{What it means to be a mom for the first time. // by Lisa Leonard}

Today my beautiful friend Lisa Leonard is sharing with us, “What it means to be a mom for the first time.” Lisa has such a kind, gentle, inspiring spirit — you’ll see that in her words below. Thank you Lisa for sharing your heart with us on this precious topic…

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Everything I thought about being a new mom change the day my son David was born.

lisa-leonard-gussy-sews

He came out quietly. There were whispers from the doctors. There was a terrifying tension that filled the room.

After the doctors did a quick evaluation, Steve, my husband brought David over to me and laid this tiny, swaddled baby on my chest.

He was adorable. He had a full head of hair, blue eyes and a button nose. He also had only two fingers on his left hand, a severe heart defect and we would soon find out, a genetic disorder that would make life look very different for our new baby.

The day my son was born was the day I began to learn that being a mom was about sacrifice. For me, being a new mom meant g-tube feeds, surgery, doctor visits and sleepless nights. But most of all, being a new mom meant opening my heart to a new kind of love. This little man came into my life and turned it upside down. He made me better. He made me less selfish. David makes the sunshine brighter and the stars twinkle at night.

He made me a mother, and I love him more than words can say.

Lisa Leonard blogs at Lisa Leonard Online where she shares stories from her heart, thrift store finds and her inspiring jewelry collection. Lisa and her husband, Steve, live in San Luis Obispo, CA with their two boys — David and Matthias.

{5 tips to grow your biz + work with your community.}

just over two years ago i moved my gussy sews shop from etsy to big cartel. and then shortly after i wrote this post comparing the two e-commerce sites based on my personal experience. don’t get me wrong ~ i love etsy and all the resources they distribute. their newsletters inspire me with seller ideas and overall brand development {are you signed up??}. however, working with big cartel has been fabulous as well! :) i so appreciate the complete HTML freedom as well as having an independent shop {no “home” link which showcases other shops}. and, it’s been amazing working with big cartel and getting to know their team a bit more.

today my friend dan is here to share 5 tips to grow your business and work with your community.

so dan, take it away, sir!

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We get it. You’ve got an online shop. You’ve created amazing product. You’ve designed a
beautiful store. And now, well, you need customers. Promoting your shop doesn’t have to be
expensive or frustrating. You don’t have to rely on friends and family to be your only
customers for the foreseeable future. We’ve got some great ideas, found right in your own
backyard, that will help push your shop past that awkward “first day of school” phase.

SELL AT {and SUPPORT} LOCAL RETAIL STORES: Local boutiques are always looking for something special to set themselves apart. Your unique, custom goods may just fit that niche. Sell to them on consignment to ease their risk, or offer a competitive wholesale price (usually 1/2 of the retail price you sell for). Once your products are in there, spread the word about that place,
and make sure you shop there yourself. The more you support those stores, the more they’ll
support you and your products.

ATTEND OR CREATE EVENTS: Get out into the world! Even if you’re going to events that aren’t directly related to your business, put your face out there in new crowds and be sure to bring plenty of business cards. If there aren’t any relevant or interesting events in your area, create one! A fun meet-up at a local waffle cafe (great, now we’re hungry) can go a long way when
trying to build your business.

GIVE BACK: Support local non-profits that align with your beliefs. Volunteer your time, goods, or portion of profits. Other supporters of the non-profit will take note and be more likely to support you in return. Make your community a better place. You’ll quickly find yourself
connecting with like-minded people who share the same passions, ethic and drive.

CARD ME: Make sure whenever you’re out of the house engaging your community that you’re never without business cards. Hand out a card with every conversation you have, and consider
including an exclusive discount code on the back of your cards to encourage folks to visit your
site and make a purchase.

DON’T GO AT IT ALONE: Find ways to collaborate. Curate an exhibition, swap blog posts (Oh hey,Gussy!), run a contest with a brand you admire, or concept and create a product with a shopthat complements yours. You’ll share the workload and instantly double the community your
promotions will reach.

And most importantly – have fun representing what it is you love to do. You are the face of
your business, and making a great impression can lead to long term brand loyalty.

SHARE WITH US: do you have a tip that has worked really well for you? is there a tip here that’s inspired you with your business? share with us below! :)

{on making time for rest.}

today i have a special treat for you mamas + mama-to-be’s :) my blog friend emily of anderson family crew is here to share with us how important it is to make time for rest. and, emily knows! she’s a mama to 6 littles. wanna know something great? i “met” emily years ago when i first started blogging — it’s been amazing to watch her family grow! emily is hilarious and real and creative and we share the same faith. it’s great… i love reading her blog and so for today i’ve asked her to share with you all the importance of rest. i’m not sure why this is, but ever since i read her post on having quiet/nap time every afternoon, i’ve been almost infatuated with this concept… mainly because it makes me happy that emily knows what’s best for her family. yes, i’m a dork :)

on that note, several of you have asked about balancing your time + days with running a business and being a wife and/or mama, so if that’s you, please read on! emily’s advice is timeless and i’m hoping it speaks to you as it does to me.

some of my favorite emily posts: this one, and this, and this one, too. xo

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Hello Gussy readers…I’m Emily, wife to Mr. Anderson and mama to 6 wildly awesome children.

Our oldest just turned 8, and our youngest is 4 months…so to say our life is chaotic, is an understatement. Because of the understood chaos that takes place in our house on a daily basis, this mama needs some quiet time.

My 4 oldest are in school for half days (home by 1:00) and I usually spend the mornings running errands or catching up on housework (our laundry pile is always amazing). By the time the oldest are all home, and after we finish up lunch and homework, it’s my favorite time of the day: rest time.

Ever since my oldest was about 1, I have implemented an afternoon nap time. As he’s gotten older, it’s no longer a nap time for him, but a rest time. As each new baby is added to the family, I work my hardest to get them on the same afternoon schedule (meaning, they take their longest nap in the afternoon). At this point I have 3 that nap, and 3 that just rest. “Resting” can look very different for each child, depending on their needs that day. Sometimes they are cranky and I know they need alone time, so I have them grab some books and puzzles and head to their bed. Other times, they are allowed to play quietly with their sibling that’s awake…but this only lasts if they remain quiet. If they fight, or are loud, then they have to go back to playing alone.

Every day I remind my kids that rest time isn’t for them, but it’s for mama. I need this time. Over the years it’s changed, as the needs of my kids have changed. We’ve experienced afternoons where rest time lasts for 3 hours, and sometimes it lasts for 1 hour. Either way, I’m getting time to myself every afternoon.

So, since I committed to having my kids rest every afternoon, I make sure I’m doing the same thing. For years now, I only allow myself to do things that are fun and recharging for me in the afternoon. This can look different on any given day, but some examples are: write a couple blog posts; catch up on some of my favorite shows; do a crafty craft; read a book; have some time with the Lord; take a nap. Whatever is needed so that I can recharge myself, I’m gonna try to do it.

Let me say that it’s not always perfect. Some days I walk away feeling even more exhausted than before, because my kids weren’t cooperating. Since having a new baby, I have felt like I’ve had to really lay the hammer down during rest time because I only have a little bit of time completely to myself, while my newest one sleeps. So, when she lays down, I set the timer for 45 minutes and tell the kids that are awake still, that they may not play with each other, or come and get me (unless someone is dying of course) until the timer goes off. This usually ensures I get about 30-45 minutes to myself—but not always. Life isn’t perfect.

So, to all you mama’s out there, let me tell you something. You need this time. It doesn’t matter if it comes in the morning or the afternoon, but for your sanity, you need this time. Don’t you have things that you love to do? Maybe it’s painting… or photography… or writing… or organizing… or meal planning/cooking… or heck, maybe it’s watching T.V. If you love it, make some time for it. You don’t need to be at your kids beck and call all day long. In fact, when you get time to yourself, you will be a better wife and mom for it… I promise.

If you’ve never had an afternoon rest time, or if you are struggling with a toddler that won’t nap anymore, don’t give up that afternoon time. It’s okay to put your kids in their rooms for an hour or so in the afternoon. Give them some books/puzzles/legos. Make them have to figure out a way to not be bored. If you think “there is no way my kid will stay put for an hour in their room” then start out with 15 minutes. Set the timer for 15 minutes… then gradually add 5-10 minutes to their rest time every day so that you are finally at an hour. And be consistent with it… and don’t give up when you add a new baby to the mix… work hard at getting them accustomed to sleeping long in the afternoon.

I hope this helps some of you with finding time to yourself. I realize that not all of you will think you need this, or maybe even some of you already have another routine going, and that’s great. But if you are struggling, then hopefully you can get started today!

* If you have any questions about how I do things, leave a comment here!

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES FROM GUSSY:
Tsh of Simple Mom, a day in the life – love seeing into others lives!
Nester, Lovely Limitations :: 12 days a month – how Nester only works 12 days a month, amazing!

{a NEW mini-series: “How I live a creative life,” featuring Sarah Jane Studios}

This week we’ve focused on a NEW mini-series built around the question, “How do I live a creative life?” I’ve shared with you unique perspectives from a variety of my blogger friends all week. Each of these ladies has a defined style, career focus + family life, and creativity plays a key role in their everyday. In case you missed it, here are this week’s past posts: Kyla, Heather, Lisa + Hayley.

I’m wrapping up this week’s focus with a post from Sarah Jane Studios. It’s the last post focusing on outside perspectives with the goal that YOU leave here feeling inspired ~ I want to encourage you to take a fresh new look at the creative life you already live ♥. On Monday we’ll dig a little deeper, so I hope you’ll be back for week #2 :)

Let’s get started, shall we?

This week the question is, “How do you live a creative life?”

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Hello! Love Gussy…love this blog! So happy to step in today and say hello. I’m Sarah Jane (you can just call me Sarah) and I’m the Mama behind Sarah Jane Studios: the place where I illustrate art prints, paper play things and gifts for children, design fabric, illustrate books, design stitching patterns…and in a nutshell “illustrate childhood.”

I love it. I love my work! But, while it’s a creative business, believe it or not, it can actually be challenging for me to find the time I crave to be creative!

But wait a minute….what does living a creative life mean? Walking on the beach, painting for hours and writing novels by night? I used to think that. But being the mother of 3 children, running a household and a business, I’ve come to realize that living a creative life is a choice, and not something that falls upon you. The two things that block my creativity are 1) fatigue and 2) stress. Oh gee. What young mother doesn’t feel that 24/7?? When I’m overwhelmed and tired, I’m a useless artist. So, I try and keep that in check. So since being a young mother and running a business means that those two things happen more often than not, I have to choose creativity. Once I choose to live creatively, I’ve made the jump. Just like happiness is a choice, living creatively is a choice as well.

Finding the hours on end to let loose into projects isn’t my reality at all during my busy days. And while I do block out time for big projects as I need to, I find that living creatively doesn’t require blocked out time… but rather it’s how you choose to use your time. No matter what your love or where you are.

Because I illustrate for children, I’ve let my busy life as a mom be my resource for finding beauty every day. While the tasks of motherhood can be challenging, exhausting and at times draining, choosing to see the miracles and simple beauties that children see spins me into my creativity. And in fact, because I illustrate for children, it’s been a blessing for me because it reminds me to watch my children more closely, and pay attention to how they think and see the world. Children see everything as new and full of possibility. To live a creative life, you must see the ordinary as new. Find ways to turn a routine task into something fresh. Take a problem and turn it into a solution. Look at something you see every day in an entirely new way.

But it’s not easy, and I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes I get into a rut, and wonder where my creative spark went!! That’s the way things are in a family… the ebbs and flows are unpredictable. But I take those days, toss them behind me, and find a way to shake things up! Sometimes it’s as easy as dancing in the kitchen at breakfast, having lunch on the grass instead of the table, going to a new shop or taking the long way home. What ever it is, as long as you make the effort to see the world fresh, creativity will come. And isn’t it fun? Much more than the alternative. So I try and choose it. Everyday!

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LET’S DISCUSS: What two things block your creativity? What is a realistic solution for this problem? How could you spend your time {differently?} so you live a more creative life? xo