Come Learn with Me: CIA and Fiber College

Aug 17

I enjoy teaching so much, and never more than when I teach with my pal Gale Zucker! We’ve got a few programs coming up, and I hope you’ll join us for them.

Craft Industry Alliance Webinar

On Thursday, August 18, at 1 p.m. EST, Craft Industry Alliance will host us for a live seminar “Craft a Consistent Online Presence”. Gale and I will share our favorite visual and verbal tools and techniques for translating your aesthetic online. The webinar is free for members, and membership is reasonable–CIA offers terrific resources, which I think makes it a great place to be!

Photo by Gale Zucker

Fiber College

Thinking ahead to September, and the beautiful world of Fiber College, Gale and I created a terrific new class: Haiku Postcards (hey, I love me a postcard! Remember my 2015 Postcard Project?). Gale’s going to inspire you (and show you how) to take gorgeous images, and then I’ve got some fun writing exercises to spark your creative inner scribe (and leave your inner writing critic at the gate). We’ll print your images, create postcards, and write haiku. By the end of the class, you’ll meld visual and verbal beauty to create 2-3 postcards that you can take home to remind you of Fiber College or mail to a lucky friend. Register here.

Want us to Teach for You?

Gale and I would love to work with you! We believe strong images paired with eloquent words work together to craft compelling stories. We offer a variety of workshops and programs to inspire makers and entrepreneurs to harness their creative visual and verbal powers.

Our workshops and programs range from overviews of combining words and images for popular social media, to creating savvy stories for blog posts, to developing effective product and About pages. We also offer team-building workshops that utilize smartphone camera images and engaging writing exercises to create digital or print artifacts. We can tailor a workshop or program to your group’s needs.

We’re happy to visit your guild, company, shop, or conference to guide and inspire you and your people to discover new, dynamic skills that let you show the world just how captivating your story is. Drop me a note to learn more.

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Find 20 Minutes: Stress Less

Aug 26

Note: I’m delighted to welcome Sandra Pawula as a contributor to the Find 20 Minutes series.

What could you do with 20 free minutes?

  • Bang out 500 words of your novel
  • Strengthen your body with push-ups, squats, jumping jacks, toe touches, and maybe a bit of hoola hooping
  • Sketch your surroundings
  • Write a letter
  • Weed a flower bed
  • Nap
  • Play catch with your kids

I’ve led a very high-stress life and have suffered personal consequences: a frazzled nervous system, chronic health issues, and a deflation of joy.

When you’re on the stress treadmill and the speed seems to incrementally increase, you’re just trying to keep up and stay alive.  Do you know what I mean?  So I never thought for a moment how much time stress might be stealing away from the very essence of my life.  But, now I see vividly that stress may be one of the worst time thieves alive.

Here’s how less stress will help you find 20 minutes and, maybe, far more:

1.  Be more productive.  Chronic stress can lead to fatigue, exhaustion, lack of focus and motivation, sleep deprivation, anxiety, or depression.  It’s pretty hard to do your best work when you feel like a zombie, and it sure takes more time.  When you’re less stressed, you’ll have the energy and enthusiasm to meet your tasks head on and finish them in record time. That leaves at least 20 minutes for lolling about or whatever else you wish.

2.  Make fewer mistakes. Chronic stress can impair memory and concentration.  Remember the last time you forgot to “save” and it took hours to recreate that email or document?  Or when you showed up at the wrong time for that critical appointment with your boss?  How many times have you misplaced your keys, wallet, or glasses in the last few weeks?  What about those notes you need for writing your book or the pattern for your current knitting project?  Hours and hours are lost making and fixing unnecessary mistakes.  Less ongoing stress means more clarity of mind and that adds up to extra time.

3.  Spend less time at the doctor or psychotherapist.  Studies show that 60-90% of doctors’ visits are for stress-related illnesses. The list of suspected stress-connected disorders goes on and on starting with heart disease, stopping off at diabetes, and taking a turn at immune-related dysfunctions.  Eating disorders, anxiety, or depression – all thought to have a link to stress – can have you spending countless hours with a shrink or even hospitalized.

4.  Indulge in fewer fights.  Stress can make you feel edgy, to say the least, and consistently lead to regrettable outbursts of red-hot anger. You’re a good person, but you can’t seem to get a handle on yourself.  Or maybe you always feel irritable or on the edge of tears.  All this leads to miscommunication, which often sets off terrible fights.  Once the argument is finally done, not only are you wiped out, it can take hours or even days to repair the emotional mess.  And sometimes, it’s impossible to fully rebuild the trust.  Reduce your stress to take off the edge and have more time for happy and healthier relationships.

 5.  Live a longer life.  Stress might take hours, months, or years off your life due to its link with so many different disorders, diseases,and plights.  People subject to chronic stress often turn to alcohol, tobacco, and drugs for relief, none of which are likely to extend your life.

Get smart now. Get smart early. Reduce stress to find 20 minutes and maybe even hours or years of your precious life.

Sandra Pawula is a freelance writer, mindfulness advocate, and champion of living with ease. She writes about finding greater happiness & freedom on her blog Always Well Within.  Her new e-course, Living with Ease:  21 Days to Less Stress begins on Sept. 9th, and you can register right now.

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Meaningful Microbusiness

Aug 21

My journey to creating my microbusiness began in 2009, before I’d ever heard the term. I wanted to share one of my super powers with the world: I can see the next draft of a story or essay before it is written (pretty cool, eh? That’s what graduate school does for a person!), and I started Open Road Writing.

I was kind of half-hearted about the whole thing. If work came my way, I was delighted. I did some public relations, but I didn’t have a lot of money to spend on the business. When school let out in May, I’d get gung-ho about the business, and when I returned to campus in September, the business was on its own. I was frustrated. I felt like a failure.

And then in 2012, I made the best decision I could have for my microbusiness: I joined Courtney Carver’s Goodblog Project. I’m a fan of, well, everything Courtney does. She’s smart, generous, savvy, and no-nonsense. She taught me to be more fluid in how I approach my business, how to connect with people. How to be myself, not who I thought I had to be, to do business. And she taught me to let go of what I don’t love doing. How to let go of Open Road Writing and embrace my crafting and writing as a whole, here. How to write e-courses, offer consulting, write patterns, lead writing workshops and crochet classes and have it all unified. When I do work for PoMoGolightly, I’m doing my best, favorite work. Who doesn’t want that feeling?

The Goodblog Project no longer runs. But Courtney is now offering a micro-course that I love and want to share with you. Create a Microbusiness* is filled with pragmatic information about running a microbusiness, as well as encouragement to believe in yourself and to connect with people. Courtney infused the course with her values and urges you to do the same with your business. Her way of thinking and acting, simply put, feels good.

Create a Microbusiness includes pdfs, videos, sound tracks, and audio…AND Courtney’s holding a live Q&A webinar on Tuesday, August 27. The course is self-paced. I know I’ll be working through the materials more than once. So if you are thinking of starting a microbusiness or want ideas to help you run your microbusiness more meaningfully, I hope you’ll take a look at Create a Microbusiness.

I have to ask, dear reader: do you run a microbusiness? Do you want to? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.


*I am an affiliate for this course. I admire Courtney’s work tremendously and believe in the usefulness of this course.

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Find 20 Minutes: Wardrobe Edition

Aug 19

What could you do with 20 free minutes?

  • Bang out 500 words of your novel
  • Strengthen your body with push-ups, squats, jumping jacks, toe touches, and maybe a bit of hoola hooping
  • Sketch your surroundings
  • Write a letter
  • Weed a flower bed
  • Nap
  • Play catch with your kids

For most of my adult life, I’ve had a love affair with my wardrobe. I loved to shop. My stylish mom ravishes sales with her keen eye and frugal nature and lavishes me with her finds. I love to finger fabrics, to try on shoes. I love the promise of a new purse.

But look at the ways this love affair steals time:

  • shopping and trying on clothes
  • maintaining clothes
  • creating outfits
  • trying on clothes to find the just-right fit and perfect outfit for the day

I moved my giant wardrobe from my little New York co-op (oh, it had a closet worthy of my wardrobe) to my adobe casita in New Mexico (featuring two big closets! For me, just one person!) to the little yellow ranch in the woods of Connecticut. Little all around. Little-tiny-crammed closet became the new wardrobe normal.

And it was too much. I spent way too much time dealing with my wardrobe. I couldn’t see what I had; everything was crammed together, which meant I had to press clothes every morning. I had no sense of what needed repair. The time thief was winning.

One decision thwarted the thief.

Three years ago, I joined Project 333.

Sure, I resisted it, even as I longed for it. Thirty-three items? How could I possibly?

Let me distill how Project 333 (or a similar endeavor; the numbers are arbitrary) can help you find 20 minutes:

1. Less time shopping. If an item in my minimal wardrobe wears out, I decide if I want to replicate or replace it. In either case, I strategize before I buy. I know what I have, so I don’t spend much time wondering if a replacement will match anything in my wardrobe. And I no longer shop as a hobby.

2. Maintenance is a snap. I have less laundry, and because my closet is not crammed, clothes don’t crumple in the closet. It takes me a matter of minutes to asses the state of hems and buttons.

3. Mix and match. Everything goes with everything in my wardrobe. I selected a neutral (gray) and chose my wardrobe around that. I’d be willing to bet that I can get dressed with my eyes closed and not embarrass myself.

4. Everything’s Perfect. I also eliminated clothes that were not really my style, which I’d call tailored romantic. If they don’t fit my style, they don’t stay in my closet. I feel like my outside reflects my inside every time I get dressed. My wardrobe may be limited, but it takes me through work days, teaching workshops at the local yarn store, dinners out, and tromping around the 4-H fair.

If you’ve been toying with the idea of dressing with less, I recommend you start with Courtney Carver’s excellent Micro-Course Dress with Less: Click here to view more details.* The course is a week-long, and it includes pdf worksheets, playlists to inspire you (Courtney’s a real Mix Master), and access to a private FaceBook group, where you’ll find lots of people ready to cheer for you and answer questions.

And if you have any questions about paring down your wardrobe, well, I’m here for you. I’d love to chat with you about your clothing list-sometimes it helps to hear that you really can get by with one pair of black pants!

What are your tips for finding 20 minutes in your wardrobe?

*Please note: I am an affiliate for this program. I believe with all of my heart in Courtney’s work. Having done Project 333 for almost three years, I know her advice works!

PS: Want to find out where your time is hiding like so many quarters under the sofa cushion? Registration for my micro-course You Have Time is now closed, but you can sign up to be notified about upcoming sessions!

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Find 20 Minutes: Kitchen Systems

Jul 31

What could you do with 20 free minutes?

  • Bang out 500 words of your novel
  • Strengthen your body with push-ups, squats, jumping jacks, toe touches, and maybe a bit of hoola hooping
  • Sketch your surroundings
  • Write a letter
  • Weed a flower bed
  • Nap
  • Play catch with your kids

One of my own biggest time thieves comes at me through the kitchen, but I have ways to thwart that thief! Here are some tips for creating systems in your kitchen to help you find an extra 20 minutes.

1. Everything in its place. I could probably prepare a decent meal in my kitchen blind folded (don’t fret; I’m not going to try). I’m the primary cook in the house, so I impose my logic on the kitchen. Refrigerated foods go in the same location every time I use them. Tools, canned goods, and spices have their own special spots. A little time organizing in a way that makes sense to you, not a kitchen designer, will save you time.

2. Meal plan. This simple change has saved me at least an hour a week. Once a week (I do it on Saturday evening in the summer, after I’ve picked up my CSA share), I decide on the meals for the rest of the week. I find any recipes I need, create a grocery list, and add the menus to my Google calendar. One weekly grocery trip, no dithering about what to make for dinner: these add up to free time.

3. Limit variety. I know, I know. It’s the spice of life and all that jazz. I limit the recipes I try–once I have my out-of-the-park pancakes, I don’t go looking for more recipes. During the winter, two nights a week are soup night (yay slow cookers). Every Tuesday I fix the same dinner. I’ve eaten the same breakfast (with Sunday pancakes as an exception…it really is a good recipe) with little variation since 2002. These little efficiencies equal extra time for the rest of my day.

4. Use fewer tools. Lots of people love kitchen gadgets. It’s fun to buy new tools, right? Those tools may be stealing your time, though. When Neal gutted our kitchen in 2009, I packed away all of the kitchen tools but the most basic: my French knife, a cutting board. I loved the simplicity of having less clutter. Since then, I’ve added more tools back into the kitchen, but a lot of what I packed away four years ago hasn’t returned into rotation. Less clutter makes it easier to find what I need as well as making clean up easier.

5. Clean up as you cook and immediately after eating. My grandfather used to chide my gram “don’t undress the table.” He wanted to linger and enjoy having his family around him. I get it, but I get Jennie’s method, too. The faster clean up is completed, the easier it is. Easy clean up (wet splatters are easier to clean than dried splatter) takes less time.

What are some of your kitchen systems that help you find time?

PS: Want to find out where your time is hiding like so many quarters under the sofa cushion? Registration for my micro-course You Have Time is now closed, but you can sign up to be notified about upcoming sessions!



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You Have Time

Jul 22


I’m really excited to share my first e-course with you– You Have Time: a course to help you live your best 168 hours. I developed this course from an assignment I use with my writing students, adding journaling prompts and inspirational quotes. The course is designed to help you identify your time killers and to find bits of time that hide like so many coins under a sofa cushion. This isn’t necessarily a super fun course. In fact, it may be a little irritating and uncomfortable. But I have seen it work in my students’ lives and in my own life to help find the time to accomplish projects and goals.

If you have a goal you’ve been wishing you had time to work toward, I hope you’ll sign up for the e-course. If you have any questions about it, feel free to ask in the comments, on Twitter, or by email.


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