13 on Thursday: 13 New Changes to Cheeky Visionaries

Back in the day, I had no business… just a regular old ordinary blog. Okay just kidding. Nothing I do is ordinary (bwahaha), but I did have a blog.

One of my favorite things about blogging back then, was blog memes. Now when you say “meme” most people picture Ryan Gosling saying “Hey girl“. But for those of us bloggers, a meme referred to a themed post with a linkup. Like “Wordless Wednesday” were everyone would post just a photo.

One of my favorites was Top 10 Tuesday. But after a while, the host turned it over to another blogger, who later teamed up with another blogger, who later took it over… and now it solely exists in the realm of homeschool bloggers.

And while I DO homeschool, I don’t want to ONLY make lists of homeschool stuff. So I looked. There are a few Top 10 variations, but they’re mostly hosted by book bloggers (look for that to reappear on my book blog The Well Read Unicorn).

 

So here we are… after chatting with my Mom, and a few other souls who remember the good-ole days (and I can say that! I’ve been blogging since LiveJournal…. ooooooh!), I decided to start my own, 13 on Thursday. This also gave me the kick in the pants to finalize some changes I’ve been working on around here.

1. Fresh new look to the site…

  • Tweak on the colors
  • New, airier theme
  • More room for my photos 🙂

There’s still a few kinks to work out, but it’s a start!

2. Virtual assistance has been removed from my services

At least for now… I’ve got a full VA roster at the moment, so a waitlist will be created soon, in case I add more clients down the road. But for now, my focus will be on supporting creative mamas who are ready to conquer the world.

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3. More geekiness

It’s a well established fact, that I relish the worlds in geek-dom… Firefly, Doctor Who, Star Trek, Star Wars, Stargate, (but no BSG). But it’s not something that gets referenced all that often on my blog. No more! I will be letting my pop-culture flag fly high, and feeling free to drop references to the books, movies, and shows that capture my affection.

4. More short posts

Most of my peeps are busy. Mama, entrepreneurs… heck just being a woman is busy. And I’m aware that you/we/I don’t always have time to devour a super-long post, so stay tuned for a better mix of posts, including some video, some longer-form, and some shorter ones.

5. More sassafrass

Despite having the word “cheeky”, I’ve been afraid to let too much snark fly. I’ve seen some bloggers fly straight over the line of sarcasm/sass, right over into territory that I find to be inappropriate. So I shied completely away from being cheeky, because I was afraid of being classed with bloggers like that.

But here’s the deal… my personality type is snarky (INTJ), I’m snarky, and my some of my favorite comedians have a very dry/wry sense of humor (Jim Gaffigan being high on the list). But don’t worry, you won’t find me talking about my sex life (ever), or joking about my kids being a-holes (seriously!?), or bombing my posts with strong language.

6. No more comments about me being an INFP

You may have noticed above, that I referenced being an INTJ. We figured out that I had been mistyped… there were some facets of INFP that were very much me (now we know it’s where the IN part is), but as my sister likes to point out… I’m very judgey. Not in a “judgemental” sense (something many people misunderstand about the J part of MBTI), but more in a “I make instant assessments”. J’s are also the listy/planny people… 😀

Actually, hilariously enough, when I was re-testing, and questioning if I’m “truly” a list person (because I don’t always remember to use my to-do lists), my sister pointed out that I have an Evernote list of the MBTI types of other members of our family. Ha!

7. Less “business with a blog”, more “blog with a business”

I love the more personal feel that mom-bloggers, craft-bloggers, etc., and I want to evoke that feel on here. So yes, I will still have coaching, ebooks, etc., but it won’t take up the majority of my blogging/social media/networking time.

 

Flower and brushes

8. More peeks into my creative side

I have a vast array of creative pursuits, which very rarely make appearances on here. But I don’t just work with creatives… I’m a creative soul too! I love seeing what other people are up to, so I’m hoping you feel the same way. 🙂 And I’m taking a class on a new creative skill, I’ll share the deets here, so you can join me if you like!

9. Change to coaching style

Previously, I’ve done a monthly group coaching program, and one-on-ones… my one-on-ones were just for general creative coaching, or general business coaching.

Coming soon: I’ll be opening up limited time slots for very niched coaching (such as: creating systems to prepare your business to take on a virtual assistant). For any group programs, I’m looking at more of 1x virtual workshop feel, as opposed to monthly programs. We can dig in as a group on another (specific) topic, and have fun!

I adore monthly programs, but as a mom of 5 kiddos, I was running myself ragged trying to keep up with all of it. So I’m creating programs that will work better with my crazy life, and hopefully better with your crazy life too! 🙂

10. More community building

Coming soon: Interviews, features, and guest posts! I want to build a tight community of creatives, and shine a light on the amazing things you’re doing out there!

11. More about running a biz with kids

This is probably one of the biggest questions I get… how do you run a business with 5 kids?… especially when they find out that we homeschool too. I’m not super-woman I swear, but I have been fairly quiet about this aspect. Mostly out of the assumption, that it wouldn’t make a very interesting topic… but it’s my life! Plus, I think it would be helpful to other mamas, if I drop the curtain, and remove the mystery from this aspect of my business.

12. More about my kids in general

So it may have been mentioned a time or two in this post… but I have 5 kids. They are (obviously) a HUGE part of my life… but again, I’ve shied away from really talking about my kids. But then a business friend of mine (shout-out Mayi) mentioned that she loves my Facebook posts about my kids.

I know a lot of people who think kids are boring, but they’re anything but… my 3 year old has said things that have had be laughing my face off. Even my husband, who’s not very active on social media, will frequently say “that’s totally going on Facebook, isn’t it?”

So watch out for wackiness from my kidlets, cause they’re a hoot, and with all the crazy in the world, we could all use a laugh, right?

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13. This feature…

It’s a party, and you’re invited! Each week, pick a topic, and post about 13 things related to the topic of your choice: 13 jobs I’ve had, 13 things no one knows about me, 13 of my favorite books, 13 things I loved when I was 13… anything! The only thing I ask, is that you keep it PG. 🙂

Then you just come here, and add it to the linky! <3

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7 Creativity Boosting Coloring Books (that will look cool in your pillow fort)

I love coloring books. There. I said it.

Just kidding, that really didn’t need declaring, yet somehow we feel the need to clarify that we’re using “adult coloring books”, or “Prismacolor pencils”, or *insert expensive art supply here*. Or it’s declared, but as a defiant joke… “I’m tired of adulting, so I’m gonna make a pillow fort and color!”

What if you can color, without needing to justify? What if I told you, that it’s a perfectly legitimate creative outlet? It’s a great thing to do with your kids? You can even use it to practice things like shading, or color theory. Shocking right?

Of course not. You’re a freaking rockstar unicorn, so you already know this. I’m just going to tell you a few of my favorite things coloring books, so you can join me in the big coloring party in my pillow fort. (Shhhh there’s even Play-Doh, and cookies!)

1. Lost Ocean

I know, you thought I was gonna go for Secret Garden, but I actually like this one a teeny bit more… I think maybe I’m a pirate at heart. Arrrrrrggh!!

2. Creative Coloring Inspirations

You can actually find that first page for free, but there’s 29 other adorable designs inside, and best of all? One sided! So if you want to pull these out (and they’re perforated!), you can color these with marker (just put some scrap papers under, because it WILL bleed through).

3. Adult Coloring Book: Stress Relieving Animal Designs

I just picked this one up, so I haven’t done much with it, but I had a blast with an eagle design inside. It’s not quite finished, but you can always stalk my Instagram to see the completed page.

4. Secret Paris: Color Your Way to Calm

This is one of the very few on the list I didn’t buy myself (one I don’t own at all yet, and another is on pre-order). My sweet friend/client (aren’t those the best clients?) bought it for me when I went to go see her at CreativeLive. She bought coloring books for all of the audience members, but she carefully chose which ones went to which person!

5. Vive Le Color! Japan

Okay, fair warning… I don’t own this book, YET. I actually just found it when I was pulling up the other books on this list. You should know (since some of the reviewers didn’t read the info) that this is 7″ x 7″, so it’s smaller than some of them had anticipated. But why I’m super intrigued? It’s rubber-glue bound AT THE TOP, so it’s leftie friendly too! And these are single sided, so if you want to take them off and marker/watercolor, you can! (Again, put scraps underneath, because I don’t know how thick the paper is.)

6. Magical Jungle: An Inky Expedition and Coloring Book for Adults

This is the second Johanna Basford coloring book on the list, and I don’t own it. But to be fair, it’s not even out yet… I’m pre-ordering it, and it comes out just before my birthday (it’s my birthday present to me!).

7. Day of the Dead Coloring Book

Okay no one ever said that unicorns can’t dig the weird and wonderful, right? I’m totally fascinated by Dia de Muertos (which for the record is a wholly misunderstood holiday), and these sugar skulls are a blast to color. It’s a great opportunity to go crazy with colors!

 

Okay, so give me the goodies… what’s YOUR favorite coloring book right now?

**Yes. If you buy from these links, I’ll get a tiny kick-back. Enough for extra pillows, crayons, and world domination.​**

What Happens When You Learn That You’re An Artist?

Quite frankly, I don’t remember what it’s like to not be able to read. I don’t remember what it’s like to not know my colors, or numbers, or how to cook. Education is an incredible thing… it not only changes your future, but it re-shapes your past.

Me reading
Wasn’t I cute?

A similar (and most interesting) thing happens when you go on a voyage of self-discovery. You’ll take a personality test, or someone will make an off-hand comment that brings something to your awareness, and all at once you’re both shocked to discover it’s true, and boggled that you never realized it before.

For example, I recently had a session with my business coach where she pointed out that one of my number one hindrances to my personal productivity, is that I feel compelled to solve everyone‘s problems. Right now you may be thinking that it’s my job to handle my client’s problems, or my family’s problems… but no…

She really does mean everyone. And it’s true.

If I overhear someone ask a question, I want to help them find the answer.

If someone off-handedly mentions that someone in a TV show looks familiar, I have to look it up.

If someone in a Facebook group asks a question that even begins to be in my random storehouse of knowledge, I want to help them.

If one of my friends creates a program, I want to jump in so I can support them.

At one point, I was in almost half a dozen Instagram challenges, because I wanted to support every friend of mine that was running one. Did I mention that I was running my own at the time? You know what happened? Almost none of them got done, including my own. Boooooo hisssss.

When I told my Mom about the conversation, she started laughing. “Boy she’s really got your number”, she said. I would have protested, but I’d already realized it was true. Over the course of the next week, I had to tell myself “no!” on about half a dozen courses, 3 month-long challenges, and a couple more Instagram challenges. I have issues, man.

In another conversation with that same business coach, she mentioned me being an idea person, and how I need to really focus down and keep my eye on the prize. It may come as a shock to you, but despite the fact that I’ve brainstormed half a dozen courses, a dozen future Cheeky Guide topics, a monthly Instagram challenge, and any number of other things… I was blissfully unaware that I’m an idea person.

It gets even more hilarious, if you know that I’m an INFP. An INFP is literally categorized as an “idea generator”.

I can’t make this stuff up… don’t you feel normal now?

So something I’ve never grasped for myself, is being an artist. I’ve been called an artist (or artistic) probably most of my life. When I was young I was praised for my very neat coloring, and it won me a stuffed animal (can’t recall if it was my Mickey or my Big Bird… I had a lot of stuffed animals as a kid). I had a book about drawing horses and prided myself on how quickly I picked up drawing them… I even showed them to our hometown artist (who specialized in drawing/painting horses).

I paint, draw, doodle, crochet, knit (a little), photograph, write, sing, story-tell, quill, cross stitch, hand letter, color, write calligraphy, cook…

Crocheting | What Happens When You Learn That You're An Artist? | Amanda Sue Howell | CheekyVisionaries.com

 

Okay so I’m not trying to brag here…. I really just want to paint a picture, because it should have been obvious to me, but it wasn’t. Not until I wrote about the undervaluing of artisans last week. It’s a topic I feel very strongly about, and I’ve ranted about it in person dozens of times, but never really on my blog. And when I did, I had an instantaneous response. One person even asked if they could gush over one of the sentences. Gush. Over something I wrote?

The more I thought about my post, and the more response I got to it, the more I realized why it’s such a fire-inducing topic to me. Because I am an artist. Me. An artist. Who knew?

Uhhhh basically everybody but me.

I am an artist.

Seriously though, there’s something special that happens when you step into what you’re designed to do. In my case, I’ve colored more in the last week than I have in months. And you might say that coloring isn’t “technically” an artistic endeavor. In which case I’d say that I dare you to google “johanna basford coloring tutorials” and tell me some of those people aren’t freaking artists.

Lisa Frank Ship | What Happens When You Learn That You're An Artist? | Amanda Sue Howell | CheekyVisionaries.com

But it’s not just the coloring. I’m feeling inspired to step back art forms I haven’t played with in months, or even years, because I didn’t feel like I could justify it. It was something I could do in my “spare” time. Have you ever noticed that spare time doesn’t really exist? We humans are experts at finding ways to whittle away every second we have with busywork.

So I ask you, will you join me in this journey? We’re closing out the first quarter of March, and I’m ending it with a beautiful discovery. I plan to spend the rest of 2016, discovering what my true bent (or bents… yay for multipods!) is/are. If you’re a fellow artist, I’d love for you to declare it in the comments below… shout it out, loud and proud. Link to something you’ve made!

The Undervaluing of Artisans

I always hesitate when telling someone that I’m going to do a rant post. In the back of my mind I feel like they think I’m about to launch into a Peter Griffin style “you know what really grinds my gears” type rant. So at the risk of someone thinking I’m a Family Guy fan (which I’m not), you know what really grinds my gears? Our culture’s undervaluing of artisans and creatives.

Undervaluing of Artisans | Amanda Sue Howell | CheekyVisionaries.com

Once upon a time artists were appreciated. In medieval times, parents took their children to be apprenticed to artisans & craftsmen, because “masters” of the craft often had a higher social standing in their community.

Why?

Because only the wealthy could afford such luxuries, and the more skilled someone was, the more desirable their goods were. You could end up making things for a wealthy landowner, or a lord of the court, or even a king.

So artisans were prized. Valued. Appreciated.

Fast forward to today. Now we have companies selling shirts that say “Aspiring Young Artist President”, as if being a politician is somehow a worthier plan than pursuing your God-given creative giftings.

We have people commenting on people’s social media posts, to inform them how unimpressed they are with their college degree, because “you only have a lib arts degree”. Firstly, everyone goes through the same core stuff. Secondly, you have no idea what they minored in (or if they double majored). Thirdly, why is a liberal arts degree a thing to be demeaned?

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How can we fix this?

First, we need to stop putting creativity/artistry into a box. For some reason, people say things like “I’m not creative… I don’t paint”, or “I’m not creative, I can’t draw a stick figure”. Let’s take a second and look at some of the things that fall under the artistic umbrella…

  • Drawing
  • Painting
  • Sculpting
  • Photography
  • Woodworking
  • Sewing
  • Embroidery
  • Knitting
  • Crocheting
  • Tatting
  • Macrame
  • Beadwork
  • Smithing
  • Gardening
  • Pottery
  • Baking
  • Cooking
  • Brewing
  • Candlemaking
  • Carving
  • Glass blowing
  • Calligraphy
  • Quilting
  • Leatherwork
  • Pyrography
  • Scale modeling
  • Decoupage
  • Collage
  • Scrapbooking
  • Rubber stamping
  • Origrami
  • Quilling (also called paper filigree)
  • Writing
  • Videography
  • Graphic design
  • Comedy
  • Singing

I could go on, but I’ll stop there. You’re seriously telling me that you can’t do any of those? Maybe, but could you learn even one? Yes. I know right now you’re thinking “but Amanda, some of those are learned skills… glass blowing? You can’t just jump up and do it!”

True. That’s the point. Any of these can be learned. No one wakes up knowing how to do quilting. Are some people more bent towards a certain skill? Maybe. I think it could be argued that some people are more persistent in pursuing certain skills.

Secondly, practice is an astonishing thing. Back a year or two ago I read an article in Huffington Post about the value of practice. The differences people made in 6 months, or a year were amazing. And yes, the people who have put in decades of practice are putting out seriously incredible work, but everyone starts somewhere.

Thirdly, stop defining your skills by someone else’s creations. If Picasso had tried to paint like Monet, the world wouldn’t know his name. Many artists struggle with feeling appreciated… over the years the world has lost many bright stars because they didn’t realize how needed they truly were. And the tragedy is that they never truly learned to appreciate their own work.

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It’s become almost a rite of passage for being a creative.

I hear it all the time…. “Oh I just hate my own work… you know how it is, you’re an artist”. Why do we feel like it’s mandatory to dislike our own work? Are we trying to achieve perfection? Are we afraid of being called out for cockiness? Whatever it is, our own inability to be own our own best salesperson has caused a culture where no one understands how precious creativity is.

So here’s my plea… stop saying you’re not creative. I guarantee that you are. And if you can’t figure out how you’re creative, you can email me, and I’ll help you out.

Running a Business With School-Aged Children: Boundaries & Mutual Respect

Running a Business With School-Aged Children: Boundaries & Mutual Respect

For the month of February, I’ll be chatting about different ways to run a business when you’ve got kiddos. The first week was running a business with a baby, the second week was running a business with a toddler, and today I’ll be talking about will be school-aged kids.

In general I’ve had the typical parenting experience… I’ve been been barfed on, pooped on, and drooled on. I’ve had peanut butter smeared on just about every dark shirt I’ve ever owned, and I’ve learned that if you cheer when your toddler falls on their butt, they’re much less likely to freak out.

But the one thing I have never dealt with, is a child in the bathroom with me while I’m bathing or peeing. Watch the video and find out why. 😉

 

Like I said in the video… I don’t want my children to think the world revolves around them, but I want them to know that they come before my business. Additionally, I want to be providing a good quality example of what entrepreneurship looks like for my children. Not only am I raising future adults, but I hope that I’m raising future entrepreneurs, and I would want them creating healthy boundaries too.

 

What are your tips for creating boundaries with your children?

Running a Business With Toddlers: Busy Boxes

Running a Business With a Toddle

For the month of February, I’ll be chatting about different ways to run a business when you’ve got kiddos. The first week was running a business with a baby, next week will be school-aged kids, and today I’ll be talking about running a business with toddlers.

Last week I gave 14 tips for running a business with a baby around. Many of those tips translate to running a business with toddlers, but I want to talk about something specifically for this age group.

Recently I’ve started reading up on busy boxes/bags. I don’t even recall where I ran across the term, but the concept is pretty simple. It’s a box (or bag) of toys/games/etc., to keep little hands occupied. When I see work at home mom’s talking about it, they have a box or boxes that are for use only when they’re working. Especially for things like conference calls, when you might need a little extra help keeping them entertained.

Since I’ve only just started looking into this myself, I can’t give you any cool photos of the ones I’ve created. But I promise to do a follow up post with what I come up with. For now, here’s a quick round up of some places where you can get some amazing ideas!

Teaching Mama – Busy Bags 101

Powerful Mothering – Ultimate Guide of Busy Bag Ideas – 100+ Ideas Sorted by Category

Little Bins For Little Hands – 25 Low Prep Busy Boxes or Busy Bags Activities

Intentional By Grace – Why I Use Busy Boxes For My Toddler & Baby

The Domestic Four – DIY Quiet Time Busy Boxes

Some children are more tactile than others, and some children have trouble properly processing their senses (SPD). For these children, sensory bins are a great twist on the busy boxes/bags concept.

Love Play and Learn – Sensory Bin 101

Kids Activities Blog – Over 200 Sensory Bins For Tactile Fun

Play At Home Mom LLC – 50 Sensory Bin Ideas

 

Have you ever used busy boxes/bags for your children? What were some of your favorite items for those boxes?