What do you want to be when you grow up?

I heard this question a lot when I was a little girl.

I had a ton of answers too: Wonder Woman, ballet dancer, designer, singer, artist, model, doctor,  magician, circus acrobat, lawyer, translator, and more. You name it. I probably considered it. My dreams evolved and became more practical as I got older, but  it was those “far fetched” dreams that gave me hope and opened my mind to  possibilities.

When you have a family, sometimes it feels like you’re putting your dreams on hold, or putting them on the back burner. This is never fun because there’s always something in the back of your mind telling you that you’re missing out or your life isn’t complete. Even if your life is really good and fulfilling,  there’s still that nagging tug deep inside that says, “Hey, you forgot something,  . . . you know, over here in the corner?” I believe with all of my heart that each of us was created for a purpose, and that purpose is that seed planted deeply within us that we probably recognized at an early age, but because of life and circumstances tucked it away neatly and tried to ignore it.

This is something that I’ve been struggling with lately. As I get older and my personal space and time seems to be shrinking, I find myself having to fight those negative thoughts that tell me I’m getting too old, or I have too many responsibilities, or whatever shades of muck seem to be clouding my day and blocking my view.

So, here’s the deal and something that I absolutely know to be true:  Just because our circumstances change doesn’t mean that our dreams can’t become a reality. They may be packaged differently or we may have to take an alternate route to get to them, but if they are inside of us (that’s you and me), then believe me, there is a way to see them fulfilled.

Honestly, most the things that I’ve been able to accomplish in my life have had absolutely nothing to do with my circumstances. In one way or another my circumstances have always been contrary to any success I’ve achieved. There seems to always be something in the way — negative people, lack of support, hardships, bad timing, low self-esteem, no connections, blah, blah, blah. I attribute my ability to transcend these obstacles to my faith because it keeps me positive. And when I am positive, my thought life is healthy. And when my thought life is healthy, negative circumstances are nothing more than a vapor. Here today, gone tomorrow.

One of my favorite quotes reads:

Watch your thoughts, for they become words. Chose your words, for they become actions. Understand your actions, for they become habits. Study your habits, for they will become your character. Develop your character, for it becomes your destiny.

I don’t know if this quote originated from Ralph Waldo Emerson, Lao Tse, or Margaret Thatcher (The original source has been hard to pin down), but it doesn’t matter. This quote has most definitely rung true for me in my life.

So, how are you doing on your dreams? You know, the ones you had before life got busy and you started putting everyone else’s dreams before your own. I know that it’s hard to focus on yourself sometimes,  so I just wanted  to encourage you today to keep believing in yourself and the possibilities no matter what your current situation might dictate.

My father is one of the most optimistic people I know (My mom is pretty spectacular  too, but I’ll save that for another post :) ).  He’s been in a war, shot down and left to die in the middle of a jungle somewhere. He’s faced unbelievable obstacles in his life from discrimination to you name it. But growing up, I never would have known because he has always faced each day as a new beginning and a new opportunity to thrive, and because of this, he  has accomplished some really amazing things in his lifetime.

He was talking to me the other day about how thinking positively can affect the whole landscape of your life and how it doesn’t always come easily. Sometimes you have to fight for it. Fight for it? I asked. He explained what he meant by sharing how he starts his day:

Each morning I get up to prepare for my morning run. Sometimes it takes a minute to get the circulation moving. Sometimes I don’t want to move. I place my feet on the floor and wiggle my toes. I first thank GOD for the day to begin my day with gratitude. While I’m sitting there in the dark, I put a big obnoxious grin on my face and hold it there for at at least 30 seconds. Then I make my way to the bathroom, flip the light switch on and just look at myself with that big goofy grin. I can’t help but laugh at myself. This is how I start each day.

I’ve started doing this, too, my friends, and it works! Laughter is like medicine, except it works on your heart, your soul and your outlook. So many times I listen to my children laughing and marvel at how easy it is for them to “crack up” at the silliest things. And then I put one of those goofy grins on my face and look in the mirror. Then I remember. It changes my disposition, reminds me not to take myself so seriously, and places me in a really good position to command the day. That dreaming little girl from a long time ago peeks around the corner and says, “I’m still here. You can do this!”.

Life is short. You are important, and so are your dreams. Don’ t think of your life and your dreams as “either or”. Just figure out another way to make them happen! Your dreams are not only about you. They also make this world a better place.

Happy Day!

Keep doin’ what you love!

Shannon

 

[yellow_box] October is Moms Know Moms motivation month at Little Kids Grow. If you have a unique perspective to share or just want to encourage other moms, there’s still time to participate. Click here for the original post and more information.

First time visitor? Sign up by RSS feed or email subscription (sidebar) so you don’t miss an interview.[/yellow_box]

ICEBREAKER: You’re a craft super hero on the planet CraftALot. What’s your Crafty Weapon of choice?

I like to make something from nothing and I most often use an X-acto knife to do it. But I feel mean saying that I’m flinging X-actos around. Maybe that’s because I’ve had two trips to Urgent Care places (as a teenager) related to their use, and I’m still such a fan. Hmmm… that might indicate some sort of illness.

Q: Crafty mom extraordinaire!  How long have you been crafting and how did you get started?

A: I don’t remember ever not crafting. My parents are both tinker-ers with serious can-do attitudes. Somewhere in the family genes I picked up an interest in Art and Design. My first non-crayon projects were put together in our garage with bits of scrap wood and whatever Testor’s paint I could sneak away when my Dad wasn’t looking. Did you know that that stuff isn’t washable? I’m pretty sure I had a bath in paint thinner at least twice. I learn (and re-learn) the hard way. I love that my parents encouraged me from early on. One of my proudest memories is of my parents framing something I’d made at an art camp– a monoprint of a duck made by “carving” the styrofoam from a meat tray. They put it into a real frame with a real mat! It was a vote of confidence that still makes me happy.


Q:  It looks like there’s no limit to your creativity from designing and sewing clothing to making bracelets out of Washi tape. To date, what’s been your favorite creation?
A:  Definitely my first I Spy quilt. The things I love most are beautiful and practical, and we still snuggle up under that one year-round and have conversations about what we see. For an item to qualify as “favorite”, in my book, requires that it be lasting or over-the-top memorable. This one is both of those for me.

Q: Your blog Crafterhours is a great source for tutorials, recommendations and reviews, etc. How have you seen the blog change over the years? 
A:  On one hand, I like to think that it hasn’t changed. We’ve always shared the things we’re working on. But the things we’re working on have changed– because our tastes evolve and our kids are growing up! We’ve learned a lot about photography which sure makes the posts easier on the eyes. As far as writing style, Adrianna had a personal blog long before our joint blog, so I think she had her voice together early on. I think mine took more time– I had only been reading blogs for a few months before I became a blogger, and some bloggers find their voices faster than others. Which is to say that I felt slow. And I continue to be amazed that anyone reads anything I write.

Q:  You have a blog following with over 3000 subscribers to Google Friends alone. How does this affect your daily posting? Do you write for yourself? Your audience? Or a combination of the two?

A:  I definitely write for both. If I were just writing for myself no one else would care to read it. If I were just writing for others *I* wouldn’t care to read it, let alone write it. So it has to be a combination of the two. The number of subscribers is just a number. While I appreciate that the number tends to go up, rather than down, it doesn’t affect the blogging. It’s the comments, e-mails and interactions with readers and with other bloggers that influences what I write about– and how.

Q:  I know from experience that running a website, crafting, and posting regularly can be a challenge. Outside of collaborating with a partner, how do you find balance when it comes to keeping up with your blog, outside responsibilities, and spending quality time with your family? 
A:  Well, I still craft and sew when kids are in bed, but now that they’re older I can do more during the day. When I added the shop to my plate I realized that I needed some uninterrupted quiet time and found a flexible day care provider so that I can have two days a week to concentrate on the shop and also run errands. I’m so grateful for that time. As much as I love my girls, I love that I know (barring sick kids or school volunteer stuff) I’ll have about 12 hours a week to focus. I also do my best to avoid taking kids to the grocery store with me.

As far as “balance”– I’ve stopped looking for it. I heard Gretchen Rubin (author of The Happiness Project and Happier at Home) speak at a conference earlier this year and she suggested that we think about our days in terms of filling them up with the things that make us happy. Balance feels elusive and out of reach because of all of the things that are dropped into our laps that throw us off-balance, but looking to do the things that make you happy is more reachable. If we’re choosing to do the things that make us happy first, the things that don’t can’t fit into the day. That’s not to say that I love doing dishes and laundry. I don’t. But I do know that seeing an empty sink or a drawer full of clean clothes makes me happy, and approaching tasks from that perspective makes me… happier. And when I’m faced with a decision I now think about it in terms of whether it will make me happy. If it won’t, it’s a “no”.


Q:  Your girls are now 3 and  6. Do they have the crafty gene like mom? If so, how do you encourage your them to express themselves creatively?
A:  They do. Which means we’re a whole family of mess-makers. They have their own crafting supplies in a cabinet next to my desk, and their own work table. Their work often spreads out all over the kitchen table. They have a whole wall to display their masterpieces. I don’t have to do a whole lot to encourage, at least not consciously. They see me working on my own projects and they ask questions about them, and then they take off with their own.

Q:  I saw your recent nod in Parenting magazine, congratulations!  Is product development something you considered from the beginning or was this something that just occurred naturally as the blog developed?
A:  Thanks! I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit (I even took an Entrepreneurship class in college) but I had no idea how blogging would relate to it. It happened organically. I had written a tutorial post and then got a bunch of requests from non-crafty people that wanted me to sell the item, and it took a while for me to convince myself that it was worth doing. In order to sell anything online I have to really, really love making it. So I’ve toyed with all sorts of ideas, but I’m not willing to put in all of the effort of marketing an idea unless I really believe in it and love it. I’ve finally come to that place, and it’s been both frightening and exhilarating.


Q:  As it relates to the business of crafting, where do you see yourself in 3 to 5 years?
A:  I wish I knew! So much of my life relates to my husband’s work– we tend to move every 3 years or so. But blogging and online shopkeeping are a good fit for a mobile life, so I imagine I’ll still be doing those since it makes me happy and it helps me through transitions. This work keeps me in touch with the crafty blogging community that’s conveniently available 24/7 from anywhere and helps fill the gaps while I find my new local community. I can’t imagine my girls are going to be much less demanding in terms of asking for costumes and dresses and toys that mom makes in 3 to 5 years. I’m expecting the requests will only get more complex!


Q:  Finish this sentence, “If I had known years ago that blogging would be _______ then I would have done _______ differently.”
A:  I had no idea how much blogging would challenge me. As a reader, it looks so simple to make something and then talk about it. But sharing something you’ve made– explaining how it started, your decision-making in the process and especially turning that into a tutorial– is a big challenge. What would I do differently, knowing that? Nothing significant. Really, it’s a process and an evolution, one that has bent and shaped me. I’ve learned from every step. I’ve made mistakes, but they were mistakes I had to make. As a small example: blog swaps. You’ve really got to looooove the blog you’re swapping with. And if that’s the case, I think it’s simpler and smoother to readers just to post about the blog I like. “Hey, I love this, take a look!” is what feels best for me. Or I’ll ask that blogger to guest post, without asking them to post about me. That’s not to say that swaps aren’t beautiful and amazing for other bloggers. It’s just a matter of deciding what’s best for you. If you’re not sure, keep moving forward and be willing to take risks. There are countless ways to run your blog, and you’re the only one who can decide what feels authentic and beautiful for you.

Q:  What has been your greatest challenge as a mom? How have you handled that challenge?
A:  Patience. For sure, always my issue. I really have a hard time with repeating myself, and that seems to be requirement number one at my current stage in parenting. Am I deluding myself in thinking that that will change at some point? I have to remind myself (constantly, and I don’t even like repeating things to myself!) that whatever is happening in this moment will pass.


Q:  What’s the best mom advice you ever received?
A:  That not every day has to be amazing. Some days it’s okay to have “survival” as my primary accomplishment. If we’re breathing at the end of the day, we won. The biggest battles I fight are with myself, so if I can remind myself to breathe, we succeed.

Thank you Susan!

[yellow_box] If you’d like to learn more about Susan or just say “Hello”, follow this link to her site CrafterHours.

Little Kids Grow is now on Facebook![/yellow_box]

Happy Labor Day (to my US neighbors) :-)!

Today, of course, is Motivation Mondays. How’s your Monday going so far? Mine is looking pretty fantastic right now. I have my feet kicked up, and I’m not putting them back down until duty calls tomorrow morning (Ha!Ha!)

I’ve been thinking a lot about Motivation Mondays. The idea behind this theme has always been to  motivate moms to continue growing and thriving. Like many of you, I see motherhood as a precious gift, but also, without a doubt, one of the hardest things that I’ve ever done in my life.  It’s not the physical aspect of it that’s so challenging for me (unless I count when my kids were toddlers— exhausting!) It’s more of a mental and emotional weight. I know that my kids are watching me, and at some point they will emulate what they see. Sometimes, this is a tough one for me to face because I know I don’t always get it right. Motherhood by its very nature is a trial by fire. In other words, you really can’t prepare for it. You just have to experience it.

The wonderful thing about motherhood is that we are not alone. Once you become a mother, you automatically join a sisterhood of women who started off just like you. Regardless of background, age, race, religion, etc., we all have one thing in common— a precious heart (or hearts) has been placed in our hands for a small moment in time, and it is our responsibility to hold that heart close to our own and guide it in the right direction.

With all of this in mind, I’m adding a new series to Motivation Mondays called MomsKnowMoms, and I want you to be a part of it. I’ll be doing a series of interviews with my super fantastic mommy readers. (Yes, that means you!) I believe in my heart that everyone’s experiences are different, so everyone can add to the knowledge pool. The only requirement for this particular series is that you be a mom and be willing to share. I’m not looking for “perfect moms”. I’m looking for real moms who don’t mind sharing a little bit about themselves and their experiences in a positive way. And who knows, you may get some new blog readers and cyber friends in the process.

Here’s how it will work.

1. Copy and paste the preliminary questions below and your answers into an email, and send them to me at littlekidsgrow (a) gmail.com.  (These are just some general questions for me to get to know you a bit.) Please include your website link if you have one, so that I can stop by and say, “HI”.

  • What is your name?
  • Are you a mom? If so, how many children do you have? Boys? Girls?
  • What age range does your child or children fall between? (0-3 yrs, 4-6yrs, 7-12yrs, 13yrs and up)
  • Do yo sew? Craft?
  • Do you have a website, etsy shop,  or Flickr page that you’d like to share? If so, please give the url(s).

2. Once I have your answers,  I’ll come up with 7-10 interview questions for you. You can answer them all if you like or pick and choose.

3. Send your answers back to me with your lovely picture, and  I’ll  share our interview on one of our Motivation Monday: MomsKnowMoms  segments.

Oh, and the interview goes both ways. If you have any questions for me, feel free to send me an email or leave a comment. I’ll put all of your questions together and answer them in a MomsKnowMoms segment.

And, that’s it!

Some of you have already signed on for this project, so here’s a big THANK YOU and HUG in advance.

I’m looking forward to meeting all of you.

Keep doin’ what you love!

Shannon

[yellow_box]Motivation Mondays is a series that I started to share encouragement with moms. I use my past struggles as well as triumphs as a backdrop for my writing in the hope that just as others have helped me along the way, my readers will find something beneficial to carry along with them throughout their week. I believe that community is important as well as honesty and transparency. Feel free to send me a PM at littlekidsgrow (a) gmail (dot) com. My welcome mat is always at the door.[/yellow_box]

Where are you sitting on your Happy Meter today?

I-N-S-E-C-U-R-I-T-Y

I don’t like the word. It brings back too many uncomfortable memories from my childhood, especially high school. When I feel insecure,  I want to run and hide. Insecurity has a way of inducing fear in me like nothing else.  If I am honest with myself, I don’t like feeling insecure because it makes me feel inferior, and who likes to feel inferior? I sure don’t,  and thankfully, somewhere deep down inside, I know that I am not . . . we are not.

(more…)

Where are you sitting on your Happy Meter today?

Sharing the Love

In November 2003, I had 4 children ages 3, 2, 2, and 1 month.

3 in diapers . . 1 in pull-ups

I had little spark plug babies that didn’t like to sleep. (They still don’t like to sleep).  I kept hearing about these magical babies that were sleeping through the night after 6 weeks. What? Really?

After 3 years and 4 babies, I learned to manage a sporadic sleep schedule, but I was exhausted. My dear husband did what he could to assist, but he was on call 24 hours a day himself with his job, so it made sharing baby shifts almost impossible. I kept reminding myself that it was just temporary and that things would eventually get easier, but after 3 years of running on fumes I was beginning to wonder. I desperately wanted to talk to someone who could “feel my pain”, but I didn’t know (more…)

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