Being is Believing

Just for Fun

So… 2017. What can we say about it?

There were some definite, not-great things about the year that was that I will not be sad to see go. Like completely losing focus on anything and everything side-business-related. Then there was the hurricane that came barreling towards us in September. Or the massive breast abscess that took almost 2 months to heal only to go for a mammogram and find out I had a lump in the other breast that required a biopsy. Or that my insurance coverage barely covered 10% of all of the above.

Not fun.

But there were a lot more really awesome things that happened this year that easily overshadow the negatives.

The hurricane swerved. Thank goodness (though it still did a lot of damage elsewhere, which is still not good).

And I don’t have cancer. Halle-freaking-lujah. And I have some really good doctors here in town because of it, including a surgeon that called me, himself, between patients at the hospital, to make sure I new the lump was benign before Thanksgiving instead of making me wait until my appointment the following Monday. And since he missed me the first time he called my office, he called back later to make sure he got me.

Then there are the amazing people I’ve met this year: some in person, others online, and can count some true friends and loved ones among them. And speaking of loved ones, Todd and I reached the 10-year mark in our relationship this fall and that’s a pretty major thing! Yeah!

And lest I forget: I got a new job this year! Sure, training my replacement at the old place was stressful as all get out (I was actually training two people, plus filling in some gaps on a third recent hire, while the facility prepped for a big name visitor that was then rescheduled due to the hurricane), but the momentary stress was worth it as I now have all of a 5 minute commute to the office and what will be a fabulous, fulfilling position once the slow transition is complete sometime in the coming year.

I also did a lot of reflection and self-discovery this year, too. It’s pretty much what I did instead of business-building. Some would say that’s just as valuable or maybe even more so. I could go either way on the subject.

So what about 2018, what are my hopes for it?

A lot of the usual: get a better handle on my finances, feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of next year, yadda yadda yadda… But mostly I want to just be.

Be what? Ahh, that’s the thing, now isn’t it.

There are lots of ways to be, and sometimes just the act of being–existing–is all you can accomplish in a day. Some days are like that. I had several of them over the last 10 months or so.

But on the days where I can be more, this is what I’d like to be…

Be Okay
with whatever happens, how it happens, and even why it happens; fight less, accept more

Be Understanding
of people, events, strangers and friends alike, and of myself; don’t beat myself up for simple mistakes, or even big mistakes, they’re gonna happen but it doesn’t have to feel like the end of the world

Be Happy
appreciate what happens, the happy accidents and the unexpected adventures alike; find joy in little things and look on the bright side as much as possible

Be Brave
step out of my comfort zone a bit and try new things, or maybe retry old things that didn’t work out the first time–maybe I’ve learned something that can change the outcome this time

Be Open
to success and failure, to friendship and love, to beginnings and endings, to whatever the universe has in store; judge less, learn more

Be Unapologetic
stop apologizing for things I don’t need to be sorry for, especially those things that have to be done and aren’t wrong in the doing, but the little things, too; find better words for those other times when sorry isn’t the right thing to say but we just don’t have a better idea

Be Enough
know that I am who and what I need to be, not for anyone else but for myself, know that I don’t have to have the answers for someone else’s life, or even always for my own

Be Myself
good, bad, or indifferent I can only be who I am, I cannot keep changing myself to fit the molds and expectations of others; let people see the real me and the ones that don’t like it, I don’t need

Here’s to a happy and fulfilling 2018, whatever that ends up meaning 🙂

It’s 2015… Now What?

Everyday Adventures

The last few months of 2014 were one bit of bad news after another. For us, for our friends and loved ones, for our country in some cases. While I know that “bad things” happen all the time to all sorts of people, it seemed my little local community’s number came up in the bad-luck lottery more times that usual, lately.

Which is why I’m so happy that 2015 is finally here.

Sure, the changing from one calendar year to another is, technically, an arbitrary designation. It’s not like it’s tied to the equinox or certain planetary alignments, it’s just a page turn. But we need markers in our lives–birthdays, anniversaries, school starts and stops, or even a calendar’s page turn to serve as handy reminders of the passage of time. And, of course, these reminders also sometimes spur us into action. That still small voice reminding us that there’s no time like the present to catch up on one project or start a new one.

Picking a word for the upcoming year is a fun thing to do. Two years ago my word was Growth, last year’s was Respect. This year my word is Forward. Especially in light of recent events (not meaning to be vague, just choosing not to dwell on the specifics), it’s important for me, in 2015, to keep looking forward, to keep moving ahead with plans and dreams, and to not spend more time than absolutely necessary worrying about the past. It’s not ignoring history (thus dooming me to repeat it, right?), it’s moving on from it!

Along with the word of the year, I like to set goals instead of resolutions. The difference is semantic, but words have power and I prefer the associations I have with goals over the alternatives. Last year one of my main goals was to buy the Dollhouse. We all know how that ended up (difficult process, ultimate victory). Another goal of mine was to be on the guest list for 6 conventions in 2014 and while I don’t talk about What to Feed Your Raiding Party business much over here, I managed to achieve that goal, too, even though we ultimately had to cancel one appearance this fall. There were others, but those were the biggies, the ones I really worked on.

I haven’t decided on all my goals for 2015, yet, but I have a few that are already pretty important:

Take a vacation for our second anniversary.

Does this really count as a goal? Absolutely! All those conventions we went to last year? They ate up all our vacation time for 2014. It was something we knew would happen, going into it, but it doesn’t change the fact that every weekend away in 2014 was a working weekend. We had fun, but I want more for us this year. Which, yes, means doing fewer conventions (more on that in a bit), but it’s sort of like paying yourself first: you plan that downtime in and work around it rather than trying to find it later.

Publish 2.5 books.

This, in part, plays into the fewer conventions. I’ve been travelling with the original Raiding Party cookbook for 2.5 years. There comes a time when you need to have something new to show people, but writing the next book while actively touring with the first one just hasn’t happened. So I’ve “grounded” myself from conventions until the next cookbook is ready. In addition to the next cookbook, I have a supplement to the first one that I’ve been picking at for over a year–that’s the .5 book in my goal–and I need to get that out of the way once and for all; both because people are asking for it and to get it out of the way of the next book. The final book is also food-related, but not part of the Raiding Party series: it’s a book on Low-FODMAP living that combines what I post about here on the subject with the rest of my experiences and the answers to the questions I get emailed.

Not that those are my only book projects for 2015, they’re just the main goals. I have a creativity workshop I’m working on, and I just published a printable planner in my Etsy shop–the same planner I designed to be just right in 2014 and road-tested all year is now updated and expanded and ready for the world!

You can find my planner in my Etsy shop: Helper Monkey Designs

You can find my planner in my Etsy shop: Helper Monkey Designs

I’ll be going over some of my organizational strategies in the next few weeks if you’re curious about how I developed the different parts of the planner.

And now the big one…

I’m a big believer in putting things out to the Universe, and while I’ve mentioned it to some friends in private, here goes for the big world-wide reveal: I want to open a store this year.

Not an online shop, not my Etsy store, no. I mean an honest-to-goodness, brick-and-mortar, mailing address-having, lock-and-key, clients-walking-in arts and craft supply store.

(Okay, that was a little fun-scary to type out.)

I’ve always wanted to work for myself, to be more in charge of my own destiny. Up until a few months ago, though, that plan always looked like working from home as a writer and artist. And that’s still part of the picture more or less, but in November I was reading our community newspaper and something just jumped out at me: they are building/fostering a Creative District as part of the downtown shopping area and, yet, there’s no craft stores in the city. There’s a small craft section at the local WalMart, the usual small drawing supply section in Office Depot, and teacher supplies at a downtown store catering to childhood development and creative play. But for everything else, Thomasville residents have to go out of town or order online.

Fast on the heels of the realization of the gap, came the certainty that I could be the person to fill that gap. I’ve got the business know-how thanks to 18 years keeping books for a small corporation. I’ve got the craft chops, not to mention the wonderful people and companies I’ve been fortunate to have relationships with thanks to being part of various Design Teams over the last few years. The business plan I’m developing includes provisions for classes–hearkening back to my days as a Wilton-Method cake decorating instructor and my time spent writing tutorials for!

Basically, this is what I’ve been building towards without even knowing it.

So the hunt is on for the perfect location, the building of the business plan that will convince a bank that it’s as good an idea as everyone else thinks it is (that’s the biggest hurdle, I think), and the personal preparations for the total upheaval this would mean for my life (and Todd’s, for that matter–thankfully he’s 100% supportive of this idea; I don’t think I’d even try without it!). It’s not something that’s going to all happen tomorrow, but it’s something I’m working towards and, for now, with a few steps forward each day, I’ll get there.

I have a lot more goals. Things like updating a room in the Dollhouse, creating a video series for the cookbook, reading 75 books (and keeping track of them), painting 10 10×10″ canvases, becoming more active in my local community, create some art licensing collections, do more freelance work, etc. They’re all valid. Even little goals are important. But I signal out those three because they are the benchmarks that I’ll eventually judge 2015 by, judge myself, that is. They represent big leaps forward.

Feel free to question me about these goals: today, 6 months from now, 9 months from now. That’s the whole point of publicly stating them: public accountability.

Are you making goals for this year? I’d love to hear them, and I’d love even more to see you achieve them!