Hello, lovelies! My new site, Resounding You, is live! You’ve been a part of the journey this far, and I’d love for you to join me there. Having conversations with readers like you has changed my outlook–and my life, along with it–so I’d be honored if you’d continue to follow along.
Too many of us are walking around, holding back the best parts of ourselves. Let’s make some art. Let’s find our people. Let’s do the things we’ve been hemming and hawing about. Yes, let’s find new ways to let our voices resound.
Though I’m retiring Blue Car Painted Green, I’ve moved its content to Resounding You, so it can have a new life there. Onward!
Two months ago, I posted a survey of potential new names for my blog. I adore the current name, especially the story behind it, but the time’s right to make a new home for this space. For a variety of reasons, I’ve decided a new name will better suit the future I envision for this dialogue and community.
Thanks to all of you who voted! You helped me sort out this decision, which turned out to be kind of a big deal in my world. I love that one of you responded with this comment: “Are you sure you’ll be able to go through with it?” How very astute of you! Indeed, letting go hasn’t been easy. Whoever you are, I can totally relate to your blogger friend who contemplated a new name, but ultimately dropped the idea.
So, Why the Change?
I started this blog to record craft projects I’d been working on. Every handmade item has a story, and I quickly realized I adored telling these stories. Before long I discovered I loved the writing as much as the making. Both helped me find my voice. Over time, blogging made me braver, and the feeling spilled into other parts of my life. Now I want to help you capture the freedom and joy that can come from finding your voice, too.
Flashback to my very first post: An infinity scarf made from thrifted sweaters. I’d like to think my photography and writing have improved since then.
I still love roaming thrift shops. Have no fear; I’ll still blog about such adventures.
Let Your Voice Resound
As such, I’m happy to announce my new name: Resounding You. I hope you’ll find it as memorable and energizing as I do. There, I’ll provide tools and inspiration for finding our voices. I’ll still write about the same topics–crafting, self care, entrepreneurship, and more–just under a new lens. (Truth be told: Blue Car Painted Green has proven tricky for people to remember.) Here’s a sneak peek at the new look:
How To Keep Following Along: The Nitty Gritty
Within the coming weeks, my new site’ll go live! At that time, I’ll do one final post here, with a link to Resounding You. On your first visit please subscribe, if you’re so moved. Over time we’ve built a relationship, and I’m more than a little attached to our conversations. Let’s keep them going!
I’ll no longer update Blue Car Painted Green, but anyone who comes here will automatically be rerouted to the new site. All my content will move there, where it’ll discover a new life.
You can’t change the world unless you find your people. This is a story of shared transformation, and I invite you to come along. Through a contact at Impact Hub Minneapolis-St. Paul, I met wholistic consultant Julie Delene of Move as One this spring. Within minutes, we both knew we had work to do, together.
We’ve teamed up to create this blog series, The Soulful Sidebiz. I’m following my call to help people find my voice, and Julie’s providing me tools for creating systemic change. Our hope is to inspire you on your own journey of transformation, whatever it may be. Here’s to aligning passions with goals!
“I’d love to hang the pictures in my home office,” I responded with a sigh, “but I’ve been avoiding the task for months. I want to be surrounded by art. Instead, the room has frames stashed on the floor and clutter in every corner.” Even as I spoke these words, I perceived the slightest question on Julie’s face. I could tell this wasn’t what she’d thought I’d say, and–quite frankly–it wasn’t what I’d have predicted, either.
I Visualize a Goal
I was in the middle of a leadership consultation, you see, and I’d just answered a question from a board game. Created by Julie, the game helps players gain clarity. Called 5 Mindful Moves, it prompts players to have conversations around enhancing their work, life, and relationships. In my case, the plan is to build a side business that “does good” in the world and generates income. (Deep down, I fear this isn’t possible. Help me, Julie!)
Today’s game had begun in the same way it always does: I named the objective I wanted to explore. This time I’d told Julie I wanted to think through a decision I was mulling at my full-time job. I’d already completed my first two moves and had just pulled a card from a stack of prompts about visualizing my goals.
I Allow My Inner Voice to Speak (And You Should, Too)
All of a sudden, I came up with a response that had nothing, whatsoever, to do with my full-time job. Instead I began talking about hanging pictures in my home office. But even though my response surprised me, I didn’t push it away. For an over-functioner like me, this was a tiny victory. Moments of allowing can teach us so much, if we can resist the urge to bury them.
In this case, I was finally allowing myself to listen to an inner voice I’d been ignoring for months. I’d wanted to hang pictures in my office for nearly half a year. And yet. Over and over again, I’d come up with reasons not to. Raise your hand if any of these sound familiar:
Hanging pictures is frivolous. I have more practical things to do, like laundry.
Putting holes in the wall will mar the room for future residents. (Never mind the fact that we have no plans to sell the house.)
I don’t have the proper nails. What exactly are the proper nails, anyway?
Hanging pictures requires making decisions. Which pictures should go where, and what if I change my mind later?
I’m tired. The Gilmore Girls are calling my name.
I Take Action and Hang The Freaking Pictures
What Julie helped me realize is that decorating the office wasn’t just a fanciful whim. Having a well-designed office is critical to productivity, and–for an artist like me–inspiration. Don’t just take my word for it. As Entrepreneur magazine puts it, “Ensure that your office reflects you and that it contains a favorite object or photo that will give you the break you need when you pause in your work . . . Your office should be a connection to yourself, your spirit and your productivity.”
I Surround Myself With Art
My office is no longer a reminder of things I intend to do. Instead it gives me energy by surrounding me with art.
A pencil drawing by my grandfather, who was an architect.
A block print by a friend to commemorate his wedding. (The couple distributed handmade gifts to guests during the ceremony, encouraging us not to be shy about accepting them.)
Items picked up at art festivals, independent bookstores, and fabric remnant bins.
Your Turn. Go Out and Pretty Up Your Space.
If you’ve been hesitating to prettify a space of your own, I hereby give you permission to go for it. After hanging my pictures, I immediately starting using the space. Indeed, as I type this post, I’m looking at my wall, which still makes me smile every time glance up. If you have a project in mind, let me know how it goes. I’d love to hear!
This shot brings warm memories of a wedding I attended in Pheonix. The groom hand-printed copies of this block print he desinged. The couple distributed these, along with a variety of other handmade gifts, to wedding guests.
I like to put fabric behind picture frames, then use the glass as a “white” board.
I bought these at the Stone Arch Festival, one of my faves in the Twin Cities.
My wall of happiness.
Seeing my grandfather’s signature reminds me of my legacy as an artist. I mustn’t let my fears and busy-ness get in the way of living it out.
If you and I were sitting down for coffee, I’d love to ask what you think of the saying, “Leap and the net will appear.” I, for one, have a hot-and-cold relationship with this philosophy. Deep down, I believe there’s some kind of spiritual truth to it, and I’d be lying if I told you I haven’t experienced examples of it in my life.
On the other hand, I’m a gal who likes to make things happen. And when I say this, here’s what I really mean: I. WILL. MAKE. THINGS. HAPPEN. And I’ll do it perfectly, for crying out out loud, right now. The over-functioner in me has a tough time accepting any correlation between achieving success and loosening my grip on control.
Now, I’m about to embark on a new quest for balancing planning and letting go. After fifteen years at the same nonprofit, I’m also starting a side business related to helping people find their voice. For two years I’ve been blogging about the challenges and joys of finding my own. (How do you find your voice, I wonder?) For me, the best tools include crafting, writing, self care, and–ultimately, I hope–entrepreneurship.
But here’s the deal: Starting a business is no joke. Exploring how you want to serve the world is a process that stirs all kinds of emotions, ideas, and uncertainties. As a mentor recently told me, “If you want to get some therapy, start a business or start making art.” Indeed, the past few months have brought more upheaval than I care to admit.
Then, three weeks ago, I met someone to help guide my path. Enter mindfulness coach and founder of Move as One, Julie Delene. For more than 20 years, Julie’s been empowering individuals and organizations to have mindful conversations and take action. She and I met through a contact at Impact Hub, the Minneapolis co-working space where both of us are members.
Now, she’ll be coaching me on my journey toward entrepreneurship, and I invite you to follow along. I’ll record my experiences through a new series, The Soulful Side Biz, which’ll appear on my blog and hers. I can tell already that Julie’s emphasis on embodied decision-making will do me a world of good. I don’t know about you, but I get stuck in analysis mode, which–yep–leads to plenty of paralysis.
Lucky for me, Julie’s developed a game to spark dialogue during coaching. 5 Mindful Moves gets to the heart of what players what to create in work and life. The point is to reduce stress, renew passion, and improve decision-making. I’m excited to find out where this will lead. And, as always, I’m curious to hear your thoughts about mindfulness. Feel free to comment!
If you wanted to bring change to your life, what would you do to make it happen? Some pals and I were discussing this over dinner recently. While enjoying our Nepalese curry, one of my girlfriends made a comment that spurred me into action. “If you really want to make things happen,” she said, “you’ve got to get out of the house.” She was referring to career change–I’m building a side business–but her advice can inspire action for any woman leader in our web-focused world.
For me, spending hours online feels like getting things done. And, yes, this can often be the case. After all, Facebook communities and online courses have been two of my most powerful tools for gathering resources related to my side hustle. But I lean toward introversion and can be fooled into believing the internet is all I need. After dinner that night, while browsing the web, my friend’s words blasted into my mind. So, I decided to change things up. “Here goes,” I thought. I took a breath and searched for ways to get out of the house.
Two weeks later I found myself at an event called #WomenLeadMSP. More than 70 women gathered at a Minneapolis co-working space called Impact Hub to talk about authenticity. To be exact, the meeting’s topic was fierce authenticity. Led by WomenLeadMSP and the Minneapolis Hub of Global Shapers, the goal was to celebrate women’s leadership while participants shared stories, experienced personal growth, and found community.
Their promo had had me at “emerging leaders,” and I was excited for this chance to experience “speakers and discussions on topics like making hard decisions and knowing your worth.” I’d driven across town on a Saturday morning, navigated the hip neighborhood, and located the historic building’s bright yellow door. I wandered through the room and claimed my spot at a table of strangers.
Three hours later, I’d indeed internalized some valuable lessons. Thanks to the speakers, my table mates, and even the space itself, I learned some things that continue to shape my thinking. As a sassy woman yourself, you already know that authenticity doesn’t come easy. To achieve your goals of making change, you’re gonna need to break out all the fierceness you can muster. As you do, I hope these lessons can help you as much as they help me.
Five Lessons for Fierce, Authentic Women Leaders
Lesson 1: Stop Apologizing
All right, ladies, this is a tricky one. Particularly for mid-lifers like me who grew up in a society that often rewarded me for not standing out, apologizing for ourselves is longstanding practice. “Stop apologizing” was a direct message shared by one of our speakers. A biomaterials researcher who’s also a mom, this particular academic spent years worrying about her manner of speech. She considered it too casual, when compared to her fellow professors. Eventually she owned her accessible tone, realizing it was actually a strength that enhanced audience connection.
“Stop playing down your contributions,” she urged us all. She reminded us that showcasing our skill sets is crucial for growth. Habitual apologies can be a form of excuse for avoiding taking the risks that will bring new learning. I believe a first step is recognizing how often we apologize. If you need a refresher, check out Amy Schumer’s apology panel sketch, which skewers this phenomenon.
A friend of mine experienced a similar reminder firsthand, at a rock camp she attended for women. Every time an attendee said, “I’m sorry,” camp organizers gestured toward her and proclaimed, “You rock!” As you can imagine, this group of rockers learned fast how often they openly apologized for their words, their mistakes, and often–their very presence in the room. I, for one, am grateful for leaders like this who are helping us all change this habit. Enough!
Lesson 2: This Is An Adventure, So Enjoy It
As an artist, I tend to be influenced by my surroundings. I notice and respond to aesthetics, so I was immediately drawn to Impact Hub Minneapolis-St. Paul’s attractive space. A series of modern images adorn the interior brick wall, arranged in an artful way. At the front of the room hangs a map with the giant suggestion, “THIS IS AN ADVENTURE.” This reminder can be helpful to any of us, but I say women in particular need to hear it.
For me, this is an especially meaningful antidote to the perfectionism that can leave me stymied. Searching for an explanation just now, I discovered a mental health clinic in Nashville that summed it up just right. If anyone would know about 7 Lies Women Believe and the Limitations They Create, it’d be practitioners of recovery and mental wellness. Though I’m not a professional and have no association with this clinic, I do know what it feels like to get stuck in this “I must be perfect” mindset. Allowing myself to live life as adventure, a curiosity to explore, helps me get unstuck from unrealistic expectations of faultlessness.
Lesson 3: Niceness Only Gets You So Far
Periodically throughout the event, our Twitter feed was projected onto the wall via an LCD projector. (For you uninitiated out there, a hashtag is a short phrase people can use to organize conversation around a topic on social media.) Any comment written with the label “#WomenLeadMSP,” could be seen by others viewing that category. In this case, the organizers culled these responses and displayed them on a large screen for all to see.
I love that one of the participants had this to say: “Minnesota niceness . . . I can’t stand that.” What a fitting description of fierce authenticity! Residents of my adopted home state are known for being nice on the surface, but difficult to befriend for real. This article from the Star Tribune covers the dichotomy well. I’ve never been a fan of cocktail-level conversations, but at the same time it’s only been in recent years I’ve grown more comfortable owning my own strength. Rather than trying to maintain our nice veneers, I can only hope more women leaders come into their own.
Lesson 4: Surround Yourself with Models of What You Can Do
One reason getting out of the house is so important is that we need to break out from our heads, which can limit us in a hurry. You’ve probably heard the famous quote by American entrepreneur and author Jim Rohn, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” We cannot underestimate the power of surrounding yourself with models of what’s possible.
At this meeting, I heard speeches from a founding principal of an elementary school, the policy director at the Women Organizing Women (WOW) Network, a women’s empowerment and LGBT advocate in Minnesota and India, and a consultant across multiple industries.
Lesson 5: Your Future Self Needs You
Man, we spend a lot of time rushing from place to place. Looking back now, I realize I spent the better part of my thirties feeling overwhelmed, hurriedly fixing every conceivable problem at work and at home. It took me months of sustained anxiety to finally slow myself down.
Now that I know how it feels to think straight for more than a hot minute, I’ve focused more on what’s coming next. They say living in the future isn’t healthy (and I tend to agree), but numbing every day doesn’t exactly set a person up for an intentional destiny. I have different goals now, and for the past year and a half I’ve devoted my free time to writing, making things, and learning entrepreneurial skills.
What about you? What can you do today that your future self will thank you for?
Well, hello, you peachy thing! You may have heard I’m seeking volunteers to take a 1-minute survey. In my mission to encourage women to cultivate their voices, I’m developing my first online course. I’d love for you to help shape it.
The course’s working title is, “When You Don’t Know What to Say, Here’s What to Make.” It’ll provide craft projects for supporting friends and family going through a tough time. Whether someone you love is in the hospital, enduring divorce, or dealing with grief, it can be hard know what to say. Heck, maybe one of your special people simply needs some encouragement to see her own power.
No matter how crafty you consider yourself to be, the course will help you find your voice. Normally a verbal person, I came up with these projects when words failed me. My hands turned out to be my only effective way to communicate. I’d love to help you get over that hump, too. The course will feature how-to’s for projects like this:
If you’re a woman and you live in the United States, chances are good you’ve got a story about a name change. You’ve either switched your last name, intentionally decided not to, or will make a choice about this down the road. Even if marriage isn’t your bag, I’ll bet you’ve got an opinion about this issue. In my case, the topic has cropped up throughout my life.
In elementary school my friends and I scrawled imagined names on notebooks, in high school we joked about horrible names we’d inherit one day, and as young women we debated the pros and cons of changing our names after marriage. Not once did I envision the day I’d walk into a courtroom surrounded by my adult girlfriends, on a mission to reclaim my given name after divorce.
Considering Reclaiming Your Name?
If you, too, are contemplating reclaiming your name, then I salute you! Getting divorced is painful enough. I won’t blame you if filling out a billion government forms hasn’t risen to the top of your priority list just yet. I know. It took me three years after divorce to muster the energy to face this process.
For now, though, I’m talking to the would-be name changers out there. If you’ve gotten divorced and want to change your name back, what’s your motivation?
Might it empower you, after enduring a draining time?
Have you been using your given name as your middle one, and now you’re tired of explaining which is which?
Maybe you have cause to keep a healthy disconnection from your ex?
Or perhaps the change might simply help you feel like yourself again?
No matter your reason, consider me your virtual cheerleader. I just went through this process last month, so here are three tips I have for you.
Ask For Help
I feel a tad sheepish for giving this advice, as I only followed it myself because I had to. I’m one of those can-do types who really, really struggles with needing people. But sometimes life forces us to acknowledge we’re not in this alone, and this was a case in point.
In my state of Minnesota, changing your name (unless done at the time of the marriage or divorce) requires jumping through a series of hoops. Along with getting a background check and paying a fee, an applicant must receive approval from a judge at a court-appointed hearing. This involves bringing two adult witnesses to testify about your identity.
After receiving my court date, I had about month to recruit my witnesses. Trust me when I tell you I tried to dream up ways to do this without “bothering” my loved ones. I dragged my feet for more than a week. My plan of complete independence fell through, though, since the entire point of these witnesses is that they know you well. I finally mustered the courage to send an email to several friends, asking for their help.
I figured I’d play a numbers game and invite a group. The thought was I’d be lucky to scare up two friends who’d be willing and able to drive across town at the appointed time. To my surprise, I received enthusiastic, unwavering support. Within minutes of sending the email I’d gotten not two, not three, but four versions of, “I’m in!” They told me they wouldn’t miss this important event, and asked what they could do to help.
Turn it Into an Event
Even after my friends said they’d come no matter what, I still had a hard time accepting their help. It took me another week or so to decide what to do with this avalanche of support. Should I just choose two of them? If so, which two? Was I sure there wasn’t some other way to get this done, without putting any of them out?
In the end, I took a deep breath, and decided to go all in. I invited to the whole crew. After all, court hearings are open to the public. I knew we’d be respectful of our fellow courtgoers, who’d be facing who-knows-what. There really wasn’t any reason to hold back, other than my own hesitation about meeting this unfamiliar situation so openly.
My friends’ enthusiasm rubbed off on me, and we decided to celebrate with breakfast afterward. The courthouse, located in the county where I reside, is easily 15 minutes east of where the others live. One of my favorite cafes is only three blocks away, so it seemed like a good excuse to introduce them to it.
Be Loving to Yourself
My final advice applies to your name-change process, but it’ll also serve you well every freaking day of your life: Be loving to yourself. Changing your name involves a ridiculous number of steps and several months of sustained effort. Gaining legal approval only gets you halfway there. Next, as I’m facing now, you’ll have to record the change in every place your name appears.
Even if your state, like mine, provides resources for streamlining the process, you’re still the one responsible for executing the details. Get ready to fill out various forms, send them to the appropriate places, and pay the related fees. If you’re anything like me, adding these tasks to an already full plate will make you somewhat grumpy. It’s in these moments when you’ll have to break out the reminder to be loving to yourself. I mean it. Be loving to yourself.
When you get distracted and forget, for three days in a row, to get that passport form in the mail, do not berate yourself. After you walk out the door and realize you’ve misplaced the social-security form (yes, the same form you specifically put by your purse so you wouldn’t forget it), let it go for today.
These are the kinds of things that can make you feel like a failure if you let them. Instead, remember this process is a project. It will take time and that’s okay. Pat yourself on the back for any progress you’ve made this far. Take a deep breath. Know that the forms will still be there tomorrow, and think back to your motivations. Then, grab some girlfriends and go celebrate your newfound inner peace!
As always, feel free to share your own stories in the comments. I’d love to hear from you.
I just wanted to say a quick hello and share a pic I took on a recent walk near home. I couldn’t resist snapping this reminder not to swim in a frozen lake surrounded by snow. Here’s hoping a little winter humor can brighten your day.
There’s no full post for you today here, as I just completed my first guest post. Making connections with other ambitious women is a goal of my blog, so that’s how I spent my time this week. Along these lines, Blue Car Painted Green is reaching out and finding kindred creative spirits. Check out these recent features on a Saturday Sharefest from the SITS girls and the community page of The Collective Mill.