Which brings me to the subject of travel knitting.  As you know, a lot of careful thought and planning goes into strategizing vacation knitting projects.  The amount of sedentary travel time directly affects the number and complexity of projects I take.

This time I am excited to unearth some single skeins from deep stash and will be attempting a small project on each flight to and fro.  I’m thinking this and this.  And I might also throw in a sock-in-progress for good measure.  I only took one project with me to New York and I finished it on the flight over!  Better to overpack, I say.

What’s on your nightstand and in your project basket this week?

Thanks to Ginny for the Yarn Along inspiration!

Hurricane Cowl

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with Marie Forleo, my biz-lady mentor

Last weekend I went to New York City for a conference for women entrepreneurs striving to create not just a business we love, but a life we love as well.  My goal was to get inspired and map out the trajectory for a few new ideas I have brewing for Stash.  I also wanted to meet some fellow biz ladies and play in the city.  I got to do all of those things and so much more; I ate my way through the West Village, discussed ideas with incredible women (and a couple of men), danced my buns off, and even did some yarn shopping.  I also had some major personal revelations and got inspired to hit the ground running as soon as I got home.

Hudson River at West Side Highway and West 12th

And then on Sunday afternoon, reality hit as news of Hurricane Sandy’s imminent arrival infiltrated the bubble that was my experience so far.  Flights were cancelled, airports were closed, and hotels were evacuated.  Many of us were stranded, challenged to create an opportunity out of an uncertain situation.

When I woke up on Monday morning,  I saw the above view out my hotel window and decided the water was just a bit too close for comfort.  The storm hadn’t even started yet and the Hudson was already level with the West Side Highway!  Through Facebook and Twitter, some fellow conference goers and I were able to stay in touch and I ended up with a fantastic new friend to wait out the storm with.  We promptly moved to a hotel in Midtown and were fortunate to have power throughout the storm.

A bit of blue sky the morning after.

Huddling inside a hotel room with a near-stranger  waiting for a hurricane to strike is an interesting experience, indeed.  We were both anxious, scared, uncertain, and grateful to not be alone.  My heart was aching to be so far away from my wife and daughter; I was literally trapped on an island, and couldn’t get home.  This moment threw my priorities into stark relief, and I couldn’t wait to get home to hug them.

Through it all, I knit on this cowl.  Huge size 35 needles and some extreme thick and thin yarn from Loopy Mango made for good hurricane knitting.  Each stitch was a meditation as I absorbed all I had learned over the weekend, changes I wanted to make in my personal life, and new ideas for my business.  And when the knitting was finished, the hurricane was over and I was wrapped in the warmth of wool and new friendships.

Thank you to my hurricane sisters Catherine, Sarah, Sara, Amy, Ellie, Mari, Ceclia, and Claudia.  I’m so thankful we met!

Please consider taking a moment to donate to the Red Cross; anything you can contribute will help someone in need.

Right Now:: On Vacation

Right now we are on a much-needed family vacation to visit Sweetie’s parents in Michigan. There has been a lot of playful downtime, which means this mama has had several good sleep ins, time for knitting, reading and watching the bird feeders while PB bonds with Nana and papa. I finished reading Mockingjay and made significant progress on my Tidal cardigan.  It has been great!

Trips like this always make me wonder why it takes leaving home and becoming fairly inaccessible to one’s regular life to feel so relaxed. I always head for home vowing to capture the essence of vacation and somehow transport these feelings into the daily rhythm. For now, as we head in to summer, here’s what I’ve come up with:

  • Daily family walks or bike rides.
  • Daily exploration of garden with PB.
  • Unplugging from the computer/tv/phone more regularly
  • Shopping and making meals together from scratch.
  • Planning a few weekends away throughout the summer; beach, mountains, and city destinations included!
What’s on your to-do list for summer?

PS- We’re back! I wasn’t able to upload a photo from my in-law’s computer, so this post was on hold.  Happy Monday to you!

Churchmouse Yarns and Tea

I got my first taste of the Churchmouse brand while at a fiber festival a couple of years ago.  Their knitting patterns are exquisite, and I fell in love with their style immediately.  When we were planning our trip to Seattle, I just knew we needed to take a ferry ride over to Bainbridge Island to visit their shop.

And then, a few weeks ago something wonderful happened.  I was in Boston for the Yarn Market News conference, and I started chatting to the most charming gentleman.  Turns out it was John, one of the owners of Churchmouse!  Along with his longtime wife Kit, the two have built a beautiful shop and brand.

While in the shop, I felt very inspired, both as a knitter and yarn shop owner.

You can take classes, brew a cup of tea, and browse the large selection of knitting and needlepoint supplies.  There are charming surprises to be found everywhere you turn, from repurposed furniture pieces to extra large knitting needles.  And their spring window display is beyond charming, don’t you think?

I brought home a few new skeins of yarn, the bulk of which comes from Brooklyn Tweed.

Now the question of what to knit…