Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Brink of Change and the Momentum of Life

I have a lot of writing to do this afternoon, but before I dive into work, I feel the need to sort out my thoughts. Lately, my mind has been going, going, going. Talking or writing things out always helps me find some clarity and peace.

I'm feeling this sense of urgency. Each day goes by and I feel like I could have accomplished more. The to-do list never ends, no matter how many items I check off. Perhaps that's just how life goes, but I'd like to get a handle on it.

I can see that many of the things on my mind are good and exciting and fun. Our calendar this spring is full of events, trips, and time with family and friends. I think I'm worried that it's going to make time fly even faster, that all of a sudden August will be here, I'll go into labor, and I won't feel ready.

Last week's picture (while it was still daylight!): 24 weeks.
The belt really accentuates the bump... ha!

I know you're never truly ready, but I want some time to take a breath, to drink in what's happening, to think about this baby and our life and how it's changing already. Sometimes I walk by the nursery and I pop in there, just to take a look at the crib and the way the sun shines through on the rug.

It feels like my business is gaining some momentum too, which is so exciting. New opportunities, new clients, new projects. People are reaching out to me and it's wonderful. It gives me reassurance that I'm doing what I'm supposed to do. There are times when I think about what might have been, where I'd be if I had stayed on the career path I was on, and sometimes that path feels safer. But I can't undo the past and everything I've gone through has brought me to this point. I'm growing, my business is growing, and yes, it takes time and work and so many ups and downs. I'm making progress and the reward is great.

Someday, I'll look back and see that each step I am taking now led to more good things. Scott and I were talking about thathow it will be nice to reflect and understand and feel confident in the choices we've made and are making. Hindsight is such a great thing, isn't it?

I think about different points in my life when I felt unsettled, uncertain, on the brink of change, and now I see how everything worked out for the best. We're going to my sister's college graduation soon, so I'll be returning to my alma mater. I don't remember all of the feelings I had when I graduated, but in the midst of the fun of senior week, the accomplishment of completing college, and the excitement of moving to Chicago and starting a new job, I know those bittersweet, topsy-turvy thoughts were there.

Life is good, but it's changing and it's moving so fast.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Introducing... Content Consultations

I just enjoyed a wonderful long weekend back in Kansas, spending time with my family and attending the wedding of a friend from grade school and high school. Since returning to Chicago on Monday night, it's been a whirlwind of playing catch-up... but it's all good things!

There are a few new opportunities in the works as far as my business goes. And I'm so excited to see them come to life.

Today, I want to share a new service I'm offeringthe content consultation.

It's made for the blogger or business owner who is looking for some direction and inspiration in creating quality content.

Though the mindset seems to be changing, I see so many people get caught up in the design of their blogs and business websiteswithout giving much thought to the actual written content. No argument here, design is important. But the content is what tells your story, shares what you have to offer, and ultimately engages your ideal audience.

The easiest way to get the details: hop over to my website! You'll find out exactly how a consultation works and what you'll get out of it.

As a part of this (soft) launch, I offered up complimentary content consultations to Jess Lively's Business with Intention workshop attendees this past weekend in San Francisco.

Photo via jesslively.com

I loved working with Megan Ibarra of Little Yellow Leaf, who designed, printed, and constructed the beautiful cards that outlined my offer and were included in the workshop goody bags (see below). I highly recommend Little Yellow Leaf if you're looking to create handmade or custom business materials! (I also had a chance to grab coffee with Megan while I was in Kansasso fun!)

What's inside?

Front of the card

Back of the card

I'll have a few more business-related updates over the coming weeks. Can't wait to share more about the growth of Melrose Street Custom Content with you!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Nursery Update: The Crib!

The crib, mattress, and changing table arrived last week, so Scott and I put everything together on Friday night.

The changing table will eventually go where my desk currently is, so its spot by the window is only temporary. If we had more space, I'd probably have chosen a dresser instead of an open-style changing table, but this one will work well and leave room to put a hamper and diaper pail next to it.

We also picked up a Mamaroo off Craigslist from a very nice couple here in the cityfor $100 (half the retail price!).

My vision is slowly coming together... This room just makes me happy.

And in light of Monday's events at the Boston Marathon, I feel like I should simply add that I'm praying for those affected. I'm not a runner, but I've gone to marathons as a spectatorto cheer on my husband, my sister, and friends. In fact, the Chicago Marathon runs right down the street outside our condo building. The energy, dedication, and ultimate sense of accomplishment are truly touching. To think that those positive feelings and experiences were taken away from so many on Monday is heart-breaking. It makes me once again remember to live life fully, spread joy, and say "I love you" more often.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

My New Office Space

We're clearing out the second bedroom little by little. And my desk is one of the items that will be moving out. I usually work from the dining room table or the couch anyway, and the extra space is much needed.

But my concern was: where would my office supplies, portfolio materials, and other resources go?

The answer: The items I don't use all the time are in the process of being boxed up and will head to our storage space in the basement of our condo building (which also needs to be cleaned out a bit!). For the stuff I need on a regular basis, I've added some of it to the small 4-shelf stand under the printer, and the rest is now organized in two lidded baskets in a corner of our dining room.

Yes, it's an unconventional arrangement, but considering the size of our place, it's also necessary. Here's a peek at my new "office" space in the dining room. (My mom found these baskets at T.J. Maxx for $14.99 and $16.99great deal!)

Here's a look at the printer stand, which will remain in the corner of the second bedroom:

And the latest picture of the reason for this little "redesign":

22 weeks!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Homemade Baked Goods & (Almost) Instant Gratification

I'd like to blame it on pregnancy cravings, but let's be honest... my love for homemade baked goods is nothing new.

And thanks to a couple of super-quick-and-easy recipes from event planner + entertaining expert Julie Blanner, I can have yummy brownies and cookies fresh from the oven anytime. Well, except that I'm trying to keep it all in moderation...

Julie and I first crossed paths when I interviewed her for an article I wrote for EA Bride Magazine. Meeting new people and learning new things are definitely perks of freelance writing!

I tried out Julie's brownie recipe a couple of weeks ago, and I made the peanut butter cookies last night. You can get these "five-minute" recipes (and a ton of other amazing tips!) on her blog. P.S. Her photos are infinitely better than mine.

In other news, our crib and mattress arrived today! Thanks to my winter coat, I'm not entirely sure our neighbors know we're expecting. But since our new items are currently hanging out in the tiny entrance to our condo building, the secret may be out :)

Friday, April 5, 2013

In Progress

My usual schedule has been a little off latelyfor good reason (spent a long weekend with my family for Easter) and for not-so-good (dealing with a cold).

There is a lot "in progress" right now. The baby's growth. Preparations for the baby's arrival. My business's growth. Work on the condo.

While this state of in-progress serves up plenty of uncertainty, it's exciting too. The changes are about growth and life and home and family.

21 weeks!

Scott and I got to see our baby via ultrasound this week. What an amazing experience! Everything is on track and looks good. I'm also participating in a research study for first-time moms so I had an additional complimentary ultrasound two days laterand even got a 3D picture of the baby's little face. At this point, I think he or she looks a lot like Scott :)

It is incredible to think that in about four short months, I'll be looking at that face, into those eyes, for real. I'll be holding that squirming body, touching the little hands and feet, feeding and changing and rocking. It's all becoming more real.

The registries are also a work in progress, but they are coming along nicelythanks to many great tips and recommendations from moms and moms-to-be, plus a bunch of research and review-reading. We have some of the nursery essentials on the way from both sides of the family. How crazy will it be to have a crib in our house?!

And my business has been growing bit by bit. I've gained new experiences in the past few months and have some awesome plans for the future. I'm still learning to deal with the ebb and flowthe constant work to line up projects is a lot of responsibilitybut I've been encouraged by the increase in people reaching out to me for help. And I trust that everything I do, large or small, has the opportunity to make an impact, whether it's in the near future or far. The possibilities are endless. The future is bright.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

It's Time to Freshen Up Your Writing

It's April, which is technically spring... though the temperatures seem to reflect otherwise. But the longer days and doses of sunshine keep me going. And along with this new season comes a sense of renewal, a spring cleaning of sorts.

Personally, we're doing plenty of "spring cleaning" around our house. Clearing out clutter is tough for me. I want to go through everything and always wonder, what if I'll need this later on?

Letting go of things should be easy, but there is a lot of emotion tied up with our "stuff." For example, I recently went through my notes and papers from grad school. Although I logically knew that the value of those stacks of papers was not the same as the knowledge stored in my head, it felt like I was tossing out my tuition and my education with the clutterall that money and time and learning. I pared the piles down considerably, but I had to remind myself of what was importantmore space, more room.

And when it comes to actually cleaning our condo, Scott is much better at it than I am. A clean house is wonderful, but the act of cleaning... not so much. Combating dirt and dust seems like a constant battle. The process, though, is necessaryand so worth it.

The clutter I conquered...

This month, for our Create.Compose.Communicate newsletter, Sarah and I will be supplying you with the tools for a little spring cleaning of your own.

We're not talking about scrubbing the floor or washing the windows. We're focused on ways to freshen up your writing. It's time to let go of the unnecessary "clutter" and polish up all the pretty parts. And let me tell you, it's not as dull as decluttering and cleaning your house. The end result though... amazing, just the same. Your writing is sure to sparkle!

If you haven't signed up yet, you can do so here. Our first newsletter of the month arrives in inboxes tomorrow (Thursday).

Hop on over to Sarah's blog, Inspiration-Driven Life, to find out how she feels about spring cleaning.


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