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. ūüôā

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. ūüėČ

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. ūüôā

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. ūüôā

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/.

My Adventure to Becoming More Kid-Friendly

Have you heard of the term “kid-friendly”? Well, if you were to do a Google search for it, you would be able to pull up endless sites about kid-friendly restaurants, kid-friendly recipes and kid-friendly activities. There are even kid-friendly jokes (I’m guessing these¬†probably¬†involve chickens crossing¬†roads). In my life, I’ve even met people whom you would call kid-friendly. These are adults with big, friendly (haha) smiles and usually a few pieces of candy in their pockets. They don’t mind getting down on their hands and knees to play and do things that make kids laugh, like impersonations of Elmo (which my bro-in-law, a kid-friendly guy, has scarily perfected). You could say these kid-friendly adults are kids at heart. I personally think these people are amazing and great fun to have around, especially if you have kids needing to be entertained. Which is why¬†I think it would be great if all parents were kid-friendly … except they’re not, especially some square ones I know. ūüėõ

I’ve always been a baby-friendly person, usually the first or second in line waiting to hold a friend’s newborn. But liking babies unfortunately does not equate to liking kids. Kids, in case you haven’t noticed, are very different from babies. Kids can walk, run, climb, etc., and the scariest thing of all is this: kids can talk. Which makes kids just as complicated as adults, only smaller in size. And because¬†I don’t like talking much and I dislike complications, I’m not the most¬†kid-friendly person around.

But, as usual, God likes to place us in circumstances that help us grow. (Groan, sigh, roar. Haha.)

My lil sis posted this great (and uncomfortable) reminder on her Facebook this week. ;)

My lil sis posted this great (and uncomfortable) reminder on her Facebook this week. ūüėČ

Back in the day (before I became a mom), I had been working towards¬†getting my license as a Marriage and Family Therapist. In order to get said license, I needed to complete 3000 hours of internships, which included 500 hours of counseling with … (cue drumroll) … kids.¬†When I saw that one requirement, I just about fainted. I didn’t know how in the world I would be able to work with kids, let alone spend 500 hours, with them. I hoped I could put off those hours until later, but¬†sure enough,¬†the only internship available¬†at the¬†time was at¬†an elementary school working with children from kindergarten to sixth grade. (Cue the fainting.)

I remember clearly that on my first day there I just sat in my parked car and PRAYED.¬†I write that in all caps because that’s the kind of prayer it was. A God-this-is-crazy-please-help-me!!! kind of prayer. I felt sooo out of my element going into a place with hundreds of little people running around. I had no clue how I was going to engage them in conversation or if they would even want to talk to me.

But to my surprise and relief, they did (especially the girls!). Each time I went to a student’s classroom and picked them up for a counseling session, I was greeted with a smile.¬†Each 30 minute session flew by as the kids shared (with some prompting) from their hearts about their families and their¬†worries¬†and wishes. Even now I can still see some of their faces in my mind and remember the heartfelt conversations we shared, especially¬†this one:

K (a kindergarten girl whose mom was no longer in her life): “I wish you were my mom.”

Me (totally caught off guard, but very touched): “You really enjoy our times together, huh?”

K (nodding): “Yeah.”

I came away from that one counseling session a lot less afraid of kids and a lot more appreciative of how genuine, accepting and adult-friendly they really are.

The gift K gave me at the end of my internship. :)

A gift K gave me at the end of my internship. ūüôā

As I’ve come to understand these pint size creatures better (especially after having two of my own), I see that their ability to talk is a wonderful thing. It’s their words which give us adults access into their worlds and into their hearts. As K confirmed, all I needed to do was give her¬†a safe place¬†to share and a listening ear, and she was ready to come home with me. I probably also looked like good mom material¬†in her eyes, considering I was about 8 months pregnant with E when she said this.

In all seriousness though, I can say without shuddering or cringing now that the 9 months I spent at that elementary school were some of the best moments of my life. And I’m a much better, kid-friendlier person because of it. (Yay – gulp – for challenges!)

Side note: I’ve had kids on the brain (and in my posts) lately because they are the reason I created¬†my plush toys, the¬†Moodkins. I believe all children deserve to be heard and have their feelings validated¬†by the grown-ups in their lives, and the Moodkins¬†were created for that very purpose. Please check them out at http://www.moodkins.com¬†if you haven’t had the chance yet!

I’ve always liked the lyrics of this Whitney Houston song, “The Greatest Love of All”. The first stanza is particularly¬†kid-friendly. ūüôā

Are you a kid-friendly person? Why or why not?

It’s Moodkin Monday!

I can’t believe the day has come …!

This business venture of mine started out almost a year ago as just a random idea in my head, thanks to my two munchkins who helped put it there. It’s been a CRAZY adventure figuring out¬†the ropes of making a plush toy, setting up a website and learning¬†the ins and outs of starting a small business, but it has been worth it!!

Moodkins were created in part by kids (my very own E and C) and designed for the purpose of helping all kids. Please visit the website and help spread the word! (Go here: http://www.moodkins.com/)

Thanks everyone!!

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Share Your Mood!

The One Thing All Kids Want

Image courtesy of flickr

Image courtesy of flickr

Hubby and I have probably visited every¬†venue there is for kiddie birthday parties. And let me tell you something –¬†things have changed since we were¬†young’uns. In the olden days, birthdays were usually celebrated at home¬†or¬†at a certain mouse’s abode¬†(think “where a kid can be a kid”) because those were the only locations¬†available.¬†Nowadays,¬†kids have a bazillion more places to choose from, depending on whether they want to run around¬†on indoor inflatable jumpy houses, bounce on wall-to-wall trampolines or climb up walls.

Our munchkins have been fortunate enough to attend many¬†parties at all of the above mentioned (and more) venues, which means hubby and I have joined in on the fun, too. When I say joined, I mean we literally have climbed, slid, jumped, ran and crawled along with E and C, as well as dozens of other little people. Although¬†I would much rather¬†sit on the sidelines and enjoy¬†the excitement from afar, (our kids won’t participate unless we do, too), I must confess I do enjoy¬†getting in on¬†the action. I get to relive my childhood, loosen up¬†my creaky joints and bond with E and C in the process.¬†Another upside is that¬†since hubby and I are¬†typically¬†the only adults working up a sweat at these parties, we’ve had many opportunities to interact with¬†other kids. These interactions¬†have included the times when…

A¬†curly-haired preschooler insisted on climbing¬†onto hubby’s lap so she could go¬†down the inflatable slide with him.

A brown-haired girl in a pink top waved to me repeatedly to watch her do flips on the trampoline.

A¬†boy about E’s height who had been watching hubby and the kids play tag asked if he could play, too.

These random encounters with these random kids used to throw me off. The first few times they happened, I was tempted to ask the kids,¬†“Where are your parents? Don’t you know you’re not supposed to talk to random strangers?!” Now though I just make¬†eye contact and smile politely (while hubby is a lot more friendly and lets random kids sit on his lap and/or chase him).

Why have I stopped being surprised when random kids approach us?¬†I think it’s because I finally understand what they’re after, and what they’re after is perfectly normal, acceptable and to be expected.

What is the one thing all kids want?

Our attention.

Simply put, they want to be seen. To be heard. To be noticed. Kids want to be talked to. To be helped. To be interacted with.

Kids want to know they matter.

And in this crazy money-making, gadget-consuming, faster-than-the-speed-of-light culture¬†in which we live today, it’s more important than ever that kids get the attention they need (ideally from the significant¬†adults in their lives, not necessarily from random strangers like me).¬†ūüėõ

So, I’m thankful for a hubby who isn’t afraid to pull a muscle (true story!) in order to play with our kids. I’m also grateful he encourages¬†me to participate as well. Because instead of plopping down on the sidelines and updating my status about what my kids are doing at the moment (or catching up on what everyone else’s kids are doing), I’m actually experiencing it all¬†with them. I’m realizing how much my kids value my presence and my attention. I’m reminded of how the things¬†I say and do will leave a lasting impression on them. And I’m more inclined to kick off my shoes and crawl, jump, climb, slide and run around with my munchkins so they will¬†know they matter. Because that’s something my kids (and all kids) need to know.

All I need to know is that being the sweatiest parent¬†in the room might also¬†make me the coolest parent ever – at least in my kids’ eyes. What could be more worthwhile than that? ūüėČ

The song for today’s post is Lenka’s “The Show”. The childlike quality of the song and some of¬†the lyrics remind me of what it’s like to be a kid.

Who were some significant adults from your childhood who made positive lasting impressions on your life?

P.S. Speaking of paying attention to the kids in our lives (whether personally or professionally), I¬†am hopeful that the business venture I am starting on Monday, November 17 will help us do just that. Stay tuned for the reveal of my plush toys called the¬†Moodkins!¬†You’ll also have the opportunity to win a free set of them next week!