How to Have a Great Maternity Leave: Create a Vision Board on Pinterest – It May Change Your Life.

 

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Do you remember watching the Secret years ago, when it came out?  John Assaraf, one of the entrepreneurs talked about setting up a cork vision board and he’d pin magazine pictures, etc. to it.  Back in the 90s I had what was like the early predecessor of a pinterest board or vision board.  I had a black journal and in it I added pictures of Britney Spears, dream wedding rings, TONS of nail polish art and urban decay makeup swatches, my dream car, my wedding dress, all that usual teenage dream stuff.

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The strange thing is, I found it the other day and I was more than a bit taken aback by the photos of women I wanted to look like, and the engagement ring I had pinned all the way back then.  I have that wedding ring.  My husband chose it out independently.  My dream car in that book. I am driving it now.

At the time, when I added those magazine pictures at the age of 14 these were all just pipe dreams.  Yet, so many images from that book, I have in my life now.

This brings  me to today’s topic:  How Pinterest has been an absolute game changer for me in strategically and intentionally crafting my goals and lifestyle.

I started Pinterest about 3 years ago and have accumulated thousands of pins and hundreds of boards.  One of my most active ones and a regular practice to this day, is pinning images from the future that I would like, to a board I called “My Future Life.”

It is the most relaxing, enjoyable activity. I could have the worst day possible and aside from having a nice craft beer, lol, this is one of the single best tools to lighten my mood.  But, my pinterest habit has turned out to be more powerful than that.  My life is slowly becoming that board.  I am skeptical and I don’t like woo-woo. I shut down at the mention of feelings, emotions and heart chakras and dreams.  But there is most definitely something going on here.  So what is it?

Actively pinning images onto a vision board has profound effects in the brain, and your own awareness/energy flows.  The act of immersing yourself in visualizing a future life that excites you is good for the body, the mind, the emotions. It turns your attention to your goals and a place of deep motivation.

After an evening of pinning, imagining the future life you will have, it is implanted both in your conscious and subconscious. You can’t help but subconsciously and consciously make small decision that will get you closer to that vision.  I have one beautiful image of the hot tub at the  Willowstream Spa, up here in the castle of the Rocky Mountains – the Banff Springs Hotel.  It is VERY fancy, VERY expensive and something a bit outside of my lifestyle.  But, I pinned it to my board as a future goal, a future vision.  And I wrote under it “one day I will be doing my work from a laptop here with a glass of wine.”

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Pins from my future life 

 

 

I pinned that 3 years ago, and this past March, I found myself sitting in the hot tub at the Willowstream, sharing a day pass with a good friend and business mentor, having a business strategy summit.  The moment I realized it, an excited chill went down my spine.  This stuff works.

The beauty of that hot tub and spa never left me after I pinned to that board, and as I went along my in my day to day life it was there, sitting in my unconscious.  When an opportunity to go there came up (that required some shuffling of schedules) I didn’t even hesitate.  On the secret they talk about how events, people and things are attracted to you if you put the intention out there. Is it a coincidence of all people, my friend asked me to go to the Willowstream Spa with her to do some business coaching and strategizing?

The brain takes in a lot of data, both on the conscious and subconscious level.  It is estimated that it is crowded with more than 50,000 thoughts per day.  We are always thinking of random things we want to do , or see things that make us think “oh wow I want to do that!!” but they disappear just as quickly as the thought arrives, lost in the mass of brain activity. What if we took that thought, captured it on a pinterest board and came back to it once in a while, to keep it there, and present, floating on the surface?

 

Let yourself be absurd. Interior design. Exotic vacations. Laughing family winter pictures.  A hike that looks like it belongs on an outdoor magazine.  Pin it, and in the notes write down how it makes you feel, or something about that image.

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Underneath a hiking family I wrote “our best adventures will be outdoors” – my values and dreams wrapped into one image, and at that point my family was unborn. You can probably guess what we do these days.  I go back and review what I pinned and my weekends with the kids are anything but dull in the pursuit of these dreams.

So try it.  Pin it.  The activity of just pinning is so enjoyable, to let your mind dance among dream places, things and people.  And let your soul go to work on achieving it behind the scenes, because one day you will wake up and realize, holy shit.

I am here.

Is It Possible to Start an Online Business With a Baby? YES! 15 Truths for Online Entrepreneur Success – With a Baby in Your Arms.

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I’ve taken online courses, I’ve studied online entrepreneurs, I’ve read books and listened to more than 200 hours of podcasts. Most importantly, I’ve started acting on these lessons and am entering the world of online business in 2016.

The foundation was slowly built over maternity leave, and continues to be developed.  But the revenue is beginning to trickle in.  The potential is there, and now I am going from building mode to testing and refining mode.  I’ve tested a few models and it’s time to sit down and clarify the goals, and intensify my focus.

Most online entrepreneurship classes hammer home the whole niche thing.  As a multi-passionate I really, really struggled with this question.  I did not find my niche.  I just started putting a few ideas and business products out there, to see a.) what I enjoyed and b.) what gained traction.  I actually think this is the best way.  Most entrepreneurs get stuck at the start line because they feel like they have to have this entire formula figured out. What is your niche? What problem are you solving? What are you going to charge to solve it?  And so it goes. 

The sweet spot is developing a product that catches hold with your audience, and catches hold with you.  A and B above.

A few products that I developed started returning a revenue.  But I realized in working on some of them, that I wasn’t passionate enough to invest most of my time and focus in that one area. So I redirected my focus to the few that made me come alive – where I had a deeper well to draw from.  The thing is, you won’t know this answer (and cannot possibly know this) till you try it out.

So jump into online business with the intent to discover one type of product you like, and one type of product you don’t like.  I mean it.  Your goal is to have one success and one failure, at least!  There really is nothing to lose other than the time you put into it.

1.) Building an online business is a lot of small tasks.  They can drive you crazy unless you think about them as steps that get you closer to your goal.  One day is going to be about getting mail chimp set up.  Another day is just sorting out some nice typography for your instagram.  One day is going to be setting up / learning about Facebook ads.  Another day may be organizing receipts in your inbox.  Another day may be buying more storage in iCloud.  Acknowledge and learn to enjoy the satisfaction in completing these tasks, even if they are overwhelming and there’s a steep learning curve.  There’s a lot of them, so get over it.  It’s quite satisfying crossing them off in a journal or on your note taking app.

2.) Remember, anything you do, is one step closer to your goal.  While others are quitting at 3 months in, you are just taking one step at a time and being strategic.  The tortoise wins the race.  Most successful online entrepreneurs will tell you they were working at it a while before things took off.  I’m a big fan of the blunt truth talker Ramit Sethi of I Will Teach You To Be Rich – check out the infographic in his post showing his product development over six years!

You’ve got at least 40 years left on this earth. Don’t worry about it. Do it because you love it.  Don’t compare yourself to the entrepreneurs who have 70 hours a week, or even 20 to work on their projects and launches.  You are working very hard on a few precious hours per week.  Things will happen for you, but they will happen on your schedule.

4.) Ignorance is bliss, and it contributes to action.  Find some amazing people who are doing what you what to do.  Study how they do it, their webpage, their brand and learn from them.  But be cautious.  I do think that some over-confidence / ignorance is bliss.  Study others just enough to know how to do things well, but not too much.  As soon as you see how many people are doing what you are doi ng, you will become intimidated and discouraged.  When I started my successful Kickstarter campaign, I found two other campaigns I loved and made notes on their models. I focused only on a few successful ones and did not look at just how many children’s books are on Kickstarter.  I wouldn’t have started had I known how saturated Kickstarter is and how much better everyone else’s campaigns looked.  I’m so glad I ran a basic campaign (with much room to improve) and learnt from it, rather than never doing it because I was blocked by intimidation and the desire to do it perfectly. Block out the external noise and focus on what you need to do.

5.) Have a clear idea of what lifestyle you are working towards.  I use Pinterest to do some vision boarding. I have a board called “My goals // my life in progress” (yes, that’s my board right there!) and it is images of the lifestyle and rewards I want for myself and my family. Even as simple as pictures of someone standing in the window, sipping coffee – or a family photo of parents playing in the snow with the kids. I am constantly adding images to this board and it builds a powerful desire – deep within – to keep plugging away.

6.)  Make sure you enjoy your entrepreneurial journey and the project itself, as much as you’d enjoy the lifestyle that comes with it. Your project should be a “Hell yeah” project.  Actually, anything you do should be a “hell yeah or no” situation, as put forth by the fabulous writer Derek Sivers.  You cannot be an influencer in something you are not passionate about. People see straight through that. That’s why there is so much talk about #authenticity on the internet these days.

7.) You don’t necessarily have to take an online course. Most online entrepreneurs’ courses are simply repackaged and re-branded versions of content they have previously published. It is extra work to commit and dig through old content, but it is doable.  So really, we are talking about time vs. money.  If you want to spend less money, there’s more of a time investment on hunting down the information.  If you want to spend more money, you’ll cut some corners and avoid some mistakes other entrepreneurs made.  Eventually, both routes end up at the same destination.

8.)  That being said, the action of financially investing in a course and being part of a community is powerful.  Connecting with other students is a great framework if you are concerned about follow through and prefer team environments.  I also believe online courses are very helpful for those of us who are not skilled in the technical aspects of online business.  I’ve made wonderful connections in some entrepreneurs’ communities that I gained access through, as part of the course. The Smart Passive Income community, Kimra Luna’s #Freedomhackers and others.

9.)  Attend conferences and work outside of the house. Just get out there.  In the business world, networking, friendships, potential deals and closed deals happen outside of the office.  They don’t happen when you are sitting alone on a laptop in a room.  Get out there.  Attend a conference.  Yes, it’s $500 – $1000 to do, but trust me, that investment will pay itself off in a few years down the road with business that is generated as a result of the relationships you made at that conference, or as a result of the business improvements or renewed motivation you received from that event.  This one I have not done yet, and I have this conference on my bucket list.  I cannot wait to do this!  I’ve also added this one – Lewis Howes’ Summit of Greatness – to my pinterest board.

10.) Start saving receipts with the Wave app and creating a “receipts” category in your Gmail now.  There’s so many random little expenses with starting up online.  Cloud storage, random apps, Skype credits, Domain registration, etc.  It’s easy to forget about all of those expenses.

11.)  Don’t ever put too much weight on your total Instagram likes or comments.  80% of your Instagram activity will be hustlers.  Focus on the 5 or less people who you authentically connect on there.  And get unique with your hashtags.  What hashtags would you look for?  Don’t use the “most popular” hashtags.  It’s like dangling bait in the water – the sharks will come circling in.  I onced used #fitfam and #fitspiration and #postpartumweightloss – The Beach Body coaches that came running…..

12.)  Have your product researched and developed before you launch it.  If you arrive in the online business arena with a developed product, you will give less of a shit when the haters or non-supporters rear their ugly heads.  I had a hater a few weeks ago on Kickstarter.  A really unpleasant message that felt like a kick to the gut, initially.

If my children’s book wasn’t 90% complete, I would have taken his comments to heart.  The completion gave me immunity and the ability to pen back a professional letter addressing his trolling.  He wound up apologizing and pledging to the campaign.

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13.)  Be mindful of phone time. If you want a great check in, have your partner take a photo of you holding the phone up in front of your face.  Look at that picture.  This is what your kids may see.  It’s really hard, I know, especially when you are excited about your work and are desparate to work on it!  I’ve realized that I have to be in a separate room or working during the kids’ sleep hours.  They don’t need or deserve the back of my phone in front of their face.

14.)  You are going to get up early or stay up late to work on your business.  My formula has been:  Nap when the baby and toddler nap at mid day, and then wake up super early a few days a week.  A great day is a 5-5:30 start so that I have 1.5 hours to get stuff done with a nice cup of coffee.  It sounds insane but I love what I do enough that it’s not hard to get up.  Wait.  That’s a great question!  Do you like it enough to get up at 5:30 am (or stay up until 2am) working on it?  It is shocking how much you can get done with 1.5 hours, trust me.

15.)  Filter all social media and read selectively.  Follow inspirational or helpful feeds.  Your time is precious as an entrepreneur.  If you are going to take a precious 30 minutes for an iPhone break, fill it with good things that inspire.  Also, stop reading all of those pages, blog posts, social media posts that talk about motherhood and “being too busy” “losing balance” blabllablablabla. You can get stuck in the travails of early motherhood and circle around in that loop, or you can climb above it.   Those are all legit opinions, and motherhood IS hard –  but will they serve your goals if you decide to take those opinions on and make them your own?  Or spend your time steeping in those messages?

Probably not.  Start hunting out and reading about success stories.

What I’ve Learnt from 200+ Hours of the Tim Ferriss and School of Greatness Podcasts

Podcasts can be a new mum’s best friend.

They are intellectual stimulation and a sense of connection and engagement in what can be a lonely and isolating time.  Today I share the podcasts that changed my life and daily practices for the better.

I discovered podcasts on my second maternity leave, and fell in love with the Tim Ferriss and School of Greatness podcasts.

The range of interviewees and topics discussed was food for my brain, which had recently departed the world of adulting and intellectual conversation, and had entered the rather lonely world of maternity leave.  Podcasts were my intellectual stimulation and each one left me scrambling to record ideas, inspiration, quotes and notes.

One of my fondest memories from mat leave was walking (and then training for a 10k) with these podcasts going in my earbuds. I can’t list off specific guests (guess I’ll blame the brain fog) but I can certainly tell you that each podcast left me completely jazzed up.  No matter the topic, I came away feeling engaged.

Despite not remembering the names of more than a handful of guests, I have absorbed a lot of information, and my daily practices have shifted.  Some were intentional and planned out, others I believe have occurred in a strange process of osmosis.  Here are the 15 ways in which podcasts have changed me.  These are all practices that I aspire to and have worked on in the past year or so.

The 15 game-changers that I learnt and applied from the School of Greatness and Tim Ferriss Podcasts:

The biggest reward of meditation is not immediate.

Meditation is a practice that is performed in the present moment, and connects you with exactly that.  However, its most rewarding application is not the practice itself.  It is the ability to apply the results of a regular practice to times of stress and chaos.

Meditation takes many forms.  If it hasn’t stuck with you, try out different styles.  Lie in the sun and visualize the rays penetrating through the skin’s layers.  Listen to a relaxing song without vocals.  Pull up a youtube video and listen to it with earphones on.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MR57rug8NsM   Download the headspace or flowy app.

START AND END EACH DAY WITH AN INTENTIONAL RITUAL THAT CAPSTONES THE DAY.

Here is my daily greens juice, blasted in the vitamix blender then drained through a mesh sieve.  https://www.vitamix.com/Recipes/Ginger-Greens-Juice/C-Series/Variable-Speed/Classic-64-Ounce here is my go-to. Minus celery. I don’t like celery.

Other capstones I’ll employ in the morning:  Running.  A great cup of coffee.  Loud music in the car.   In the evening:  Foam rolling hip flexors (strangely relaxing) and licorice root or adaptogen teas.

 

FILTER YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA TO THAT WHICH ALIGNS WITH WHO YOU ARE, AND WHO YOU ASPIRE TO BE.

Filter out the noise that distracts you from your goals, and leaves you scrolling aimlessly, looking for something that catches your attention.

Spend a day reducing the accounts you follow to 30% of what you once did.  Pick only those that a.) are your family or friends b.) represent a life or mindset you are working toward.

STOP READING YOUR EMAIL FIRST THING IN THE MORNING.

Today, I slipped up.  I opened my email to a hate message from a troll type on kickstarter.  It was rude, insulting and discouraging.  That is how I started my day today.  No Bueno.

In the first hour of your day, you are rebooting your brain and setting your energy for the day.  Fill it with good things and good energy.

LEARNING IS A LIFELONG PURSUIT.

 

Be curious.  Google.  (But then look into proper research.)  All of the interviewees followed paths of curiosity, whether it made sense at the time or not.

YOU MUST ALWAYS HAVE SOMETHING TO 1.) REFLECT UPON, 2.) ENJOY IN THE MOMENT, AND 3.) LOOK FORWARD TO IN THE FUTURE. SANDWICH YOUR DAY BETWEEN GREAT MEMORIES AND INSPIRING GOALS.

My mum was one of the happiest, most engaged human beings I had the pleasure of knowing.  Her biggest rule was always have something you are looking forward to.  Listening to these two podcasts, every.single.guest lights up while they are talking about a project.  You can hear it in their voice, even if you can’t see them.

TREAT SLEEP WITH THE SAME PRIORITY THAT YOU GIVE AN IMPORTANT BUSINESS MEETING IN YOUR CALENDAR, IF NOT MORE.

WHILE WE’RE ON THAT TOPIC, GO TO BED EARLY AND GET UP EARLY.

BE PICKY ABOUT WHO YOU SURROUND YOURSELF WITH. REALIZE IT IS A CHOICE.

Surround yourself with game changers, inspirations, teachers, mentors and happy people.  If you are part of their lives, their stories will become your stories, and vice versa.

FOR ACCESS TO CREATIVITY, ENTER THE STATE OF FLOW ONCE PER DAY.

The flow state lights up the brain and promotes creativity.

KEEP A JOURNAL FOR THOUGHTS WORTH SAVING, BUT ALSO TO PUT ASIDE UNHELPFUL THOUGHTS WHILE COMPLETING A TASK.

SOME OF YOUR BEST IDEAS WILL COME WHEN YOU ARE DRIVING OR IN THE SHOWER.

SHIFT YOUR MINDSET AROUND HEALTH; BECOME THE CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER OF YOUR HEALTH AND BODY.

Your Doctor is a consultant in your health.  They can offer great advice and services – but it is up to you to do the day to day work.  Treat yourself (within reason) as a science experiment.  Try out different things. Find the unique combination of health practices that work for you.

CREATE A DAILY GRATITUDE PRACTICE.  INSTAGRAM PICTURE AND HASHTAG, JOURNAL ENTRY, FACEBOOK STATUS UPDATE – THE FORMAT DOESN’T MATTER.  THE REFLECTION DOES.

READ THE BOOKS THESE PEOPLE RECOMMEND (YES, THEIR OWN TOO) AND KEEP LISTENING TO PODCASTS!

Great books I’ve read as a result of these podcasts:

The Power of Habit

The Upside of Stress

I Know how She Does It

Outliers

The Myth of Stress

Finding Ultra

How to Have a Great Maternity Leave: Sign up for a Course on Happiness!

Good morning great maternity leavers! So in the spirit of growth, learning and always working at things, I am signed up for a course on happiness! I am taking Happiness Basics, a course designed by the Red Deer Primary Care Network and being piloted on the University of Campus. We had our first 90 minute class yesterday.  I’ve had a rough time lately with feeling really down, like in a total funk for 2 months down.  So I’m working hard at addressing this with all of the tools in my toolkit.  It’s safe to say this is a priority right now.
Happiness:
We’re all experts on what makes people happy, right? (we could all list the major things.)
I know I can!  But I was curious about actually signing up, sitting in a class, and engaging with others in discussion and activities.  How would this be different from just consulting one of my gazillion books on happiness?
We live in a society that loves to learn.  However, there is more to learning than just intellectual (logical) intake of information.   To truly master something there are few more steps:
We must practice it and take it out of the mind, into our body space and emotional space.
It is then, that we  become whatever we are studying.
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In the classroom, I am learning about happiness by reading, writing and discussing.
But what does it mean to become happy?
 What would it look like for happiness to move from my intellect (brain) into my body and emotions, so that I truly embody it? 
It would mean that my self talk becomes more positive, my mood space feels lighter.  It would mean that my posture and body move upward, and outward, and I walk with my old poise and confidence. I am not as fatigued.  I feel in control of my thoughts.    It means walking with lightness and a smile, but also being grounded in my steps; not rushed.
What does happiness feel like in your body?  Ask yourself that right now. 
I wonder, how do we help a bunch of concepts and thoughts in our brain literally float down from the brain, into our neural networks, and get distributed into our muscles and body.   How does a reading on happiness, turn into a thought.  How does a thought travel into our body and shift our posture, or our chronic pain, or our moodspace?
PRACTICE.
And this is precisely why this happiness course has lots of homework.
You cannot become something if you do not practice it.
How do you practice happiness? 
This week, we looked at the research that shows there are 10 positive emotions directly associated with happiness.

Frederickson (2009) identifies the ten most common positive emotions as joy, gratitude, serenity, interest, hope, pride, amusement, inspiration, awe and love.


 
We sat down and described an example in our lives where we have experienced each of these ten emotions.  Just sitting down and taking the time to remember those moments, reconnect with the emotions in those moments, was in itself the most amazing mood boosting exercise.
 
For example, the emotion of amusement:  I couldn’t help but laugh remembering back to the time I saw a person at a bus stop getting attacked by a tiny, very angry little bird.  It took me right back to that emotion.  The writing exercise let me go back there and feel it. 
After stepping back into memories ten times and letting myself feel those ten emotions again, I can tell you I was in a much, much better state than when I first walked into the classroom.
 
At the end of the exercise we were assigned to intentionally engage in one of the ten emotions that week.  Once a day. So I chose Amusement. My strategy is going to be to watch one hilarious video a day that makes me laugh.
This is the importance of homework.  
When you sit in a class or read a book and experience a positive emotion once – for sure, you feel better.  But the brain will enjoy it momentarily – and  get back to daily life and routines.  What if you make the brain experience it every.single.day.?
It will have to start sitting up and paying attention, building neural networks and start firing more of the feel good chemical messengers to facilitate those thoughts.
I’m excited to engage in such a feel-good form of homework and it will be interesting to watch how happiness is embodied this week, through practice.  I plan to help facilitate this process by reading a bit more about the brain and laughter, to deepen my knowledge and immersion – as well as and boost my motivation.
In the spirit of amusement, I would LOVE if you share with me your favourite youtube video, clip, cartoon, whatever that you think is hilarious. I know you have a good stash out there 😉

My Half-Baked Plan to Try out a Kickstarter Campaign

It’s making me giggle writing this blog post. This latest bucket list project feels a bit absurd.  I’m so in over my head.

In my personal life (definitely not work life), I have a tendency to favor action over research and just jump into things, and learn as I go.  Which is funny, because I used to over-research, take 20 different classes and struggle to execute, paralyzed by an exacting standard. I guess I’ve gone through a 180.

I’d argue it’s an unexpected gift that came from becoming a parent, and the resultant focus on  just get shit done – I don’t have time anymore to luxuriously peruse, project plan, build and then roll out projects casually.  The energy around projects whilst a parent is DECIDE.  EXECUTE.  ADJUST.  BE PREPARED TO FAIL.  There’s lots of fails as a parent, so fails have lost their “scary edge.”

Looking back over the years of bucket list items and personal goals, I’d rather be in a place of taking action, making mistakes and learning – than being caught up in over-planning, over-researching and over-thinking. I’ve been there. I know what it is like to be held captive by your own perfectionist standards, procrastination and fear to fail.

So this led me to launching a half-baked project – I got into Kickstarter without even knowing what I was getting into. I just thought it would be fun to try out getting some funding for a childrens’ book I am working on.

Don’t get me wrong, the children’s book is WELL-DONE.  It’s almost done actually.  We are in the final stages of imaging.  It’s a children’s book where a little girl gets to explore five magical fantasy landscapes featuring mystical animals and beings with magical powers.  There are some gorgeous values and character strengths woven into the story, which encourages each child to take their imagination onward with them, the rest of their lives.  Kintara is a world each child can return to if they close their eyes.  The magic passed on from the queens of each world is magic each child already has inside of them. Each image is derived from a recurring dream I’ve had since childhood.

 

(Here is one of the worlds in “development” stage)

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I’m literally just trying out the Kickstarter part for the “funds” component of this project – it’s a cherry on top of something that would go ahead anyways. So the nice part is that I have a bit of “gentle irreverence” as to the success of the campaign.

 

My project, The Gates of Kintara Children’s Book & App was launched this week.  

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Exciting, no?  As I read more on Kickstarter campaigning, I realized holy shit, there’s a lot I didn’t know about when I launched this.  But sometimes ignorance is bliss.  Had I read about all of the tips, tricks and “successful Kickstarter campaign checklists” out there on the web, I may have become overwhelmed and not even launched.

 

I really, really like drawing diagrams – I think in my past life, I was a sports coach, so let me put one up here for you.

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I think people can have success by preparing and launching with a great, sound plan.  But there’s also hard-won success, but just getting started, making mistakes, floundering and then adjusting as you go.

YOU CAN GET TO SUCCESS BY PREPARATION AND NOT MAKING MISTAKES.

YOU CAN GET TO SUCCESS BY UNDER PREPARATION AND FAILURES.

It’s just that one feels much more comfortable than the other.

There are SO MANY PEOPLE who want you to buy their courses, take their webinars and let them teach you how to prepare and do things right.   Everyone wants to do this route instead, it’s easier, so there is demand. People pay good money for these courses, and people make a good living “coaching” people on how to prepare and be successful.

The thing is though, you can be successful by making mistakes.  It is a hell of a lot less comfortable, it’s a longer road, but your knowledge is going to be hard won.

 

See?  There’s two routes below.

Route A takes longer (the pink route, it’s filled with time, mistakes, barriers and deep learning.  That’s the route I am taking with my Kickstarter.)

Route B is much faster (the red route.)  You work with a coach, take a course, learn from others’ mistakes, shortcut many of those mistakes, spend less time getting to your goal.  It’s a lot smarter on a lot of levels.

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Actually, looking at this, now I begin to wonder, why AM I taking Route A?  I think it’s simply because I like learning and am using this Kickstarter as a learning experience.  I don’t see challenges or failure as a bad thing.

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I follow a lot of entrepreneur / business / coaching groups on linked in, Facebook and the web.  There are amazing groups out there.  I am a particular fan of Kimra Luna’s Freedom Hackers group.

I do still believe that the single biggest thing everyone struggles with is the action part.  People take endless courses. They are afraid to fail.  They try to make their plans bulletproof.  I could have easily spent 6 months reading up on Kickstarter.

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So here I am, realizing how much I did not know when I launched my Kickstarter, wondering why the hell I did this half-baked plan.  But I’m also excited for the brilliant learning experience and opportunity to really JUMP into it and learn fast.

I’m already making all of the mistakes that all of the courses say they will prevent you from making.

 

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And that’s okay.  I’m learning. Fast. It’s fun.

 

 

How to Have a Great Maternity Leave: Put your Children in Nature School in Calgary

I am bringing one of my deepest passions to the blog today, and gosh, it makes me so happy to talk about this and what it has given us!  So let’s get started!

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Every Saturday morning for two hours, we engage with nature through an “Urban wild program” put on by a researcher and Royal Rhodes Student here in our city, sponsored by the Canadian Wildlife Federation through their “Family Nature Club” program which provides resources & insurance for families to set up their own nature clubs (how incredible is that?)
There are story times, free play, guided activities, nature based arts and crafts and educational components, with Alex’ wonderful ecologist/biologist knowledge.  Each week, we submit a journal with reflections upon our experiences as a family.  For example, this was my submission 2 weeks ago.
Finwood Eco Park,2828 Finwood Road, Fords, New JerseyOctober 11, 2018 at 8-00 to 10-00AMSign up now atwww.finwoodecopark.com.jpg
Each week, we explore the incredible parks and provincial park areas that are dotted across our city with different units and activities.  The mornings are a combination of free play & exploration, story time, an arts or crafts activity, and a biology / ecology learning component.  Today was learning about wetland invertebrates and wildlife, with nets for the children to catch animals to examine and identify.
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Growing up a “wildling” who spent her days in the forests of southwestern Britain, I knew that I wanted my legacy to be giving my children a love and appreciation of nature, and a sense it will always be a home for them.  In any type of upheaval in my life, I always go back to the forest, and walk among the trees, asking them for their stable and grounded energy.
Standing, watching my daughter romp in creeks, throw rocks and construct stick structures in muddy mole piles gives me nothing short of true joy.  But today, the gift was given to us, the parents – particularly as we walked down this path dappled with sunlight, that was lightly fragranced with wild roses and featured the singsong of busy bees buzzing away.
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Pulled away from the program for 2 weeks due to death in our family, we have been scrabbling to keep ourselves above a chaotic tide of emotions, the business and administration of death and critical illness, while trying to balance work and my husband’s intense training with the fire department. Not to mention, rearranging all of our childcare so we could both show up at our jobs.  (When it rains, it pours.)
We were feeling maxed out in all senses of the word when we came to the urban wild program on Saturday, squeezing it in before our fathers’ celebration of life.
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There was something in the air at Pearce Park in Calgary, those 2 hours we spent in the park, much like the pollen floating softly in the air, had a gentle, restorative energy.
Both of us walked at an easy pace, as the air we took into our lungs was let out with big sighs – silent to the bystander, but a full-body experience for us.
As we stood in the dappled shade, watching our daughter wading with a net, we were able – for just a moment – to let the outside world go and enter the delightful world of chubby toes wriggling in the water and little fingers picking up smooth pebbles.
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So today, the urban wild program gave us, the parents the biggest gift.  As we sat at home having a cup of tea afterwards, our tuckered little ones gently snoring, we realized that nature has an unparalleled power to reconnect us, to ground us,  and to steady us in the chaotic tides of life.

Our little Urban Wild Nature Club also introduced us to some wonderful nature-based books for children.  Each Saturday, I joined the kids on the picnic blanket, equally enthralled with these books, which I intend to add to my daughters’ library!

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(page from the book Noisy Bird Sing Along, link below!)

My daughter for weeks now has been able to respond to the chickadees singing in the trees, thanks to the one week we had a morning read *and sing* along with a bird themed nature club.

 

Below are links to two of the books from the program.  Please note, I get a very small commission if you decide to purchase either of these books – which means the Great Maternity Leave can continue to grow and offer more posts 🙂

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Intrigued?
Have a look at the children & nature network of the Canadian Wildlife Federation. Is there a club in your area?  If not, perhaps start one.  For yourselves and a few family friends.  Nature is a gift & it is waiting for us, waiting to open its welcoming arms and take us home.
Here are some of my favourite resources that inspire me to get out with my family in YYC and surrounding mountains and reconnect with nature.
Facebook:
 Calgary Outdoor Families Group.
Family Fun Calgary
Bloggers:
 Karen Ung of Play Outside Guide
YYC LINKS:
Common Digs Forest School – Preschool & Kindergarten in the Great Outdoors
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The Basic Gear You Will Need for Your Baby (A Somewhat Minimalist and Gender Neutral List)

This blog post came about as a side-project. After I read “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, I went to town on everything we own in our house including everything I had accumulated over a year with a baby.

When our 2nd baby came along, I had been able to pare down everything and keep the most important things, which are on this list.  It made a huge difference in the feeling of overwhelm and reduced our clutter.

I followed both Lucie’s List and Pregnant Chicken, which were awesome. I can’t recommend them enough.  Add yourself to their mailing list.   They were fantastic to learn from.

I pretty much bought everything they recommended because I had no idea what I was getting myself into with my first baby.

What motivates me to provide a gender neutral / minimalist list?  

I HATE accumulating too much stuff.  And it happens really  quickly with kids. Clutter and “stuff” stresses me out. My goal is always to own items that I use at least once a week.  

I found the process of acquiring baby gear SO OVERWHELMING. There’s an entirely new vocab.  I bawled my eyes out twice. Picking out a stroller and picking out a car seat.

It wasn’t fun for me, even when it was just pinning on Pinterest.

People loved telling me what I would need and every time, I would answer with “What the hell is that?”  – Clueless.

There is no possible way to guess what you’ll need until you’ve gone through it, so this list is written with the knowledge of hindsight and is really written in a “advice for dummies” way because I was a dummy myself and had no f*cking idea what a jumperoo or a swaddler was.

Most of these items are gender neutral (read: Can be used by multiple children!)

 

Blanket #1

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Aiden & Anais Cotton Muslin Lightweight Swaddle Blankets

Swaddling is a word, and a magical art all in one.  That I did not learn until discharge day at the hospital.  Then the Aiden & Anais Swaddlers alllllllll made sense.

The cotton muslin gets silky soft the more you wash it, and these patterns do not fade.  Gender neutral too.  These wraps are wonderful to wrap up those go-go-gadget arms and legs, as well as cover the car seat, cover the stroller, cover your boobs for a feed – all sorts of things. They are nice and large.  There’s a reason people always buy these. They are just so multifunctional!

They’ll fit your baby from newborn up to 9 months.  I also used these blankets to lie on the ground for diaper changes (no need for a diaper pad) cover the stroller, cover the car seat, on planes, as a feeding / pumping cover by tying around my neck, and as head support in the car seat.  I STILL use them here and there.  These come in a pack of four, which I’d recommend – it lets you keep one in the car, one in the bedroom, one in the stroller and an extra put away.

aden + anais Classic Swaddle 4-Pack Twinkle

Blanket #2:

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This is a very large light fleece blanket that has travelled the world with us.  It’s been brilliant as a blanket for my kids and myself on planes, for picnics and beach time, and also as a make-do-tent on planes, by clipping it in the fold up seat tray.  It’s my  go-to for the stroller in cooler weather or as a blanket on cold nights.  It hasn’t pilled or lost its softness despite a gazillion washes.

Babies can get way too hot in fleece blankets, which are generally too thick and warm, but they loove snuggly blankets.  So this one is perfect.

Bonus is the fact that it is $2.99 at Ikea.  Seriously, best $3 I’ve ever spent. I’ll keep using this for myself.  Great couch throw.  Gender neutral colours also.

Ikea Link:

Krakris Throw Blanket Ikea

THAT’S IT.  NO MORE BLANKETS. YOU ARE DONE.

But sorry friend, you’ll get like 100000x blankets.  And stuffed toys.

People loooove buying you stuffed toys.

 

CLOTHES

You may have seen on Pinterest the “capsule wardrobe” concept.  Essentially, you pare down your wardrobe to a few high quality neutral items, which are mixed and matched with accessories.

This is a technique that greatly reduces clutter and simplifies life. If you apply this technique to your baby’s clothes it is a game changer!

LONG OR SHORT SLEEVED ONESIES

Invest in long sleeved body suits in neutral colours.  White, tan, grey, black. Whatever your preference. Buying them in four-packs is economical, working out to $5 each.  I have been impressed with Carters’ as a brand.

“>Carter’s 4 Pack Long Sleeve Baby Onesies – White

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It’s a little boring, isn’t it? Just buying super plain clothes.  But here’s where it gets fun. My life was changed when I bought a few Hug Me Sew Bibs from Etsy.

DROOL BIBS / DROOL SCARVES

I tried out a few brands and these are the best quality.

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These are cotton (fleece on the underside) bibs that you put on your little drooler.  They catch all of the drool, save you from doing an obscene amount of laundry, and all of a sudden you are accessorizing that simple onesie with a variety of adorable bibs that are way cheaper to buy than a bunch of clothing.

Hug Me Sew Drool Bibs

PANTS / LEGGINGS

Here’s a sample of a 2 pack you can buy in neutrals for a boy.  I tend to recommend Amazon for everything as I’ve found their prices cheaper.  You can get great deals in stores though, so if you love shopping (me) stop in when you are out and about – otherwise, Amazon will almost always be a better deal.  I also tend to recommend Carters or Baby Gap because they seem to hold together and resist fading better than other brands.

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Carters Baby Boys 2-Pack Pants Grey & Navy

WINTER BABIES

If you plan on going outside for walks in winter (I did a ton and am so glad, it kept me sane,)  just go for a “bunting bag.” I know, wtf, all this strange language right?  You learn a whole new vocab with a baby.

And again, go for one bigger so they last longer in it.  Make sure it has ears.  It is outrageously adorable and enjoyable looking at a baby bear in a stroller.’

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Carters Baby Bunting

ACCESSORIES

Babies  don’t need shoes until they walk, but they do need some kind of foot covering.  Especially if you are Canadian and will spend any time shuffling babies around in the cold weather.  The other thing I learnt is no matter what you put on those feet, the little mastermind creatures somehow get EVERYTHING off.

That is why I love Padraig knitted booties.  Yes, they are expensive.  I balked at the price and didn’t buy a pair till my 2nd born.  But here’s the thing. You buy a pair in the 6-12 month size and they are going to last your kid an ENTIRE year.

It doesn’t matter that they are too big when they are little…  it’s not like they are walking, and if they are in the car seat, or strorller, they are covered with a blanket anyways.

Hand crafted & stitched, you are supporting local business and you can throw them in the wash. Win, win and win.

Padraig Knitted Baby Booties

MISCELLANEOUS

I had no idea how tiny and blocked baby noses become.  If they get a cold, it’s actually quite stressful VERY STRESSFUL watching them struggle to breathe.  New parent trauma I’m telling you. lol.

I’m going to horrify you with this recommendation but a snot sucker is the best & fascinatingly disgusting thing you could possibly put in your medicine cabinet.  It’s absolutely disgusting yes, but it does the trick.

Especially if you “pre spray” your babies’ nasal cavities or drop some slightly saline water in there (which they’ll hate by the way.)

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After trying at least 5 different brands, I finally got the best one and man, does it work a thousand times better than any other.  Don’t go for the shitty $6.99 turkey baster style snot sucks in shoppers. GET THIS ONE:

Nose Frieda Snot Sucker.

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Baby Bottles & Pump (So many brands.  Personal preference. They all do the same thing)

Other useful additions to the medicine cabinet:

Gripe Water

Camilia Homeopathic teething drops

Baby / infant ibuprofen and acetominophen

A baby bottle cleaning brush * I just gone one, 2 kids later and wonder on a daily basis WHY THE HELL I did not get this sooner.

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Other miscellaneous items:

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A portable travel crib (lots of brands.  Personal preference = Phil & Teds travel crib)

A stroller (needs its own blog post. My favourite of 4 brands is still the Bob Stroller.)

A portable high chair – not necessary until 4 months.

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A car seat

A baby carrier (so many brands.  Personal preference = baby bjorn carrier one)

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A baby swing / “baby bouncer” **This is key to being able to cook and drink coffee.

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Toys

Each baby had different preferences with toys, so the requirement for this section was that both kids had to L-O-V-E both. These toys progress really nicely in age from 0-4 months, then 4-8 months, then 9 months plus.  These three items were a life saver for being able to prepare dinner and generally function as a human being!

Yes these start to take up a bit of room but these three toys provided endless entertainment when all other toys’ novelty wore off.

Also, if you are going for minimalist for the love of god don’t let people buy you stuffed animals.  They add up VERY quickly and babies never seem to want to play with them.

Activity Arch 0-4 months

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Exersaucer 4-8 months

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“Jumperoo” 8 Months+ *

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*my toddler still tries to climb in this.