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!

The easiest way to find joy when you “stay at home”.

maxwell playing Maggie Whitley

Sometimes it’s just a bit too easy for my focus to be on keeping our home super clean and tidy — only then will I be happy, I think to myself. But really, that mindset is a huge lie. Especially for our mama hearts when we already feel like we are juggling a small circus for 12 hours a day ;)

But I’m determined to not let that kind of discouragement into my home.

If I’m spending all of my time cleaning and tidying (or even too much time, since cleaning a small space doesn’t take long) then other areas of our home aren’t being tended to.

Things like…

– loving on the people inside our home

– going on long walks where our hearts and minds are exercised

– feeding my family through meals and conversation around the table

– the purpose of our home: to grow and learn and rest and encourage one another, daily.

I try to reserve two small windows of time each week towards tidying our home, usually at the start and end of the week, so we (I) can fully enjoy the weekend in all it’s glory. This easy exercise has helped me find the joy in a lived-in home, especially since I “stay at home”.

Walking around plastic toy hammers, and blocks, and books, and the dog’s toy, and don’t forget about the laundry drying on the rack — these all shout LIFE to me, and life should be celebrated. If my focus is on putting all of these things away, what kind of message am I sending out?

It doesn’t take much for our home to feel unclean or untidy since we’re in a small space. But I’ve learned to know the difference between a home that feels comfortable to us and our friends, or a home that feels uncomfortable.

baby bump Maggie Whitley

And perhaps the most important thing I’ve learned with all of this: when I set too high of expectations on myself it’s not just our home that suffers, the people who live inside our home suffer, too.

It’s not my ability to clean and tidy well that should bring me joy…

It’s the day-to-day of life that brings me joy: having a messy kitchen, owning clothing that needs to be laundered, having floors that need to be swept of beach sand and pretzels, and tidying our toys because we play with them.

And this joy? It also brings me freedom.

6 small (yet impactful) changes for your home.

6 small (impactful) home changes to make right now // maggie whitley

Too many times I pretend I love our home without really, truly, fully loving it. Of course there are specific things about our home that I love, but there always seem to be bigger things I don’t love that somehow override what I do love. (Do you ever feel like that?) The apartment we’re currently in is perfect for our family right now, even though it has it’s quirks and disadvantages.

Our apartment may be a small space but it’s where we live, where we love, and where we practice grace. I’ve been slowly making changes to make our home even better for us and how we use it daily/weekly, and even more specifically I’ve been trying to build up momentum so these changes don’t take too long to for me to actually implement. Oh, the freedom that has brought me.

SIX SMALL CHANGES TO MAKE IN YOUR HOME:
1. ORGANIZE // our bookshelf has many purposes but was looking a little cluttered, so I re-organized a few shelves (this took all of 5 minutes) and now it’s more aesthetically pleasing.

2. HANG // for months I’ve been wanting a world map on the wall in the nursery, and I finally bought one! (See a glimpse of it here.)

3. MOVE // this one probably surprised me the most: I moved a floor rug a mere six inches so it now butts up to the wall (instead of leaving a gap of hardwood floor showing). The visual impact this change has is incredible, whoa!

4. MAKE // I grabbed some extra fabric and an hour of my time and sewed 2 new envelope-style pillow covers for our couch. This allowed me to re-cover two pillows that didn’t match our decor anymore using materials I already had on hand.

5. CHANGE // since our bedroom is really just a corner of our living room, it’s easy for the bed to become an immediate focal point, which I try to avoid. The first change I made was moving our bed so it isn’t the first thing you see when you walk through the front door. Then, I switched our bed quilt to something less bright and more neutral (even though I love bright/colorful materials). This two-part change stopped our bed from screaming “look at me!” and it’s also allowed me to create a neutral, relaxing bedroom nook inside our small apartment. I call that a win! :)

6. EDIT // I tidied up our 5-hook wall organizer (that hangs behind our front door) to include only the essentials. Anything we don’t use weekly was put away, but still within quick reach. This visible area is now refreshed and took me about 5 minutes to edit it’s contents.

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The great part about all of these changes is that, aside from buying the wall map, the only requirement needed was my time. Maybe it’s how I’m preparing for the birth of our second child, but my new mantra is that I want our home to be a little oasis from the hustle Los Angeles brings on so easily. I want our home to serve our family’s needs (relax, learn, love, grow). It may be small, but our home is full of intention. And, I want it to be a reflection of who we are while allowing us to grow individually. These six changes have made our home so much sweeter :)

I bet you could find a way to implement these six changes, too. Take 15 minutes right now and make your space something you love. You deserve to feel refreshed while at home — ready, set, go!