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…

It's Fine. Totally Fine.

 
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I’m calling you out, girl.

You haven’t watched Mompreneur Masterclass. 

I hear you. That’s ok. It’s fine. 

Really, it’s fine.

First of all, if you’re a woman, you know that when another woman says “It’s fine,” she’s lying. And also, it’s not fine. 

The only valid reason for not watching Masterclass is if you are completely and totally content with the way your life as a mompreneur is going, and have no complaints, don’t need improvement in any area of your life and think that every single day is a freaking ray of golden sunshine.

I told you, I’m calling you out.

I KNOW that this isn’t true. Girl, it ain’t true for ANYBODY. Including me, you, my mom and your mom and even those perfect looking moms on Instagram.

Listen, we all need help. We all need someone to tell us that we aren’t alone, and that we aren’t perfect, and that we don’t need to be.

The only true way to become better humans is by WORKING to become better humans. Self improvement, happiness, contentment and education don’t come to us because we sit and let the world pass us by. No, these things come to those who put their own self-care ahead of other things. Ahead of client work, ahead of Bachelorette, ahead of story time.

I know. I just touched a nerve, right?

That’s ok. Do I have your attention now?

When was the last time you put yourself first? The last time you said, I’m going to spend my day working on improving MY OWN LIFE, and not someone else’s?

The ONLY way to be there for our families, for our clients, for our teams, for our God, is to be the best version of ourselves ALL THE TIME. Or at least, as often as we can.

Don’t get me wrong. After two glasses of wine, I’m not the best version of myself. I’m not my best version when I forget to take my anxiety medicine, or when I don’t go to the gym, or when I choose to watch Friends all day instead of the other things I should be doing.

I am not the best version of myself when I tell my husband, “not tonight, babe.” I’m not the best version of myself when I put my toddler down for a nap he may not need because I need some alone time. 

But working daily to be BETTER than we were yesterday is the only way I know how to be my best version. 

Are you sitting here now going, “Well, shit. I’m not working to be a better version of myself at all right now.” Are you still in your sweats and had your husband drop off the kids at school and having your third cup of coffee and thinking about stopping reading this and scrolling Facebook instead?

Told you. Calling you out hardcore this morning.

What if you took the next hour, or your lunch hour, or your hour before bed or the hour that you feel like your husband spends on the toilet (ya…), and watched something that would help you to become a better version of yourself TODAY?

Would you watch it?

I think you should. And not because it’s my Masterclass. But because I want you – beautiful amazing capable Godly momma – to be happier WITH YOURSELF. To feel accomplished, to feel valued and valuable. To not go to bed tonight, dreading the fact that you have to do this all again tomorrow, and already tired. 

I want you to live in joy EVERY SINGLE MOMENT. To eliminate guilt, overwhelm and time loss. I want you to feel better about yourself, TODAY. 

So, you haven’t watched Mompreneur Masterclass.

That’s ok. It’s fine.

Hustle Season

 
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This blog is supposed to be about the season of hustle, and how to manage it while also being a mom and so many other roles I currently play.

But listen.

It’s the night before this post is supposed to go live. And I’m sitting here working to upload and match a photo and craft my IG caption and tweet and YouTube snippet. And I just can’t. Because I’m sitting here, crying.

God, I feel like such a girl. Like, whoa, pull it together. Your husband doesn’t cry, slouched over on the floor outside your over-tired toddler’s bedroom door while he complains that he’s not ready for bed.

And now, I just heard my toddler drop his binky on the floor, which means I’m going to have to stop mid-writing to go and soothe him and give him his binky back and start this process ALL. OVER. AGAIN.

Hold please.

Ok, now that he’s asleep, finally.

I’m in a season of major hustle. I’ve got some crazy dreams that need executing NOW. Not later. And so, was born about three weeks ago, my season of hustle.

I know this season is temporary, and it took me a long time to embrace the hustle season for this reason ­– it will fade. But as I grow, as a mom and an adult and a wife and a believer, I have learned to understand that we go through phases, just as our toddlers do. Nothing lasts. And if we don’t embrace where we are RIGHT NOW, it will pass us by.

We can either take advantage of the moment, or we can wait for the next.

I do not have time to wait. I got sheez to do.

Let’s clarify a few things:

  1. One. I am referring to hustle as an emotional state of mind. The physical interpretation of hustle means that you are exerting yourself beyond your normal rate of speed, intensity and strength. I am implying that you are EMOTIONALLY doing this. That your brain, heart and soul are working hard, running at an intense pace and moving fast.
  2. Two. A season of hustle means nothing unless it’s fueled by passion.
  3. Three. Once in the depths of a hustle season, there is no need to explain it to others. Your actions have spoken for themselves, and very rarely is anyone wondering why you’re extra tired, extra snippy or extra late to literally everything. They know, you’re hustling, and they don’t need to ask why.

The point.

Hustling when you’re a mom (or dad), a business owner, and a cognitive human being means that you have other responsibilities that outperform your desire to hustle.

Because kids get sick. Bills are still due. And we all know that your skin needs to be moisturized, girl. Now is not the time to be skimping on the undereye cream.

How. How are we supposed to do this? How are we supposed to hustle without the end result being us, sick and bedridden and wondering why we pushed ourselves too hard and why our kids are revolting against us as we try and feed them healthy food?

How. This is a great question.

The season of hustle comes with many a sacrifice, but it also means that we can live a little more intentionally.


Things that can wait in a season of hustle:

Housework

 By the end of your emotional hustle, your house will look like a bomb went off. Your husband will be asking you why there are no more spoons, and why the kids’ milk has soured in the fridge. This is ok, because as soon as your hustle ends, which it will, you will throw out the old milk and the spoons will get washed. And in the meantime, your kids can, and will, drink water instead and eat their cereal with their hands, albeit quite messy. And that mess, you will clean up another time.

Social time

Sorry, friends. Ain’t got no emotional energy to give your right now. This is literally the text I send my group of friends in our group text when I hit a hustle season. They get it. They know. And they also happen to show up and clean up my kids’ cereal mess when it deems I’ve gone a little too far.

Leisure time

This is what Hulu was made for. I firmly believe that Hulu was invented for people like me. I have no time to watch Grey’s when I’m in hustle mode. None. But thanks to Hulu, when I’ve exited my tunnel of hustle, my playlist is waiting for me when I can’t sleep at 3 am, like a deacon of reward for many a week spent neglecting my DVR.

Wife time

Yes, wife time. You can’t neglect Mom time (see below), but wife time can wait. You see, your husband is an adult (I hope), and he will understand when you need to step back for a bit. So long as it’s clear that this is a season, not a permanent fixture, your husband will be likely pretty supportive of a more productive and prosperous future that you are currently hustling for. With that comes more dinners by dad, a lot less bedtime fun, and a substantial amount of bedtimes brought to you by Chuggington.

The gym

For most, like me, the regular gym routine is paramount. I have big gym goals, very similar to my business goals in intensity. However, my gym goals don’t make me money. Or further my passion for helping others in their businesses. Right now anyway. So when I enter a season of hustle, sometimes my gym routine takes a hit. And though it’s really hard to swallow, I know that I will find my way back when there is an opening. In the meantime, I dial down my meals, drink a ton of water and WALK EVERYWHERE. The more you do, the more you gain, right?

Taxes

I realize I may get heat for this. But since my current season of hustle fell smack dab in the middle of tax season, and I was not prepared for either, I casually asked my CPA to file an extension for me. Very little harm and no fowl, and I get to put filing my taxes on another month’s to-do list. I was prepared, nonetheless, but my hustle took priority over spending a day or two getting my taxes together to send to my CPA and then worry about what I may or may not owe. This is something that can wait until after my hustle is over and I have time and space to digest.

Things that can’t wait in a season of hustle:

Dinner with your family

I don’t care if you order takeout, eat from a freezer or make the time to cook each night, but dinner is not negotiable. Many times, I will literally turn around from my desk and eat my dinner at the table with my family and turn right back around. But, I never turned around DURING dinner. The fact that I know this is temporary is most important. My son won’t remember the times I hurried to finish dinner, but he will remember that I ate dinner with him, albeit fast.

Sleep

If you’re tired, sleep. The end.

Food

This is my biggest fault. I don’t eat when or as often as I should. And when I’m in a hustle, it’s even worse. And when I’m not gymming because I’m in a hustle, it’s even worse. Food CANNOT WAIT. Feed yourself. And feed yourself well. If you’re hustling a much as I think you are, you need more than jelly beans and wine to sustain you. Though, I have launched many an idea on those two substances alone, I will still claim that getting some green juice and a cheese stick is probably a good idea.

Paying client work

Payday than what you’re celebrating now, but trust me, it takes a long time and a wishful dream to convince PG&E that you’ll pay them when your hustle season is over. And your hustle season is a “moo point” if you can’t sell it to anybody in the end because you never followed through on the job they paid your for to begin with.

Mom time

You cannot mom and work in the same moment. And if you think that you do, you’re doing it wrong. If you are momming and working simultaneously,  you’re not putting your heart and soul into either. Mom time cannot and will not wait. Your baby needs you. Right now. Not later. Right. Now.


Ok, ok. But really. How in the heck do you make these decisions on the go?!

I’m going to help you. After a multitude of hustle seasons lately, I decided to needed something to help me make almost split second decisions on how to proceed in my hustle or life. Alas, the hustle flowchart. And like my “should I wash my hair today” flowchart, this one hangs prominently on my bathroom mirror and is used almost daily during a season of hustle.

GET YOUR HUSTLE FLOWCHART HERE

I hope you print and hand and use and share, because I promise it will help you make those tough choices we hustlers must make.

xoxo

Beneficial Baby Budget

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Full disclosure – we didn’t really do much of the “budget baby” situation. I didn’t buy anything used, we purchased what we need on Amazon Prime for full price and never looked back. I had an Honest diaper subscription for the first year and paid an extraordinary amount for glass bottles and rubber Natursutton nipples.

However, now that we are in a parenting groove, we’ve learned a few tips and tricks. I will admit, some things are worth paying for. Those glass bottles and those expensive pacifiers, for instance, since they were the only ones Joey would take. And to be honest, I felt better not putting weird chemicals and plastic in his mouth all the time.

Other super expensive things that come with baby? Formula (if you don’t have the privilege of a great breastfeeding experience), diapers and wipes, and contraptions to hold them.

These are the things that dented our budget. That overdrew our checking account, that made it so we could only eat ramen for a lengthy bit of time. I wish I was kidding.

However, this was a situation I was glad to be in, looking back. I felt really good about how we were raising our newborn, and there were things I wasn’t willing to sacrifice for him, but would definitely sacrifice for us. Hence, ramen.

If you’re on a major budget, I am probably not the best example. I prefer to be totally transparent, so whether this makes you like me more or not, it is the truth.

Fast forward into toddlerhood, and we are no longer in the initial – first parent of a newborn scared of everything wondering if we are doing it wrong – phase. No, we are officially in the – how can we save some more money for private school or college without having to eat ramen – phase. I like this phase a lot more.

Some things still apply – Joey’s primary cup is made of stainless steel (not plastic), he uses the same expensive pacifiers, though I can’t remember the last time I replaced them, and many of his clothes are from the used clothing store in town.

Alternatively, we now buy Kirkland brand diapers and wipes, feed him whole milk instead of formula and prefer to let him wander instead of containing his wild being.

Though probably not mainstream, I do want to share our three most beneficial baby budget tips for toddlers.

  1. Joey has had a horrible time with diapers. He HATES getting his diaper changed, and for the longest time, we couldn’t figure out why. No major diaper rash, no irritation. But then it hit me – it hurts when I wipe him! The wipes themselves hurt.
    1. We can’t afford the expensive, sensitive skin, fragrance free wipes. I mean, we go through them like we do blueberries (Joey is quite messy, if you haven’t noticed).  And on top of that, I can’t afford the time to make my own wipes from fabric scraps and soap.
    2. What did I do? I kept the buttload of Kirkland wipes I had, and added a quarter cup of extra water to his diaper warmer. THEN, I added a tablespoon of coconut oil to the top of the pack and let it seep all the way through. It took two days and his little bum is much happier. Sometimes, I even add some coconut oil to the diaper I’m about to put on him, for extra measure. Soft bum, happy mum.
  2. Meals. Food for babies. It’s freaking expensive. Especially if you buy the pre-packaged snacks “made for toddlers” at the store. Give yourself a baby boy with the energy of a navy seal and you’ve got yourself broke as a joke.
    1. Joey snacks on meal-type foods. The only snacks that are really in our cupboards are dried fruit and granola bars. Throw in some Goldfish and some sweet potato chips and we have ourselves a snack party.
    2. For most snacks, Joey eats things like mandarins, avocados and parsnip fries. Believe it or not, fruit and vegetables are way cheaper than pre-packages snack foods. I know that this saves us a pretty penny, and keeps our cupboards and bodies clean.
  3. Finally, strategic child care. And when I say strategic, I mean PLANNED SO WELL THAT FRIENDS THINK WE HAVE NO FLEXIBILITY.
    1. An entire section of the upcoming Mompreneur Ecourse is focused on strategic childcare. That’s how important I think this is. It will cost more than enough to find childcare, nevermind actually pay for said childcare. Your time is money, literally, so have a plan and don’t spend your evening scrambling for a babysitter for the next morning.
    2. Figure out what you have in your budget for daycare, and then use it. It’s worth more than you think to have that sort of reliability in your life. Then, when needed, use the remaining days to take advantage of grandmas and friends and sitters. I get more done in the two days Joey goes to daycare than any other day, simply because I have the reliability of those days. 8-6, no matter what. That’s worth the few hundred dollars a month for me, even if I don’t get to work the other days at all.

I told you they were not mainstream J But this is what has been the most beneficial for us, as a family of three. We are small, and not super tight with money, this I know. But these are the tools we’ve implemented to keep our baby and ourselves healthy, on budget and happy.

xoxo

Rest

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This post is inspired in whole by Sadie, my dear friend who has taught me the true meaning of rest, replenishment and self-care.

Tonight, as I sit here in my bed wayyy past my bedtime, I’m reflecting on my year.

And mostly, on how we all hold these extreme expectations for the end of the year. Examples?

Let’s talk creative biz clients. Business owners always have big plans for the end of the year. We are going to send out a brand spanking new mailer, all the bells and whistles, the first of the year. We are going to launch our new line. The new site will be live and the product shop will have made way over our projections by December 29th.

Let’s talk our own work. My books are going to be up to date, I will have completed my 2018 power sheets and goal setting strategy and be on track to start my new year off right with social media campaigns. All of my 2017 projects will be finished, billed and paid.

Let’s talk deadlines. The timeline on the contract says “hope to launch before Christmas.” The job was done and wrapped up with a neat little bow and delivered like a present on Christmas morning and my client checked their email during unwrapping with their children and was so happy to have had it completed for that day that they sent me flowers as a thank you!

Let’s talk health, and food. We won’t overeat. We will have discipline and not eat all the cookies. We will KEEP our workout schedule and if our jeans begin to feel a little tight, we will restrain from yet another cinnamon roll for breakfast and instead eat a yogurt.

Let’s talk relationships. I will be gifting everyone I love something this year, even if it is something small. I will make sure to call all my relatives on Christmas, or even Christmas Eve, and have my Thank you notes written before they get back from their Christmas travels. My husband will know how much I love him because I got him the greatest gift that we was not expecting, and he will love me so much to get me the gift I really wanted but didn’t tell him I wanted. The Christmas blessing will be flawless and my dad will praise me later for doing such a great job. No fights will be had around the dinner table and no one will flake last minute and not show up.

Did any of these things come true?

Didn’t think so.

Why do we do this to ourselves?! This is a legitimate question.

You guys! This is unreasonable. This is way too much pressure!

Winter, these deep dark days of little light and warmth are not meant for us to “thrive.” Yet, we put this weight on our shoulders that just because the man made calendar year is ending, we have to be “complete” too.

Shame on us! If we really listened to our bodies, our hearts and minds and souls, here is what we would hear:

“Take reprieve from the light, and learn to love the darkness. Reach deep within yourself, and rest. Rest with the intent of work, but the work is yet to be done. Use these long nights as they are meant to be used, with sleep and recovery and growth. Darkness invites us to lay low, to take cover from all the bustle of nature and light and competition. In darkness, we use our own nourishment and heal. The cold brings hibernation, a way of living death, so that we may naturally rest, recover and learn to grow again, once the warmth and light hits our souls.”

Yet, here we are, working the week after Christmas. Working the week after our Savior celebrated His human arrival on Earth. Do you think Mary worked that week? I don’t think so. I think she was so astounded by the fact that she, the virgin Mary, birthed a child, the Child of God, that she RESTED. She swaddled and nursed and slept. Her body, her soul and her spirit had been through the most trying of times, and she took reprieve in the darkness, surrounded my wise men and the Holy Spirit and her soul mate, and savored the Savior.

What if we didn’t? What if we didn’t hustle during this time? What if we did what all the nature and spirits are nudging us to do?

Would the world really stop turning? No. Would your business fail? No. Would you feel like you were less than? No. And why? Because when the light and warmth finally does hit your face naturally, and you rested instead of shoveling snow, you can gracefully watch the snow melt the path in front of you and you can walk without falling. You can stand taller and more gracefully tackle your dreams.

This pressure. This pain. This perseverance that is so heavy on your heart this season. Let it go, let it pass without so much as a glance back. And next year, when the days begin to get shorter and the nights colder, take the cue to retreat back into yourself.

If you’re really wondering how it might go, know this.

My goals for 2018 are not set, and my books are a mess. But tax day isn’t until April and my goals don’t determine my dreams. It’s currently four days after Christmas, and frankly, I’m pretty sure no one has noticed that the job isn’t done yet. I’m not sorry I ate the extra cinnamon roll because it was delicious and I didn’t gift anyone anything I didn’t think they’d love and use – and guess what, the people I love don’t need gifts to know I love them.

I’ve cooked and written and slept more than I have in years, just in the last two weeks. My baby is happy as a clam to go down his new slide all day and I’m pretty happy to drink tea and watch him.

My friends, my prayer for you this season is that you take what time we have left to rest, and rest well. Soon, the days will be longer and the temperature warmer and the hustle will start all over.

Wear All the Babies

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Let’s talk for a hot minute about babywearing.

First, you’re preggo. And frankly, you wish, so badly, that you could take that baby off of you so heaven forbid you can COOL DOWN a little.

When I was working out while pregnant, I was so jealous of all the moms that could take their babies out of the carrier and lay them on a blanket, finish their get-ups and flutter kicks and bridges, and do a pushup all the way down without their belly hitting the floor first.

Second, after you have this tiny little human, and your belly ever so slowly begins to go back to the new normal, you wish so so badly you can put them back in, if only for a minute so you can GET SOME SLEEP.

No? Just me? Ok, didn’t think so.

This, my friends, is how babywearing made my life manageable. Notice I say manageable. Not great, not doable, not better, and certainly not easy. But, totally manageable. I mean, we are all living and happy and developing well and adjusting to this new thing, parenthood and childhood.

What we can so quickly forget is that babies need to adjust, too. This “baby” thing is totally new to them, just as this “parent” thing is totally new to us. Once I realized that we were learning together, not just trying to stay alive, it was much easier to understand his needs as they correlated with mine.

Something I found super early on was that this baby wanted back inside my belly almost as bad as I wanted him to be, too. But, alas, we cannot make that happen, nor do we really want to. So skin to skin, tummy to tummy, heart to heart is as close as we can get.

At first, the easiest thing to do was to accept the fact that this babe needed sleep, and so did I. And so sleeping on my chest was what we did. I soon figured out that I needed to do other things, too. Like laundry and eat and make dinner and WALK.

Enter, babywearing.

It was not uncommon at the very beginning, for me to strap on my Moby wrap and let that skin to skin contact happen. We all know that breastfeeding is ridiculous and mostly wonderful, and that sometimes it’s just easier to not wear a shirt. I mean, you’ll be whipping that thing out in no time anyway. For me, when we were alone and home and comfy, a shirtless baby and momma would be all wrapped up together in that Moby, happy and sleepy and full and perfect.

The babywearing continued into the night time witching hours, the social outings galore and then finally, back to the gym. Shirts on and all.

Joey is now 15 months old, and the babywearing trend has not faded, not even a little. And until he is too big for me to carry, it will stay the path.

Because of this experience, I want to share my passion, reasonings, tips and tricks and loves of babywearing with you all. But also because of this, it’s too much to share in a single post.

So coming at you the next three weeks:

  • Babywearing and the newborn bubble
  • Babywearing and fitness
  • Babywearing lifestyle

Coming at you this Thursday is all about the newborn bubble, and this was my most fondly remembered stage.


Ok, ok. But why should you care? I know that these “series” things are hard to follow and you might lose interest in a hurry and only read about the stage you’re currently in and then dismiss the rest. Can I ask you, friend, stick with me?

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Because that’s what I did, and then I wished I had prepared. Each phase of babywearing is different, and I would have taken even more joy and comfort and excitement in knowing how and what was coming next.

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Because there’s a GIVEAWAY with each post! I want to share this joy of babywearing with all of you, so with each babywearing post, I’ll be giving away a sling, carrier, membership, or something awesome to a lucky winner. Does this entice you?

I’m so thankful to all of you and for all of you. Many of you have stuck with me through this whole mommyhood thing, and now you support me sharing all about it. For that, I am eternally in your debt, and can’t wait to share the love with you.

Xoxo for now.

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Taking a Break

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I didn't need a vacation, I needed a social media hiatus. 

The moment I knew this was the case? When I remembered what someone I don't know in real life posted about on Instagram, but couldn't remember what my husband was doing tomorrow.

I had this plan, you see. I was going to blog twice a week and post on Instagram every day and take better photos that complimented my brand. I was going to story more of my every day, share and show my work, answer the influx of DMs about how I do my hair and also finish writing my book. 

I totally did this, for like, a month.

And it worked, I have to admit. My following grew, my engagement was off the charts. I was being asked to be an influencer for brands and speak at different meetings and classes and I was also being HIRED. Which is the goal. The ultimate goal. To make money, to make a living off of sharing what I love.

Here's what happened:

I got so busy doing what I loved that I missed also doing what I love. 

It goes both ways - I got so busy sharing that I missed working, and I got so busy working that I missed sharing. 

There has got to be a better way. 

It was like I had my healthy smoothie ingredients all cleaned and put into the blender, and then I turned it on and it exploded all over the counter and on the ceiling and stained my white shirt. Turns out, healthy smoothies kind of taste gross anyway.

There is one thing I am ultra proud of though - I didn't compromise. I was intentional about my priorities, and yes, some suffered, but nothing was given up. Not family time, not my fitness, not my food choices, and not my sleep. 

So what now? Well, I got what I was going for - work I wanted. And now it's time to do that work.

There's a time and a place for putting your head down, working hard, and coming up for air when you need to. I'm in that time, and happy to be there. 

So for the meantime, that meant less sharing, more working. But I know that that won't last. Because there's also a time and a place for screaming from rooftops and sharing all those baby smiles and shoes and recipes and run away dogs.

Ok, but since there haven't been any stories for like, two weeks, here's what has been going down in the Andreini household and Studio 22 walls:

  1. I learned how to make soft, flaky, buttery crackers, paleo style, And Joey is obsessed. As am I.
  2. So many of my friends are pregnant and have newborns and I'm so blessed to be able to be present for them as much as I can be. 
  3. Adam has been literally fishing his tail off. Trip after trip while also working his full time gig. So he's been gone a lot, but when he's home, it's so so wonderful.
  4. Joey has learned this deep scream cry thing that is absolutely horrendous.
  5. I've been working (a little) on the upcoming Mompreneur ecourse that is set to launch next month. So stay tuned.
  6. I've had the same piles of laundry on my bed/couch/floor/dresser/anywhere there's a clean surface for over a week. I just keep moving them around instead of putting them away.
  7. I'm drinking rose at 3:30 pm on a Monday.
  8. I have binge watched Parenthood for the last two days while Joey was at my mom's. I literally didn't even get out of my pajamas yesterday and I worked during the parts I remembered from the first time I binge watched it years ago.
  9. I went shopping with my momma friends at the used baby clothing store in Chico today with the babies after we worked out and it was the highlight of my week. If you had asked me if I would be doing that 3 years ago, I would have laughed at you. And now it's freaking awesome.

How to Deal in the Midst of Working and Throes of Motherhood

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This, my friends, is the most commonly asked question from working mother to working mother –

How do you balance it all?

What I’ve learned, so far anyway, is that you really can’t. All you can do is take it moment by moment, day by day, week by week, and pray for the best.

But some moments, days and weeks just simply don’t work. Part of what makes it all so hard to balance is that when us mommas try to make priority lists, we can’t seem to find the bottom. Everything might as well be written with the number “1” next to it, because it’s all IMPORTANT.

Trying to put kids before work, or work before kids, or self before work or husband before kids, or anything in between, simply just isn’t possible. Throw in friends’ celebrations of insta fame, family phone calls about which tea to buy and delivering too-small diapers to the local shelter, and you miss the mark on everything, it seems.

Yet somehow, we find a way. Each night, we go to bed, our kids and our husbands and our selves fed (pretty much), clean (pretty much), and loved (a lot).

But, I ask again, HOW?

The day to day balance of it all not only takes practice, but discipline. And a whole lot of self-awareness, I’m coming to realize. And that’s not easy stuff. Realizing that you set yourself up for a small disaster that morning is not an easy thing to swallow, and neither is knowing that you ate that donut when you should have had an egg.

Pay for that later.

I’m not saying, in any way, that I have this down. Not even a little. But I have managed to stay pretty much afloat, and for that, I can only attribute success to God. However, I have been able to figure out and enact some “protocol” if you will, that has helped be balance motherhood and working, so I thought I’d share.

First, I always assume that things are going to go according to plan.

If I don’t, then I end up taking too much time, energy and resources out of the rest of my day to plan for something that may or may not happen. For example, if the plan is to drop Joey off at daycare at 8:15 and not pick him up until 5:30 to go straight home, then I don’t pack an extra set of clothes for him, my sling, or any snacks.

But what if the plan goes awry? Well, I’ll get to that.

Second, I give myself as much “me” time as I think I need.

Whether it’s none, 15 minutes or two hours, I always give myself that grace. Sometimes I’m excited to get right to work, so I don’t take much downtime, if any. Other days, I need a moment alone with coffee, or I have the urge to write, or I am worried about a friend that needs to vent. I take that time, no questions, no apologies. It keeps me human, sane and healthy.

But what if there really is NO TIME? Well, I’ll get to that.

Third, I never schedule things day-of.

I try, really hard, to not make last minute plans. UNLESS it’s something I really, really want to do. But so long as I keep my schedule as it stood that morning when I woke up, I know that I can accomplish everything, be on time and not rush to finish.

But what if that’s not possible? Well, I’ll get to that.

I have found that these three things have kept most of my days smooth and fairly stress free.

But what about all the “but what if”s?

My friends, the Type A in me can not, would not, will not, leave those alone.

So I made a flowchart.

This flowchart (made prettier for you, mine is on a post-it note in my Jeep), has helped me through almost every balancing decision I’ve needed to make this last year.

Disclaimer – please don’t use this flowchart for life and death situations. This is really meant for the everyday balancing act. Trust me when I say, this will not get you out of a speeding ticket, missed family dinner or escaped pets running down the road. Sorry.

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! 

Back to Work

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After a year of working “part time,” whatever that means, I’ve decided to go back to work full time.

As we all know, as a self-employed biz owner, “going to work” really doesn’t have a specific meaning. I feel like I am always working somehow, whether I’m laying in bed brainstorming about new ideas or I’m quickly answering emails while Joey takes a nap or I’m working in my studio, uninterrupted, getting sheez done. The term “work” for us is very subjective.

So what does “full time” or “part time” look like for me?

Well, it took me a year, a bounced rent check and an emotional roller coaster ride to find out.

I suddenly feel this sense of urgency that I haven’t felt in the last year. I have more than enjoyed my flexible time schedule, the relaxed days with Joey and giving myself the grace to not have time sensitive goals.

It’s time for a change, though. I’m finding that I now have these big dreams, and no patience to do them slowly. I have been oh-so lucky to have this first year with my son with little distraction. I worked just enough to get by, and that was wonderful. It was a great change of pace for someone who’s been close to a workaholic her entire career.

The term “rest” has a whole new meaning for me. I now know how to rest well, and the importance of it.

I missed almost nothing. I got to see Joey take his first steps and say his first word and make him homemade baby food and dedicate the time to build my body again. All of these things have been the most rewarding moments and journeys of my life so far, and I am so grateful that I was gifted the time, and the opportunity, to take them.

Little time has been spent on my computer. Little time has been spent late at night, working on ideas and building my business up.

The tides have shifted, and I’m now excited for the late nights and overloaded computer files and inspiration is flowing out of me and onto these blank pages faster than I can type.

In the midst of this emotional table turning, we had a mini financial crisis, and it opened my eyes to the fact that I not only was craving the change, but we NEEDED it as a family. Flexibility has trumped financial security for the maximum amount of time right now, and now we have to make the switch.

And I’m oddly ok with it.

So what does that look like for us?

Well, Joey is headed to a few full days of daycare, and I am upping my self-discipline game and working from home while Joey naps on the days he doesn’t go there (which is only Mondays…).

Figuring all this out took quite a few post-it notes covered in numbers and time slots, a very emotional conversation with my husband and three sleepless nights for me.

All in all, this definition of “full time” isn’t 8-5, five days a week. It’s three very long days away from my family, early mornings and late nights, and sacrificing my flexibility for dream chasing.

Worth it? Totally. Exhausting? Totally. Is Joey going to care that his momma spent a few more hours a week chasing dreams while he plays with his friends? Nope.

The key to this whole thing? An insanely supportive husband and a God that doesn’t leave me hanging. Oh, and self-discipline. But that’s a story for another time.

See you at the studio, loves.

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Motherhood & Co.

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Currently, sitting in the recliner in the living room, watching a rerun of The Voice, looking down to find a piece of half chewed cheese quesadilla stuck to the back of my hand.

You see, I just finished picking up said half chewed pieces of cheese quesadilla off the floor while Adam put a very cranky and moody and teething, allergy induced, pink eyed Joey to bed.

So it makes total sense that there is a piece of it stuck to the back of my hand while I type this.

By the way, it’s still there. It’s safer on the back of my hand than it is on the floor where I might step on it, or on the arm of the chair where Adam will put his hand later and yell at me for leaving it there.

I also just trapped my husband in a not-so-kind conversation and totally set him up to fail.

I also have pink eye. In both eyes.

Earlier today, I let Joey chase and crawl all over Rudy the Roomba, which is not a rare occurrence, fully aware that it is not good for said Roomba, as Joey is quite strong and very capable of breaking it in two. And frankly, as of that moment, I’d rather pay for a new Roomba than get up from my seat to move Joey to a new location with a new toy, knowing full well he will be back to the Roomba in a minute flat.

Also, yesterday, I watched as Joey pulled the dining room chair over on himself. Seriously, stood there, frozen in my tracks, like a statue. It was like I knew that I couldn’t help him, but even if I could, I didn’t know how to. So I just watched, let it all fall, and then picked him after, hoping to God that he was not suffering from a concussion which I think I may have, might have been able to, avoid. If I had just moved.

Joey has a bruise on his eyebrow as well, from falling down on the edge of the coffee table.

Yep, I’m that mom right now.

See, we are all the same. Every night we put the babies down to bed and know that if we kept all the humans, animals, Rudy the Roomba and most of the plants in the yard alive, it’s a win.

But there are some things that are a little bit different, I’m realizing. And putting all moms into the same category as the “organized chaos” type really, actually leaves out so many of us.

Because yes, my life is complete organized chaos. And on most days, I feel like a hot mess. A blessed hot mess, but a hot mess nonetheless. But also on most days, my role as a mom is not the only role I play. And it’s important to know, though I am a mom, this is not my entire identity. And for so many other woman, it isn’t theirs either.

Many of the things we do fall into the cliches, however they roll. Such as the top knot, wine drinking, yoga pant wearing blogger. Yep, I am that mom.

I also am part of a Mommy and Me group, but instead of talking about our baby’s teething situations while sipping too much caffeine, we wear our babies and aren’t afraid to lift really heavy things.

I am a business owner, but I’m rarely ever a business owner and a mom at the same time.

I drive a mommy car, but it’s a badass mommy car, and I take the top off, a lot.

I read books to my baby, but they are things like “People Over Profit” or “Rising Strong” or the latest Nic Sparks book, because he doesn’t care what the book is about. As long as he gets to hear my voice.

Here is my point: you do not have to be ordinary, even as a mom.

This idea that moms “can’t do it all” is very true. It’s also incredibly false.

You see, we actually can. We can do all things. We can do all things well. And we can do all things THAT WE WANT TO DO.

We are all just winging it. Seriously. Nobody knows how to actually do this parenting thing. But the thing is, though there are millions of things to read and “experts” to talk to, it doesn’t seem like anyone is really sharing the ins and outs of HOW they did it.

We can keep using generalities, or we can talk specifics. And if you really want help with this mommy business, generalities don’t help any of us.

A friend told me, when Joey was a mere two months old, that I was doing it. I was doing what all moms wanted to do, but couldn’t. I was working on my businesses, I was working on projects for my clients, working on my body, my marriage, my faith, my cooking skills, my breastfeeding form, to name just a few.

I remember feeling like that was completely ridiculous. I was just trying to survive. Make it through the day without losing complete control of all I held dear. Turns out, those things I held dear? They held me together, too.

I get questions all the time:

How do you balance mommyhood and your businesses?
What tools did you use to combat your postpartum depression?
How are you able to cook dinner most nights and still get Joey to bed on time?
How did you get your body back so fast?
How do you justify using or paying for daycare?
What do you mean Joey sleeps all night long? How?! (that’s a fun one…)
Or my favorite, “How do you find time for it all?”

It’s time we got specific. It’s time us moms come together and actually outline how to do this thing. How to be a mom. AND all the other things we want to be.

Not one piece of our life that we find important is negotiable. And just because being a mom comes first does not mean that we need to have a numbered priority list, and start from the top and work our way down. All those things matter.

And so, since we all in this together, let’s talk about it together. I’d love to hear some of your really specific questions. About any, all, some, of these things we do in our lives. I want to help, or find some help, and make motherhood not so scary, for all of us.

Something is in the works for this, I promise, and with your help, we can put all the tools together, and have a very real, very candid conversation. Together.

PLEASE SEND ME YOUR QUESTIONS!

I truthfully, honestly, want to hear

xoxo

Name *
Name

Seven in Seven

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Everyone talks about how having kids will really change your life. What they don’t tell you is how. How will they change my life? Exactly. Not hypothetically. How is it going to turn my world upside down?

Well, as I’ve found out, they don’t tell you because it is really hard to articulate exactly what it’s like. Sure, you can say some superficial things, like:

  1. Spontaneity has no place with an infant.
  2. Poop and puke will no longer disturb you. It’s everywhere. All the time.
  3. Sleep may evade you. Get it while you can.
  4. Your arms will get nice and buff from lifting this god damn carseat everywhere.
  5. You will fight with your spouse, mostly due to hormones taking control of your life.

Yes, all true. But honestly, those tidbits don’t really give me any perspective on how to actually handle life with an infant. So, my friends, I am here to tell you the seven things I’ve learned in the first seven months of motherhood. Real, practical, you-need-to-know ahead of time things. Or maybe you’re too late and you’ve been there, done this, but still, read this. You’ll laugh.

1.     Some babies sleep. Some don’t. Some sleep at night. Some sleep during the day. And some do a little of both. Don’t believe them when they tell you that newborns sleep all the time. Some don’t. And please, don’t make plans for your post-baby life that rely, or really hinge at all, on the fact that newborns nap. If they do, kudos. If they don’t, well, the whole work-while-they-nap thing goes straight out the window. And if someone ever says to you, “Aren’t the newborn days of sleepy scrunchy babies just the best?!”, kick them. And then ask them to babysit. In conjunction with this life-changing realization I had for myself when Joey was 6 weeks old, I also realized that my no-napping baby was a prime example of a baby that sleeps through the night. Take your wins where you can get them. Mine was nighttime. Yours might be afternoon naps. But seriously, sleep train and don’t make plans that rely at all on sleep. Period.

2.     Hormones do take over. But they don’t have to. There is help out there. And honestly, I’m really going to say, out loud, this next part: there will be moments of utter and complete and enraging sadness. Moments when you ask your mom, “Did we make a mistake having a baby right now?” And then bawl so hard because you’re so hungry and your clothes still don’t fit. Literally. I had a total meltdown one afternoon because no one told me that I still wasn’t going to be able to wear my favorite clothes, not because they didn’t fit, but because BREASTFEEDING. Sorry, still no sundresses with sleeves or anything you can’t pop your boob out of in less than 5 seconds. Nevermind sleeping on your belly. Pregnant? Sorry, no belly sleeping. Boobs full of milk? Sorry, still can’t belly sleep. Ok, rant over. But really. Sadness is a thing and it’s ok. But don’t deal with it alone. Be honest with your spouse about how you’re feeling. Yes, they will think you are being ridiculous, but it doesn’t change how you’re feeling. See your doctor. Be honest with them. There are ways to cope. Most importantly, if someone asks how you’re feeling, don’t say, “Great!” Say, “Just ok. Hormones are no joke and I’m learning how to deal.” Most likely, it will open up a conversation that will lead to great things.

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3.     Good baby gear. Worth it. You can see my post on Joey’s favorite things here, but in short, get the good stuff if you can. I’m talking things like car seat, stroller, bouncer, carrier and swing. So worth it. They don’t break, they keep your baby in the perfect positions which makes them happier, and will most likely last until the next two or three babies grow out of them. Just sayin’. Speaking of good baby gear, let’s talk working out. I’m convinced that God’s greatest gift to women is baby wearing gear. Get one, really doesn’t matter which, and wear those babies while you do EVERYTHING. Including working out. Squats and tricep dips and rows and lunges and backpeddling. Get with it, wear that baby, and get your body back. Pronto. You’ll feel like a badass afterwards, and it’s really fun to tell your husband that you can do more squats than him, even with a baby strapped on you. Word.

4.     What babies cost. Ok, I looked, and there really isn’t a good “baby budget” worksheet out there that I can find. If you find one, let me know. In the meantime, I’ll be making one soon as a free download y’all can have. The world needs it. But anywho, what they cost. Plan ahead. The first few months, honestly, isn’t too bad. Mostly because you, and the baby, won’t be doing much other than trying to figure out how to breastfeed, sleep and shower. And I’m not exaggerating. But after that, when their diapers get a little bigger, their clothes a little longer and their appetites a lot larger, the cost goes up. Add in daycare, extraneous medical bills (that we are still getting from the hospital, 6 months later), and the fact that you want to literally buy everything that your baby will fit into, you’ve got yourself a little extra mullah going out. Just prepare, is all I’m saying. Oh, also, moms, those first few breastfeeding months, you’re going to be SO FREAKING HUNGRY. Your grocery bill might be a little out of control there for a bit. Just go with it. It stops.

5.     Ok, now to some of the good stuff. The stage where they sit up but don’t crawl is the freaking best. I’m talking like right at six months, give or take depending on your baby (also, baby-accomplishment envy is a total thing. Sammy, I’m looking at you, you little scooting 7-month old). Sitting cross-legged on the floor and playing with literally anything (water bottle, report control, dad’s notebook) is the most invigorating and relaxing thing you’ll ever do. Pure joy, pure satisfaction, pure bliss. Floor. Baby. Blanket. Happy. The end.

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6.     Let’s talk dinner dates, plans with friends and the such. Ok, for the first few months, my suggestion is to take that baby to everything. Make plans. Go out. Visit friends. Have the steak dinner. They may or may not sleep through it. If they don’t, I promise there is someone that will help you. In our case, our favorite restaurant also happens to belong to a friend of ours, and she just walked around with Joey while we ate our food. Or if you’re at party, people love to hold babies. And feed them. And rock them. Let them. They make baby noise-cancelling head phones. Use them. Go to your church that is too loud. Go to Sunday brunch after. Honestly, you can still be so freaking social. Just make sure to have your diaper bag and maybe a pac-and-play in the back of the car. We’ve set that thing up in the most random places. Seriously though, go anywhere you want. In our experience, that whole “spontaneity is dead” thing didn’t exist. We just took Joey with us.

7.     You are allowed to leave. As in, leave the baby with Dad or Grandma or Auntie. And go. Joey was four months old when I left for 3 days to go with friends to Napa. Him and Adam were GREAT. Before this adventure, Adam and I had a multitude of date nights, a say-cation or two and a day trip while Grammy and Papa took the reins. It’s healthy for you, and the baby, to have some time with other people. The baby will do so much better than you think they will, and so will you. Happy mom, happy baby. And visa versa.

So, seven in seven. Which, coincidentally, is what I’m drinking tonight. We’ve officially made it into the second half of Joey’s first year. It’s been the hardest, fastest, longest, most grueling and the most exciting year of my life. It’s not a walk in the park, but it’s definitely not a sprint either. If you can stroll, smell the puke covered roses, and then skip and hop and then maybe run backwards a bit, but then remember that if you walk too fast, you’ll miss it. Your arms will be buff from lifting the car seat, sleep will have a new role in your life, and you and your spouse might spat (ok, probably but that’s the hormones talking, remember?).

I’m so excited to see where the next half of this year is going to take us. Honestly, you feel kind of under water for the first little bit. At least we did. But now, a measly few months down the line, we are swimming smoothly through the current. And by swimming, I mean playing in the dog hair on the floor while we marvel at Joey’s ability to roll over, yet again. It’s the best.

Why God Invented Wine

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Hey you.

Ya, you. Feeling a little down?

What is it with this season? Every entrepreneur I know is major struggling right now. Like, we need to have a major vent sesh over some wine. Preferably on a patio, with twinkly lights and no babies and where the wine is free. Because, to be totally honest, we are all feeling broke as a joke. And no, this is not a joke.

Here’s the thing: we get the ebb and flow of business ownership. Highs are super high, and awesome, and usually really productive and most often turn a nice little profitable paycheck at the end. But then we hit that low… when we feel like we’ve officially run out of ideas, energy and money.

You at a low? Ya, me too. So are my friends.

Rach said today, “Let’s just build a compound where we can self-sustain and create things, together!” I agree. But it’s not feasible. We know that, you know that, and God didn’t teach us to run away and hide from our problems.

Though to be honest, I’m totally down for a neighborhood full of my best friends and where we could all walk to a collaborative studio right down the street and our kids could all play in the court and we’d have intellectual conversations over cheese plates on the front porch.

#tangent. Whatevs. It’s a nice daydream.

There is no answer. I would love to be able to write a blog post that has all the answers, that contained enough motivational words of wisdom to pull us all out of this funk and prove to us that we were MADE to do this.

There is no proof, either. We are trusting God, the universe or whatever higher power you believe in that what we are doing is the path that was laid for us. Our prayer today is simply “Isn’t it time for some proof?”

We haven’t earned anything. There is no magic equation that equals “you did this, so you get this as a reward.” Everyone goes down their own path, has their own journey. Some are similar, some feel parallel, and some feel so different from one another that we wonder if there is a possibility that we aren’t both human.

My only tidbit of knowledge is this today: you are not alone. There is no need to sit on your kitchen floor eating mac and cheese and drinking wine, alone. Worst case, at least call me so I can do that with you. Best case, remember that there is someone else out there (eh hem!) doing the exact same thing.

Oh, one more tip. Some great advice that was once given me. Don’t quit when you feel like giving up. You know the saying, “When you’re going through hell, keep on going.” You will make a much more rational, educated and clear headed decision later. It’s ok to quit (or so I’m told, it’s a hard concept for me), just do it with a clear head on your shoulders. Not crying on the couch while watching Chip and Joanna wishing you could be them.

And also (see, I wasn’t done), don’t be afraid to seek help. Don’t be embarrassed, don’t feel like a fraud. Trust us, our doctors, therapists, mom’s cell phone and now this tribe all know us well. Your bank account balance is not a representation of your success, and neither is your current email inbox.

Wine?

Nicole & Co. | A Rising Story

a rising story.jpg

Let’s be real about this.

Everyone has a story. Everyone has a past. Everyone has a struggle, a strife, an inspirational experience that is worth sharing.

Everyone has risen up from the rubble.

Not too long ago, I realized that some people fall well, and some people rise well. Some of us prefer to find motivation while we are falling. Like the saying, “An entrepreneur is someone who jumps off a cliff and builds wings on the way down.” Or, on the contrary, some of us (like myself) fall off of said cliff, hit the dirt, and then decide to build a barrier so it doesn’t happen to someone else.

I am not quick witted. I am not really very funny. In fact, my husband would “quick wittedly” tell you that I am actually kind of non-observant and aloof. It takes me a long time to understand jokes, and I often Google things that were talked about over dinner later in the car on the way home. This makes it somewhat hard to “fall well.” I am not nearly quick enough to think about how to save myself from falling. With that said, I coincidentally tend to fall hard. I easily get caught up in the moment, and things tend to hit me all at once. My body likes to get sick when I have been working too hard; I get anxiety attacks more than I’d like to admit; crying is part of the most-everyday routine. I have been told that I feel too much, or that I’m oversensitive. This all may be true, but I like to consider this instead : I just don’t fall well.

Face down in the dirt is not my favorite place. Not that I think it’s anyone’s “favorite” place, but I really, really, really despise it. When I’m down, I almost always just break down. I cry, I kick and scream (or in mommy terms, I throw a tantrum), I reach blindly for help up, and worst of all, I am just straight up pissed off that I got my clothes dirty.

Most of all, I hate the feeling that I know I will be there soon. I can recognize when I’m falling almost immediately. And instead of trying to figure out how to stop falling, I always, always start thinking about how to get up.

I fall hard. But here’s the thing : I rise really well.

I am a strategic risk taker. I don’t mind falling if I have a plan to get back up.

Example : once (okay, wayyy more than once), I was riding a young horse who I knew was eventually going to buck. It’s usually on cold, foggy mornings after a few weeks of time off, and he’s fresh and giddy and has some energy he needs to burn. When I feel this horse hump up, I ALWAYS look for the safest place to land. The muddy puddle is usually a safe bet, soft landing and he probably won’t run over me. I strategically don’t go uphill, as I know downhill means speed which means energy which in turn, usually means bucking. You get my gist. I know I’m going to fall and instead of preventing the fall, I’m just working on how to get back up.

I do this all the time. With everything. A lot of it probably has to do with experience. A lot has happened in these last 28 years.

Which leads me to this. So many stories are told about the fall. Most of the story time is taken up with blind anticipation of an exciting incident. It’s funny how little time it takes to fall, but how much time is spent talking about it. It’s even more peculiar how it takes so much time to rise up, but so little time is spent talking about that part.

It’s time to tell my rising story.

Sure, I’ll have to spend some time on the fall, but that’s not the helpful part.

Experiences teach you things. But more importantly, what you do with those experiences MAKES you who you are. You can choose how to react to situations, and you can learn from your own, and from others’.

If you’re one that falls well but has trouble rising, I’d like to help. If you’re one that falls badly but rises well, well, call me. We should drink wine together.

So what does this mean? Ya, I’ve totally rambled on for way too long. There’s a point, I promise. Well, a few points, actually.

  • This year, I’m proud to announce that I will be writing and publishing my first book. It will be the first glimpse into my rising strong story (thanks, Brene Brown – you have officially coined the coolest term ever). My goal is to have it written by early fall and in the publishing spectrum before the end of the year.
  • But further than that, I am launching a lifestyle brand. This business will be focused on helping others rise – in life, in business, in God, on purpose. Nicole & Co. will be socially focused, reaching an audience through blogs, social media platforms and speaking engagements.
  • Finally, Nicole & Co. will be spending much more time on sharing what I know. Be looking for a fun little online shop, casual and quirky Insta stories and blog posts, behind-the-scenes of my days and oh-so-many collaborations with my favorite people.  

I hope you’ll follow along, share and engage with me. My goal is to be a small part of your life, and for you to be a big part of mine.

More details to follow. Rise well, my friends.

“And in the morning, when I rise, give me Jesus.”

 

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.

 

KINDRED SPIRITS

This morning, on my way to work, I had the sweetest most magical moment.

As you may know, I've been trying to be more intentional with my time, and with that, more intentional with my relationships. I've been challenging myself to reach out to those who I am thinking about, praying about and dwelling about and let them know I am doing so. I'm finding that doing this has brought so much joy to so many hearts, including mine. Simply sending the "I am praying about you today!" text not only provides the words of affirmation to the receiver, but it also brings me comfort knowing that they know they are loved!

So, this morning, I called a colleague of mine, a reputable professional in our community, just to simply tell him that I was sorry our conversation got cut short the last time we connected and that I was grateful to know him.

He initially seemed surprised that I would call just to say this, but then promptly initiated a conversation about a common interest of ours. During this brief but important conversation, he mentioned "kindred spirits" and how he has been praying about someone I love.

It was casual, calm, but so meaningful. This gentleman, whom I profoundly respect and admire, used two phrases that rarely seep out of a professional's vocabulary. KINDRED SPIRIT. And PRAY.

This interaction later got me thinking about how our society so quickly anticipates that to be professional, you mustn't be spiritual. It was profoundly refreshing to have this conversation this morning, and quickly got me considering my own vocabulary I use.

I will strive to no longer filter my feelings through a "professional" mask. If God is filling me with empathy and compassion, I will show it. Say it. Deliver it. Disciple it.

I'm so incredibly thankful for this morning, and this conversation.

So, today, I challenge you to use personal, spiritual and loving vocabulary in your professional life. It might spark change. Good, profound change.

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.