When we sit down to dinner at the table, our family shares “highs and lows”. We each share exciting things and what bummed us out. It’s a way to get our kids talking and, I have found, it gets me sharing my life with them as well in an honest way. There is rarely a day that I don’t have both a high and a low. Most days, it’s a balance of both and that’s exactly how 2014 was for me.
When I was writing my book a few years ago, my editor told me I should start my story on a high, so I’m going to share the highs first! And hiring Kriste was definitely one of those highs. For the past couple of years, I’ve had an amazing assistant working with me, Heidi. She still works for me and is still amazing, but she isn’t even in my timezone. I needed someone to help me here. Someone who could run the online shop and help with painting, sewing, photo shoots, etc. What Kriste also brings to the table is a whole new creative energy and we bounce off each other nicely. As I’ve been building into her, teaching her what I do, she builds into me by offering her creative input to my pieces and projects. That has been so valuable.
Getting the studio was also a high. It was a huge step to taking my business even more seriously and giving it literal room to grow. It’s also been a high getting my house back. I feel my creativity being nurtured in this space as I’m away from dishes and laundry and the usual things that can distract when I’m working at home. This space has given me a lot, but I’m asking it for more as I’m hosting my first two workshops in January – Milk Paint 101 and Bring Your Own Furniture Piece to Paint. (Spaces are still available if you’re interested!)
The photo shoot for Cottages & Bungalows was another high. I have done a lot of photography, but I have never been hired by a magazine to go shoot someone’s house. This was a huge step for me and I realized how much I loved it. I really, really enjoyed it and I hope to do more in 2015.
And, of course, going to Canada for the Toronto Home Show was so much fun! I just never, ever thought when I pressed that “start a blog” button or launched the milk paint line as a little side business that it would lead me there.
There were other highs…magazine features, being on Fox News, being a vendor at the Lucketts Spring Market and the Chapel Market and lots of wonderful moments dotted throughout 2014. Some of my favorite moments are the quiet ones…a kind comment, a new friendship, me in paint splattered clothes working on a piece I really love in my studio or behind the lens of my camera.
As far as the lows, the year started off pretty rough with my youngest son’s diagnosis of type one diabetes. In hindsight, it just seems like something that happened and now it’s a part of our lives, but at the time, it was devastating. There was a sharp learning curve with the injections and carb counting. I was afraid his blood sugar would drop in the middle of the night, so I had trouble sleeping. The diagnosis happened almost exactly a year ago and I think I’m just starting to realize the toll it took on me. It was harder to feel inspired and share that inspiration with others. It was harder to encourage others when I felt like I needed encouragement myself. It was hard to be focused when I was so tired.
We’re doing really well now, but it had a huge impact on everything in my world this year.
I was so excited when Jeff and I decided to buy a farm and we put our house on the market in the spring. It all seemed so perfect and like everything would fall into place. We talked about celebrating Christmas 2014 in our new farmhouse. Well, we didn’t have one viewing in three months of our house being on the market. With each passing week and each farm that sold before we even had a chance to put in an offer, my heart was sinking. We finally felt like God was telling us, “Not now.” That was hard. I had to mourn the loss of having that dream come true right when I wanted it to, but I’m really thankful it worked out that way. I think it would’ve put a lot of pressure on us and, ultimately, that would’ve taken the joy out of the dream.
There have, of course, been other lows. Times when I felt distracted, disappointed and discouraged. That’s just the nature of things. The ebb and flow.
Now, I am looking to the future. What are my hopes for 2015?
The two words that come to mind are growth and depth. Higher reaching branches and stronger roots. That’s sort of a lofty concept, so what do I mean by that?
By growth, I hope to grow my blog and business in a controlled, strategic way. There are times that this business grew at a rate that left me behind, feeling overwhelmed and totally in over my head. I feel like this year slowed and gave me a chance to catch up and think through what I want for this business and to focus on the aspects I really love. Now, the idea of growth seems exciting, not intimidating.
I’m looking forward to implementing new ideas, making more videos, teaching workshops and branching out a bit more creatively.
In depth, I want to embrace where this blog got its start…decorating a home on a real budget. A few years ago, I wrote the following as the “what my blog is about” blurb that greeted newcomers (and it’s still on my sidebar)…
“Throw out the notion that good design is expensive, must be carried out by a professional and can only be bought in a fancy store. I live in a real home on a real budget and have never taken a design class in my life. A great look is affordable and attainable to anyone who is willing to roll up their sleeves and dive in. So, get ready to go junking, tune up the sewing machine, and buy a good paint brush. Your home’s potential is waiting to be realized and you’re the one who’s going to discover it.”
When I wrote this, my decorating budget was pretty much non-existent, so everything I did was with as little as possible. Now, I can blend a few splurges in with my bargain finds to get a higher end look at an affordable price. So, this blog is less about gluing moss to tennis balls and more about know where to spend money in a room and where to save. I want to share even more practical decorating tips and projects to help you get your home to a place where you love it. I want to get back to my roots, but in a fresh way.
Of course, I’ll also share the “hows” along the way for my fellow entrepreneurs and bloggers.
I have high hopes for 2015 and a renewed energy. I hope you’ll subscribe and follow along!