The Great Maternity Leave Projects: Start a Side Hustle

This is a fun one for me to write here this morning ūüôā

Let me start with shaping a visual for you. ¬†It’s beeeyooootiful.

When we get into the world of woman conquerors – women entrepreneurs – we see all of these slick, professionally produced women entrepreneur websites (personally I love + follow Natalie MacNeill’s She Takes on the World.) ¬†Totally awesome. ¬†Totally inspiring. ¬†Totally lovely to look at.

They sit in beautiful international backdrops, with statement necklaces and flowy hair, and bohemian rainbow tops that make me think “wtf, why don’t any of our stores carry those” and then I remember I’m in Canada, in the winter, and no, stores will not be selling those in January. ¬†They also have these drool inducing images of them typing away in a Parisian cafe. ¬†Or they have these uber successful business outfits on. ¬†And I get inspired, and try mine one, and then think “wtf” as the chest button bursts off in the attempt to contain the mass of my post partum boobs.

Since this is the Great Maternity Leave I just want to paint you my glamorous picture.

I am sitting here in my old white housecoat. ¬†My hair is in a haphazard half bun. ¬†I stop typing every¬†now and then,¬†with that jolt of fear, thinking my 2 year old is waking an hour before she’s supposed to. But it’s just my evil cat who’s learn to mimic her.


OK, BACK on track Carina.  Sorry.

I’ve just gotten back from sneaking around in the kitchen trying to make coffee quietly, which means I just about broke a cup and spilt grinds on the floor as my coffee grinder went BBBBRAAAAAHHHHHHGAAAAHHHHHHSCCHHWAAAARRRRR and I half ran across to the hood fan to get some white noise going to cover it up.

My kids know the sound of the coffee machine.

Now, set up with my laptop I have my fat, cuddly little boy, my first baby, my tabby cat Simba trying to ninja across the couch and throw himself across my arm in a final desparate attempt for cuddle time.

Okay. ¬†Scene set. ¬†I’m a proud maternity leaver! ¬†Cheers! (with my coffee cup)

Photo on 2016-01-31 at 7.25 AM
I salute you, mat leaver, sitting in a quiet corner of your house in pjs, coffee in hand, reading in a quiet moment to yourself. And I THANK YOU for choosing to spend that 10 minutes with me.


Alrighty so let’s get started on this super fun topic.

What is a Side Hustle? 

Recently on Facebook I started a thread asking what all of the mamas did in the group.

I was absolutely blown away but HOW MANY have side hustles.  Most had one.  What?!?!

Side hustle is the 2015 2016 trendy term for having a side business.  Some are little income flows here and there, a hobby that pays for itself.  Some are significant.

I know women who share their arts and crafts and make enough to just pay for more supplies.

I also know women who have mega successful side businesses that are legitimately competing or even eclipsing their full time career.

Both are incredible and so rewarding in so many ways. ¬†It’s not just about the income. ¬†Having a side hustle allows you to create a sacred space, and a structure to support your pursuit of something for you.¬† It adds balance to all of the other components of your life on mat leave. ¬†Hell, it adds a little sparkle to those mundane days of “getting stuff done.”

What do I do for a side hustle? ¬†I’m inventing / creating a few new things that are still in the pipeline / development stage. ¬†I have an Etsy business. ¬†I have a coaching business. ¬†And I have this, my GML project though it’s not really a side hustle. ¬†But I treat it like one.

My Etsy business goes through phases of bringing in some extra income now. ¬†And let me tell you, it’s much easier to sneak off for an hour or two of jewellery making with that “side business” legitimacy lended to it – both in my mind and on the bank account.

I live in Calgary, Canada so the opportunities available to us may be different from another city, but I think there are several ways to pursue a side hustle.

The key point is no matter the method you go with, make sure it lines up with something that is important to you. ¬†Also know that you will probably try a couple on for size before you find one that fits you. ¬†I’ve tried so many.¬†I’m going to list some of the types below, and what I thought of each one, along with income streams. ¬†Please remember these are my personal thoughts about why I loved them or did not stick with them, and by no means should that shape your decision. ¬†There is no right or wrong option, there is only what works for you. ¬†¬†

The GML isn’t about telling you what to do, it’s about exposing you to different ideas so that you may choose your own route, and feel inspired.

Please note, Canadians: While on maternity leave, if you are on employment insurance, you are not supposed to take an income above a small amount each week.  The approach I have taken on each of my maternity leaves is building the foundation of my side hustles, so that when EI ends, they are ready to go.   Which is good, because at the end of every mat leave I always get slammed with a big tax bill. Blah. I need to have a January or February baby next!

Types of Side Hustles 

Sell your creativity.

I’ve been an artist on Etsy for a while now. ¬†There are many platforms on which you can sell, but Etsy is one of the best known for handmade goods & has global reach. ¬†What I love about Etsy is that I can control how busy, or how quiet things are. ¬†I often shut my shop down when I need to invest more time in the family or other projects. ¬†At this point in the game I’ve mastered things to the point where it is a minimal time investment for me. ¬†I spend one night a week, for about 2 hours making 6-7 pieces of jewellery, then upload them through the week using my iPhone. I upload on high traffic days to capture views. ¬†Etsy has paid for itself and in my best year, it allowed me to fund 2 international trips, which actually allowed me to go do some buying and get even greater amounts of supplies!

Sample companies:

Etsy, E-Bay, Shopify, Instagram is now a sellers’ platform too. I haven’t tried it out yet but I plan to. ¬†Stay tuned for my report.

Join an MLM company 

T-o-n-s of ladies do this! ¬†There are so many to choose from. The ones I seriously considered were Usborne Books (because I LOVE them and it’s all I buy my kids) and essential oils. ¬†I sort of tried out selling Essential Oils through Young Living but I spent way more on oils than I ever made on commission, because I love the products so much.

I also had some philosophical difficulties with the MLM structure and fact that so many people “upline” from me were benefiting from my hard work. ¬†For the time invested I think the income was like 20 cents an hour lol.

Call me selfish but my time is worth soooo much on mat leave. ¬†If I’m going to bust my but I want the profit to go to me. I don’t really want to share it! ¬†I also could not take a profit from family or friends. ¬†I always sold them at cost for what I’d buy them for, then drive across the city to pick up the products and deliver to them.

Meh. ¬†I also did not, for the life of me (and I’m a smart cookie) understand all of the weird MLM language like upline, downline, sponsor, etc. ¬†That all seemed a bit too much for me. MLMS are a time and financial investment to start with but if you embrace it and work hard, the possibilities are GREAT with an MLM. ¬†Just as great as with any side hustle.

If it is your thing,¬†by all means GO for it. There is no right or wrong way. ¬†You have nothing to lose. ¬†the worst that can come of it is you will have a sweet collection of stuff that you love. ¬†Which is why I say, if you go MLM,¬†go with a product you love and can’t get enough of.

Sample companies:

Scentsy, Stella Dot jewellery, DoTerra Oils, Usborne, Young Living, Beach Body.

Sell your talent.

I truly believe the world would be a different place if we took each of our unique talents and gave them out to the world. ¬†I’d love to disrupt the donations world. ¬†Instead of just throwing money at a charity, what would happen if each of us gave them 2 hours of our time, doing for them what we are really good at? ¬† I’ve started offering my writing to help people and it’s a bazillion times more rewarding than just throwing $20 bucks to a charity here and here.

Think about your talent. ¬†What are you really good at? ¬†What do friends and family tell you you are great at? Start selling it. ¬†For a while I tried out online platforms through which you can do this. ¬†I tried out selling my writing on Fiverr but just couldn’t compete with people from countries who could charge lower rates because of their exchange rate. ¬†I’ve also thought about auctioning my organization skills, coaching skills and iMovie video production skills. ¬†All things my friends and family ask me to help them with.

I see mamas selling their housecleaning and organizing services on local auctions, craigs list and among family and friends. ¬†They own their talent and put it out there. If you do that, your networks will talk about you. ¬†Your friends and family already know your talents. ¬†Once you own them, put them out there, it’s amazing how an income flow begins. ¬†All of a sudden, people will pay for the wisdom you have.


Craigs list & kijiji, keynote speaking, consulting, build a website/instagram/pinterest and monetize it with E-Books or services, try affiliate links, advertise through networks, auction your services on a Facebook auction site.

Buy & resell.

EBay is the main platform to do this and I have experimented. ¬†I sold off tons of my old¬†Lululemon pieces this past year. ¬†Let me tell you, it is a HOT market for Size 10-12 Lululemon. My US buyers got into bidding wars over 7 year old shirts, and most I sold either $40 more, or broke even. ¬†I do it here and there to declutter but I decided not to do more of it, despite the temptation, mostly because I found it quite time consuming to buy lulu, pick it up, photograph it then list it for a $20 profit most of the time. ¬†For mat leave it just didn’t jive.

However, it is great having $100 sitting in Paypal if I ever need to buy something unexpected online.

I am a big fan of Facebook auctions which are now popping up in many cities. ¬†In our own city, Calgary, there is a hot market for childrens’ toys, furniture and womens’ brand name or unique clothes.

After the initial rampage I went on after reading the Konmari Method, I stabilized and auction about once or twice a month, though for me it is more of a declutter project.  I also enjoy taking photos and editing, because I do a ton of that for my Etsy business. All iPhone.

I mostly break even or receive about 50% of original purchase price for goods I sell.

But, for a budding creative there are great opportunities to make some cash once you get speedy with photos & auction albums. ¬†I’ve often thought somebody could kill it buying furniture at garage and estate sales, and flipping it on the auctions.


So how do I decide whether a side hustle is worth my time?

Ask yourself these questions:

  • After supplies, time invested, etc. what is the profit I am making per hour?
  • Does it take away time from my family?
  • Is it do-able on the go and with my iPhone? ¬†*A great one for mat leave
  • Am I the sole beneficiary of my hard work?
  • Diminishing Returns: ¬†If I invest more time, will profit growth keep up with the extra time invested? ¬†What is the hours per week base I need?
  • Does it¬†align with the bigger goals I have for myself and my lifestyle
  • Does it help me feel more balanced? or more out of whack?


I’d love to hear what you do if you already have a side hustle! ¬†

What helped you decide to stick with it?

What made you realize it was worth your time?

If you gave one up, why did you decide it was not worth your time?

Let’s chat here in the comments.


Next up in the side hustle topic, a comprehensive list of ideas.


The Great Maternity Leave Essays: PTSD

I’m blogging on a more serious topic tonight. ¬†For the most part my page is about inspiration, happiness and positive stuff. ¬†But today I’m going to broach a tough subject. The beauty is that I write it from the perspective of someone who came out the other side happy, healthy and vibrant. ¬†I am a fire fighters’ wife so the subject of PTSD comes up a ton – in the early days when you are attending critical incident stress management workshops, and in the later days when you hear about someone on the job who’s “off work for a while.”

I read a story tonight in the news about first responder deaths to suicide in Canada. ¬†About how, in the first month of 2016 the numbers are in double digits already. ¬†So sad. ¬†Suicide is such a complex topic, with complex processes, but what is important to note is PTSD is is cited in so many of these stories of “invisible suffering.”

PTSD is no joke. I’m not a soldier, or a first responder. I’m just a firefighters’ wife who happened to go through it. ¬†You hear about it alot in the emergency services world – because the risk of exposure to PTSD triggers is exponentially higher. ¬†But damn, we are exposed to some crazy shit too. ¬†You just never know what causes it.

As you read the sections below, remember that I speak coming out of the other side happy, healthy and fine. Some are not so lucky.

I’m summoning the courage to publish this because of the brilliant Bell #letstalk campaign, and because goodness knows, being a new mother, there’s going to be some stunning moments of mortality in our own lives. ¬†We bear witness not only to our own lives, but to multiple others’ lives.

I get the difficulty of PTSD.

You can’t “logically work your way out” of intense, nightmarish images that feel like they have been permanently etched deep in the brain. The noises, the smells, the sounds. It’s a full sensory assault. Everything coming at you and a full psychic, physiological & emotional response.

I speak from experience of the awful sweats, the worst nightmares that leave you shaking and jolting awake, and the unwelcome, VIVID movies on repeat in your mind, playing in an endless loop of every detail.

Not to mention the good days, when in the back of your mind the fear is there…that they will come back. Or even worse, if you know your triggers, knowing that in an average day you may face them several times. It can be real eggshells.

What can suck the big one too, is the totally unexpected times it hits. And it’s usually so random. I can tell you lots of stories about walking out of my chiropractor’s office trying to hum a tune to trip the movie loop… Or just about having a panic attack seeing oxygen tanks. Or being in the bathroom at superstore trying to do breathing exercises while my trolley sat abandoned outside the washroom.

One of the best things we can do is embrace the bell ‪#‎letstalk‬ campaign, put on our big boy & girl panties, and start talking about this stuff, and being open about it.

It’s crazy. I was nervous to write this. Because there’s a little part of you that thinks “I don’t want people to think I’m fucked up”. And a part of you knows some people will read and go “whoa.”

When can we progress so this thought doesn’t happen? When can we see the day where people just think “I want to share this! People will think I’m human!”

Some of us are going to go through horrifying moments in life that are just too much to comprehend in the moment. First responders exponentially more so.

A society where this stuff can be processed, dealt with, and talked about without stigma will go a long way to circumvent some of the desperate decisions we read about in this article.

We will have Moments so intense. Where you just jump into action and deal with it because there is no option to shutdown.

Then there’s the days, weeks, months after where your brain, body and emotions begin to process what the f*** just happened.

PTSD is like you, a mouse, standing in front of a wild tiger.

PTSD is a particularly tough one because the LAST thing you want to do is talk about it, when most moments of your day you are trying to avoid it. It’s constantly jumping out of the bushes and you just want some peace most of the time.

That’s why I think it is such a silent disease.

Anyways, just my two cents and me putting myself out there. Super hard to write about so please be gentle ūüė¨l

I’m really happy (and relieved) to say I don’t go through most of the crap anymore. I’ve been a year and a bit without nightmares and panicky moments that struck in the middle of the grocery store, or often halfway into a workout. I caught the sounds coming back the other day and it was a reminder that you must stay ever vigilant & dedicated. Not just to PTSD but to managing a happy, healthy and balanced life, a key defence in the battle.

I’ve been a lucky one with a solid psychologist, with whom I have an insane, amazing connection & working relationship, and the willingness to really dive right into the fire and go for it. I say I am lucky also because I have a work plan that can afford the $200+ an hour appointments, and after 3 different people, I found an amazing person to work with. I didn’t give up after the 2nd consult with 2nd person, diving in to the conversation a second time.

I was determined to kick it.

Even if you are up to getting the help, it can be a big financial outlay *and* if you are going to go into the fire with someone, you need to feel right about the connection you have with them. Just like a firefighter needs to know the person they go into the fire with has their back. Has their life.

That’s hard to find. So even if you get the guts to fight the beast, there’s way more hurdles to jump before you get there. There’s attrition in each stage, I’m sure.

The financials. The need for a good provider connection. A busy life bursting down the door saying “you don’t have time to do this!”

Thinking of those families tonight.

You have time to do this.  Stop stressing about the cost.  This is a great deal compared to the cost of not working on it. 

Here’s a formula I thought of:

We¬†throw off our¬†own ego’s shackles of “what will they think of me” and T-A-L-K


They L-I-S-T-E-N and suspend judgement.


Things will get better, slowly.

Things will get better for those incredible, gracious, courageous human beings who signed up to deal with the things nobody would ever want to have to see, or hear, or experience on any given day. Those courageous human beings, who after executing the most difficult task of all, are left to wonder, what the f*ck did I just experience?  Many of them left to wonder that on their own, inside their minds.  

First responders, my thoughts are with you. ¬†If you know exactly what I am talking about in this post… ¬†I hope this hit home in some way. ¬†It was tough for me to hit “post” and go public but I hope a few of you will follow suit ūüôā

‪#‎bellletstalk‬. Please feel free to share this.

How to Have a Great Maternity Leave: The 70% Secret in Goal Setting + Running

Before I started coaching I decided that I would NOT coach unless I had my own success, and could walk my talk.  I needed to experience all of the successes and failures from the ground up.

Athletes & Goal Setting

Goal setting and achievement is an area I thrive in. ¬†I’ve studied the most successful people and applied their perspectives and mindsets. ¬†Both to myself and the people I work with.

Over the years I’ve fine tuned it and developed my own system. ¬†In my full time work, I help athletes with¬†their goal settingThe high level athletes, for example, the olympic athletes I work with…they smash the sh*t out of their goals. ¬†It’s going to be done. ¬†It’s what they do. ¬†That’s why they are at their level. ¬†So¬†for them, there’s more focus¬†on the mindset side.

You can get to a goal via a “tough”¬†mindset. ¬†What I’ve observed over 3000 hours of advising / coaching, is that it burns people out¬†and drains willpower. ¬† My focus with those types is longevity and sustainability. ¬†I know lots of athletes who use intense pressure, self criticism, and high expectations.

Yeah, they’ll medal. ¬†But interestingly enough, with them I see a loss of balance, strange injuries and illnesses come up, highs and lows in their performance, and other segments of their life fall out of balance. ¬†There’s just negative ripple effects all over the place.

So that got me interested.  And I started self-experimenting.


With the Great Maternity Leave Project I’m constantly researching + applying it to my own mat leave + tweaking it so other mat leavers can benefit ūüôā


To get different results, you must take a different approach.  Same actions get the same results.  This is a model we use in professional coaching.

This may not work for you. ¬†I write about all sorts of things on the GML because I want you to be exposed to lots of ideas – some you’ll hate. ¬†Some you’ll love. ¬†Some will work for you. ¬†Some won’t. ¬†I want you to pick & choose. ¬†Try those that stick with you.

Here’s one of my secrets to¬†smashing the sh*t out of your goals.

No human being hits 100% of their goals in all areas of their lives. ¬†It’s not possible. ¬†It would be a different world if everyone could achieve their goals.

Whenever I coach and work with my clients, my high achievers often have the most difficulty. ¬†They get to their goals, but struggle with longevity, generating energy and willpower. ¬†They’re quite tough on themselves.¬†Shooting for 100% and expecting 100% the whole way. ¬†Their mind is blown when I tell them they can get the same results with a 70% mindset.

I like¬†70%. ¬†It’s a really nice number.


But there’s such negative connotations with 70%. ¬†In University my students are hard on themselves with a 70%. ¬†It’s a B- or C+ in some classes. ¬†It’s never good enough.¬† Everyone’s always going for the A+.

So going into this article, think about your mindset around 70%. ¬†What were you taught to think about 70%? ¬†For example, what was your family’s response if you bought home a 70% on something.

Side note: ¬†My “Cs get degrees” peeps that I advise are much, much happier than my A+ students. ¬†I see both groups, because the goal is the same. Get a degree. ¬†But the coaching is much different.


The Breakdown.

Scenario A:  We set a goal.  Life is a perfectly controlled experiment.  Everything is predictable.  In those conditions, we can achieve the goal with 100% efficiency.  A+ grade. A+ effort.

Scenario B:  We set a goal.  Real life happens.  Unpredictability.  Life skims the edges off of that 100% execution and it winds up being a 70% execution. B effort. Even if we are super effective.  Sadly though, when Scenario B happens, we fight it and set ourselves up with the mindset of failure.  B is not good enough.   But what if a B effort still got you an A grade?  Or an A+?

What would happen if you backed off from 100% to 70% and embraced that 70%?  If you embraced a more relaxed approach to your goal and adjusted expectations?  TRY IT OUT.

I did. And guess what?

1.) Profound things happen because mental energy has been freed up. It pulls you out of your mind and into the present moment.

I’ll shape this for you in the following section.

2.) You experience a powerful shift in your drive.  You stop relying on willpower (not good,) and start using the power of memory and gratitude to drive your motivation.

Willpower is Think of willpower as a sketchy friend. ¬†Super sketchy. There’s research to back it up.¬†¬†If you want to read more on it, here’s a great rundown of the finite nature of willpower.¬†

–> ¬†Tip: ¬†Open a new tab so you can get through this¬†blog first. ¬†One thing at a time.

A Real Life Application of the 70% Principle

I set a rather ridiculous goal for myself on 1st mat leave. Rather than just run a 10k I decided to jump out of a helicopter and run down a mountain, the path only marked with ribbons in trees.  That still makes me laugh.

I started training, knowing I had 12 weeks to do it. ¬†I, motivated Carina, struggled like you wouldn’t believe those first few weeks. I couldn’t get my stuff together. My willpower started strong and drizzled away. ¬†And I used all of the magical motivators I know of. ¬†The epic images I added to my pinterest goals / vision board and a photo I saved to my iphone background.

The photo I saved to my iPhone background to keep my mind focused.


I was doing all of these amazing trail runs and coming back drained, sore, and unmotivated to go out for the next long run.

One day I was running down in our provincial park. ¬†As I came through a thick forest, smacking¬†branches out of the way (ironically I describe my running style as “bear crashing through forest”) I stopped with my hear in my throat. ¬†A HUGE creature stood up and looked right at me.

It looked like those crazy bamboo houses on stilts you see in exotic holiday pictures of Bali.  A giant structure on thin dangly legs.   A FULL SIZED MOOSE.  Terrified, I ran as fast as I could in the other direction.  The feeling was mutual.  She ran away just as scared of me.

That very same run, a few minutes after my adrenals had recovered, I saw a gorgeous bald eagle soar overhead and land in a true.  Holy sh*t I thought. I am having the most ridiculously Canadian experience and it is very, very cool.  I paused my GPS tracker and looked around.  I was running along this beautiful trail, rimmed with copses of birch trees, and my feet were cushioned by soft mossy ground.  It was spectacular.  I half assed that run. I got the distance done but in a very, very slow time.  I was too busy stopping and taking photos to post later on instagram.  The funny thing is at the end of that 12k run, I felt the best I have ever felt after a run. I felt profound grattitude, and a craving for more of whatever it was that just happened. 

The moment it all clicked.

The same day I did the same. I went¬†in with an idea of my distance, but threw my time goals out of the window. ¬†I decided I’d aim for around 70% of my original time so at least I was still making some effort.¬†¬†You know what? ¬†It gave me time to stop, absorb the moment I was in, and enjoy it. ¬†It took my run from pain and suffering to immense enjoyment and immersion in nature. For the first time I was not stumbling on rocks because I was there, with the trail. ¬†Instead of just running on it.¬†I was out of my 100% perfectionist mindset inside of my head, listening to the GPS and relying on willpower.

I was in the moment. ¬†It’s often called the flow. ¬†Successful people know the flow. ¬†It’s like this great big secret… And I’ll definitely talk more about it. It’s profound.

Relying on the energy of the natural environment around me and my own enjoyment of the experience was a game changer.  The rest of those 12 weeks, I went into each run with this new mindset, this new perspective, and embraced the 70%.

I am very much a visual learner and I wish I could “screen shot” the images in my brain for you so that you could see a picture version of these thoughts.

Here’s the best attempt. ¬†I’ve juxtaposed the¬†two training experiences.








The glorious result.

On September 21st, 2014 when I jumped out of a helicopter, onto the shores of a mountain lake, ready to run 21k DOWN a mountain, through the Canadian Rocky Mountain wilderness I was so ready for it.   I ripped through that run in a great time for someone who only trained at 70%.

I got better results than I would have with a 100% “balls to the wall” approach. ¬†With a 70% approach, I was tapped into a deeper motivator than willpower. I was tapped into creation of memories. ¬†The experience itself. ¬†Being in the present moment.

Oh, and I did it 3 weeks pregnant.

They say when you conclude your earthly life, memories will run through your head in vivid detail. ¬†They are the great memories of your life. ¬†For me it will not just be that epic run, it will be every single training run leading up to it. ¬†I don’t need to go back and look at my Runkeeper app photos to remember the run (though I love looking at those anyways.) ¬†

They are all there in this beautiful memory bank that keeps me going on the trails, every time I get out there.



How to Have a Great Maternity Leave: Start a Side Hustle and Align it with a Goal

On Instagram this morning, I saw something along the lines of start a side business to travel. I liked it.

A lot of the coach feeds on instagram can be quotes overload –¬†but the ones that matter to you, stay with you. ¬†This one stuck with me this morning as I perused Instagram over coffee.

I enjoy the mix of foodie shots, outdoors adventures, fashion, life hacks and coaching brain food that makeup my Instagram feed!  It is part of my strategy each morning to fill my mind with inspiring visual images & my ears with inspiring messages.  This starts me off in the right mindset each and every day.

Let’s get back on topic… ¬†So I started a small creative business on the side. I make medieval & tudor inspired jewellery and sell it on Etsy.

It literally was a hobby that paid for itself while I was in graduate school. I needed something creative when studying military & strategic studies. ¬†I also liked the “wtf” face people gave me when I said I was a counter-terrorism expert & jewellery designer. ¬†Kinda fun for a multi passionate.

Eventually, it led to a bit extra cash on the side & it has paid for a few international trips during which, I thoroughly enjoy going on buying trips for new supplies. For example, buying sunset seashells and freshwater pearls in a Kauai street side market in the glorious tropical sun (2014) and hunting down antique bottles in a British flea market, tea in hand, on a dark rainy day (2015.)  Pretty cool memories!

I don’t look at my side hustle as an income source though.

I look at it as a facilitator of my goals.

I really like sharing alternate perspectives on the GML that shift your mindset and facilitate growth. This is a great example of one in the making, live and unfiltered!

It’s my “cherry on top” income which I channel into my goal of seeing the world.

To ensure that my side business is connected to this specific goal, I have a tax free savings account set up.  This is because little nuggets of money, here and there can be easily frittered away on small things, because $3 or $5 or $7 at a time have little meaning attached to them on their own.

However, all those $5 or $6 deposits straight from Etsy (And I don’t see anything as my account is with a separate bank) add up over time.

I’m so busy on mat leave a year whips by in no time, and at the end,voila!

Having that goal attached to a side hustle is amazing, because let me tell you, you never lose motivation!  Another side benefit is that it facilitates creativity.

When I sit down to make a piece of jewellery, I never know what I am going to make.  Most of the time, I work on a state of flow which gets my creative juices going.

Thinking about income and expenditures is not conducive to that flow state for me.  In fact, during times of sleep deprivation or stress, I just cannot come up with ideas for pieces (I always sit down and just begin to create, I never start with an idea or plan; I let them come to me.)  During the early stages of mat leave, for sure, I took a break as my creativity was a bit drained by sleep deprivation and time with the little ones was very important.  But eventually you get your groove once you are settled in with the new creature.

My best ideas for making pieces come when I am inspired, imaginative, free of constraints. ¬†Having the international travel mindset as I sit down? Magical. ¬†It gets me going. ¬†So do podcasts,¬†and browsing through medieval images on pinterest,¬†but that’s for another time!

I’m excited to share with you in my next blog, more on this “flow state” and why it is absolutely magical for idea generation & creativity.

Do any of you have a side hustle? Have you attached it to a specific goal? ¬†I’d love to hear if anyone shares the same mindset.


How to Have a Great Maternity Leave: Declutter Physically with the Konmari Method

The nuggets of wisdom I have pulled and applied to my maternity leave after reading The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.

For two years I had been adamant that¬†I’d never own too much stuff.

As a coach, it is important to always dig deeper and ask wait, but why?  

In October 2013 I was 9 months pregnant and working on wrapping up my Mum’s home & estate (she passed away from cancer when I was 6 months pregnant.) ¬†Possession was just a few days before my¬†due date.

One morning I was sitting in the garage, running a final HUGE garage sale with a bursting belly and looking out upon a lifetime of accumulated items from our family home.

It was incredibly hard to let things go.  I think it is particularly hard when you lose someone, because you want to hold onto everything of theirs tighter. I caught myself lovingly picking up a few items, gazing at them, smelling them to see if I could smell her perfume, then talking my way through which few pieces to keep.  People probably thought I was nuts.

Though it could have been a tragic day of garage sale-ing, that day wound up becoming strangely humorous.  An aggressively pregnant female, equally aggressively hawking everything like the best of street vendors.  All the poor unknowing shoppers having their car loaded up with extra free items by a waddling pregnant lady.

I so clearly remember standing in the middle of the garage, when EVERYTHING was gone, with a coffee, and I yelled up to the sky “HOLY SHIT MUM YOU HAD SO MUCH STUFF!” and then collapsing into my chair laughing and shaking my head.

I spent the rest of the afternoon gathering old papers from her super organized filing cabinet. ¬†SO organized in fact, she had documents perfectly arranged from the mid 1970s onward. ¬†I prepared the fire pit in the back yard and started to go to town on getting rid of the documents. ¬†Funnily enough, that is also the day I just about burnt our family home down before possession. ¬†I learnt that burning large quantities of paper on a gusty day is a terrible idea. ¬†Let’s not tell my firefighter husband about that day, ok?

One thing I want to do with the Great Maternity Leave (GML) is share with you the books that I learn from and show you the unique ways that I incorporate them into my life, by building habit loops from them.¬†I believe this is one of my first “book study” posts. ¬†So here we go!

On my second maternity leave, I picked up ¬†The Life Changing Magic of Tidying: A Simple, Effective Way To Banish Clutter Forever by Marie Kondo, whose method is called the “Kon Mari” method. It was part of my project to let things go and in the process, declutter. ¬†It wasn’t even that I had this picture in my mind of a perfectly organized, clean home. ¬†I just hate owning too much stuff. ¬†I get irritable and stressy.

In economics, there is a¬†concept called “the point of diminishing returns.”

As you accumulate more things, you go up the bell curve.  At the top,  the returns neutralize, then begin to decline.  I know exactly how that translates to the home.

You forget you even own items, you can’t find them, you value them less, you don’t remember to use them, etc.

What I was feeling, was some kind of strange psychic clutter – but addressing physical clutter seemed to me the most logical place to start, before I used my own coaching skills on myself and dug deeper. That’s for a later post.

As began to rapidly accumulate boxes of outgrown clothes with two babies, I could feel my irritation building up. Finally, on a luxurious child-free excursion to Chapters, I picked up this book, which called to me with its simple, clean packaging and fonts.  I often let books choose me, and this one sure did.

In the¬†Rock Tumbler Essay, I discussed the fact that we are exposed to so much information – to the point where is hard to remember (or implement) all of the lessons we receive each day. ¬†I believe that you should just stop worrying about your baby brain, all the “Shoulds,” all the information and relax – relax with the confidence that a few of those many river rocks will tumble out as semi-precious gemstones which you will always remember (if you are reading this thinking, WTF, go read the Rock Tumbler Essay!)

I want to share with you the semi-precious gemstones that came out of my brain’s rock tumbler as I read this book. ¬†These are all things I have done since reading the novel.

Everything should have a home.  When an item has a home to return to, after serving its duty, you will remember where it is.  Think about it.  Why do we ALWAYS lose car keys, remotes, sunglasses?  Because they are constantly changing locations.  Create a home base for them. A basket, a designated drawer.  Whatever works and is obvious.

Let me tell you, calling down the hallway “they are in their drawer!” rather than spending 15 minutes helping someone search for car keys *cough* husband *cough* is preferable.

Ask yourself if the item has given you joy lately. ¬†Remember my “Hell yes or no” essay? ¬†Same principle applies here. ¬†If you let a “meh” item go and regret it (unlikely) – guess what, there will always be a thousand stores nearby with even better versions of that original item. ¬†Reassure yourself with the thought you can buy another if you miss it. ¬†Rest assured, I never have.¬† I honestly didn’t trust Marie Kondo when she told me I wouldn’t regret letting things go.

Since then, I have ruthlessly been letting things go with this mindset and it has been absolutely liberating. My day to day functioning is not affected by a few pieces of wood, metal, glass or plastic.

When I have trouble with items because of some kind of attachment, I line them all up on the bed and choose one, and decide to transfer¬†all of the meaning and memories into that one object. ¬†I take photos of the others, to save. ¬†Then let them go. ¬†For the special items I have been letting them go to people who will be deeply touched. Letting them go to a loving home rather than collecting dust on a shelf is incredibly rewarding. ¬†You’ll love it.

Treat your items with kindness; they have performed a duty for you. ¬†Honestly, this stuck with me, but I’m still working on it. ¬†Last night I put BRIGHT Sparkly blue nail polish in with a white load in the laundry machine. ¬†Yup. I wouldn’t say I’ve nailed it. Please feel free in the comments to help a lady out and let me know if there’s a way to salvage my white laundry.

Employ the Kon Marie folding method. ¬†At first, I thought, “ain’t nobody got time for that!” but I’ll tell you what… first, nothing wrinkles. ¬†Second, it is incredibly easy to pull items out of the drawer without wrecking everything else. ¬†Third, you can see every item right there in one go. ¬†It’s lovely once you get used to it and the time investment is minimal once you get good at the folds.

Tidy by Category instead of location, and do it in bulk. ¬†Lots of little tidying, luckily, never worked for me anyways.¬†It’s pointless with small children. ¬†Instead of working on each room, decide on days for certain things. ¬†When you think about it, our grandparents often did this. ¬†Sunday, laundry day. ¬†Boom. All done for a week or so. ¬†Then you can forget about it. No picking away at it all week. ¬†Remember how I said I started this project to address psychic clutter? I promise you the tidying by category really helps reduce psychic clutter.

And my own piece of advice after working letting a lifetime of objects go:

Work on your mindset. ¬†Think about it, we don’t own anything. ¬†The objects are here on this planet, for much longer than we are. ¬†We are just humans passing through in that object’s life. We are temporary blips. ¬†Temporary caretakers.

All of the meaning we place on an object, we do with our minds.  Just as easily as giving something meaning, we can take it away, or transfer it.

Remember, we are simply temporary caretakers of wood, plastic, metal and glass objects.

The Kon Mari Method is quite revolutionary.  Everybody takes a different piece away from the book.  For me, the book offered a profound opportunity to let items go easily and declutter both physically, and mentally.

Though I’m nowhere near a the minimalist home I envision¬†(I have too many travel trinkets and books for that!) ¬†my entire mindset around tidying up has changed.




How to Have a Great Maternity Leave: Harness the Great World of Apps

From a very young age I’ve been quite comfortable around technology. ¬†In fact, some of my earliest memories were helping my parents package up mid 1980s computer technology. ¬†Floppy disks (yes those strange things you inserted into slots in the computer hard drive) and dongles (no not a sex toy!)

My crazy, risk-taker entrepreneur parents built a business around the cutting edge of technology at the time, their software helping the staff at NASA calculate payloads on the Space Shuttle.

Just talking about the Space Shuttle makes me sad that this new generation, our own kids, will not grow up knowing the SPACE SHUTTLE! ¬†And Michael Jackson… oh I could go on. ¬†Sorry. ¬†Anyways ¬†Back on track.¬†

There is always a fine line to tread with technology; it truly can be a double edged sword.  As I write this here at 9:30pm, I am well aware that the blue light from my laptop is probably going to interfere with my sleep (generally I try not to get on my computer within an hour of bed.)

It can be addictive downloading apps, and before I get into some of the most useful for maternity leave, I want to emphasize that it isn’t as simple as downloading an app.

For it to be truly useful, and not just take up room on your phone screen, you have to build the app into your daily habits to truly benefit from it. ¬†What use is the Tiny Scan App if you constantly forget to scan your receipts? ¬† What use is Wayze if you keep forgetting to check traffic on it and get stuck on your way to work? ¬†You get where I’m going, right?

I’ve done a whole lot of reading, studying and self-experimenting on the habit creation side of things and have really progressed in looping habits. ¬†I can’t wait to share this with you in a future post. ¬†So stay tuned, I’ll come back and link to it here.

So be an app snob.  Download them.  Try them out.

“If it isn’t a hell yeah, I’d use this every day!” Delete it.

“If it’s a hell yeah!” ¬†Keep it.

Really, you don’t have the time/energy/attention/memory space on your phone to dl apps and not use them.

When it comes to apps, it is better to be a master of some than user of none. 

And work on at least 7 days of using it consistently.  Start creating those habit loops.

Another technique I suggest is to keep new apps outside of folders for the first little while (on the first screen of your phone.)

New additions are easily forgotten when they are stowed away inside app folders.

Since you are focused on building a habit and making it an automatic part of your day, you need the visual reminder. ¬†There’s just far too much stuff for you, maternity leave pro, to remember among the 200 other things to do!

So without further ado, let’s run through some of the “hell yeah! ¬†Every day!” apps that make your life easier. And whoa there tiger, one app at a time, ok? ¬†Remember,¬†master of some,¬†not¬†user of none. ¬†¬†

Trello (replacing “Notes”) for to-do lists. ¬† Free. Satisfying lists, visual board. ¬†It’s almost like a Pinterest board version of a to-do list. ¬†Easy to use & share with your husband. Grocery lists will never be the same again.

Battery Doctor¬†A rather addictive free app that allows you to clean your phone, free up memory and maximize the battery life. ¬†It¬†keeps incredibly fascinating and useful data for the nerds out there who are curious about power, time left, rate of battery decline, and other phone behaviour. ¬†I use this once a day to clear down unnecessary stores of caches, cookies, etc. and consistently free up 200mb of data. Trust me, it’s addictive. ¬†You don’t even have to remind yourself with this one.

Evernote –¬†For the longest time, I didn’t get into Evernote, it seemed like a beast, but it’s actually quite simple & intuitive once you invest an evening checking it out. ¬†What converted me to Evernote from my trusty basic “notes” built in app on the iPhone, is the fact you can easily add web clippings, hyperlinks, photos and other useful things into each note. ¬†Just today I¬†was taking notes¬†at a workshop, and then captured the handouts with the built in camera function. ¬†This is great –¬†when I go back and look at the notes I made this morning after 3 hours of sleep, and think, wtf, I can verify with the formal images. ¬†I wish I had this in university to study with. ¬†Visual techniques + written techniques is an all-round winner for studying and memory retention!

Everalbum¬†– 3 laptops and multiple phones later, I have lost many digital photos. ¬†For the longest time I’d manually add them into Dropbox. ¬†I sort of felt like a magpie, you know… Collecting lots of objects and stashing them in different places. ¬†I am sure I have at least 4 dropbox accounts, and a maxed out iCloud account from baby pictures and videos alone.

So why is Ever Album brilliant? It consolidates EVERYTHING.  It goes hunting for all of your random picture stashes, including Facebook and puts them all in one place, sorts them into albums and even has a backup that will import your iphone photos.  Amazing.

I am not sure if I am proud, or ashamed to admit that after 20 minutes of running the app, it sorted and consolidated more than FOURTEEN THOUSAND photos across various accounts. ¬†I haven’t even begun to dig into its other awesome features¬†but I’m pretty impressed so far.

Overcast¬†– Every day I play a podcast while I am getting ready. ¬†First, it gets my brain going for the day. ¬†Second, I use it as a motivational and mindset tool to put me in the right place mentally. ¬†For the longest time I’d have a little house music dancey dance in my bathroom as I put on some makeup basics for the day – but I alternate between podcasts and music now. I’m finding it hard to find the time to read these days and after years of resisting, have begun to incorporate auditory brain food!

Flipp –¬†A coupon site, because who isn’t a bit more conscious of their budget on mat leave? ¬†Flipp has most of the major stores. ¬†A simple double tap lets you read the details on deals, and a single tap lets you “circle” the coupon and save it. ¬†What I love most is the search function. ¬†Search “diapers” and it will pull all of the deals it can find. The days of trying to wrangle your¬†baby’s fingers from a crumpled¬†coupon flyer are done. ¬†Now you can just work on peeling his / her fingers off your iPhone instead!

Google Map –¬†The traffic function is brilliant, even though I admit I am still building this habit loop in. ¬†I’m still at the stage of remembering only when I am in traffic and¬†am wondering what on earth is going on. ¬†That being said, I am using Google Maps a heck of a lot more these days when I have to get across to the other side of the city and am in a time-sensitive day. Lately, it has been incredibly useful for looking up “gas station” with the search functionality and the route mapping based on “fastest route” has been so accurate so far. ¬†Google Maps is funny in a relationship sort of way. I’m still learning to trust the app’s recommended route. ¬†I’ve decided to override Google Maps a bunch of times thinking my way is quicker, and it’s been right every time, dammit.
This app is a good time to mention that there is a second important piece to seizing technology and really making it work for you.

You must dedicate 20-30 minutes to truly explore the functionality of each app.  Apps are powerful little things that by no means, replace the power of our own minds, but make our days a little easier and more efficient.

When it comes to technology, most of us are actually just “surface level” users, unless we’ve been fortunate enough to have had some instruction. ¬†Once you dig below the surface of apps – or any technology for that matter, there are additional tool sand great features that most of us don’t discover.

It’s like your MacBook. ¬†An hour on the Apple forums looking at Macbook functionality will blow your mind. ¬†There’s finger taps and slides I didn’t even know existed that I’ve now worked on building¬†into my typing. I’m still ridiculous and maximize / minimize windows with the green and red buttons, even though I know well that I can do it quickly with the keyboard (there you go, a habit loop I haven’t built up yet.)

Photo Shop Express –¬†I’m really writing this post with maternity leave people in mind. ¬†My photo habits were excessive when I was just taking photos of meals, my cats, and pints of beer – but I know that now pales in comparison to the photos I have of my babies!

Photoshop Express is an editing app that is free, intuitive and has a great sharing function once the photo is saved. ¬†I use this app to run my Etsy business almost exclusively from my iPhone, and pair it up with the great Typography app¬†Typorama for any kind of graphic needs. It’s also a useful little app when you try to catch a 2 year old on camera. ¬†It’s either blurry, or they have satanic red eyes (which is actually quite ironic, no?)

Tiny Scan is my final recommendation & I have mentioned this app, along with Secure Safe in a previous post.  Again, hard habit to build but once you do, you will never be digging around for a receipt or document again.

Tiny Scan is going to be the foundation of one of my bigger mat leave projects; going completely, yes, completely, paperless in 2016.  No more statements.  No more trying to find random pieces of paper in my filing cabinet with an overly enthusiastic 2 year old helper! I can see the glory of it now!

Alright.  So there you go. Happy app-ing.

Psssst. ¬† Fox and sheep gmbh and their app ¬†goodnight circus –¬†the greatest things you will ever see if you have a 2 year old and ever have to get on a plane. ¬†Ssssh. ¬†My secret. ¬†Thank me later.¬†



How to Have a Great Maternity Leave: ¬†Return to Simplicity (Over,and Over…)

There are 7.1 BILLION people on this planet we call earth.That’s 7.1 billion people who have been either someone’s child, a parent, or both.

That is 7.1 billion ways of seeing the world, life experiences, mindsets, cultures, psychologies, engagements, beliefs, values.  There is an infinite number of permutations  & combinations.  

We live in the information age & we, the average person, contribute the most content to the web.  Not web professionals.  Did you know that?

It may be unsurprising, but there are vast and I mean vast amounts of information out there on being a new parent.  I’m not even talking about the parenting part.  You know that’s not my focus at the GML. My focus is on you, but you do happen to be a new parent.

The interesting thing is that parenting is presented as a system, an external model we take up and apply to these strange mini humans we call children.  And there are gazillions of models.

At the GML I always encirage you to take care of you.  My project is about you having the most fulfilling year of your life.

The cacophony of noise and voices of parenting tips and chatter and infomation and techniques and stages and shoulds and coulds and ahhh!  

It’s overwhelming.  I felt my pulse go up weiting that.

To have a Great Maternity Leave, return to simplicity, over and over and over.  Throw out the manual.  

We constantly shape our dynamic, responsive brains.  Here’s your chance to re-ground it and build your confidence.

Remember this, if this is all you read today, or one of a hundred things.

Return to love.  Return to being oresent.  Return to common sense.  Return to intuition.
That is it.  That is all you need to do on this leave.
Now take a deep breath.