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Working from Home

Since I started my own small business eight years ago, there have been many obstacles. However, I think one of the hardest and easiest decisions I made was to work from home. I worried about the image of my business in this arrangement. Would people think I was not serious because I didn’t have an actual office they could visit? Would they question my skills because of this? Many thoughts ran through my head, and many doubts followed them. When I got to the core of the choice, the one reason I choose to work at home, that was what put my mind to rest. Why did I make the decision to go out on my own in the first place? Children. I wanted to be able to do all I could for them as they grow, to have that flexibility. I realize this is not for everyone; kids go to daycare every day; mine went to preschool when they were little. For me, I have the privilege to do this thanks to my husband, and I don’t take that lightly. I am grateful every day. I wanted to be the one to drop them off and pick them up from school, those 15 minutes in the car each day are important to me, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

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With this being said, it’s not all sunny days and roses here so please don’t mistake that. There are days when becoming a truck driver sounds like a better idea. Me in a big rig driving alone for hours…alone…did I mention alone? No laundry, no cooking dinner or grabbing someone a snack in the middle of an important deadline. Sounds like a dream! I am kidding, the good does outweigh the bad, but there are always obstacles. For example, when the kids were babies my whole day was spent around their schedule. I molded my day around naptime, food and playtime. I got pretty good at that even though it was monotonous at times. Nap time was meeting time, and it worked, I made it work. The fantastic thing about my clients that I did not expect is that understood. They valued my skills; they respected my time, and they helped me make it work. I truly believe if things are right, they tend to fall into place. I was open and honest about how and where I worked, and although it stressed me to relay this to them in the beginning, they appreciated it and no one had any issues. This does not mean my life was not stressful at times; it just means that it worked itself out.

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A few years later the kids were both in school full time and an office space became available for me outside the home. I was so excited! My own work address, my own space, and no one would touch anything! I was eager and ready to take the business to the next level. The next chapter had begun, and I felt accomplished. Clients were able to come to my office, and I had neighbors, people who were small business owners just like me. We chatted and laughed together on a daily basis, and I loved it. That tiny office was a bit of freedom for a mom who just wanted to feel like herself before children. When I sit down and think about it, I realize holding on hard to my profession has been a financial choice of course, but the root of it is me. I wanted to be a mom and a small business owner too. I have had a job since I was 15 years old, I think it is just how I am programmed. I wanted to do both. Being a mother is hard work, it is the hardest job I have ever had along with being the most rewarding. I see myself working and owning a small business as an example for my children. That they too can manage a family and their dreams at the same time if they choose to do so.

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I was there for almost two years when we made the decision to move. I cried a lot. I felt like I was giving up a part of myself and that was hard. I packed up, said my goodbyes and we relocated. Now I am back at home. Things tend to work in full circles; life is funny that way. I have to say; I don’t hate it. I was as surprised as anyone. My new office at home has worked itself out, and the light is good. That is important to a designer you know. I have new hurdles of course and instead of working around nap times I use the time they are both in school. When they come home, they have chores and homework, so I get a full 8 hours of work in per day. More time than I have ever had before to work. If you are a parent working from home and struggling here are five tips for you to be more successful. It’s not an easy task and each one of these tips will not work itself out overnight but it’s a start!

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#1 Don’t doubt yourself

You can make a business happen anywhere if you want it bad enough. It can be as small as a laptop on a kitchen table, but if you focus on the goal, you will succeed.

#2 Communicate

Be honest, tell your clients the situation. If you work from home, and the UPS folks show up and your dog goes nuts in the background they may think, where is this person? If they know you work from home, just apologize and move on. They won’t even think twice about it.

#3 Mold yourself

Be willing to be flexible. If you have small children, make a schedule and get them on it. I used to find time to work at night when the days got hectic.

#4 Close the door

Work can consume you and then you never shut it off. Let yourself leave the work in your office. If you find yourself on the couch at night, and you are aching to go back to your desk or you are answering emails on your phone when you are supposed to be spending quality time with your significant other, there is a problem. You MUST shut it off! I think this is the most important point of all. Know your boundaries, keep hold of them. Think about it, you could have missed that pivotal point in Game of Thrones with Jon Snow this season because you were looking at an email, that would have been tragic;)

#5 Appreciate it

Working from home can be stressful. You may even regret it some days. But remind yourself as much as you can about why you are here. I promise this will be the easiest one of them all. Family matters and your presence will be noticed for years to come!

 

You can read a similar blog to this I wrote last year here. I do it to track my progress each year.

 

 

The Gallery Wall

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I have always wanted to do gallery wall, but I never had a great place to display things in our old house. We had a hallway filled with photographs in black frames, but it was hard to see them since the area was dark. When we moved into the new house, I thought “YES”, a second chance! Although excited about it I put it off for a couple of months and then I finally braved it and committed.

It was a time-consuming process, to say the least, but I took the advice of other pinners on Pinterest and made a map of everything. Pinterest can sometimes be your friend and sometimes your worst enemy because when you are up late at night and you start thinking to yourself “I can do that!” Hours later you ask yourself, “Why on earth did I do that?” Either way, it was the right way to go. I used old wrapping paper, the plain white side, to display just because the pattern makes it harder to decide in my opinion. I also used washi tape because it sticks enough to hold but does not peel the paint off the walls. It will also allow you to easily move things over and over again until you get it right. I did make notes on the paper too just to be sure. After a lot of rearranging and walking away, I finally committed and started hanging. Not having the actual wall paint color on hand if I had made mistakes probably was my number one reason for going this route. I wanted to be a little more meticulous about it than normal. I cannot lie, on more than one occasion I may have just not measured where the nail should go by eyeing it. My husband may have noted it once or twice. If you are smart, you can actually use the paper on the wall to be your nail guide as well.  Live and learn friends, live and learn!

At the end of the day, I love it! I think I made the right choice to incorporate antiques, artwork, and photographs to make it more interesting. However, I think it would look great with just family photos as well.If you decide to tackle your own wall, take some time to gather the items you wish to hang. If you don’t have enough, hit up your local thrift store. You can find some great pieces that you can revamp there for a fraction of the cost. Also, find a bit of a color story to stick with. Too many colors competing will make a total mess. I stuck with the wood, the black frames and that pop of green in the “F” to keep a good balance. Take a look at the final gallery wall below, what do you think?

My last and most important piece of advice to you is that when your husband returns home to see your great creation and asks you if you think it’s too much, walk on friends, just keep walking on.

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Getting Settled!

Many months ago my husband came to me with a potential job opportunity. The catch is it was in another state. I am not going to lie my first reaction was a hard “NO”! I had no desire to pack my entire family, my business, the home where I brought my babies and moved to another state. The idea of even selling our house made me want to pass out. I had done so much DIY to that space, it all was just overwhelming to me. It was at this moment I started to realize how attached to things I become and how change challenges me as a person. Then I made myself sit down and think about it. How much did he want to do this? It’s not just me, what about the kids? I realized that interviewing doesn’t mean we move. I should agree to the interview, what could it hurt? I certainly don’t even want him to pass up an opportunity; we are a team.

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With my fingers crossed, probably for the wrong reasons, he went ahead with the process. After the first interview, his mind changed slightly. I silently exhaled at this moment even though I secretly felt horrible about it. Don’t get me wrong, I always want my husband to succeed. He is great at whatever he sets his mind to accomplish in work. He is determined, and everyone who works with him admires his work ethic, including me. But fear immobilized me in a way I hadn’t experienced before. What if this did happen?

Days passed and turned into weeks and then after we had let the idea go until he got a call back for a second interview. The idea had been reborn, and I was more welcoming the second time around. We visited the city; I made sure there was a Target and a Publix, you know, the important things. I poured over available homes and schools in the area. He thought I was jumping ahead. I do this. I am a planner, and I want to be in control. I don’t mean to be this way, it kind of just starts swirling in my head and before you know I have mentally put an offer on a house just to be prepared and start the process. Interview number two and he was convinced the interview was ok but not stellar, and again we left the idea at the door. This time, I was a little sad, as if our adventure was cut short and I had honestly begun looking forward to the change. We had gone to visit the area, and it reminded me a little of the small town where I grew up. Maybe I wanted to do this after all. Crazier things have happened. The concept of moving can get you in quite a tizzy. Our kids kept coming into play, and I thought maybe smaller might be better after all.

A few weeks later we went to North Carolina for my brother-in-law’s wedding. While we were with family, we started to realize how much we miss being so far south. We have been away from grandparents and cousins for far too long. Plus, the mountains were calling. In all the chaos we managed to make it to the Blue Ridge Parkway. I grew up vacationing there, and my father’s ashes rest here too. It is one of the most prominent spots on this planet to me. With a fantastic trip under our belt, he got the call. Things had changed again, and I was back to stage one of being scared. We ended up agreeing it was the right move for our family, young and old. So the job was accepted, and a new set of emotions came to me. The common places in my life would change, I would have to give up my office, most importantly my friends, my children would have to leave their friends and my husband would leave his colleagues. What were they thinking? How would they do? Did we make a mistake?

The whole process of moving happened so fast, our house was put on the market and sold on the first day. When our realtor called to tell me, I could barely breathe. Homes in our area were sitting for at least two weeks before selling so it was a bit of a shock, in a good way of course. This was happening, I still couldn’t breathe.

A few short months we began our home search and after many bouts of stress and wonder, it all managed to come together. The movers came and packed our home, we were lucky enough to have family take us in the week we were homeless. The stress of the new Dodd-Frank rules almost shot our nerves but we made it all happen in a very short time. Yes, we could have rented but for our family buying a new home was the best decision for us. It just had to be done fairly quickly.

11136122_10206206842342357_3669368448281488874_oWe moved here to Brunswick, GA just over two months ago now. So far I can say it is different, again the change was a lot bigger for me than I imagined. We are only an hour away from Florida, so that is great news. I have lived in the state of Florida my entire life; I am proud to be from the sunshine state and I am sure I will miss it.

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Upon our arrival to the new home, the kids were greeted by multiple children in the driveway. They have already made several friends in the neighborhood which is fantastic! We live in a culdesac so it’s a whole new world for them. If they are happy it is so much easier for us. As a bonus, they love their school too. My husband seems less stressed and is easing into the new position nicely. I think he will do great things here. Things I liked and many things I have to work on every day. I think it’s important to see constantly yourself in others, determine if you like the things you see and decide if you need to work on them.

I will say I certainly learned so much about myself during this process. Things I liked about myself and many things I have to work on every day to change. I think it’s important to see yourself in others, determine if you like the things you see and decide if you need to work on them. If someone has a cure for worry and control please email me, haha!

Currently, I have placed my work office in the bonus room; it’s lovely and bigger than our last space. I am grateful for it, but I also miss my friends at the old office, the daily banter is greatly missed. All in all, we managed to pull off a very large task in a very short time and with that it will take the time to belong here. So I have pulled up my boot straps now, and I accept the challenge whether it be for five years or maybe more. I look forward to rebuilding my business here and become a part of this community. Cross your fingers and I will bring you all along for the ride!

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