my house is trashed - sorry

I find myself apologizing a lot when people come over the house lately.  

Maybe it's the giant cardboard Charlie Brown house spilling open with My Little Ponies that greets you in the foyer.  Or perhaps it is the front room sewing room that is a piled mess of fabric, thread, and ribbons.  Then there is the perilous journey from the front door to the family room jumping over the Thomas the Train tracks.  

I'm sorry that you might need help moving mountains before you can sit on the sofa.  It is often littered with football cards, legos and such.  

Looking for clean clothes, dishes or such - I might say sorry there too.

It's not that the house is filthy, It is just not Better Homes and Gardens perfect.  

But what it is is life.  
A good life.
A real life. 

 A recognition that the kids won't remember how many loads of laundry that were put up but rather homemade meals around the table together.
They won't look back on childhood thankful that we had a pristine dining room that never housed a fancy meal but rather a room full of imagination and laughter. 

This house is real, and the door is always opened.  

It doesn't matter that the floors are polished and that the toys are picked up. 

What matters is that you know you are welcomed.  No matter the time, you are welcomed.  And we are thankful that you came.  

This is real life, this is a good life - a life meant to be shared. 

So when I say sorry I'm not.  I'm not sorry that we are enjoying life.  I'm not sorry that I choose time with my children over folding laundry.  I'm sorry, I'm not sorry. 


Riding the Elevator

Part of a business series I am writing for those of you (especially mamas) thinking of starting a handmade business.  Hopefully we can connect soon!  

The Elevator Speech.  

Ah the 30 seconds, at best that you give it your all.  You sell yourself in less time then it takes to spell your name out loud.  The elevator speech is so so very important as you market your business outside the internets.  

The elevator speech really doesn't need to take place in an elevator but it does have certain components to every time you say it.  

How to recognize the time for the elevator speech opportunity.

1. you are with total strangers
2. you are with people who know you but don't know what you do
3. you have 20 - 30- seconds to answer the question, "what do you do."
4. there is no one to speak "above."

Nuts and Bolts of the Speech

1. who are you?
2. what do you do?
3. how do you do it?
4. when do you do it?
5. why do you do it? 

The basics we learned in 2nd grade.  This is where you are.  You have 20-30 seconds to let someone know how passionate you are about what you create.  Why you spend sleepless nights doing what you do.  And how they can buy your goods (uber importante!).

I am constantly changing my elevator speech.  Every week I evaluate what my speech looks like.  It keeps in me in touch with my business, it affords opportunity for me to dream, and maybe it will show in a sale.  

Right now, #sofour's elevator speech often looks something like this.

Hi I'm Heather.  I sell and blog about my art filled sewn pieces of everyday items that promote a positive message in a bright and colorful way.  You can find my pieces on Etsy, Facebook and by using the hashtag #sofour.  (then the traditional handing of the business card).  

It's not perfect, but right now it is me.  My elevator speech keeps in line with tag line.  It holds true to my branding ideals. This elevator speech can be changed based on my audience - a very important details.  

I have used my elevator speech at the kid's schools, at a recent craft show, at the local cafe - the possibilities of telling people about what you do are infinite.  

As much as the elevator speech is a very important part of your package, what it more important is that your audience leaves interested and inspired.  

The #sofour community would love to hear your speech - share it!  That is the best practice! 



I really wanted to rip his throat out......

The other night my husband had the coconuts to say, "landing pad."  Just hearing those words made me unglue.  

Are you serious?  Another temporary situation?  Can we find somewhere to make memories?  Can't we have enough time to change the paint color?  A landing pad just isn't in my vocabulary.  What the heck was he thinking?  I send him to a landing pad - on his rear end.  

But there is truth in finding a "landing pad".  We need a place to land.  A place to find refuge.  Somewhere to experience safety.  Somewhere to rest.  Some time to find out what and who we really are.  

But parking on a landing pad is near impossible.  You can't stay - not for long - you have to keep moving in threat of getting run over.  A landing pad is the place to gather strength for the next take off - and you always need to be ready to go! 

Your landing pad might be in your significant other's arms.  It might be in a phone call with your dad.  Landing pads can be large and small.  There can be crashing waves and white sand in your landing pad.  Children will find laughter at your landing pad.  Life will continue to grow while resting on the landing pad.  Real friends will be found and lost when you find your landing pad.  Faith will be tested. 

In the last three years, Michael and I have had a ton of take offs and landings.  We found a landing pad in a small group of loyal faithful friends.  Landing in a new church has given us the chance to find a place of rest and refuge as we find out how much faith we really have.  Our community has stepped up to act as a family in a time when ours turned their backs.  Simple times have lead to a landing pad for our marriage to discover something new about our commitment.  

So as our family begins to take off again I'm praying that we recognize the landing pad that God has stepped ahead and prepared for us.


Business as Usual

Now that the kids are back in school and chaos of everyday life ensues, I find that my creative muscles flex in a more productive way.  I know, I know - that sounds nuts.  But I was the college student who could knock out 40 page papers the night before they were due and sneak away with an A.  There is always a plan behind the madness, but the execution might be last minute.  

It looks extrememely romantic from the sidelines but running a handmade business is hustle.  Behind the scenes of whimsy and wonder are many components you never do see (for real).  

- There are the countless sleepless nights finishing orders, producing product, writing, publishing, and just thinking

- A army of journals follow me wherever I go.  There is one in the car (you never know what strikes you at a red light).  I carry a 2 journals in my bag.  One for business ideas, the other is a gratitude journal where I often write sermon notes or other things to think about.  A legal size notepad hangs on a clipboard in my sewing area.  And at the kitchen family desk area, yet another journal.

- Research.  Seriously I am still doing research - just not writing the papers to go with it.  I spend a bit of everyday seeing what other artists are doing.  Reading helpful articles on Etsy.  Sometimes I can be found digging into the trenches of social media to get a pulse on trends.  

- Then there is my love hate relationship with marketing.  I love to brainstorm about it, scared as hell to implement it.  See when you make something and ask people to buy it, you are being judged.  Really, you are asking people to judge you.  Scary.  Extremely vunerable.  But at the same time so fun.  I mean who doesn't like business card design, connecting with people, blogging.  The list goes on and on. 

There are so many exciting converstaions I have with dreamers that want to jump into a handmade business.  I love these convos -- they keep me going.  But in all honesty, you have to love what you do to do this on your own.  It is a ton of hardwork.  A bit of a marriage if you will.  You must love it.  I do.  


FInding Inspiration

How do you find inspiration?  Do you seek it?  Pray for it?  Yearn for it? 

Or does inspiration find you?  When you are driving, does it pop in front of the car?  Does inspiration come from someone's words?  

Inspiration seems to find me as much as I venture to find it.  It is a fortunate, and sometimes, overwhelming gift to accept.

Saturday mornings are my "meeting with myself" days.  I quietly stow away in the early hours, leaving my hipster hubby to manage the minions.

I am fortunate enough to live near a beautiful town square. You know the kind with a three tier fountain, flower lined central park, and tons of local stores.

Right off one of the brick paved side streets is the littlest blue door to the best hippie coffee shop around.  It has the worn wooden floors.  The staff looks like they just jumped off the plane from Portland.  The clientele is a mix of 50 something yuppie want a Be's to classic southern women.  It is an interesting meld that automatically opens your senses.

Thru the backyard of the coffee shop is the most broken up brick courtyard you will ever see.  It a mess of old tree roots and historic bricks.  It is always cool (even in the Atlanta sun).  The metal chairs and tables cast a shadow that seems to dance in the morning sun.  I love it there and wish that "progress" wasn't planning on ripping up it's imperfection soon.

 It is there that I pen on old fashion legal pads.  I dream.  It is an amazing gift.  Words flow, pictures develop, plans get tagged.  These are road maps for life.  Good stuff.

This is just one of the ways I debrief from the busyness of life.  There are a few others that I will share soon.  In the meantime, I encourage you to find an inspiration place.  The place where you feel so alone, yet so not alone.  The place to dream.  The place to plan.  

2014 Goals

Resolutions, everyone does resolutions. 

They all say, "I'm going to eat healthy, lose 20 lbs, run a marathon, organize my home, and spend more time with my family." but not until a crystal ball drops and the motivation switch suddenly turns on.

That crystal ball time line worked well for Cinderella, and I am pretty sure that she is the only one that it worked for.  

A resolution is a proclamation for change. 

Fine and dandy but how are you going to get to that change?  I can shout to the world, "I'm going to Hawaii!"  Do I just start walking and I will figure out a way or does that trip require a road map of sorts?  Resolutions have the great opportunity to turn into empty promises with no, result.

So goals, goals work better for me.  

A goal is actually the end result.  Goals are the umbrellas to a series of intentions.  Intentions are your road maps leading to your goals.  Kind of like building a house -- you wouldn't start at the roof would you?  

My goals can be broken into two sections of the world - business & personal.  My 
intentions will follow in another blog post. :)

Personal goals for 2014 

Seeking God - Jesus.  I don't know if he is on the back burner in my little world, but I certainly know that he isn't the lead.  This goal is the scariest in ways because he is calling this family to take a crazy leap of faith and I'm still holding on with bloody knuckles.  This needs fixing - now.

Intentional Self Care - This includes getting back to working out, eating healthy, and crazy to think sleep!

Relationships - there are few (very few) that are healthy.  Time to evaluate. This is not limited to adults, as my children get older, I need to evaluate where our relationships are as well.  

Stewardship- this word is thrown out a lot in church.  Usually it involves money, and that is important.  But we are stewards of every gift from above - time, love, money, our bodies the list is endless.  I want to be a good steward of all.

Business Goals for 2014

Money - to take better care of it and grow.  (it is a business)

Giving - if it is growing, we are giving more.  Intentionally, meaty giving.  

Involvement -  the message of #sofour is (so) important. It is about people.  It is vitally important that people are involved in what we are doing.  Win, win for everyone.  

Growth - If the prior three are healthy, this will be organic (my favorite word)

Then there are things that I would just like to do.  They might work, they might not.  I do not have a list of intentions to back them up right now but I need to keep my eyes open for opportunity to say - "yes!  I did that!  It was awesome"

1- sing in public. 
2- speak to a large crowd
3- run a marathon (I'm shaped like a weeble wooble)
4- travel with purpose

So, what are your GOALS for 2014?  How are you going to execute those goals?  Ready to hustle?  I am - let's GO!