Thursday, January 2, 2014

Progress, not Perfection

I can't believe on October 11th, I set in motion a hard and slow trudge towards a big dream that I have...starting my own paperie/invitation business. Looking at blogs, how other people "did it", etc sometimes makes it look so simple, easy and quick. Here I am, two months later and I can wholeheartedly tell you indeed, it is not for the faint of heart. I am WAY not where I thought I'd be; in fact, I feel like I have made very little progress. I'll just be real, it's hard.

Being a perfectionist sometimes means that I tend to harp on the have not's, when I really should stop and look at all that I have accomplished. I have a tendency to want to overly perfect everything before I lay it up for the world to see. Progress is really the goal, not perfection, and I need to give myself some credit for taking steps, no matter how small they seem to me in the grand scheme of things. Here's some of the progress I've made
  • Initial investments. I took the plunge and invested in my biggest expense....a Macbook Pro. This computer has allowed me to do what I love faster and with better and clearer image quality. It really was the key to kicking my butt in gear and actually making things happen. I also got the latest and greatest Creative Suite (which is now in the cloud, so weird) on top of taking some classes to really refine and expand my skills. Seriously, this has helped loads.
  • My support system. I have the best support system! My husband 100% believes in me and totally trusts the decisions I've been making.
  • Having a business building buddy. I mentioned before, one of my dear friends, Alex, is starting her own event planning business. We have totally different product/service offerings but we have the same audience, struggles and big hopes for our futures. It's been an enormous blessing to walk alongside another creative to push each other, to counter any discouragement, and to celebrate the small victories. If you're planning a wedding in the Northern Virginia and surrounding area, seriously give this girl a shout.
  • And the biggest yay!...I have a wedding client! This was another unexpected blessing that really forced me to figure things out quickly. I'm so pumped to see it come to life!
I'm so beyond excited for 2014. Here are some of the big things I still have to figure out:
  • Find a local printer to partner with. This is my biggest prayer right now, as I still have yet to find a local printer. If you know a reliable printer in the Northern Virginia area, I'd love to know who they are! 
  • Refine my brand. I've started a Pinterest inspiration board and I have a basic idea of what I'd like in my brand, my ideal client and my services/products, but I need to think it out and write it out. I have Lara Casey's Powersheets on the way, so I'm hoping that they'll force me to ask myself some tough and necessary questions and to create manageable goals.
  • Knock out the nitty gritty business side. I don't think anybody will ever enjoy the administrative side of business, but I still need to wrap my head around taxes, licensing, contract/proposal language, etc. All of it makes me cringe. Basically, the yucky-but-necessary stuff. I'm beyond lucky to work at an accounting firm where I can ask specific tax questions and know I'm getting the right answer for my specific situation. It's better than Google!
  • Build a website. This is a massive project and I've been going back and forth between WordPress and Squarespace. They both have their pros and cons. I feel like I'm leaning towards Squarespace? If anyone has had any experience with either one, I'd love to hear your feedback!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Big Dreams and my B.H.A.G.

So I'll just come out and say it...this is a scary post to write. Even now as I'm typing this out, I keep having to tell myself this isn't as silly as it sounds and to keep writing. I've never been the type to really dream big. Like big hairy audacious goal (B.H.A.G.), big. Sure I've had hopes and dreams but I'm always careful to make sure their attainable or my favorite word, safe. But when I really check myself, the real issue is that I'm afraid to fail and for other people to see me fail...which prevents me from trying or even think about trying. For the past few weeks I've honestly for the first time considered making a dream happen. It's been in the back of my mind for about a year and I've only really talked to Ryan about it.

A few weeks ago I was sitting with one of my sweet friends, Alex, while our husbands were out at a bachelor party. We talked about life, where we see ourselves in the next two to three years and our aspirations. And that's where she told me her big dream (which I won't spoil!) and I casually, quickly mentioned mine. We talked about how crazy they sounded, we made excuses and then called them out on each other, and then we started believing that we could make them happen. We were two self-doubters who finally believed that we could do it...we just needed someone to tell us we weren't crazy! I'm so thankful for that time and for that motivation.

I was inspired by brave women who wrote some of their goals out and blogged them. My wedding photog and sweet friend Katelyn did just that and then another blog that I follow (another KJ bride), Molly wrote out her dreams as well. One of my high school friends, Kat even started her new event planning business a few short weeks ago and wrote about those same fears of failure. There is so much truth in the fact that verbalizing things makes you feel vulnerable. These women helped me see through their bravery to just put it all out there.

So the truth is, I do have a big dream, a big hairy audacious goal.

I want to start my own business one day. And not just any business, but a paperie business. I want to make invitations, prints, stationary--anything that has to do with paper. I know you might be thinking, paper is just paper, but it's totally not to me. I love finding the right combination of scripty handwritten font to go with a clean line san serif. I love gold foil techniques and beautiful textured paper. I'm obsessed with letterpress, calligraphy and clean lines. I love that a wedding invitation/save the date is the first thing your guests will see that will reflect that wedding theme you've worked so hard at creating. I love that invitations mark special points in people's lives--wedding days, baby showers, housewarmings, birthdays, etc. I love getting excited about a print that puts a finishing touch on making a house into a home. 

There it is, friends! I still have lots of fears and it still could totally flop. I have no idea what I'd name it, I need to build out a website, I need to buy a new laptop as well as the fantastically expensive Adobe suite, I need to explore the legality side of starting a business and continue to brush up on the skill side of graphic design. All I've really done so far is start a Pinterest board of inspiration/branding ideas and started an Illustrator class. But the biggest reason for putting it all out there is to start transitioning a dream into a reality. I'm no Emily Ley or Lindsay Letters or Smitten on Paper, but that's gotta start somewhere and the biggest thing is to just start.

And a little printy print I made :)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

A Year in Review

Two weeks ago, Ryan and I celebrated our FIRST anniversary! We couldn't believe that it had already come and gone and kept saying how fast time flew by. We had a very memorable first year and accomplished way more than we had anticipated...namely buying our first home. Here is our year in review:

  • Traveled to Italy, France, Spain for our honeymoon and made a few domestic trips to NYC, Boston and Charleston. We love to travel and it's one of our favorite things to do now that we're married!
  • Helped officially launch our church plant, Harvest in Fairfax. This has been by far one of the biggest blessings from last year. We've found the best community and church that continuously challenges us. We couldn't do life without them and are always so encouraged by their support
  • Bought our first home. We were totally NOT expecting this one at all. We thought this was years away, especially given the area we live in, and seriously lucked out with the best house and buying process. 
  • Had our first (and hopefully last) attempted break-in at above first home. This was one of those memorable, crazy and scary moments we'll never forget.
  • We both got new jobs. Ryan's in a rotational program and he switched to another component of DHS...the best part is that he now commutes within Virginia! I started at a smaller CPA firm closer to our new house and that gives me more flexibility and freedom.
  • Got a dog. After going back and forth between what kind of dog and when we should get one, we finally pulled the trigger and got a miniature dachshund puppy, Piper, who has both exhausted us and given us so much joy.
Just looking back at this list lets me know just how blessed we truly are. We did a LOT and experienced a lot of change. I'm so grateful that I got to do all of those things above with my best friend and partner, Ryan. He has been the best husband and I'm constantly amazed at how the Lord built him specifically for me. He has been nothing short of selfless, servant-like and a God-fearing leader for our family.

I'm so excited for this weekend! My best friends and their husbands are coming into town and we'll be headed to the Nats game on Saturday. Ryan turns the big 2-5 this Sunday and he will be preaching at Harvest...on his birthday. Crazy man! He's been prepping for awhile now and his message is awesome. I'm so anxious to hear it "live". I'm already so proud.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

New (Furry) Addition to the Shaughnessy Household

It all started when we bought a house--the puppy talks. I grew up in a family complemented by a dog for most of my life and Ryan always had cats. To say that I'm not a cat person is an understatement, so I always knew we'd get a dog was just a matter of when and what kind of dog. Ryan was in the Dachshund camp and I was holding steady in the Labrador camp. Total opposites might I add. After our near break-in when we first moved into our house, the puppy conversation resurfaced in a more serious (and practical) light. We went back and forth between adopting and finding a breeder.We started looking into adopting at first, even went to adoption events and just couldn't find the right dog. I'm not sure if it's just the case in Northern Virginia, but adopting a dog is way more complicated than it's worth. There were lots of dogs that we did like, but they had such specific need criteria (i.e. bonded pairs, needs a fence, can't be home alone, etc.) that didn't work for us. Plus, after you paid your fee, there was an interview process and a home inspection to make sure all the "requirements" were met. We decided to go the breeder route in the end.

After dog-sitting one of our friend's miniature dachshund for a week, we decided that a dachshund was the best fit for us. We found a breeder with a 3 month old miniature short-haired female dachshund that melted our hearts. And just like that we found our family puppy! I'm convinced girl dog names are harder to come up with than boy names. Ryan started reading out names of authors from our bookshelf, we were that clueless what to name her. So whether you think it's cheesy or theologically awesome, we decided to name her Piper after John Piper. We're headed out to the boonies (on our 1st anniversary weekend I might add!) of Harrisonburg to bring her home this weekend.

Meet Piper:


Monday, May 20, 2013

House Progress Update

So I've been terrible with the blog updating lately! Once we moved into our new house, our weekends and free time have been filled with home improvement projects. We are just now winding down and I'm happy to say that it's beginning to truly feel like home. After our bumpy first night in the house, it's been extra important to turn our house into a safe, comfortable and homey place for us...probably more from my perspective. Ryan would be happy with a blow-up couch and a tv. But he knows who he married :)

Being a perfectionist, I've held back on wanting to post pictures of what the house looks like right now. I'll keep pushing it off until it's "officially" finished--i.e. things are on the wall, every piece is in it's place, all the gaps are filled, etc. But part of owning a home and making it your home is that decorating in particular, is a gradual process. I can't make it look just like my Pinterest inspiration overnight and I'm not on an HGTV show that has a turnaround time of 3 days. Nor do we have the finances to do it either! Here are some peeks at some of our rooms:

The living room, so far, is my favorite room. We spend the most time in here and we just got this big fluffy couch that we love. Ryan has "claimed" the chaise part of the couch already. Obviously, something is going to go on the wall behind the couch. I think I'm pretty set on doing a gallery's just a matter of collecting everything we're going to hang and then arranging it. My dad is building a mantle for the fireplace so we can hide the cords to the tv/cable and put our sound bar in a more practical place (right now it's sitting below our gas fireplace which won't work in the winter time).

The kitchen was completely redone by the previous owners (thank goodness). The massive island has already been great for entertaining. People just naturally stand around it eating whatever is out. Apparently I'm spoiled with a double oven, although I've never actually used both at the same time. Because I'm a terrible cooker/baker, it hasn't gotten it's best use. We'd love to replace the white and older appliances with stainless sometime down the road. The guest bedroom is probably our most colorful room so far. I'm trying to break my habit of being color shy! We're going to hang a big round mirror above the bed. We still need to find a dresser of some sort and some curtains, but the room has already been functioning as a guest bed.

Luckily, we bought a house that didn't need a lot of work. A lot of what we have changed/replaced were simple, quick fixes. For example, we replaced most of the outdated, ugly, gold and shiny doorknobs, light switch plates/outlets and a light fixture. A simple change, but with an obvious impact. I felt like we shaved off years from the house because of it. Granted, we still have work to do...our bathrooms are still the ugliest rooms in the house thanks to yellow linoleum flooring and contractor-style vanities. One of these days we'll get around to completely revamping.

We also just booked our 1 year anniversary trip! We're deferring to celebrate in November, since we'll be in the OBX the week before our REAL anniversary, by going on another cruise-- this time in the Caribbean! We'll be leaving from San Juan, Puerto Rico and "island hopping" in the Caribbean. We're so excited! As soon as we got married, we started saving for our next vacation. One of our favorite things to do together is to experience new countries and to travel. But when you're not making big money and have important things to pay for (um, like maybe a house?!), saving becomes even more important. We're so excited!

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