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Category Archives: Guest Mavens

Finding Freedom & Support With Kari Chapin & Eric Nixon – Maven Podcast

finding freedom

Last week we sat down with Kari Chapin and her husband Eric Nixon to talk about their lives, their freedoms and the ways in which they support one another.

Kari is the author of The Handmade Marketplace, Grow Your Handmade Business, and she has a felting book coming out this fall. In her free time (it’s hard to believe she has any) she helps other creatives write their own books and does other creative business consulting.

Eric is an author and poet. He has self-published his book, Emily Dickinson Superhero  Volume 1. Eric also helps his wife with her various business ventures.

Kari and Eric work together, from their home, balancing their personal and professional lives together. Both of them have a great deal of freedom in their day to day lives. In this podcast they share how they got there and the areas where they are still finding freedom.

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Truthy Tuesday: One Creative’s path from starving to thriving

Truthy Tuesday with Luna Jaffe

{By Guest Maven, Luna Jaffe}

When I starting selling my hand painted silk I was 23 years old.

I remember the cycle well: use credit cards to buy silk and dye, paint for several weeks, sell at local craft fairs, pay off the credit cards, rinse and repeat. I don’t know how I had enough for food, rent, insurance and travel, but somehow I did. It certainly wasn’t because I planned it out and used a budget. I was a master of flying by the seat of my pants. Grand Master, in fact.

Then I became a “professional” dancer with Do Jump Movement Theater here in Portland. I was paid, but when I figured out my hourly rate it hovered around $3.50/hour. My “job” as a dancer was not any more helpful than my income from selling my artwork, yet I was living the life and as long as I lived in the moment, life was beautiful.

When I turned thirty I started to worry about money. My father died suddenly that year, and I lost some of my innocence and naiveté. My creative lifestyle was both carefree and stressful. I had no boss, and thought this was the definition of freedom. I could do want I wanted, when I wanted. Woohoo!

But a car repair, or injury would throw me into a tizzy, and my stress level would skyrocket. My therapist encouraged me to look at my resistance to money.

Gulp. I thought that ignoring it was working just fine, thank you. She said something that stuck with me:

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Truthy Tuesday: How Blogging is Creating Freedom For Me, Emotionally and Financially

Truthy Tuesday with Caylie Price

{By guest maven, Caylie Price}

Eighteen months ago my blog and business were effectively a hobby.

Twelve months ago I needed a new direction in life. Everything I’d known had been turned upside down, never to be the same again.

Through the unexpected breakup of my relationship I was left homeless, financially insecure and heartbroken. I’d seriously considered giving up my blog and business in an attempt to save the relationship but of course they weren’t the only factor.

I wanted to move away for a fresh start but through choices I had made financially, it wasn’t possible.

I vowed never to be in the same position again. I vowed to create my freedom, but at the time, through the emotion, wasn’t able to comprehend how I’d achieve it.

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Truthy Tuesday: On Happiness, discomfort and the thrill of the Vantasy

Truthy Tuesday with Eva Darling

{By guest maven, Eva Darling}

Six years ago, I woke up with the same question that had been plaguing me for months: “Am I ever going to be happy again?”

I had recently split with my husband and I was dragging through life. I smiled and laughed sometimes, but I was not ever happy. I was a shell of a person, wondering always what the point of life was. Constantly asking, is this all there is?”

The thing that was different about that morning six years ago was that I finally had an answer. “What will bring you joy, Eva? What do you want to do?” And my answer was one simple word: TRAVEL.

That was the day that the Vantasy was born. I began saving my money and my life choices all started to point in a single direction toward a new life of exploration in a van with my dog. I aimed my energy to that end. One year later, Ralgh the dog and I left Portland. You cannot imagine how amazing that felt!

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Truthy Tuesday: Getting Unstuck by Letting Go

truthy tuesday with joanna platt

{By Guest Maven, Joanna Platt}

Two weeks ago I finished all of my requirements for my coach training program.

I am officially a Certified Professional Coach and an Energy Leadership Master Practitioner. Not only do I have all the credentials I need to move my business full speed ahead, but I have the time to make it happen.

Throughout my training I’d been brainstorming ways to grow my business and was actively trying to get my name out there and let people know what I was up to. Though I’d had some leads here and there, not much was really happening.

I was so excited when a sorority sister reached out to me on Facebook to set up a meeting. We had a complimentary session and it went great. She wanted to get coaching around a career change, one of my favorite topics, and it seemed like a good fit. I was excited and she was excited. I sent over a coaching agreement and a list of next steps.

When she responded to my email saying she’d changed her mind, I was bummed. Super bummed. I cried quite a bit. But then, I realized I was kind of relieved. When I took her sessions off my calendar, I was happy. Happy because my weeknights were free.

Since graduating from college, my weeknights have always been packed. After realizing that my dream job of teacher was actually not for me, I started spinning my wheels trying to figure out what I was going to do with my life. And in the process I packed my schedule to numb the pain of not knowing.

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Truthy Tuesday: Two Types of Stuckness & Two Ways to Get Moving Again

Truthy Tuesday with Bettie Newell

{By Guest Maven, Bettie Newell}

Its late afternoon and all is silent except for the occasional creak and groan of this old house and the satisfied sighs of the chihuahua in my lap.

Every member of the family is off doing something and I’ve got a blissful hour to myself to write about getting unstuck. I’m doodling in my journal, thinking about how to get started on this post. Ironically, I am completely at a loss. I am totally, unmistakably stuck. I resist the urge to jump online and see what everyone else is up to, what others might have said about this topic. Instead, I scribble a few words, stare out the window longingly at the sunshine, then give up, grab my camera, and head outside for a little inspiration.

When Jen asked me to be a Guest Maven this month, I was excited. I’m in the middle of a year-long photo project to get unstuck creatively so I figured it would be easy to share my story. But I’m a visual person, almost always preferring images to words and I realized, as I sat in front of a blank piece of paper, that this was going to prove harder than I thought. A week later, and I still only had a few random thoughts written down. And it was another couple of days before it started to all come together. As I put the finishing touches on this article (more than two weeks after my first brainstorming session and mere hours before it is due), I can see that the process I went through to write it was a perfect metaphor for exploring how I get unstuck.

In my experience, there are two different types of stuckness.

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Truthy Tuesday: An Artist on Getting Unstuck & Following Her Creative Calling

alena hennessy truthy tuesday

{by guest maven, Alena Hennessy}

Often times in life we get comfortable to our own grooves.

Without even realizing it, years pass, and family, society, personal relationships influence us, often times on sub-conscious levels, and patterns within us are made. Our soul carries these experiences and we allow ourselves to become comfortable in what we know, acting out what life has revealed to us. That is why living an uncommon life, one that asks us to step out of our comfort zone, back into the realm of possibility and true purpose, is both exciting and pretty vulnerable.

It’s an interesting thing I have found about life- as young children we are often never stuck or without that pure zeal and passion for existence. We live in that flow, or moment to moment awareness of the magic that sits right in front of you. So the well of inspiration is rarely dry, and being yourself is not something to strive for, its just what you do.

Remember how that felt? Sure, there was sometimes fear but also, there was pure joy. It’s the process of becoming an adult: responsible, mature, accepted, liked, popular, cool, successful…that gets our minds a little fuzzy, or forgetful of our true nature. The outside world and what others think become incredibly important, and we may forget just what made us tick to begin with.

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Truthy Tuesday: A busy blogger on finding balance & her proverbial pruning shears

truthy tuesday with erin loechner

{By Guest Maven, Erin Loechner}

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editor’s note by Jena: I reached out to the insightful and delightful Erin of Design for Mankind, one of my favorite bloggers, to see if she could write a guest post for us on balance. She responded saying, “I’m wondering if I can submit something I’ve already written? My priority is with my family these days, so I haven’t been putting in a lot of time into guest posting or writing elsewhere…” and she sent a link along to a beautiful post she had recently written on slowing down.

I thought, dang. Not only is this post perfect to share with our readers, but seeing Erin actually walk the walk and define her priorities and make a decision from there was a truly great example of acting from a balanced place. So now, I think she’s even more awesome. And I’m so happy she’s agreed to let us share this post with you here, originally published on Design For Mankind.

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Whenever I find myself saying, “I don’t have time,” I mentally re-word the phrase into “That’s just not a high priority for me right now.”

Because I have the same 24 hours as you do and your neighbor does and the uncle who took you to your first movie growing up had. But our priorities are different.

My priority right now, this very second, is to maintain a healthy relationship with my husband, care for (and find enjoyment in) the early months of my daughter’s life and end the day feeling fulfilled, restful and at peace. (I have a theory that I, personally, can only juggle three priorities at once, but I know many folks who have plates that overfloweth and feel content in that state. I am not one of those folks.)

What this means is that I often check myself throughout the day to make sure I’m working toward those priorities. When I sit down at my desk to work, I stop and think about what I’m hungry for (not literally, although that answer will likely be some form of cheese). Today, I was hungry to write. To have a conversation with myself that might result in some sort of personal growth. To host a discussion about priorities and timing and work and balance and helping others and all things good and perfect, Amen. And by feeding this hunger, I know I’ll end my day feeling fulfilled (priority #3 for those keeping score at home).

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Truthy Tuesday: On finding your center of gravity & defining success on your own terms

truthy tuesday with bridget benton

{By guest maven, Bridget Benton}

Balance is dynamic. It’s an in-motion kind of a thing.

Imagine standing or walking over big, smooth, round river rocks. You’re tuned into a center of gravity, deep in your core, and every step moves from that place.You can feel tiny muscles all over your body twitching and flexing to keep you upright on the ever-so-slightly shifting stones.

Our bodies really do show us the way.

My body has been out of balance for a long time. I get cyclical bouts of deep fatigue and brain fog, and have for at least the past six years. Then, in the fall of 2011, I pushed hard to launch my self-published book, broke my foot, had surgery, and accepted the presidency of a non-profit board. Under the pressure, my already struggling immune system just crashed. I’ve always been an over-achiever, a go-getter, a make-things-happen kind of a gal, but after this incident, the fatigue really started to put a cramp in my style.

Of course, what I’ve been learning over the past 16 months is that “my style” really hasn’t really been working very well for me.

I was trying to run a small, all-volunteer non-profit; run my own business; teach part-time at a community college; and travel to teach and promote my newly published book while barely being able to stay awake and focused more than a few hours each day. The caffeine and sugar that I’d used for years to push through the fatigue were now only making things worse. I’d also gone through diagnoses and treatment for – to name a few – sleep apnea, anemia, depression, and intestinal parasites, with only minor improvements to the cycles of fatigue.

It was a radical notion that I had to adjust my life to fit what my body could do rather than ramp my body up so that I could do the things I thought I should.

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Truthy Tuesday: Jill Bliss on Finding Balance through Slowing Down

truthy tuesday with jill bliss

{By Guest Maven, Jill Bliss}

It’s always been a bit of an endeavor aligning the “simple” life I knew as a kid on a family farm and my “glamorous” adult life living in big cities.

In my lifetime I’ve experienced both modes of living, thinking I’d pretty much found the best of both in Portland. When I reached my life halfway point a few years ago I just couldn’t shake the memory of when I was four years old and an adult asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. Without hesitation, I remember saying “When I grow up I’m going to be an artist, and live in a cabin in the woods near the ocean with a dog.” A simple life goal and plan.

How was I doing with that plan 40 years on? I wasn’t where I thought I’d be.

My dog had just died. And the rest of my life looked nothing like that simple 4 year old’s dream either. I realized that my life had been a series of small compromises to accommodate other people that had come into my life along the way. By this point all those other people were long gone, but I was left with a big compromise of a life.

As an artist and a teacher I advise students to be mindful of even the smallest details of their surroundings and the effect it has on them and their work. It was time to take my own advice. I needed to simplify, realign and redefine who I was, what I was doing, and why I was doing it. 

This past summer, I sold or gave away most of my belongings.

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