Thoughts of an Introverted Entrepreneur

Hubby said to me the other day, “It’s funny that you’re the entrepreneur”. He’s referring to the fact that between the two of us, he’s the risk-taker, go-getter, nothing’s going stand in my way person. Me? I’m the play it safe, hide in my bubble, take deep breaths one. But strangely enough, I’m a small business owner: part author and part plush toy maker. 🙂

My author business has been slowly growing and I’ve been enjoying it so much. My Moodkins venture? Well, that’s another story. It’s one where I can’t allow myself to measure success by how many plush toys I’ve sold because the handful of people who’ve bought one are friends (kind, supportive friends!). But this business has been successful in so many ways that I didn’t expect. It’s been one of those opportunities where I feel like God has opened the doors for this little bitty idea of mine to go out and touch more people than I EVER imagined possible. And the best part? I didn’t have to do much to sell them. I have great, supportive friends who did it for me. This is an introverted business owner’s dream come true. 😉

Through my sister (who has a degree in school counseling) and two former Marriage and Family Therapy classmates/colleagues, these Moodkins have been making their way into the world. They’ve gone to schools in different parts of the state and even the east coast. They’ve found a home at a non-profit organization in Silicon Valley that helps children. They’re also playing a part in a private practice in the Bay Area. In the latter, they enabled a six year old client who hasn’t been able to identify their emotions yet to mimic what they saw in a painting.

This photo I received from my therapist friend touched me so much. Like this Moodkin, Miss-Sing-Me-The-Blues, I had tears in my eyes, but mine were happy. Oh so happy. 🙂

I’ve always believed each and every person can make a difference in the world, and it was a blessing to know I was doing so in a small, but meaningful way. And even though I’m the most introverted business person there probably is, God still is able to use me. 🙂

If you or anyone you know would be interested in purchasing some Moodkins, let me know! I’m also happy to give a set for free to those who work with children. You can check them out at http://moodkins.com/.

How to Keep Makeovers Going Strong

In case you couldn’t tell by my blog’s tagline, I LOVE makeovers. I’ve always been fascinated by “before” and “after” snapshots, and how something (or someone) can look totally and completely different with some needed changes in place. While major and drastic changes are great and all, no one really talks about what happens weeks, months or even years, after a makeover. I’m referring to the fabulous hairdo that grows out and loses its vibrant color. Or the conviction you had to eat healthier flies out the window when you sit down at a buffet. And the fervor you had to clean (and keep clean) every cabinet and closet in the house disappears when those cabinets and closets start getting messy again.

Makeovers are amazing, but they are also very temporary. Those “great reveal” moments when everything looks perfectly in place and new and jaw-dropping are just that—moments. A lot of hard work and dedication lead up to makeovers, but the fact of the matter is that hard work and dedication are also needed to maintain them.

Eeks, right? Why can’t things just stay beautiful and clean and organized all the time? Well, because Pinterest would go out of business. 😉

So how do we maintain a makeover? I’m still figuring this out myself, but here’s my recent experience with one. It all started with a kitchen cabinet that I had “made over” before, but was getting out of hand again. Once upon a time, I had taken everything out, then put them all back in a nice orderly fashion. I’d even bought some magazine-type racks to store the baking pans and sorted through all the tupperware so that each container had a lid, and got rid of stuff I hadn’t used in ages. It looked pretty amazing and made cooking and baking a lot easier when I could find exactly what I was looking for when I needed it. But then … gradually over time things got put back in the wrong place, and containers started missing their lids, and pulling out the dish or container or lid that I needed became a dangerous ordeal.

The scary “before” picture!

So after months of groaning and moaning every time I had to open this cabinet, I decided to do something about it. I took all the contents out, rearranged them, and organized them in a way that was a lot easier (and safer) than before. Ta-da!

A little less scary!

Now I’m sure this “after” photo could be someone else’s “before” photo (haha), but for me it was the mini makeover that I needed. It wasn’t as dramatic as the first time I’d made over this cabinet, so it was a much quicker process, but the effects were just as great. I no longer cringe when I need to get a baking pan or risk having a dish fall on my toes when I open the doors. Yay!

The real moment of truth though will be in a few months or a year down the line. What will this cabinet look like then? Well, if it’s still in this condition, that means I’ve stopped feeding my family. Just kidding (or not!). More than likely, some physics law will have taken effect so that its contents will have moved due to inertia or something like that. 😉 But you know what? That just means I’ll get to do another mini makeover again. The downside is that I’ll need to put in some time and effort to do so. But the upside is that I’ve had experience with it before and it should be as easy or easier than last time. Plus, the major upside is that I LOVE makeovers. 😉

If you need some inspiration, check out this video that shows you how to organize your pantry. I think that will be my next project. 😉

What kind of makeovers do you like or have done? How do you keep them going strong? I’d love to hear your tips!

When Failure Means Progress

For all of us in the U.S. (except for the lovely states of Hawaii and Arizona), there’s this wonderful day in March where we lose an hour of sleep every single year. And every single year, I—along with every parent in the country—dread this day. Well, actually most of us also dread the day we gain an hour each year because that means earlier wake-up times for the kiddos. (And all of us wonder if whoever started Daylight Saving Time had kids because no parent in their right mind would have thought this was a good idea! LOL) Anyhow, this year I wasn’t the only one dreading the time change; C was too.

Who else agrees?! LOL

For the first time in her life, she understood the logical consequences of DST. Specifically, that by losing an hour of sleep, she had to wake up an hour earlier … and if she couldn’t wake up at the right time, then she wouldn’t have enough time to do all the things she did in the morning before school and—BAM!—the world would end. (Where she gets this “all or nothing” way of thinking, I don’t know, cough cough!) The bottom line was: She had to wake up on time—or else! (To show how punctual she likes to be, let me tell you that she actually arrived on her due date, which supposedly only 5% of babies do.)

I tried to calm her fears by telling her that it wasn’t the first time she’d gone through DST. She’s had 7 years of experience losing an hour of sleep and everything turned out all right. And because DST starts at 2AM on Sunday, we have a day to practice getting up earlier. And most of all, everyone is tired and cranky after DST happens, so it’d be understandable if she was late to school on Monday.

Did my logical reasons convince her not to panic? Of course … not! 😛 So, like a lot of the time in life, I just had to let her face the problem and help her through it.

The morning after DST, she promptly announced, “I failed! I woke up late!” to which I replied, “It’s okay! You’re adjusting! It’ll get better. It takes a few days.”

This back-and-forth exchange happened every day this week, even today. But thankfully, the defeated tone in her voice has lessened little by little, day by day. As her mama, I hope and pray she’s learning that the world will not in fact end because things don’t go exactly the way she wants them to. That failure means progress, because you can always try again (and improve!). And that change and growth take time to produce. Most of all, I hope she takes this small lesson and applies it to the other hurdles she will face in life … especially next year when we’ll need to lose an hour of sleep again. 😉

I don’t think there’s any song out there about kids dealing with DST, but here’s one that’s literally for the children, New Kids On the Block’s “This One’s for the Children”.

How do you help yourself or your kiddos deal with change?

How a Blogger Respects Her Kid’s Wish for Privacy

One of my munchkins (who shall remain anonymous) told me recently, “I don’t want you to write about me or even say that you have a son.”

Aiya.

My response? “Okay. (Sigh) I won’t anymore from now on.”

Image courtesy of http://www.symbols-n-emoticons.com/2012/09/zipping-mouth-shut.html

So in case you wonder why I won’t be mentioning my firstborn child from now on in my blogs or anywhere on social media, you’ll know why. 🙂

I always knew the day would come when I’d have to respect my kids’ privacy online. I get it, especially since the child I’m talking about is an introvert like me. Even if he weren’t, I’d still understand why he doesn’t want his mom talking about him to the entire world. ‘Cause let’s face it, having a blog means everything you post is accessible to anyone and everyone on the planet. I respect his need to keep some things (actually, most things) about himself for himself.

This is specifically the reason why I don’t post pictures of my kids’ faces on this blog, but I do realize now that the stories I write about them—however cute and funny and sweet they may be—are as personal and identifiable as their photos are. And even though these stories often times impact me as their mom, they belong to them. These are their stories to tell.

So, what does this mean for this mama who loves to blog about her munchkins? Well, I’ll still be sharing about my experiences and lessons learned as a mom, just more in general terms. And more importantly, when I do want to write about my munchkins, I’ll ask for permission first.

How do you feel about sharing photos and stories about your kids on social media? 

Here’s a really creative rendition of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata by Kurt Hugo Schneider and Amazon Echo that the kids may (or may not) have enjoyed watching. 😉

When Adulting Is Hard

Hubby and I had a brief moment to chat this morning. Usually our conversations are light and breezy—and mostly about the kids—but today it was a bit heavier and profound. I think the older we get, the more of these latter talks pop up from time to time because, as I’m sure you know, adulting is hard.

What is adulting anyway? It’s not even a real word (I don’t think) since that red line keeps showing up under it as I type. But it’s a real condition or stage, however you want to call it. And with each passing year, it seems like this thing called adulting gets harder and harder to manage. Life becomes more complicated and responsibilities add up, and you face things you were never prepared for.

Adulting includes the big stuff like watching a dear friend struggle for her last breaths in a hospital bed; not knowing how to help a family member fight mental illness; attending four funerals in a year; and losing a baby to miscarriage.

Adulting also includes the everyday stuff of taking care of your family even though you are bone-tired; figuring out how to support friends going through crises; working hard to pay the bills; and juggling the care of your young children as well as your aging parents.

Adulting is a lot of things, but the one thing it isn’t is easy. This morning when I was sharing my frustrations with hubby, he said just what I needed to hear: The most important thing in life is honoring God. Through whatever we go through—the ups and downs—we can’t lose sight of the reason why we’re running this long and windy race. And even though we may not understand why things happen the way they do or how to make sense of disappointment or pain, the one thing we can hold onto is the fact that we’re not alone. God is with us through it all.

I was reminded of a song by Rich Mullins, “Hold Me Jesus”. I had the chance to see him in concert in college, and hearing him sing live was such a moving experience. You could tell from his lyrics that his relationship with God was honest, raw and sincere. He hadn’t figured everything out yet about life, but it was okay. He just wanted Jesus to hold him through it all.

Well, sometimes my life
Just don’t make sense at all
When the mountains look so big
And my faith just seems so small

CHORUS:
So hold me Jesus, ’cause I’m shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory
Won’t You be my Prince of Peace

And I wake up in the night and feel the dark
It’s so hot inside my soul
I swear there must be blisters on my heart

Surrender don’t come natural to me
I’d rather fight You for something
I don’t really want
Than to take what You give that I need
And I’ve beat my head against so many walls
Now I’m falling down, I’m falling on my knees

And this Salvation Army band
Is playing this hymn
And Your grace rings out so deep
It makes my resistance seem so thin

I hope that whatever you’re going through right now, you’ll keep your head up and your heart open. Even when adulting gets hard—and it often does—God’s grace is big and deep and full enough to see us through. Let’s remember to hold onto Jesus as He holds onto us.

What’s the hardest part of adulting for you?