3 Months Later: What I've Learned from Taking a Step Back

Hey, everyone! So three months ago I decided to stop blogging and emailing regularly and stick to solely using regular posts on Instagram and Facebook, only choosing to write blogs when I had genuine content to share. It was a big decision in the exact opposite direction of everything all these business coaches of today tell you to do. And it was the perfect and correct decision for me to make so let me explain why. 

3 Months Later: What I Learned From Taking A Step Back

At the close of 2016, I was posting 2-3 times per week on the blog along with a weekly newsletter and twice daily posts to Instagram. In January I realized something important: I'm not a blogger and that's not the goal for me. I started Blessed Bookworm to design paperie products. In December I decided I wanted to begin the education process to eventually take the business in the direction of hand lettered creations so I dove into that and have been obsessively working away on it everyday since December 1st. And let me tell you, there's a massive amount of progress to be found in daily practice - but I'm going to plan on writing about that in June for a 6 month progress piece. The point is, I am not a blogger so I shouldn't be spending 40+ hours per week working on keeping all of that up to date when it's not what I want to do as a creative! I love writing for you guys, I really truly do. But creating and learning how to actually see and respect myself as an artist is where I want to be.

This is also why you won't see me at any markets in 2017, you guys. This was a big decision after a lot of contemplation. In truth, I love the snot out of markets and art shows. I have gone to them since I was in high school and it's a favorite activity for me. Being a vendor at a market in December was amazing. That being said, I want to spend all of 2017 truly focused on finding my path as an artist and investing the time I think is really necessary to learn this craft before I start spending hundreds of hours working on, building, supplying, and actually being present for booths in markets. It's a giant behind-the-scenes commitment to join into the market scene and while I love it, I want to make sure I am fully ready with all this new stuff before I pile a whole other Mount Everest onto my already-very-full plate.

So I have spent months focused on all of that art and I've picked up so much new knowledge and tactics and I've been able to devote myself to client commissions without worrying about coming up with blog content. I've started watercolor lettering and painting, working on digitizing work, botanical illustration, and wedding paperie pieces. I'm in love with where Blessed Bookworm is headed. 

There are two other major reasons that I have dialed things back and I would not be presenting an honest portrayal of my life if I didn't share them with you as well. First, I'm a parent. This isn't news to readers and followers of the business, but the fact of the matter is that creating this business will always come second to my responsibilities as a mother to my three sons. Blessed Bookworm gives my identity a separate plane of existence from that, but it will never be as important as the work I put into raising the boys. I take days off to play with them or go hiking with them or to have Star Wars Marathons when I decide its what they need from me. Some days I take off from work in the interest of getting some cleaning taken care of because that's just a fact of life. Some might see that as a cop out and some might be able to do all those SuperMom things while also hustling 40-60 hours a week. And those women are amazing. I'm just not one of them. And part of that is the other major reason for the new life and style of Blessed Bookworm:

I have an anxiety disorder, PTSD, and fight depression. I have insanely productive days and I have days where I struggle getting out of bed (and on those days my kids are literally the only reason I end up doing so....because they have to eat. That's literally the reason.) and days where I have sensory meltdowns or anxiety attacks that last hours where I can be in a total state of freakout all day. The cleaning is not always on par because of that. Nor am I naturally an obsessive cleaner anyway. I don't believe in spending a monumental part of my life making sure my home looks pristine and perfect for whoever stops by to judge it. There's 5 of us and 2 dogs in a small townhouse and I don't care that we have toys on the floor or that I haven't dusted in this millennia. With all of this combined into one category of thought, I simply don't have the mental interest or ability to continue to compare my small business to someone who calls their business small when they actually make over $100k per year. Me and those people are not the same. They have employees. And accountants. And basically people to delegate shit to. I don't and shouldn't take the bait to build an inferiority complex over the struggles I have in trying to keep up with them. Blessed Bookworm is me and only me and that's damn okay because it's how I like it. I take self-care days and I use painting or lettering to calm me on some anxiety days. My creative pace is just mine and that's all that matters. 

With all of that being said, I have decided I want to keep the blog as a special monthly editorial for a while. It's feasible and keeps things fun without becoming cumbersome. I'll post thought pieces or info on how things are going with the new direction, special focus pieces on commissions, and/or book reviews because I'm still a bibliophile and love sharing that with you. I will write when there are things to write rather than trying to serve a master who I don't truly love. The blog is a fringe benefit to Blessed Bookworm, not the main event. That being said - if you want more interaction with me you can always reach me on Instagram every day @blessedbookworm. 

Much love to you all, and I'll see you back here in a month! 

Bookish Announcements: A New Plan for a New Movement

Good morning, dears. Today is going to be a different kind of post. I appreciate all the support I've gotten from you as readers since I started this blog along with the business last year. This morning I'm bringing in some big changes.

Blessed Bookworm - A New Plan for a New Movement: Why I Won't Keep Doing A Mountain of Marketing Work that Isn't a Part of My Job

As of today, the blog is a secondary piece of fun in this business. The email newsletters are as well and for now are cancelled due to lack of interest and engagement. I want you guys to understand something. I love writing on this blog, but it's not what I do. I am not a blogger. The designs and work I create for this business are what I do. And with the advent of the new Women's Movement and Resistance in our country - that's what I do. Putting in hours and hours of work for a blog that is not central to my business is a silly timesuck that's not necessary. I have a lot of important things I could reallocate that time to.

I'll still write on here but it won't be twice weekly posts, etc. It'll be when I have genuine and quality content to bring you. Outside of that I'll still be posting very regularly on Instagram as I always have. I created a listing for personalized stationery explicitly for the purpose of writing your representatives in Congress (hand-addressed for you to the correct people based on your location and being sold at a very low price to encourage your activism) this week and I plan to work to create more products like that to be a part of this movement in whatever helpful way I can. These are the things that need my time and attention. Not twice weekly posts about which books I genuinely don't have time to read lately or crafts that are not my original idea but instead curated lists of finds from Pinterest you could find yourself. My time is better used on creating the work that brings this business to life and on working to make our world a genuinely better place.

I love you all and will always be around, but there are simply more important things to do than making sure I cross off every "You Have to Do This to Be a Successful Solopreneur" marketing idea. I'll stick to what I'm good at and what allows me the time to do what needs to get done. I appreciate the love and support you are giving me while I am still growing into my business identity - in any case, I'll be here.

Bookish Announcements: 2017 Reader Survey

Good morning, pandas! This morning I am doing something a little different. Rather than offering the usual editorials, I want to take a survey and find out what you the reader want to get out of this blog. I hope you'll all participate!

All you have to do is answer these questions in the form below and your answers will be sent to me directly. Thanks for talking with me!

  1.  Do you enjoy the content this blog has been bringing you thus far?
  2. Is there anything you would like to see written about more or less often?
  3. I've discontinued the email newsletters due to lack of interest, is there a way to make a newsletter more appealing to you?
  4. In general, what do you think could be done to make this blog and website better?
Name *

Bookish Editorial Series: 2016 in Review & 2017 Goals

Good afternoon, darlings, and how I've missed you all! It's been just under a month since the last post was written so my thanks in your patience while I enjoyed the holiday season with my family. Today I want to write a piece on how I viewed 2016 and how I am looking forward into this new year. I hope you all have had a wonderful start to 2017 as well.

Blessed Bookworm 2016 in Review & 2017 Goals

Last year, there seemed to be three years worth of events crammed into one. Losses, new adventures, milestones, and so much more. It would be easy for me to ramble on and on about all of the terrible things that happened to me and our world last year. Though I'm sure that we've all had enough negativity in our life recently to last us a lifetime. Instead, I choose to think of all the wonderful things that happened.

My eldest turned 5. We got a new dog named Khaleesi. I opened Blessed Bookworm. I went on my first solo cross-country roadtrip with my sons. My husband and I went on a trip and explored Oregon visiting a new National Park on our quest to see them all and I got to see the Pacific Ocean for the first time. I was a vendor for my first two markets. My second son turned 4 with a brilliant Pink Pirate Party to his own thrill and happiness. My youngest son turned 1. I started the journey into hand lettering. I made new friends thanks to Instagram that I treasure. I became a published author thanks to Wholehearted Woman Magazine & Blog (I'll write a piece on them soon but I would love it if you check them out!). I returned to New York City with my husband and our sons the week after Christmas for a family vacation to celebrate the 8th anniversary of my husband proposing. I lost 35 pounds by returning to my diet to a healthier lifestyle. I chose to take care of myself instead of trying to continue slugging through grief and depression and asked for help and low dose anti-depressants and have been happy to feel myself coming back to life. I loved. I lived. I'm here for the start of another year.

It's too easy these days to focus on the sad and the horrible. I acknowledge all of those things and intend to work hard to change what I can - but I refuse to sacrifice my faith in my fellow humans or my optimism for our future in the name of cynicism. I can't do that while raising sons that will be strong enough and optimistic enough to try and change the world we hand to them one day. They will grow up seeing their mother have undying faith in the world and no matter how dark things may be - I'll never stop sharing my love and kindness.

In this new year, I have some plans. For my personal life and for the business. Personally, I want to return to my habit of regularly doing random acts of kindness. I want to get back into working out and running which I have all but abandoned in the last year because of my depression. I want to go on more adventures, traveling more. I want to enjoy my hobbies more. I want to make my marriage a priority rather than continually putting it on the back burner in favor of life stresses and parenting duties. Professionally, I want to work to bring Blessed Bookworm into being an entirely or almost entirely hand lettered business. I want to put less stress on myself trying marketing avenues supposedly "required" that seem to go unwanted by my target audience. I want to try and bring out more quality products in smaller quantities. I want to enter the world of designing products for weddings more often. I want to be a regular on the Colorado market scene.

It's going to be a big year. I turn 30 tomorrow and I'm psyched to see how spectacular I can make the next 12 months some of my best in the face of so much negativity and sadness. I hope you'll be doing the same. Much love. 

Bookish Holiday Series: 10 Amazing Subscription Boxes for Christmas

Afternoon, dearies! Today I've got a quick but super fantastic list of 10 Subscription Boxes you should seriously consider giving as gifts to some of the people on your list. You've probably heard of subscription boxes and over the last few years I've tested out a bunch of them and always been totally happy with each of them. If I could afford them all at once I would probably be currently subscribing to like 15 of these things. There is a subscription option out there for every single kind of person you know, so here's 10 awesome options that I can personally recommend.

10 Amazing Subscription Boxes for Christmas

1. OwlCrate - for YA lit fans this subscription gives you a great new YA book and gorgeous bookish extras

2. Bookly Box - different genres available, each box provides a book to someone in a developing country

3. Stride Box - a great box for runners this comes with a lot of stuff so that a new or even experienced runner can get exposed to awesome products on a monthly basis

4. Cairn Box - this box is so stinking great for outdoorsy people! Camping and hiking supplies among others.

5. Nerdy Post - created by a friend of mine, this subcription has a new theme each month and sends receivers a gorgeous poster, bookmark, sticker, and postcard all handlettered and designed by the creator and owner.

6. Mystery Crafty GetKit by Attract LLC - this is a super fun idea I found on Etsy just recently and am super stoked to get my first box. This Etsy business will send you supplies and instructions for a mystery craft! What crafty friend wouldn't love to try this?

7. BattlBox - for the manly man in your life, this subscription sends your survival and tactical gear!

8. DateBox - this is a wonderful gift idea for couples in your life. Maybe a little love renewal for your parents, maybe for your own spouse or friends who are newlyweds - this box comes totally set up with a new date idea each month and is SO much fun. Definitely consider giving this one a go.

9. BarkBox - for the dog lovers in your life or perhaps your own pooch!

10. Kiwi Crate - this is such a fun subscription boxes for littles! If you have kids or love someone else's definitely consider giving them this fun gift to enjoy all year long!

Bookish Holiday Series: Books for the Millennials on Your List

Good morning and happy Tuesday, everyone! It's a busy week here as I work away on orders and getting ready for my first market this weekend (hello Jackalope: Denver!) but I am continuing the holiday series today with some book recommendations for the Millennials in your life (there's a lot of us so I'm sure you know at least one). Enjoy and if you think of another recommendation I miss just drop it in the comments!

Books for the Millennials on Your Christmas List

1. Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter

Seriously - you will win Christmas with this. To go above and beyond, pair this with the new (and amazing) Mixtape Album or perhaps some amazing fan work via Etsy. In truth I'd support you buying this for everyone you know. ;)

2. milk & honey by Rupi Kaur

I am wholly of the opinion that everyone can fall in love with poetry provided that they find the poet who speaks to them. This collection by Rupi Kaur is one of the best I've seen coming out of modern poetry and trust me there are some spectacular poets out there today. Multiple times just browsing this collection I've been brought to tears by the the succinct beauty and truth offered on each page. Check it out.

3. The Fire This Time by Jesmyn Ward

Only just released in August, Ward has created a collection of essays and poems on race in America that everyone should be reading. Give this to the millennials in your life to encourage the broadening of their horizons and show them how to fight the fight we all need to be a part of. It's time we show those who came before and will come after us what our generation will not stand for. It's time we ended racism.

4. Feminism is for Everybody by bell hooks

On the note of what Millennials need to band together on: feminism. Bell hooks is a force to be reckoned with in literature and I recommend basically everything she's ever touched. This text was released in 2014 and would make a great starting point for those in your life to be introduced to intersectional feminism - hey, why not make a whole starting package for them and include Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay, The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan,  and We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

There are a host of fiction recommendations I'll be giving to you all in the coming posts as well so be sure to check those out but be sure to consider adding in some of these options as well.

"It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you'll be when you can't help it." - Oscar Wilde

Bookish Holiday Series: Charity & Random Acts of Kindness

Morning, dears. Today I have a new set of ideas for your holiday season and gift list. This series will continue through the next three weeks leading up to Christmas so I hope you'll keep checking back to find out what other suggestions I've got lined up! (Also, the December calendar featured in today's photo is now available in the Subscriber's Library so make sure to sign up for the newsletter list to get access to this gorgeous printable!)

Bookish Holiday Series: Charity and Random Acts of Kindness - how to make a real difference this Christmas

Every year around the holidays it seems mankind rediscovers its collective since of charity. I try to carry this throughout the year but I'm grateful that at least people remember it as the days get colder. Today I'm offering you the idea that instead of giving someone or even anyone presents, you can include them on a far better theme for the holiday season: charity and kindness. Take the budget of one person's gift and go spend it with them on something that will do someone else good - or pick a charity to donate to together. Or go whole hog and make your entire Christmas budget into a giant charity and kindness budget and invite everyone on your list to come help you spread that love as a group. They'll get a lot more out of it than another Starbucks gift card. Here are some ideas for acts of kindness or charities I always recommend supporting:

  • Buy a ton of hand & feet warmers for the homeless
  • Make a burrito or meal assembly line and take it to food to those in need
  • Buy as much water as you can fit in your vehicle and go take it around to the homeless (they need water so much more than anyone ever realizes)
  • Pay someone's tab at a restaurant or buy their groceries (you can also buy gift cards for grocery stores or restaurants and walk around handing them out)
  • Pay for someone's coffee
  • Buy yards of fleece or flannel material, cut into 12" wide strips and you've just gotten scarves for days to give out
  • Take flowers to retirement homes
  • Bake cookies for retirement homes, school staff, police officers, fire departments - everyone loves baked goods.
  • look to Pinterest for thousands more ideas...
  • Donate to RAINN, St. Baldrick's Foundation, Human Rights Campaign, or even your local women and children's shelters or homeless shelters. Find a cause you and those on your holiday list care for and support it.

Truly, consider doing this for one, several, or all of your gifts this year. Or spend less on gifts and put the difference towards these acts of generosity and love. You may end up receiving more than you give.

Bookish Holiday Series: 25 Days of Love Letters

Happy Tuesday! So today I’m going to begin a month of posts about bookish gift ideas for the holidays. This idea is lovely for anyone and it’s also just a wonderful challenge to commit yourself to and bonus: it perfectly fits in with the theme of a handmade Christmas.

Handmade Christmas: 25 Days of Love Letters

Writing a letter a day to someone in your life can be tough but it’s a beautiful thing at the same time. You press yourself to share with them, to think of what you value about them most, memories, etc. Wrap them all up with a ribbon and you’ve just created an incredibly meaningful gift. Give this to one (or both) of your parents, a friend, your spouse – or write 25 encouraging and sweet letters to a new friend that you want to show some love to.

This is a very simple though simultaneously very effort intensive gift. It will take your time but it’s so worth it! Let’s be honest, everyone has a few minutes a day to write a letter to someone they love. You can even compose it throughout the day on a note in your phone and then transcribe it to paper later that night.

This holiday season, give a gift that is worth so much more than the newest gadget or yet another shiny thing – give them a gift that truly shows them how much you love and value their place in your life. I guarantee those letters will be treasured for life.

Have a wonderful, day everyone!