Have you ever wanted to start your dream business?

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Dream businesses are meant to be things of dreams, right? Things for the people who are financially able, have funding or investment. Not for the ordinary folks with kids and bills to pay. I seriously wish I’d had the impetus to do what I did in a few months of this year a long time ago because I cannot imagine what I could have done with the time and lack of responsibility freely available to me then.

I have thought about this a lot since having my kids because work as I knew it just wasn’t working for me. At the same time I couldn’t work out how in the precious little time between the kids going to bed and my falling asleep on the sofa I would muster the energy and motivation to do something for myself that needed, you know, brain power.

I couldn’t quit my day job to chase a dream because then how would I pay rent, cover child care and eat? I had an idea, a great idea that was eating up at me and itching me to be done but where would I even start?

Then I did this one great exercise (plus a bit of squirreling away of the wine money) and a few months later I launched my own business that I love, that motivates me and gives me energy to do because growing this thing is one of the best things I have done in a long time.

Here is step-by-step what I did and I hope you find it useful too:

1.Write down the big things you want to achieve

This should be a short list of the great big things that you want to do, like now. Mine was a list of three but that was probably two things too long. Those things were launch my knitting business, expand the types of events I worked on to include subjects I love and write.

2. Take note of the first thing you need to do to make progress

Don’t make a full on list of everything you need to do to achieve your dreams, that will overwhelm you and totally sap at the motivation. Just put on the page the very first thing you need to do to take a step forward in your plan. For me that was make a budget for the knitting business so I knew how much I had to save, how long it would take me to save it and what date I could have that cash ready by. For the other two things I wrote down ‘pick a date for a craft event for my husband’s marathon fundraising’ and ‘spend the first 15 minutes of each day free-writing’.

Each of those three things were really simple and probably don’t take up too much time. I will be honest, when it came to the next step I was surprised at how much of the above I didn’t get chance to do.

3. Check in on yourself

On the last day of each month I go back and I check in on how I have progressed on the last step. Did I do that one thing in the space of the month? Most often it was no because I made my list two items too long and instead of wanting to complete one thing that month, I was trying to complete three. Make the list short. This is important else you will have completed something but not everything and that doesn’t half sap at your motivation levels. Then, and this is very important, if I hadn’t done my list from the previous month, I just accepted that and tried again the following month.

4. When you complete something, add one more thing

This bit is obvious but when I finished one step, I added another and would aim to get that one done in the same month if I could. Before I knew it those snatched minutes here and there were really adding up. I didn’t feel overwhelmed by the mammoth ideas, I didn’t set myself unrealistic deadlines and most importantly…

5. Roll with it

When I look back now at that first page I wrote in January, it looks nothing like I expected it to right now, today. It is better and different. It is bigger than I could have hoped. It also moved so much faster than I anticipated.

Here’s what I’ve done in the past 8 months (which is more than I’d done in the years previous):

New Logo

Put on a crafternoon at my local community rooms and raised almost £200 for MIND.

Created my own website from scratch and launched my craft business http://www.sonicknits.com

Grown my list and following from zero to the hundreds

Interviewed lots of women who run their own craft business and learned from them.

Written a synopsis and outline for a book plus three chapters.

Filled three notebooks with writing.

Shipped out three months of craft subscription boxes and have a queue of people lined up to work with me.

Given myself the confidence to grow with my goals and acheive what once seemed impossible.

Set a fantastic example to my kids

Started to learn to drive.

I’ve learned a lot on the way these past few months and I want to share some of that too in future.

 

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The Dramatic Weekend.

There has been a hiatus in the blogging while we moved house. That situation is a whole other story but I hope that, for now, we will not be moving again for at least 2 years. I would like my son’s number of homes to never out number his age ever again.
For now, however, I would like to share the story of my weekend just gone. We were out of London for a wedding. It was the wedding of my husband’s cousin and his girlfriend of nine years. They are a lovely couple and very funny people to be around. We always have a good night out with them, not least because of the bride’s penchant for shots. It was going to be a good wedding.

On the wedding day, we had to drop our cat off at the cattery before getting ready. One of our cats has been on a prolonged holiday with my Mother-in-Law while we lived in the flat from hell. Quite rightly my Mother-in-Law doesn’t feel she can leave the cat alone in the house overnight. He is a menace.

So off we drive to this cattery, in the middle of the countryside. My MiL only knew one way there which included driving through a ford. For people like me, who have no idea what a ford is other than Bradford was originally built upon a ‘Broad Ford’, you can imagine my face when we approached a river running over the road, complete with a family of ducks sailing past. In the words of a well-known children’s book; we couldn’t go under it, we couldn’t go over it, we had to go through it.

Which we did. Until we reached the middle when the car began to float. The ford had swollen during the previous nights’ rain and unbeknown to us, this ford had actually become a river. My MiL exclaimed from the back seat that her feet were getting wet but not to panic. My husband then managed to crash the car into the river bank, to push it out to the side and back where the wheels could reach the road. I was having nightmares of having to wade out of the car mid-river, holding a toddler above my head.

Somehow the car worked and as my MiL had a broken foot anyway, I had to wade out the full foot well with a take away box. It was only the start of the drama to the day.

Upon return we were told that the bride and groom’s eldest child had been taken to hospital with suspected appendicitis. Thankfully, he was okay and released 3 hours later but the wedding had been postponed for three hours. A very accommodating church and hotel indeed. During the very long Catholic service, pretty much everyone in the congregation needed the toilet, especially every young child, old person and my peanut-sized bladder self. This was a result of a cold church, long wait and pint in the pub beforehand. When in doubt my in-laws decamp to the pub. But lo! the toilets were locked and various children had to go to the toilet in a potty in the church car park.

So much wonderful thought had been put into the day and into the meal. I am always grateful when my vegan diet is catered for at a wedding. I don’t expect it but am over the moon when a lovely plate of roasted tofu appears in front of me. Apparently I have been eating a little too much tofu as my husband’s Uncle appeared, tapped my belly and asked: “How’s the bump?”

“The bump is over there, 18 months old and happily playing. I am just a bit on the chunky side but thanks for asking.”

It is a good job I have a thick skin and a decent amount of self-awareness.

This next part is third-hand news as I was at this point, looking after a sleeping toddler and a couple of bottles of wine in the hotel room.

During the evening reception, one of the many cousins decided to take umbridge at our side of the family, announcing that we all thought we were better than the rest of the family and my MiL and her daughter had ‘better watch their backs’. They then later attacked my brother-in-law at the cash point, a fight broke out and most got dragged out of the hotel. At a wedding. The people who started this fight no longer talk to me because they think I am too stuck up and it explains why their new Step-Dad spent the entire evening on my case about my ‘posh’ Yorkshire accent. There is nothing ‘posh’ about my accent, especially not after a few wines. He was just trying to get a rise at someone else’s wedding because I do not mince my morals or try dumb down.

The sad thing is that so much had been put into this day, for so long. This couple deserved better from their extended families. They deserved having family differences put to one side for one day for them. It has been a long journey for them to get to this place in their lives. Regardless, they are having another wedding party later in the year to make up for it.

 

The Miseries

I have had a touch of the miseries this week gone by. It hasn’t been fun, I’ve felt totally redundant as a person. It is like someone has sucked all the conversation out of me and replaced it with children or housework. Not helped that a couple of nights out, which usually give me a bit of burst, have been swept away for one reason or another.

The main trigger was plans I had in place with someone being cancelled. Well, not cancelled, something they wanted to do more than our original plan came along and I wasn’t especially up for the alternative. So, not wanting to waste what little money I had on something I wasn’t really excited about doing, I decided not to go. Which left me with a rare night off at the last possible minute. Suffice to say, everyone I knew who I could usually call upon for a game of pool or pint of beer were otherwise engaged with weddings or festivals.

I sat at home. Like I normally do. Except this time around I didn’t need to. What made the whole situation worse was that the person who I’d made plans with, appeared to have forgotten that we’d done so and to them, it wasn’t that a better offer came along, that was just what they had decided to do with their Saturday evening.

I had been feeling pretty fragile recently anyway but this tipped me over into MISERY. My poor husband came back to find that I’d eaten so much chocolate I felt sick, was sat in my pyjamas surrounded by soggy tear-filled tissues. I was probably over-reacting at an incident I could have otherwise brushed off but time and nights out are now so precious that it seemed my whole life had become something I didn’t want it to.

That was 3 days ago. Since then, I have done some work, done a lot of writing and got my priorities in order. Friends can and will let you down from time to time but invest in my family and they will always be there to pick up the pieces. The sun has come out today, which has helped and I have a day off on Monday which I wasn’t sure what to do with. Until, that is, one of my new Mum friends also has a day off so we are off to the cinema. A treat which you cannot quite experience until you are a parent, I think.

My mind has stopped feeling like their is a pigeon of thoughts trying to escape my skull and I have had chance to re-group and re-focus on what is important. Plus, it seems lots of people have been recommending my childminding services so hopefully that illusive full-time work will be here soon and I can feel like a real contributing member of society again. If I moan about the tired at that point, feel free to hit me back with this blog post.

My weekend has been a bit of a mixed bag for various reasons. I had been let down on a couple of plans given that my mother-in-law had kindly offered to come help while my husband was away. It was less that plans changed and more that I felt I had been forgotten and my social life outside of Mum-club has come to a bit of a stand still.

I’ve been a bit sensitive about this in recent weeks anyway after various events but more so after this weekend just gone. It reminded me that it is really only family who you can rely upon and therefore you should always put them first to show your appreciate of their putting you first.

I know this sounds like a bit of a downer post and I was incredibly upset this morning but my spirits were lifted later in the day with an outing to London Green Fair with my mother-in-law and son. We bought seeds and plants, talked to some very lovely people and I met other parents with the same sort of outlook that I had. I took good humour at the organisers placing the Arnica stand next to the NHS Cancer Awareness stand. I am now fully stocked up on washing up liquid samples from Ecover and ate a disgusting amount of Creole Mud Pie which was evil in its deliciousness.

This week my son and I will be planting herbs, salads and other window box veg which will grow alongside the strawberries. We will be celebrating two birthdays and my very understanding husband will be home later tonight to help make me feel better about some of the less happy things from the weekend.

I took inspiration from River Cottage Veg on More4 this evening and made up our meal planner based on our organic veg box contents to help make best use of it and save some money on my spur of the moment meal planning. We have a well-balanced meal week ahead and I have prepared an iron-rich breakfast to kick start our family week, which is soaking now ready for tomorrow morning.

No more junk food, no more last minute wondering what I can shove in front of my son for tea. I might even attempt soda bread after the football tomorrow. I am just simply looking forward to the return of my husband and to put my Desperate Housewives watching to an end.

Procrastinating Away.

It has been a while. Writing has made way for business development and general exhaustion. Not helped by the power cable for my laptop being a bit dodgy so my evening of tapping away has become an evening of watching utter rubbish on TV.

For 18 months, my husband and I lived quite happily and willfully without TV. Much to the amusement of those around us who didn’t quite understand why we would not own a TV. I think we talked more, read more and were generally happier. Heck, we certainly did more.

That is not to say we didn’t watch any programmes, we were just more selective about what we did watch. Marathon runs of Curb Your Enthusiasm got me through early days of pregnancy, Eastenders has always been a stalwart of my week but I could choose when to watch, not sit through the interminable One Show while waiting for it to air.

Now, after putting our son to bed, we sit with our tea in front of the telly. We watch rubbish show after rubbish show on the 7 channels we have. Yes, we may have caved to TV but have not caved to many channels of nothing to watch.

I have lost the plot with kids TV shows and now that is about to be banned. I wish I had never included In The Night Garden into the bedtime routine. Frankly, if the TV were to pack up I think I would be quite thankful. I would probably get more done.

From discussions with other people, it seems we do not actually watch that much TV. We are more film fans than anything else. So this week, you can probably feel my pain that in one day I had to sit through seven hours, yes seven hours of Britain’s Got Talent. I think I have lost many brain cells this week. It was all in the name of work, I was transcribing for use in another production.

It reminded me of the heady TV-free days where we listened to music, played music and wrote about music. Wrote a lot more about a lot of subjects. Plus having a child makes me realise how much free time I can use well in a day rather than whittle away with rubbish. I could write a book rather than read one, finish one of my many craft projects or learn a language.

So we have decided to become a family of completer-finishers, not least because seeing tasks through will set a good example to our son. I have finished a wall hanging, which is waiting to be hung in my son’s room. It also reminded me why I was putting it off; the sewing machine needs a good hit with a hammer multiple times and replacing with a better one. I am also a quarter of a way through the never ending crochet throw to make the food-covered sofa look more attractive. I have even plotted out my book and freelance work is picking up.

Life is much brighter without TV.

Progress is visible.

When I started this blog, I wasn’t in a great place. I didn’t feel too grand about myself, where my life seemed to be going or, to be precise, its lack of direction,  and the loss of my social life. I watched my pre-baby friends hang out in the park having fun, drinking beer, going about their lives without hours of preparation and planning. They could rock up to a gig at a moment’s notice or drive down to a festival without worrying where they would kip. Heck, they could go to gigs and festivals.

Their lives seemed to be carrying on without me, while mine stood still and I felt OLD. Don’t get me wrong, I love my son with my whole life and would never choose my pre-baby life over this but I wasn’t expecting to feel old, frumpy and like time had stood still for me. I felt like life was passing me by at the age of 28.

It got worse when I realised returning to work, any work, was out of the question financially. Moving away was impossible and would probably break my heart anyway. I love this city, I love my little area. I feel elated just walking down Archway Road and seeing the London skyline.

Yet, I didn’t feel like a Londoner any more. I didn’t get the tube anywhere and people talked to me. Complete and utter strangers started conversations with me on buses and then one day, I found myself doing the same. It felt strangely familiar, like I was transported back up North to where, on the most part, people natter away at every opportunity rather than sit in stony silence next to a stranger on a bus. Like you have to spend the next 30 minutes of your life with your thighs squished up together so you better smile and find out how far down the route those thighs are intending to go.

Still, I love this city. I love going down to the river, appreciating the green spaces, that you can be spontaneous and find something worthwhile and interesting if you look hard enough. A lot of that gets hidden under nappies, prams, catching hats and toys.

I started this blog because I weighed myself one day and I was still the same 11lb 3oz I was months before. I was overweight and unhappy. Not that being thin makes you happy but being fat was not making me any less unhappy. I hated the way I looked, I hated my boring Mum-hair, old clothes and beat up trainers. I wanted to have a conversation with someone about music, books, films or the news and I found myself with connections made solely through my son. I didn’t know these new people like I knew my friends.

It may have taken a while to find some common ground that I feel comfortable on, my nervous chatter might have been a stumbling block as well, but I have met some wonderful, interesting people; who below the initial surface have continued to surprise and entertain me.

I re-coloured my hair, tried out a new style (known as growing it – something not done since I hacked it all off into 2-inch, pink spikes, aged 16), and trawled ebay and the sales for cheap clothes that were not black jeans and tees. They are in fact black leggings, dresses and skirts but I like black.

I started doing face masks, looking after my skin, taking one night a week to see my best friend, who only lives on the next street. I’ve even made it to a few gigs and stayed up until 5.30am partying. Things are more erratic on the social side but it still exists.

I have a vague plan of where life may take me but have learnt not to worry so much about a firm career, I can forge my own way in this world. I have become confident in my parenting and saying ‘no’ to things I’d just otherwise get annoyed at to be polite. I am getting quite good at saying ‘no’.

I logged back into my fitness app today, recorded my food diary for the first time in a long time and entered my new weight; 9lbs 12oz. That is a total loss of 1.4 stone or 19-odd lbs. Not bad going really. So my belly is still wobbly and marked, I can’t fit into a large proportion of my pre-pregnancy clothes but I can fit into some and more to come. I feel positive about getting my body back in shape now.

I don’t gorge on cake, probably because I am no longer in that place where I need a sugar rush to get me to the next coffee. My caffiene intake is right down and I feel so much better for it. Plus, I have almost finished Shantaram – only 4 months in – so might get to read some more books.

This feels like progress, I can see the progress. I am starting to enjoy my new life, finally.