Home Office Magic

Moving into a home office was an emotional choice more than anything, and one that took me almost 9 months to make.

You see, I’ve had an out of home studio my entire career. I never, and I really mean never, worked from home. Not even on weekends.

I always have had a really strong work/life boundary. I had to – I am terrible at compartmentalizing and when I do, it’s because if I don’t, it’s a disaster.

This really stems from the fact that my work and life has always overlapped for my entire childhood. My family – in construction for the first 10 years of my life and then full time cattle ranchers ever since – has always overlapped work and life. Work was life, and visa versa. And it worked! We built custom homes on land my parents owned and lived, so it just worked. We raised cows at home, and there were no “I’m off now so we aren’t going to go get that cow that got out on the side of the road” moments. It was more like, “Nicole, wake up. We need to go get the cow” and hope that we got to sleep at some point the rest of the night.

My life is full of work and home overlap – Adam works part time as a fishing guide after his day job, and that means he is gone on weekends, most evenings, and if he’s home, he’s out in the boat or shop working for the next trip.

This has always been my life, and I’ve loved it. Every second. But there was a time, when my family was grieving and recovering from tragedy and the line had to be set between work and life. Work waited, for the first time in my entire existence, and not just for me. Everyone I loved put work on hold, and came to live. It was temporary, and it was magical, and it was the hardest season of our lives.

This season, which we reflect on as “January 4th”, is the season when I found that I cannot compartmentalize. And that meant, I can’t really enjoy either piece of my life to its full potential, because my attention was never undivided. 

Don’t even get me started on how motherhood affects this – we’ve all had this conversation and Lord knows we’ve hashed it out quite a bit.

My point is – working from a studio helped me, made me, have that line. The no work at home, no home at work, line. And I thrived in that space.

My relationships were either work or friends, and when they overlapped, it normally ended in some sort of disappointment and I hated that. 

My work was work, my life was life, and I adored that balance.

Until, yes you guessed it, motherhood.

After having Joey, this balance worked for quite a while. He went to daycare at 8 months old, and for the next year, it was almost bliss. I dropped him off 2 and half days a week, and I worked SOLID during that time. When he was with me, I was with him and him only. 

But then, something in me shifted. Majorly shifted. I was yearning for him, and for Adam. My work suddenly contained a lot of life – aka, the blog, my IG, the JoJo, Mompreneur Course and ALL THE THINGS. 

The balance suddenly was off balance. And I was rocking, big time. The girls in the office were all in different life and business places than me. I was out of time, most of it spent in the car to and from home and work and daycare and gym. I was hungry and rarely had a moment to shower. I was living in work out clothes, and Joey was crying when I dropped him off.

And one day, with no alternative plan, I picked him up from daycare and told them we weren’t coming back. 

Four months and a whole lot of Joey and Nicole time talking about soul searching and big plans and dreams, I moved out of the studio I used to call my other home.

I did it alone, and I cried the entire time. I packed up my Jeep with what had been my entire career, and it all fit into one load. I moved from a 1,000 square foot studio space with dear, dear friends, and moved home to my family and into a corner of the living room with extremely slow internet.

Friend, I have never been happier. 

Instead of feeling like I’m missing out on my family, I almost feel like I want to get away. And I know, I know, that sounds terrible, but it’s blissful. Wanting to get away is so much better than wanting back in, knowing you can’t. I have finally made my home my true home. My work is my life again, and it’s a welcome addition.

But since that corner of the living room was definitely not enough for this big dreaming, career driven mompreneur, Adam graciously gave up his hunting room and helped me put together a tiny little studio, all to myself.

It’s a mere 200 square feet, and all mine.

And just as an update, I left every piece of furniture I had for the studio, at the studio. I’ll grab it whenever the girls decide to leave, but for now, it’s better loved there than in a storage unit down the street.

I did the entire home studio for under $300, and it’s just magical. Take a little tour and I hope you love its cozy, modern vibe as much as I do every single day.

And because I know you guys will want to know some of these things…

Hustle Season - OUT

 
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Hustle season – OUT.

Thank goodness. It was long. And hard. And so wonderful. But I’ve been tired…

As Adam and I were driving home the other night from dinner, the moment I realized my hustle season had officially ended, he asked me if I could list off all the things that we did during Hustle.

And as I did, I realized that I really needed to write them down, solely so I could look back on this one day and know, “Yes you can, Nicole. Yes you can.”

I kept talking, like normal, to Adam, and when he pulled into the driveway, he looked at me and literally dropped his jaw.

“That’s so much. Even I had no idea you did that much.”

No wonder I’ve been so freakin’ tired.

But as I transition into this season of Rest, I’m feeling so excited and relieved and rested already.

Earlier, during Hustle, I reached a tipping point and almost had a burn out, but made it through. I was so disappointed when that moment hit me, and I realized I wasn’t done with what I wanted to do during my season. I felt angry, disappointed in myself, and tired. I didn’t want this to be over. 

So I kept going, and friend, it was so worth it. Because this time, when I realized I was ending Hustle, I felt HAPPY.

I felt proud and accomplished and relieved. Much better emotions than before.

I am so looking forward to this season of Rest. I have some projects, soul projects, for this season that I’m excited about. Like painting the kitchen cabinets and cooking and reading and moving my office home.

But as I wrap my own brain around all of this, I realize that there is so much I haven’t really shared with all of you, my amazing tribe! 

And while this little list doesn’t contain the entire hustle, it’s the big ones, and I’m so excited to officially share most of them.

We launched The Mompreneur LLC!

 

And though this is basically just a name for legal purposes, The Mompreneur LLC is going to be doing some pretty amazing stuff. Such as:

The JoJo infant and toddler lounger and cosleeper.

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Adam and I have designed a brand new, and pretty perfect, baby sleeper! Designed right here in our living room and inspired by Joey, of course, the JoJo is the baby sleeping secret. Similar in purpose to the renowned DockATot or SnuggleMe, the JoJo is meant to provide a safe and secure, and most importantly effective, place for baby to sleep. More details to drop soon, but this is what you need to know right now:

The JoJo will be launching next month, and will be available on our own site as well as Amazon! 

We will be giving a way a whoooooole bunch of them right off the bat in exchange for some verified reviews on Amazon, so if you want one for free, you should jump on the bandwagon HERE.

The JoJo is a safe and perfect sleeping space for newborns up to over 2 years old. We have had babies on day 1 fall asleep and stay asleep wonderfully, all the way to toddlers (Joey still sleeps in his, and our friend’s 3 year old sleeps in hers too!)

Mompreneur : The Course!

 

This is my favorite, you guys. Mompreneur : The Course is now available, and I swear, it’s the best course out there. Here’s why:

I made this course myself, from scratch, and from experience. 

I’m working with the first group of mommas now to create the rest of the course to fit exactly what every mompreneurs needs are. Nothing, and I mean nothing, will be left out.

It’s a do-at-your-own-pace, but an entire YEAR’S worth of content, of course, broken down by mompreneur seasons – Hustle, Rest, Growth and Pruning.

I am moving out of the studio in Chico and working from home full time.

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I’ve never done this working from home thing, but I’m feeling so at peace about this decision and timing. We are working on making a little office in the house and getting it all together as a serene place for me to do my thing. 

The Mompreneur Podcast

If you have been living under a rock, you may not know this. But nonetheless, it's true! Sweet Rachel and I have a podcast and it's awesome. You should listen every Monday. We're pretty funny if I do say so myself.

So, friends, that is the gist of it. And there’s A LOT of little things within all those things, but these are def the top badass things we’ve been able to do in the last 3 months.

I’m so excited to take you all on this journey with me and my little family! What a total honor.


And in case you’re a skimmer, and looking for quick links, here ya go friend ;)

Influencers

Boss Moms

Friends

13 Weeks to Goal Time

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Accountability is something that can feel like the dreamer’s worst nightmare.

Many days, entrepreneurs and lone biz owners and creative dreamers work alone. This allows procrastination and excuses to take over, and for self-discipline to fly right out the window.

At least that’s my struggle.

And I actually have a team to keep hold me accountable. My ladies in the studio are my partners in crime, and we keep each other in check quite often. However, that’s only if we share our dreams and plan with each other, and sometimes, there just isn’t enough time or brain space to keep all these details straight for one another.

This year was a huge transition in my business. I went from graphic design agency to a one woman show - mompreneur blogger and biz coach. With this shift came big changes in goals and dreams and ideas, and the road to get there was unknown and scary to me.

I needed a new way to outline my new goals, and the steps to get there. Enter, the Best Self Journal.

I should note that this is not a sponsored post. I really, really just love this planner, and think it’s the perfect tool for anyone making this shift in dream shaking.

The most wonderful thing about this planner is that it helped me to articulate my goals, and the steps to get there, in a very real and understandable way. Best part? It keeps the WHY at the forefront of each goal. Why do I want to do this? As a lover of the WHY, I love that I can refer to this when I feel a little lost or unmotivated or like I’m failing. And I love that there is a timeframe attached – 13 weeks.

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What My Goals Are

Launch and sell digital NHQ products and services

Nicole&Co. site and store live

Write and publish 25 blogs

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How Am I Doing

  1. This goal has changed shape a little bit, and instead of launching NHQ products online, I decided to shift that into offering Nicole&Co. business coaching services and products. But it’s going wonderfully so far. After being able to outline and articulate my services, I was able to list them online, price them for potential clients, and even start working with some new businesses. What’s left to do? The product side. I still need to transition some of my NHQ products into Nicole&Co. branded products and list them for sale on the site.
  2. Welp, this one happened quickly! The Nicole&Co. site is live, and the store is almost there! I have my list of products, some are designed, none are printed and ready to ship. So, a little left to do on that, but way over halfway!
  3. Again, this goal shifted. Instead of working to publish 25 blogs, I decided to make this an affiliate or product based goal. My new end game is to generate some passive income with affiliates and paid writing gigs. So far, so great. I can’t wait to see where this one takes me as time goes on.
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Other Things I Love About the Journal

  1. Short To-Do list each day. 3 most important things get listed, and that’s my list. I love that I don’t feel like I need to fill space with lists, but instead keep my eye on the prize, and accomplish the things that will get me towards my goals.
  2. Time blocking. Instead of lists, this journal promotes the intentional use of time. My most productive days are when I outline and fill my time slots. Even if I’m filling them with things like “Mommy time” or “gym” or even “travel to and from work,” I know what I’m doing, when, and why.
  3. Weekly review. This is my favorite part. In the beginning of the week, I outline 5 things, and how many times that week I want to accomplish them. Mine are usually: gym (5), write (3), Insta post (6), design product (2), affiliate (1). At the end of the week, I am able to calculate what I accomplished, if I hit my goal, and how I can do better next week.
  4. That I can skip a week. The journal is undated, so I can take a week off if needed (which I did). This made my 13 weeks into 14 weeks total, but I didn’t work towards anything during the week I took off. I literally went on vacation, and didn’t feel pressured into my timeframe.

So, if you're looking to set some pretty serious goals and MAKE THEM HAPPEN, I highly suggest using this badass tool. 

Want one?

GO HERE! 

Anxiety's Name is Money

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So I’m sitting in the studio, working away on fun things – like vectorizing this awesome drawing of a woman with a braid, or researching moleskin journals to have embossed, or creating a wireframe for this new community center website.

Then, I remember it’s Monday, and that means admin. So I do the necessary things of creating some invoices for some recent projects and orders, returning some overdue emails and wrapping up some final files for some spec work I did.

But admin Monday also means I have to deal with real money. And this Monday, it means rent.

I handle all the moola stuff for the office. As in, paying all the bills, making sure we don’t get evicted for having a late rent check and collecting rent and utility money from my great office mates. But to do this, I have to do math, and that stresses me out. And I also have to look at my bank statement. Which means I have to see what the balance is. Which means…

Money gives me anxiety. Money also makes me happy. It’s a love hate relationship. But at this very moment, when I type my username into the little online banking window, and go to press Login, my heart literally ends up in my throat. My heart starts beating really fast, my pupils dilate and I feel dizzy, like I could throw up right here, right now. In an office full of people, clients included. In broad daylight, in my safe space, surrounded by people I love, I had a full blown anxiety attack.

You see, I know what my panic attacks feel like, and I can feel them coming on like a freaking freight train. I know I have a hard time stopping them, and most of the time, once I’m in it, I have to lock myself in a dark room and cry before it passes. To stop them, even if it’s at all possible, I have to distract myself. Fast.

I also have to make sure that there aren’t other underlying issues causing my freak out moment. And then ask myself if I hydrated myself adequately today. And have I had enough to eat, or is my blood sugar plummeting along with my sanity.

Ya, this ain’t my first rodeo.

And they are so stupid. To me, anyway. I mean, I just had an anxiety attack because I was too afraid to look at my bank account balance. I know it’s fine, I’m not overdrawn. I haven’t made any extraordinary purchases that would surprise me. I haven’t received an alert in my email telling me I’m too low, or that there was unverified activity, or that I couldn’t make a payment.

It’s fine. It’s totally fine. Yet, I can’t look. Physically cannot press Login.

So I didn’t. I gave up. I walked away. I went over to the couch and drank some water and looked at some photos of Joey.

Then I prayed. Then I remembered this conversation I had just hours earlier with a dear friend.

Just give it up to Him. Whatever your turmoil, your struggle, your fear. Give it up to Him.

Jesus is not telling me that in order to live a full and wonderful life, that I have to “face my fears.” He’s telling me that I need to let Him handle it. Pass it to Him, and give myself grace.

I gave my fear to Him today. Or at least I tried. Even as I write this, my hands are still shaky. I feel like I need a shot or a nap or a cup of coffee. I think I’m more frustrated that I’m not a “secure” enough person to look at my own bank account balance. That I manage. That I put money into, and take money out of. That number is not a reflection of who I am. Nor how hard I work. Nor my value to Him. It’s just a stupid number.

Anxiety can be so scary. It’s something I deal with Every. Single. Day. And money usually plays a part. Or lack of time.

And to those who also have this struggle. You are not alone. I am here, sitting on the couch, dealing with the aftermath of an anxiety attack, knowing that the rest of my day might be shot to hell because I have to deal with what feels like an anxiety hangover.

And to those who don’t… well… are there any of you?

Collaborative Studio Space in Chico

It’s no secret – creative hearts crave collaboration and an inspirational work space.

Studio 22 and CES Weddings and Events are opening up their collaborative studio space in the heart of Chico to fellow creatives who are looking for a place to call “work.”

We have found that sharing a space has led to amazing synergy and growth in our businesses, independently and together. While we own and operate our own businesses, being able to share the experience day to day and along the way has been a great joy that we want to offer to other business owners.

What’s the Space Like?

It is 1,000 square feet of open space, with walls lined with workstations.
Three designated meeting spaces (living room style, conference table, small round table).
Significant natural light through Esplanade viewing glass windows.
Modern, eclectic and stylish décor.
Of course: fully furnished, great WiFi, heating and air conditioning, water, landscaping and a stocked bar.
The studio is by appointment only, keeping flexible hours and no scheduled “open” time.

 

What’s Available?

We have 2 full-time stations available and 2 flex stations available.

 

What’s Full-Time and Flex?

Full-time – You have access to a permanent, designated work station as well as the entire space for use. No designated hours – come when you want! Meeting spaces, storage and all amenities available for you.

Flex – You will have access to a transitioning work station that will be shared with another creative. Designated hours will need to be set to avoid conflict. Have access to the entire space while you’re here, too. You will have studio access up to 15 hours per week. Meeting spaces and all amenities available for you.

 

How Does It Work?

We keep a studio calendar in order to make scheduling work for everyone. Meetings, flex station hours, photoshoots and messy work days can be scheduled through this system.

 

What’s It Like In Here?

We are faithful, empowering, committed entrepreneurs who are passionate about our work, our community and our families.
The space is high energy and lively, yet intimate and respectful of time, space and privacy.
We like to collaborate, help each other in business and life, and encourage one another.
It’s very family oriented in here – babies, families, nannies, husbands and friends are a part of the everyday.

 

Wondering If You’ll Fit In?

We are looking for brand new, newish, experienced or seasoned business owners. Bring on those in the creative, wedding, design (graphic, interior, fashion or otherwise), photography, consulting, non-profit, tech, retail industries. Did we miss anything? You’re welcome, too!
Kind, service oriented, compassionate personalities are preferred.
Though the studio is a casual atmosphere, professionalism is a priority.

 

Details:

Interested? Fill out the application below and we’ll set up a coffee date to get to know each other.

 

Price:

Full-time stations are $350 per month and include EVERYTHING (all utilities, cleaning, amenities). Your own computer is about all you’ll need. Lease is month-to-month. We understand things change, just give us 30 days notice before you leave.

Flex stations are $200 per month and include EVERYTHING (all utilities, cleaning, amenities). Your own computer is about all you’ll need. Lease is month-to-month. We understand things change, just give us 30 days notice before you leave. Scheduling is done on a first come, first serve basis.

APPLY HERE!

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Example: family, faith, working for purpose

Don't Lean Too Far

Let’s talk this out.

Owning a business is effing hard. Like, so hard. I watch my sweet sweet ladyboss friends out there, working their little cute butts off, and they are kicking some serious booty. And me too, but it’s hard to be objective about your own life. Frankly, I’m not sure if I’m kicking booty or not, and I’m definitely not sure where my butt stands on the cute scale at the moment (5 months postpartum makes you seriously hesitant about looking at your backside).

Sometimes it’s easy to be honest, usually when things are going great and you feel like a badass and your bank account is flush and the work keeps coming and time goes a little slower. And then there are the days when time goes so fast that you can literally hear it whiz by your ear like a bee. Your bank account looks about like the number on the scale, which is too high on the scale but too low in the account. Sheez. It’s hard to catch a break sometimes.

Other times it’s hard to be real. When asked, “How’s your business going?”, you actually have the instinct to throw a punch. What nerve?! But really, you have to evaluate whether that person really wants to know or not, and then decide whether you give an authentic answer or not, and then finally be able to articulate your answer either way. Seriously, sometimes just simple conversation seems like you’re riding into battle with your hands tied behind your back.

I love it when my friends are honest. This is a real emotional roller coaster, owning a business. It feels elating all the while feeling like a burden. And we’ve all been on the fence, leaning strongly to one side (the “get a real job” side), when someone suddenly jumps up and grabs your pinky finger and somehow pulls you back the other way. I always seem to land face first, nose in the dirt, and then quickly pop up, hoping that nobody saw my embarrassing tumble.

You guys, I’m leanin’ hard. Someone grab my pinky finger. I’ll gladly land face first today, and then maybe I’ll linger there for a bit, because the sweet smell of fresh dirt is better than the stale smell of a stuffy office job.

I know this. I know I’ll land on the right side. I know that I’ll rise again, and sprint towards the other side of the pasture where all the cool kids are. Maybe it’s the risk that gets me… the leaning so far that you feel like you might fall but know you won’t. Like roller coasters; how far sideways can we go before you flip over?

My son’s greatest challenge right now is learning how to sit up straight without falling backwards. He always falls, and on a big comfy cushy blanket, and then he laughs. One day soon, he won’t fall, and instead stay up straight and the risk of falling will be mitigated.

But how do we mitigate our risk of falling?

Answer: I don’t think we can. Risk is part of the game. It’s the David and Goliath of the real world. Risk is big, but bravery is mighty. You can do a lot with a little strategy, a little faith and a whole lot of bravery.

Pep talk, over.

Meanwhile, I’m going to sit on the bed with Joey tonight and practice sitting up straight. And when he falls backwards, I will too. Because it’s soft and cushy and the risk has been totally mitigated.

 

Let's Be Honest

Let’s start this new blog fresh.

Let’s start it with brutal honesty, and real life talk.

Being a business owner is effing hard. 

My husband showed me a chart the other day he saw on Facebook, and I almost fell over from the sheer overwhelmingness that someone else felt the way I do. I made my own version for your enjoyment:

But, being a business owner is not all we have in our lives. As entrepreneurs, leaders and bosses, we still have a life. Like, a real life with husbands and families and dirty kitchens and pregnant bellies that move (weird) and furniture we can’t really afford on backorder.

Real life. Outside of the office. 

Sometimes I feel like that’s not even a real thing. Like being at work is one life and coming home is another. And wouldn’t it be great if we could differentiate the two that clearly? I mean, I wish I could compartmentalize Olivia Pope style. She’s so freaking good at it, it’s not fair. Ya ya, she’s a tv character, but still.

So there’s work, and life, and work life. 

Work is stressful. And wonderful. It has its ups and downs and we work dang hard to keep up with the emails and orders and phone calls and proposals and book keeping, all the while doing the actual “work” stuff, like the design, photoshoots, wire framing and consulting we are supposed to be doing that actually makes us the money we so desperately need to organize. Dang, the vicious circle.

I feel like I kind of have that under control…. like after so many years of reading about how to prioritize and get to the bottom of your to-do list strategies and Accounting for Dummies has actually paid off. 

And life… I mean, let’s be real, is never really under control. It’s life. There are always dishes and laundry and dirty floors. And husbands that want to buy more fishing lures and babies on the way that we really think we can totally make time for… You know, good parenting sh*t and all that jazz. Totally. I can handle that. Bring it.

But what about work life?

I share an office with 3 AMAZING ladies. Three of my very best friends, my soul mates, my partners, my kindred spirits. And they are all so different from each other.

We have 6 businesses operating out of one office, 1,000 square feet of dream incubation. 

However, the 4 of us, never mind our four different teams, four sets of clients, four sets of parents and siblings and significant others, populate our space on an everyday basis.

And we are all women. In four very different seasons of life.

But we are all struggling right now. Like, really really struggling. And all with such different things, and sometimes we simply don’t know how to support each other, and sometimes can’t even find the emotional space to help one another.

If we all were the typical “American” life story, we would go in sequential order, everyone having their place in life, in line. And dealing with such life struggles that come along with that season. 

However, it hasn't always been this way, and sometimes the massive “out of order” throws us for never ending loops. Like we are on the Chutes and Ladders game of real life, and oh what we would give to just skip that last chute… or make the choice to not climb that ladder…

In our office right now, we have lost parents, husbands living far away, babies on the way, growing businesses, home purchases, technical difficulties, team dynamics, an upcoming wedding season, travel plans to coordinate, day care issues, and that was just yesterday.

It’s hard. We want to support each other. We need to support each other. So sometimes, when in a single day, you have work, life and work life, you just have to lay in bed at night and ask God for peace in your heart, and in the ones’ you love. Pray that you can find the room, the strength and the patience to be the support your loved ones need in their struggle, and that they will do the same for you.

So today, as I step into the office, I will not worry about channeling my inner Olivia Pope, and I will instead remember that my friends need me, and I need them. That love will show through, no matter what. That’s what our purpose is, after all.

I think that little chart not only applies to business ownership. I think it goes well with life, too. 

So my dear Jodi, please enjoy your Mommy Bailey day while your little girl twirls in her tutu and dance class and enjoys her lunch time cookie. 

 

 

 

 

 

My love, Carey. The laser is your friend, and FreshBash is so incredibly lucky to have you and your dreamy ambitions. As am I.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heidi, honey, may your talents shine bright today as your hard work presents itself to your clients. Be proud of what you’ve made, and the work you’ve put in. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To my team, God bless you. I could NOT have done any of this without you. You are my bright lights, my saving graces and my dream team.

And Baby Andreini, if it’s at all possible, please don’t squeeze my bladder today, I have a long meeting that I’d like to get through. And I promise to pay more attention to you when we get home.