Hair color, learning how to thrive, and new bangs!

bangs apartment maggie whitley

My friend Allison (her husband and my husband are childhood BFFs) has awesome bangs — well, honestly her entire hairstyle is awesome (always), and yesterday morning I finally declared, It’s time for me to have bangs again! Allison and I have similar hair texture and color, and every time I see her or a photo of her I take one step closer to having bangs cut. So yesterday I snuck out in the afternoon and had them cut, and would you believe I love them? :) They’re so fun.

Last year around this time my hair was darker (not my natural color though) and I had bangs, although they were more of a blunt/straight across cut. Now my hair is more of an auburn/blonde/light brown mix to match my natural color — paired with side-swept chunky bangs. This time around my hair feels more natural and easier to style.

For months, and I really do mean months (since February) our family has been praying for Zack’s work schedule to lessen. It has been a really long year, but I’m seriously grateful to see our prayers being answered and his schedule slowing down. It can be so hard to be patient and wait, can’t it? And to be honest, I wasn’t always quietly waiting… There were many days since February where I cried and complained and questioned WHY we needed to wait. My guess is it wasn’t just about answering our prayers but having God work on our hearts, too.

And so during that time I clothed myself (in a sense) in maintenance mode. Knowing the days would be very long and sometimes lonely… Knowing I would have to balance taking care of Max and caring for our home and encouraging Zack, grocery shopping and play dates and bath time, walking Bauer multiple times a day and praying fervently and resting during naptime — these things consumed my time and mind, and auto-pilot kicked in.

I hate admitting this, but after a few months I began running off maintenance mode: not really thinking about what would make me happy, but instead putting my family first so that they were happy. What I missed out on was recognizing how important both of these things are! It’s not about putting myself first as though there’s greater importance to my needs, but rather knowing when I hold both my family and myself on the same level both areas thrive, together.

I want to remember these past eight months as encouragement for the future. I remember a few years ago, when we lived in Minneapolis, going through something similar: something in life caused me to put myself on pause while we worked through a hard season. There was much learned, but I don’t think I processed it the healthiest way.

And now our family is growing! In such a short amount of time I’ll be in a newborn haze, but I’m so looking forward to experiencing that once again. And this time I’ll have my chunky bangs to hang out with as we navigate another hard season… and also maybe a new stick of raspberry-colored lip stain ;)

Small Spaces: Tip #1

small spaces tip #1 maggie whitley

When we first moved to Los Angeles, just over two years ago, we hardly had any material possessions. We packed our Jeep and drove from Minneapolis to LA, and I was not quite 14 weeks pregnant with Maxwell. We brought with us an heirloom baby cradle, my sewing machine, a box of sewing notions/fabric, minimal clothes, a small selection of meaningful items/decorations, Bauer’s dog crate, and plenty of tools should the Jeep need any servicing. We actually planned on sleeping in the Jeep on our drive out here, but as we were selling/packing/cleaning out the house we were renting in Minneapolis I found more and more things I just couldn’t leave behind. We had never made a move this large or far away and didn’t quite know what to expect. (Our families have the rest of our valuables and meaningful items stored in Michigan.) Suddenly the Jeep was full of “absolute musts” to bring to Los Angeles, so there wasn’t room for sleeping (or packing much else).

Funny, we didn’t bring more than a few boxes of stuff, but what we did bring took up a lot of space in the Jeep.

As hard as it’s been, I’ve learned over the last 25 months that it really is possible to live with less.

It’s an incredibly emotional process — especially how we’re indirectly trained to become attached to things — but it’s taught me so much.

Once we found our first apartment in Los Angeles we started making small purchases for our home. Of course all of this took lots of time, lots of saving, and a lot of discipline to not spend money on unnecessary things.

There are still things and clothes and furniture I think we need that we haven’t purchased yet, and the reason why has mixed results. Do we really need this? Can we afford it? And so we continue wait.

I remember clear as day showing a friend our first apartment after we had settled in. She saw our closet and then asked me, Where are the rest of your clothes? I thought to myself, They’ve been sold. And for a minute I actually felt embarrassed over my small wardrobe.

But that’s a perfect example of how we live with less, and how it’s been a discipline not to make a purchase “just because”.

Living with less shouldn’t feel weird or wrong. In fact, it’s actually taught me a lot about myself and personal tendencies. I’ve learned how to decorate our home with our favorite, most-cherished things instead of packing them away “for another time”.

When we display memories of our adventures, or make space in our cozy home for things that have value, we re-ignite life moments that once made our souls feel something. And how inspiring is that?

I’ve been trained to look at the big picture in life instead of a small, Maggie-centered life. Because of what we put inside our home, when I walk outside I actually notice the beautiful pink flowers growing on the branches. I rocked our firstborn to sleep in a cradle that once rocked me, and once again it’s in the nursery, anticipating another baby. My nightstand holds a bird lamp, a gift from my parents — one that “I really really really realllly wanted” about seven years ago. One kitchen cupboard shelf — which was once empty, is now full of coffee cups given to us by family & friends. They each tell a story of adventure and friendship in California. The bed quilts inside our closet hold meaning and are handmade, and the books on our bookshelf are incredibly inspiring, funny or from our very favorite authors.

My point is our home may be small but it’s incredibly large with meaning, and that brings me deep happiness.

Tip #1: have your home showcase the things that mean the most.

Friday inspiration…

let your smile change the world maggie whitley

It’s been pretty quiet around here this week. Nothing super specific came to mind, so I let the quiet slip in. It feels good to have the confidence to do that :)

This past week I stumbled on this quote while scrolling IG. It reminds me of my time at home with Maxwell — and soon Baby #2! If there’s anything I hope accomplish before each day ends it’s that I want my children to know how much happiness they bring me. It’s easy to stop teaching, praising, encouraging them because we think we’ve done it enough times already, but these three things make their little souls come alive.

Last week I had a conversation with my friend Ruth and she said, “next to loving the Lord you could not influence Max more than to be joyful like you are. He will be remembering your smile as his greatest comfort.”

So simple, powerful and true! 

So that’s my Friday inspiration for you. Want even to read more inspiring words from Ruth? Check out this post and this post. I love reading her archives, there’s so much wisdom in there. xoxo

Art credit is A Little Bundle.

5 ways I continue my creativity while living in a small space.

5 ways I continue my creativity while living in a small space // maggie whitley

For two years now we’ve lived in a small space, meaning our home is a 600 square foot apartment in Los Angeles. It’s a one bedroom with an extremely large living room — which thankfully has allowed us to make a section of our living room into a bedroom so the actual bedroom could be the nursery for our children. Our apartment has excellent storage for it’s size, but we’ve definitely learned to live with less. And honestly, this all started after traveling with Compassion International to Tanzania, Africa in May 2012. I remember coming home and very clearly feeling uncomfortable sitting on our couch, living in such a large home, having so many things. Our lives changed drastically soon after, but totally for the better :)

One way we live with less is by decorating with our favorite pieces, verses packing them away. Living in a small space has also helped me better realize my wants and needs — especially with my craft supplies ;)

We live in a small space for various reasons, but mostly because it fits our budget the best. Living in Los Angeles is extremely expensive (too many people and not enough places to live), so we do our best to live wisely. Besides, the weather here averages about 75*/80* throughout the year, so we’d be silly not to spend a lot time outside (ahem, hello beach) where we have plenty of room to stretch our legs.

leafy houseplant maggie whitley

When Zack and I lived in Detroit and Minneapolis we had more than enough space to run my handmade businesses, brainstorm product, create endlessly and the like. But Los Angeles has definitely stretched us in new ways, and so I’ve allowed myself the freedom to try new things. Turns out adventure-chasing and mamahood and learning to happily navigate adulthood aren’t as scary as they seem ;)

I’m a visual person, and living in a small space has challenged me in new, hard ways. And while I no longer have dedicated studio space, I do have a lovely kitchen table to work from and I’m rarely away from my family. Need another alternative workspace? Set up a 6-foot folding table.

embroidery maggie whitley

Here are 5 ways I continue my creativity while living in a small space:

* consider even the smallest of spaces as a potential for studio space. My friend Ashley of The Vanilla Tulip uses a teeny tiny closet as her office — perhaps something like this could be perfect for you, too? Also remember to build up. Pegboards, shelving and large cabinets are easy storage solutions and require very little floor space.

* work in small scale quantities. And remember: quality over quantity! Perhaps having a smaller shop inventory would encourage you to price your handmade wares more accurately. (No excuses! Underpricing is bad for everyone.) Also, making less means you work less which gives you more time to be with your family.

* remind yourself that seasons exists for a reason, and their ebb & flow is critically important to your growth. They may only last for a week, a month, or a year — but allow yourself the grace and flexibility to view your season as an opportunity for change.

* use this time to pursue a smaller-scale project. Sometimes small projects can be just as intimidating as the big ones, but girl, don’t let that hold you back! An example of this for me is with embroidering. It’s the perfect small space project because I can organize all of my supplies in a box, it’s easily transportable, and I can start and stop super easily.

* creating fills me up in so many ways, so it’s important I make time for it. Zack often takes Maxwell and Bauer out on an adventure so I can work (without worrying about little hands grabbing for the project). Living in a small space has challenged me to get creative with my creative time! An hour or two alone with my sewing machine or embroidery hoop benefits me, and my boys benefit from exploring the city together — without mom around!

embroidery maggie whitley

A few additional tips:

* many cities offer shared workspace opportunities, meaning you rent a workspace that’s shared with other creatives in your community. You can even rent a private shared workspace, conference rooms, etc. If your creative project requires more space than your home provides, definitely look into this.

* if you’re running a handmade business and absolutely need space to create & ship product, now is an excellent time to hire help. Your hired assistants can help you make product within their home, as well as ship directly from their home to the customer. Think outside the box here, literally ;)

* if you fail, remember to try (and try again!). I’ve had many set-ups for my workspace, and every time a change was needed I kept this bit of wisdom in the back of my mind. Sometimes an idea we have doesn’t work out perfectly the first time, so allow the process inspire you.

* what if — gasp! — you hung your collection of thread spools on the living room wall? What if you kept your fabric organized in a cute bin on the bookshelf? What if you invested in storage bins for under your bed (or couch) so your supplies are not only within reach, but they double as art for your home? Sounds like an excellent use of your small space to me! :)

embroidery supplies maggie whitley

Whatcha think? Are you inspired by your small space, or does it feel like an impossible hurdle? (Don’t give up yet.) Something I’ve had to remind myself (over and over and over) is this is real life, and in this season my family comes first; work comes second. Sure, I have big handmade dreams, but I hold on to the hope that those dreams will come true once again — just not right now. Let hope float you by, whatever that means for you personally. My home doesn’t ever need to be pinterest-ready, so I’m OK with my kitchen table for a workspace. I don’t have to set bigger and grander work goals for myself each year, at least not right now. Creativity can exist anywhere, at anytime, with any medium. How’s that for some solid inspiration? xoxo

PS. some of the cutest shared workspaces for kiddos

This post is a part of the Creativity Expressed Blog Series hosted by Jen at Lovely Messes.  Nine creative women are sharing the secrets behind their creative process, don’t miss a single bit of inspiration!