It’s extremely difficult to share with you my thoughts and inspirations when the world is literally collapsing. My thoughts are with those affected by hurricanes Harvey, Jose and Irma, and with the victims of the earthquakes in Mexico. How trivial our lives seem when faced with the forces of nature that we want to tame so much.
In times like these, I find comfort in the stories of brave people; the people who are the heroes of everyday life – handling their tasks with ‘due diligence’, trying to find the balance between self-care and caring for others.
Today, I want you to feel inspired by Angela Guzzo who is a writer, a quilter, wife and Mom. She is making 1000 Quilts and donating every 10th one to charity while renovating her home and managing a menagerie of people and pets. You can find her on Instagram @cottagemagpie and @magpiestitches She also leads a Facebook community called Mompreneur Society.
Barbara: Angela, you’re a Mom, an entrepreneur, a blogger, a philantropist. How do you manage your everyday tasks?
Angela: Very, very carefully! Honestly, I hate to give anyone the idea I have it “all together” because I’m a mess like everyone else. The one thing I have learned in the last year, though, is that I can accomplish all kinds of things, but I can only do one thing at a time. I’m a creative person and I have more ideas than I will ever be able to implement. So, like decluttering, that means making the hard choices and letting go of everything extraneous. It means learning to say ‘No’ so that you can say ‘Yes’ to what is really important to you.
B: Can you tell us a few words about your bookstore and how you want to connect it with the quilt-making?
A: I just think books and quilts go together like chocolate and peanut butter. What’s better than a really great book and a cozy quilt to snuggle under while you read? You can experience the adventure of faraway places but still have that warm connection to home. There’s something almost primal in the way that reading a story with or to someone connects you together. Telling another person a great story is an act of love that transcends barriers of all kinds. We should all do more of it. So I knew that the best stories would have to continue to be a part of what I’m offering.
B: My heart melted when I read that you want to give away some of the books and your crafts to the organization which helps children who are victims of sexual abuse. Can you tell us more about it? Have you met any of these children? What were their reactions to books?
A: I haven’t met any of them personally—their privacy is pretty protected, and honestly it also protects me. My heart just breaks for them and what they have gone through and I can’t let it overwhelm me or I won’t be able to function! But I have heard that the quilts and stories have a great impact on them. They can feel the love that comes with the quilt, and knowing that someone really cares enough to make and provide something like that sticks with them.
There are several organizations in my town to help various communicates. One is dedicated to victims of sexual abuse, one to physical abuse, and one to Moms who are struggling to find care for their children so they can work. I will be donating to all of these as I go forward, giving where the need is greatest.
B: You say that “our businesses need to dovetail with our lives”. I was enchanted with the idea that you want to focus on the quilts, because your children might be engaged in this. How do they help you?
A: Our businesses absolutely dovetail with our lives. If they don’t, then your business and your life (and caring for your family or whatever else you do) are always at odds, fighting each other. It’s exhausting and upsetting. When we choose activities and businesses that fit into where we’re at in life (whatever that is), we can balance the two so that we can get the best of both. This isn’t to say that we have no separation of work and life—it’s important to walk away from the work!! But we can make them fit together.
For me, I’m in a season of life where I am sandwiched with care responsibilities. I am 48 and managing the care of my mother, who has dementia and needs someone to be her advocate and manage her affairs. But I also have school-age children at home whom I homeschool to accommodate their special needs. I can’t be on the computer all the time, or work in an office. I need something I can do at home with them.
Sometimes that looks like me sewing while they are playing or reading or doing their own project. Sometimes that looks like them designing a quilt of their own, or helping me choose fabrics, or helping to pack and ship orders.
B: What are the biggest advanatages of mompreneurs? And what kind of problems do you notice, also in your FB community?
A: The biggest advantage of being a Mompreneur is the flexibility. You can design your business around your life. You can be present for your loved ones for those little moments. I also particularly enjoy it as I am an Introvert, and I like that I can be choosy about how I spend my social energy—putting that where it counts for me rather than just dissipating it in an office environment.
The biggest problem that I see in the Mompreneurs I know is that we’re all struggling to make the hard choices to simplify enough and remove the obstacles. We resist the advice to declutter our schedules. We resist the advice to be super focused on a niche and serve that one population. We resist the advice to declutter our spaces and streamline our systems. We want to do it all! I include myself in this because I struggle with these things, too. We all do. But the ONLY way to succeed is to eliminate the extraneous, leaving only what’s vitally important. And if, after doing that, there’s still too much, then cutting more until you’re down to what you can handle. It is VERY hard to make those choices, which is why so many people don’t do it (including me). But I can tell you from experience that the better I do at removing excess, the more successful and productive I am.
B: Do you have any tips which mompreneurs could use?
A: Get crystal clear on what is important to you, and then eliminate everything that isn’t that. Declutter your space, your schedule, your brain, your body. Make room for what’s IMPORTANT instead of always being beholden to what seems urgent. Learn to say, “No, thank you!”
Before we learn to minimize our commitments and our things, we think that saying no to them and letting things go is the hardest. We worry about disappointing people or not getting around to things. We worry about what people will think or what we’ll miss out on. Or we are afraid that we won’t get where we want to go fast enough. But after, you realize that saying ‘yes’ was actually the hardest, because it crowded up your schedule and your space so much that you couldn’t breathe or function. People aren’t really paying attention to what we’re doing or judging us—they’re too busy with their own lives. Most people are happy to have your undivided attention even if it means they have it less often. And I can tell you without question that having too much on your place will absolutely keep you from where you want to go—only single-minded focus will move mountains. Even if that focus is 15 minutes a day, it’ll make a difference if you work on the same thing for those 15 minutes!
B: Thank you, Angela, for sharing this with us.
If you liked Angela’s ideas, you might want to join her Facebook community, Mompreneur Society.
If you feel that your home overwhelms you, you might want to take the first step to decide on what you want and what you need by joining my 5-day free e-mail course: Make a Home that Makes Sense to You:
If you know someone who will find this interview valuable, please share it with them.
With all my love and appreciation,