Monday, January 16, 2017

Moments that Matter: The Closest Thing to the Right Time

It's Monday, which means I have the pleasure of introducing you to another phenomenal lady who's joining us for the Moments that Matter series. I'm especially excited about this feature because it's Raewyn of Shield Sisters Initiative, who is among the girls I call my tribe. In fact, the story that she's sharing today is one that I remember quite well. I'm glad she chose this moment for her feature because it truly shows you her personality and heart.

Julys have always been pretty tumultuous for my husband and I. Rarely do they go as planned or have sunshine and rainbows. You see, we are born within 6 days of each other in June, so we always have the most fun. Quickly followed by July and bad news.

It seems impossible to me that one month could hold so much, but it does. Shortly after celebrating our country’s independence, we are met with the anniversary of my mother-in-law’s death, her birthday two short days later and then the anniversary of another family death a few days later. July is also the month that my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer and had surgery in 2014. Our one beacon of light in July is the birth of our daughter, July 10, 2015. I truly believe she was born that day to add sunshine to the days that would follow. (Though, that doesn't mean she entered the world gracefully.)

After 2015’s decent July, I was hopeful the trend would continue, but July 2016 did not give us that. Instead, my husband and I spent the month miscommunicating, and visiting my dad in the ICU as he had a sudden brain hemorrhage and surgery.

Did I mention that I began July with high hopes of launching a never-before-seen company with my best friends in less than 30 days? No? Well, I did. And we did it.

The Right Time

We all have this idea about timing. People are either waiting for the right time or doing it despite the timing. I tend to fall in the middle with my realistic view on timing.

On one hand, there is never going to be a 100% right time, but I do believe if you listen to your gut you can find the closest thing to it. For Shield Sisters Initiative, we had started talking about it in January 2016. We didn't start working on it until July 2016.

Our priorities were elsewhere, but July began with no VA clients and this feeling that now is the time. So we started working and we worked at it every day. Even if the only thing we did was write one outline, we worked every day.

We made it our right time.

Allowing Myself Grace

It is easy to hold yourself to an impossible standard with unrealistic expectations. Did I want to get ahead with writing, website creation and beta tester searching? Heck yes!

But when you're juggling an unknown hospital schedule and a one-year-old’s sleep schedule...well, let's just say I would wrap you in the biggest hug if you came to me feeling stressed or guilty. I had lots of big hugs and late-night coffees and middle-of-the-day ciders. I had lots of text message support and phone calls. People showed up simply because I believed that I did not have to do it alone.

I asked for help and I allowed myself to receive it. I treasured my moments with my father and my daughter. I made my work periods count instead of spending most of my time feeling guilty for the loss of time.

Feeling Empowered

Here’s the thing about being determined and passionate about starting a business during turmoil: you have no choice but to be raw and real.

There just isn't enough within you to successfully start a business and keep up a facade that everything is peachy when people are posting on your FB or Twitter asking how your dad is doing in the hospital. Moreover, there is no point in wasting your your energy on it.

Things happen to everyone and being raw and real actually made it easier for people to relate to me. It made me feel empowered and set my business up for success. I felt like a hot mess but I was doing it and now I know that no matter what is happening in my life, I have systems and people in my life to pick up any slack that might happen.

You can start a business no matter the happenings in your life. You just have to master this equation: passion + determination + grace + support = success. Are you looking for help with the grace and support aspect? Let me know!

About Raewyn

Raewyn is the founder of the Be a Warrior Queen movement and a self-love mentor. Vulnerable and strong are two words often used to describe her. She’s raw and real because being something else is not as much fun!

Soul talks, girl dates and coffee fuel her soul. Raewyn is the co-founder of Shield Sisters Initiative, a hub for female entrepreneurs searching for their tribe, and is a board member for Project Lead Kindly, a non-profit focused on bringing kindness to all areas of life. She’s mama bear to a strong-willed Warrior Queen toddler (who is frequently talked about on her parenting podcast, Two Moms One Podcast) and wife to her high school best friend. For over 10 years, Raewyn has mentored girls and women, empowering them to embrace self-love. Most recently, she became editor in chief of Shift Society Magazine.

“Every woman is a strong woman capable of self-love, self-confidence and achieving the goals in the deepest corners of her heart.”


Sunday, January 15, 2017

Bloggy Brunch - Week 3

If you received this week's newsletter, then you'll know that I've been busy decluttering and downsizing in our home. I can only assume that this is a part of the "nesting" phase of pregnancy. We have one month left until the expected arrival of our little one. In many ways, it feels like we've been waiting forever. In other ways, it feels like life has been full speed ahead for a while. Either way, I'm excited to see what 2017 and parenthood holds for us!

As I mentioned, I've been working on decluttering and organizing A LOT. I've taken donated probably 10 boxes of stuff since we moved in here and I know there's still another box or two to fill. My most recent project has been the office which also doubles as our guest room. I'm extremely excited to have a room that I can use for working on the blog and other projects. (There's some seriously cool things ahead in 2017!)

I'm hoping to finish up some of my decluttering and organizing this week so that I can relax focus on getting ahead before Baby Boy makes his arrival. I'll be sharing my progress, tips, and other goodies in Hodge Podge Moments: The Community all week long. If you received the newsletter, then you'll know that I'm inviting everyone in the group to join in on this mini-challenge known as a Purge Party. Since the group is free and easy to join, that means I'm inviting everyone to join in on the challenge to declutter your space! All you have to do is request to join the group!

Every week, we do our best to feature at least one post that stood out. Each host picks a post on their own and then features it on their blog. Some weeks, the choice is too hard and we end up featuring more than one post. Let's see who made the spotlight this week!

This week, it was super easy to pick a post. I very recently asked in the Facebook group if anyone had a cleaning schedule that they used and loved. Little did I know that one had been linked up at Bloggy Brunch! (Note to self - check the posts sooner!) This week I'm featuring a post from Trendy & Tidy on keeping up with your house. I highly recommend heading over to her blog and checking out the post. There's easy to follow steps and even a printable or two that you can snag!

And's time to link up below!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Building Your Child's First Library

Our baby boy is expected to arrive in about a month - can you believe it? This means we're in the go-go-go phase of putting together his nursery and the rest of the house. While decorating the nursery is a lot of fun, I'm having even more fun with a certain section of the nursery - the library. I'm a firm believer that books are the best gift you can get a kid since they can be enjoyed for years and years. This is why I was excited when Sam of Addison Reads extended an invitation to me for her new book that is all about building a library for your child, no matter how young (not yet born) or old they are. She sent me over a copy of the book to review and I'm excited to share my thoughts with you today!

*Affiliate links are used in this post. I make a small amount from each item purchased, but they do not harm you in any way.*

My first memory of books is building entire towns out of the Golden Books I had growing up. From there, I can remember enjoying different series all through elementary, middle, and high school. Books have always had a place in my life and in my heart. In fact, I had an extensive collection of children's books long before I even met my husband - certainly long before we started talking about kids of our own. It sort of comes with the territory of being an early childhood teacher and lover of children's books.

My collection was built over time. I bought books based on lessons that they taught, memories I had with the books, and a variety of other reasons. Some books were bought with an exact purpose in mind, while others were bought in batches or given to me by retiring teachers. My collection is always growing though and I'm excited that some of my favorites (Corduroy, anyone?) will be making it into our baby boy's collection. As we're working to build his library, I've been considering a few different factors along the way - cost, age appropriateness, interest, and durability. Eventually, the goal is to involve him in the process of picking out books, but until he's old enough for that, I'll continue to pick out ones I think he'll love and learn from.

These are just a few of the things to consider when you're building your child's first library. As an educator, I could spend hours on this topic but I don't think that would be a good use of our time since Samantha Munoz has already done a beautiful job of writing about this topic in  her book, The Intentional Bookshelf. When she first invited me to read the book, I didn't know what to expect. After all, I have 8 years of experience teaching in early childhood settings and the degrees to back it up. Not to mention that early literacy is something that I'm very passionate about (I guess you could say since birth - I fell in love with books at a very young age.).

I expected the book to give me a lot of information that I already knew. I worried that I would find the book boring and therefore not be able to give a great review. However, I was curious and that curiosity is what drove me to join the book tour. When I got the book, I tried my best to push aside my prior knowledge of the topic so that I could see it from a different perspective. It turns out that I didn't need to push aside my knowledge at all. I was able to enjoy this book - both as an expecting mother and as an educator who has studied child development and early literacy extensively. With that being said, I'm offering this review from an honest point of view.

I adored The Intentional Bookshelf and will be recommending it to parents - new and experienced alike for years to come. This book is a short read, which makes it perfect for busy parents that often feel like they have too much on their plate. The book is also written in easy to understand terms, which is one of the things that I love the most about it. As an educator, I often find that the information prepared for parents at the school level isn't as parent-friendly as it should be. I've spent many parent-teacher conferences explaining things in an easier to understand manner.

The Intentional Bookshelf is set up in a way that parents and kids of all ages and backgrounds can benefit from it. There are tips for those just starting with their little one's library (like us!) to those that are looking to expand or improve on their current home library. Samantha Munoz truly believes that every child should have access to their own books at home and that shines through in this book. I couldn't agree with her more. Even if you already have an extensive children's library, there is value in this book - especially since you can get it for as low as 99 cents on your Kindle! (Have I mentioned how many books I own from years of teaching?)

I could tell you about the great tips, advice, and activities that Samantha Munoz provides in this book, but that would take a lot of our time and I have a nursery that needs a lot of love and attention before our little one arrives. (And yes, we've already started our book collection for him - he'll be exposed to books right away.) So, I'm going to leave you with a link to Samantha's website, Addison Reads, where she gives all of the details of The Intentional Bookshelf along with book recommendations and reviews.

Before you head off to check out Sam's amazing blog and informative book, I would love to hear about your favorite books from childhood in the comments below! I'm always looking for new books to enjoy. (Yes, even adults can enjoy a good children's book!)