• Motherhood and entrepreneurship are two nouns that are more similar than not – they both thrive on nurturing, creative thinking, patience, planning and smart work. Women are naturally equipped for both rolls – we have proved to be able to spin more than one plate at the same time for centuries and we have assertively raised babies into capable human beings... and businesses from the ground up.

    99% of the clients I work with are women and I dare say that 90% of those are mothers. Some are drained from working uninspiring 8-5 jobs, some others have used blogging as a form of catharsis but never wanted to get anywhere with it... while others (like myself) didn't have any "luck" after several years of pouring themselves into their blogs and businesses – yet interestingly enough, 100% of these women deal with the same feelings of self-doubt and worry.

    I dug into my server archives and rescued a decent list of questions I get asked whenever I’m working with a "mom-preneur". Here are 5 of the ones I think are the most common and the most important ones:

    How did you decide to start a business?
    I became a mother almost 11 years ago and 6 months into motherhood I created my first blog and my first business while sitting on the floor of a tiny villa here in Brazil. I sincerely knew nothing about what I was doing, both in motherhood and entrepreneurship. I simply knew 3 things and those things only: that we needed money, that my baby kept me up for hours at a time while she breastfed into a milk coma and that I was going bonkers not doing anything... and that is how everything started. No, I didn’t have a revelatory dream. There wasn’t a prophecy or a call. I needed to maintain some level of sanity so I jumped in with both feet.

    What do you wish you had known before starting?
    To be honest, the only thing that I wish I had known was that I was doing the right thing at that time. I made many mistakes and the entire ordeal was a mess sometimes. It looked amateurish when I started and there wasn’t much or any information to find online back then but that learning curve taught me a lot – even that I didn’t want to run my business like a machine and that I wanted to keep this a one-woman operation working from the comfort of my home. But the thing that got to me was that irrational mommy guilt you feel when your tiny swaddled baby is taking its 9th nap of the day and you feel that by sitting in front of a computer you're missing out on precious moments that you will never get back. It wasn’t like that and it isn’t like that now that my little swaddled baby is just about my height and has feet as big as mine.

    How do you juggle motherhood and business at the same time?
    You don’t. I could end it there and drop the mic but I won’t. The reality is we all need to stop trying to be everything all the time. Nobody can constantly be at 100% in every area of their lives at all times – and that is the case with being a mother and an entrepreneur. You will eventually sort out a plan that seems to work for you... but 90% of the time you are just going to need to pick your battles: one day you will thrive at your business and get the rush of a professional bad-ass and some others you will be super mom and tackle all your little one’s appointments and needs and even sneak an extra hour of playtime in there; but we all need to understand that only some things are urgent and only some things need our undivided attention at any given time.

    Do you have a routine while being a freelancer?
    Yes, I have a weekly routine that tells me what to do every day from Monday - Friday and that forces me to work in a systematic manner. My days look different and I pay attention to different things during the week giving each task my undivided attention. A good routine for mothers who work from home should always start with them - say, having time alone in meditation in the morning... and then end with them as well – maybe reading a book in bed or spending time in exquisite silence. Of course, as a freelancer, your routine will probably look different from day to day but time for self-care and (if possible) weekends offline should be non-negotiable.

    Should I venture into a business of my own?
    What advice would you give new entrepreneurs?

    10 years ago I’d have simply said, "Yes!"... but in these times I need to be honest and say that you should start a business only if you have a clear idea of what that would look like and you are willing to put in the time to patiently see it evolve. If you are determined and already have a clear idea, I’d then tell you these things:

    ¹ Be clear about how much time you want to devote to growing your business on the daily. Calculate what your time’s worth according to your capabilities, resources and available time and don’t accept anything less than that.
    ² Treat yourself as your only source of income – so invest in your well-being and mental health.
    Communicate to your children and set boundaries: you need some sort of delimitation between home and work.
    ³ Working from home is being flexible and using what you have around you. Do not invest in anything until you’re truly seeing it take shape.
    ⁴ Loneliness is a common denominator for at-home workers, especially when your little ones are not yet in a talking phase.
    ⁵ Structure your work weeks and if possible make weekends off non-negotiable.
    No matter how much more you think you can do by sleeping less and working more, never sacrifice your mental health for your work.
    ⁶ Save a part of your money whenever you surpass your earning goals – for a rainy day.
    Be aware of the privilege that it is being able to always have your kids an arm's-reach away. That will allow you to swiftly take your work hat off and enjoy times with them without the guilt of stopping work for the day and vice versa.

    Neither mom-life nor entrepreneurial life are easy to manage; you will win some battles and you will lose some – but it is important to keep sight of what made you take that leap in the first place, as it is important to let go of self-doubt and worries.

    Make sure your business is constantly growing and that you don’t have to completely neglect one thing for the sake of another. Trust your instincts and always – and I mean always – look for help in people who are here to help you... yes, like me.

    Ph. 1 . 2 . 3 . 4 . 5 . 6

  • "Fake it till you make it" is one of the most thrown-around phrases that almost every entrepreneur and blogger uses to motivate clientele and readers – but in my opinion, it’s no recipe for success.

    I believe that it can actually have the opposite effect – if to start with, you do not believe that you have what it takes to live out your dreams. If you doubt yourself, you will simply mask those insecurities with over-confidence, a fine suit or whatever you feel that you should fake in order to get to where you want to be.

    Authenticity is extremely underrated these days but strangely enough, it is what makes people interested in you and what you have to give. So all the little parts about yourself and your journey are important. It’s what makes people not only look up to you but also believe in the possibility of them achieving their own dreams. Not everyone has had instant success. There are plenty of people who are incredible at what they do and have started from absolute rock bottom in every sense of the word – and there’s no shame in that.

    So, if you absolutely feel like you have to fake it until you make it, make sure that what you are changing first is your own perception of yourself... and ask yourself if maybe instead of pretending you shouldn’t be showing the honesty of where you are at and let people see you grow to the point where you make it.

    As long as your motivation is in the right place, you will always get there, whether you fake it or not.

    Ph. Dagmara Jarzynka with thanks

  • Everyone at some point will feel like all they do is lose in life. Whether it’s sickness, breakups, financial troubles, career hardships or loss, we all hit brick walls and experience feelings of worthlessness at some point in this journey of life.

    We all have the tremendous capacity to recreate ourselves – forging ways where there weren’t any before. We learn new things daily, we are able to push through the most intense challenges that life throws at us and we constantly fall and get back up again... but what does it take to get back up? Do you simply want it? Do you sit and wait for motivation? Is it a matter of believing in yourself?

    The world tells us to constantly strive, to be switched on and to fight (then fight some more) and if nothing gives, to fight harder. What our immediate circumstances don’t tell us is that *how* we get back up again is just as important as standing on our own two feet again – and the only way, of course, is through. We need to go through all of the experience to come out on the other side. There’s no way around pain, loss, trouble and sadness – only through.

    To truly rise up from something and never look back we need to accept our part in what took us to where we are, learn that motivation is an illusion and we cannot wait for it to come. We need to understand that we create momentum. True mindfulness is raw. It’s not something esoteric and mystical. It’s not (only) bubble baths and massages: mindfulness is awareness, it’s opening our eyes to our truths and accepting each situation for what it is, even if it’s uncomfortable and ridding ourselves of negativity. It’s being patient but active in working ourselves out of our ruts.

    We need to be forgiving with the people who contributed to where we are, we need to be forgiving to the circumstances that brought us to this place – but we also need to be radically responsible for the reality we experience daily. As harsh as that might sound. *That* is how we move forward. That is how we are able to live a life of balance and integrity.

    Yes, you can rise up from anything. Don’t ever doubt that. Make yourself accountable for it and truly go through it: go through the crying, the loss, the pain, go through the worries and the hurt but keep yourself in check. Don’t wait for motivation to come knocking at your door. Instead create momentum and surround yourself with faith. Have faith in your future, in yourself and in that nothing is permanent. You will get through this. Say that and believe it. Be open to a new beginning. Always.

    ph. Nicole Mason

  • Sundling Kicken

    I've been noticing an increasing wave of negative comments surrounding Minimalism–and while I wish that wasn't the case, I have to admit I completely understand where people are coming from in regards to the preachy types and the black and whiteness of it all. It is indeed quite puzzling how people can complicate something that’s meant to simplify our lives.

    The saddest part is that minimalism and mindfulness can be immensely beneficial to everyone's life... but if we complicate the mere act of becoming a minimalist we lose sight of the simplicity of it all.

    It is counterintuitive to encourage people to "let go" and then serve them with 101 "must do's", don't you think? Well, it shouldn't be made complicated. In fact, minimalism as I see it, should fit into your life and not you into minimalism. This is not a cult, it's a lifestyle–one that can change our lives completely and make our lives lighter and freer; so the only principle that we should never let go of is this:

    Minimalism results from mindfulness.

    That means that only you can determine what is right or wrong for you, what the essentials for your particular life are and what you truly need to let go of. Everything else is just a fad.


    A B O V E   1 . 2 . 3 . 4 . 5

  • Last year around this time I wrote a post entitled "How To Cure A Minimalist Wardrobe". There I talk about purging a closet and the mindful exercise of learning to make sensible choices when it comes to fashion.

    What I didn’t talk about there was the minimalistic qualities of couture and why I think it makes a difference in how people perceive fashion. I know, I know… to each their own but hear me out for a bit. Minimalism has slipped its way into every realm of the fashion world because it just makes sense.

    Like everything that is created using minimalism and mindfulness as stepping stones, minimalist fashion focuses on functionality, quality and pays attention to the details. It’s honest and it’s developed from sketch to the end piece with the utmost of respect for the materials, the craft and the person who will wear it.

    That is the same approach that Australian power duo, Sara Donaldson and Georgia Martin took when creating The Undone—A unique online shopping destination, distinctly concerned with quality and aesthetics. The focus is on wardrobe essentials. In pieces that are not mere "basic" but which also engage women with a sophisticated, functional and unique fashion experience.

    They have a high standard for service and offer a small yet stunning selection of designers.

    From their website, their carefully curated images, down to their beautiful packaging, The Undone is a safe place for minimalists to invest. Below are 6 of my favorite.

  • Ragnar Ómarsson

    Let’s all be honest—we love acquiring things . . . Whether buying gives us a sense of power, comfort, practicality or false joy. We all have reasons why to constantly buy things—but how much is enough and how much do we really need... and have you ever thought about why you need one thing or another?

    Being mindful about everything material around us helps us develop a character that is more understanding, simpler and richer. It stirs up in us a power that not many of us practice. It makes us less reactive and more intentional about the things we purchase—and it significantly and gradually makes us pull away from desiring the material in the search for happiness—which means it brings us true happiness instead.

    Buddhists believe that gratefulness should be a habit and that we should cultivate it independent of conditions or circumstances.

    How many of the things you acquire or already own do you take for granted? How many trinkets are you stacking in your drawers? How much of what you have is truly relevant to your life and your well-being? And are you aware of those things? Are you truly satisfied with what you have? Do you have enough to be grateful?

    Minimalism, mindfulness and gratitude are intertwined. It is impossible to live a life with the essentials without being fully aware of what those things bring into our lives; therefore it is also impossible not to be grateful for those things.

    To cultivate gratitude, we need to be mindful and aware first of what we already have; denying ourselves of the pleasure of practicing gratefulness makes us to constantly want more . . . to worry. To always think we need more, to never desire deeper, more meaningful things, like peacefulness—and that is no way to live.

    The power that comes from mindfulness is gratefulness—and the benefits of gratefulness are endless. It starts by getting us out of our heads. It helps us look at humanity as number one and not selfishly to ourselves. It connects us to our passions with more intent, it fills us with happiness, it grounds us, it makes our minds and hearts lighter. In a nutshell, it makes us happily content.

    How much of what you own are you truly grateful for?

  • Photography ©️ Alice Gao

    A little over a year ago I started noticing certain daily things were causing strange involuntary reactions in me: like a slight increase in my heartbeat every Sunday before bed, or a near inability to take deep, steady breaths while I worked on my computer or replied to emails.

    The symptoms worsened when my father got ill—until seemingly out of the blue I woke up one day and I started becoming paralyzed with fear at any given moment. Stress and negative thoughts weighed down on me to the point of making me experience the feelings of going through unimaginable tragedy and loss. The slightest day-to-day challenges would set me off on a panic attack. Air seemed not to fill my lungs and I would get more and more worked up until my body would eventually crash and I’d feel burned out. An exhaustion I'd never experienced before.

    I had no idea why after I had gone through so much in life I was suddenly unable to cope with the most common things. My creatively demanding job, of course, wasn’t helping. I was starting to lose touch with the things I loved and giving up on everything that I had built.

    My life was at that point where I couldn’t go left, right, forward or backward. I could just exist in that moment and try to change my attitude—because the situation wasn’t going to change any time soon. My father was going to get worse or pass away before he could get better and my daily work was always going to have its positives and negatives. I needed to relearn how to cope.

    I wish I could tell you I had that realization moment and I set off on a magical journey or rediscovery, but it was nothing like that. There was the preliminary part where my emotions and what I knew to be “me” had spiraled out of control, making me lose all of my sense of routine, self-love and the work I held so dear.

    One day, a few months down the line after going through the actual loss of my father, I was sitting on the edge of my bed, having just woken up from a vivid dream where I had taken a train ride with him. I woke up sobbing and feeling like my chest was going to explode. Suddenly I felt tired of it all—of imploding and feeling I had no control over my emotions.

    I had to face the fact that I was helpless and stop swimming against the current. I had to truly stop and realized that I had all this bottled up and it wasn’t serving me.

    Minimalism was one of the many things that helped in the process of picking myself back up. It made it so that I could grasp some perspective and focus on the present moment. I needed to let go of some of my emotional baggage and that is exactly what I did.

    I kept it simple. I did what I could manage every day and I kept my focus on the day-to-day with a heart full of love and forgiveness for what I thought I had neglected or left behind when I wasn’t able to cope.

    I committed myself to doing one thing at a time and to tackling that one thing that was the most terrifying at the beginning of each day. That meant I wouldn’t let it hang over my head and that I wouldn’t run the gauntlet of anxiety every single day. Being mindful helped me find true strength in times where I’d otherwise have lost all emotional control.

    With time and much persistence I’ve been able to react appropriately to each situation. That’s not to say that I no longer suffer from anxiety or panic attacks but they do not run my life anymore. Last week was a terrible week for me. I was anxious and down. I was physically ill and entertaining all the negativity I could... but what counts is today—and today I'm here.

    Even in the midst of experiencing paralyzing fear, I’ve been able to push forward knowing that I can do at least one thing every single day. That the emotions that don’t serve me are supposed to be let-go of and not bottled up... and that as terrible as today might seem, there is still hope for tomorrow—or even for a minute or an hour from now.

    Minimalism has brought mindfulness into my life and consequently comfort and happiness, even in times of grief, need and fear.

    For everyone suffering from anxiety or panic attacks like me, I’d suggest looking for professional help. I wanted to share my story with you on where I’ve come from so you know that you can come out on the other side too... but this might not apply to you, so this is not at all a formula to follow but a story of someone who knows how hard it is and who can now see light and hope in her situation.
  • Photography © Adidas Originals Full disclosure: I’m writing this post as I eat my third zucchini cookie of the day – and experiencing zero guilt.

    To be fair, for someone who’s job statistically labels her as “sedentary” - and completely backing up that fact – I have a moderate to good relationship with fitness and health. But let’s face it: Blogging, designing and running a creative business from home sets up the perfect atmosphere for a sedentary lifestyle, especially when squeezing in an extra hour of work is sometimes a bigger priority in our lives.

    I believe that the place where we put *ourselves* on our mental priority list directly dictates how good of a relationship we have with exercise and spirituality (or at least that has been true in my own life). Awareness plays a lead role in making us believe we deserve something and in understanding that one hour dedicated to ourselves is an hour gained, not an hour lost – or that eating healthy is not a temporary quick fix but a life habit.

    Being aware of ourselves first when it comes to a healthier lifestyle is (surprisingly) not just about vanity and shedding the pounds, although it’s a nifty side effect, don’t you think? Being aware of ourselves makes us uncomfortable enough with our sedentarism to provoke us to action.

    The secret to effortless exercise is learning to redefine the way we see effort itself, not as something that sucks the life out of us. It changes from, "There’s no time for it" to, "I’ll make time for it". That’s where the rubber hit the road and makes us more prone to creating a realistic system for ourselves that fits into our lives and that we can maintain.

    You exercise and live healthy effortlessly when you:

    1. Ease into it – Most people fail at creating healthy habits because they don’t ease into it. You need to start from the beginning when it comes to building a healthier lifestyle, no exception. Start with something that your mind recognizes as effortless. For example, move at a slow pace for 15 minutes today rather than signing up for a military style boot camp... or switch out white bread for wholewheat bread. Simple is always smart.

    2. Redefine your limiting beliefs – Our beliefs are shaped by past experiences, logic and emotion. Once a belief is formed we reject the thought that something can be any other way: If you believe that you can’t do something, you speak and act like someone who can’t, so you actually can’t. Reshaping a belief is about changing the way we speak about things and ourselves. I love the way Tony Horton puts it: Instead of saying, “I can’t” say, “I presently struggle with...” - then act on that new belief.

    3. Be present – Creating healthy habits is a day-by-day process. It’s about what you’re doing today that’s good for you... not about what you will be able to do, feel or look like a year from now. Practicing mindfulness inherently allows you to find the process itself satisfying not only the outcomes.

    4. Align it with your personality – If your actions and habits don’t align with your personality you will soon lose your interest... and you know how that goes. First despondency... and then you'll jump ship. It’s key to recognize how beautifully different we are and how that triggers what we fall in love with. I love yoga and practice it once a week for 1.5 hours - but doing that every single day just doesn’t align with my personality. Things that have me jumping, moving and rolling on the floor are more *me*. Like Plyometrics. So that's the highlight of my week. The same can be applied to healthy eating. If you’re not someone who loves smoothies, why drink them? Eat the way you like and make smart healthy choices.

    5. Condition yourself for it – A lot of us have all these good intentions but when it comes time to put them into practice, we find something better to do or to eat because we don’t condition ourselves and our lives for action. For example, you are much more likely to exercise if you intentionally focus on simply putting on your gym clothes and shoes. Just the way you're more likely to eat better by planning your meals in advance. Conditioning is setting yourself up for success which in the end is winning.

    Keep in mind that this is not all about getting shredded abs... it’s about creating new habits and new beliefs so that exercise is always effortless no matter it’s shape, form or level of intensity. No fitness Guru in the world is going to talk you into making the shift to living a healthier life style if you don’t set yourself up for success.

    Do you have any limiting mindsets when it comes to exercise and healthy living?

    Please, let me know if you want the recipes for these cookies. I tell you, they’re scrumptious.
  • Photography © Sara Medina Lind with thanks! Living one's life intentionally is easier said than done. People have started to throw out Minimalism quotes like bible verses from Sunday's mass... and though they're empowering, there's a massive gap between the believing and the doing. Jumping in with both feet is scary for anyone, unless, like myself, life has not given you an option. It's safe to say that your journey to becoming more mindful about material things will be a tad uncomfortable to say the least.
    Introducing change into our lives, no matter how adventurous our brains are, will always generate a little discomfort. Human beings are bound to resist change because in changing there's a lot of uncertainty (and living on the safe side is always more appealing) - so the immediate answer to something new and challenging is most often NO.
    Decluttering is not about tossing things away that are broken or rummaging through your drawers trying to find things that you haven't seen since 1982 - It's about bringing more meaning into your life, it's about enjoying every single thing you have. It's not as much about letting go as it is about keeping things that add to your life.
    What if we all saw decluttering as life-giving instead of life-depriving? That micro mind shift alone can be so powerful that resistance will stop taking the drivers seat in your life. That internal talk has sharpened my desire for simplicity and taught me the value of the principles I'm about to talk about.
    01. Start Easy The best way to get started decluttering is by simply cleaning up, getting rid of the no-brainer types of things. If you start with the hard things first (like things that right now have emotional value to you), you will be challenging your ability to make progress yourself.
    02. Keep Memories Not Things There are many ways to honor the love that you receive from others. There's no need to keep every single letter, gift or souvenir. Your memories are louder and more meaningful than things that are put away in drawers.
    03. No Space For Junk If you dedicate a special shrine in your home for junk... chances are junk will always be a part of your life. Clear all junk-rooms, junk-drawers, junk-basements and re-purpose their use. Everything that you own takes your time to maintain. Are you wasting your time on junk?
    04. Stop The Incoming Flow Taking (old) things out will be a waste of your precious time if you keep bringing (new) things in. Making new habits is important to allow you to buy what you need, not what you think you will need "if". Learn to put off buying things rather than splashing out with impulse buys.
    05. Don't Spend: Invest This practice will forever change your life. Learning to invest rather than spend will have the greatest of impact - simply because you automatically give more value to the things you decide to bring into your life. Learning to invest in things that have purpose and function is life altering. Make smart decisions when it comes to function, purpose and durability.
    Mindfulness cannot be achieved unless is exercised - so if you're having trouble in this area of your life make small trigger goals that can help push you through: For example - if you are having issues getting rid of something, try using it a few days in a row. Chances are you'll see how invaluable it really is to your life and end up getting rid of it. Gather a tribe and start hanging out with people doing the same thing you're doing. Accountability and shared experience are an enormous source of inspiration.
    Focus on outcomes - not activities - and the "doing" part of it all will become something automatic in your life.
    Which of these principles do you find the hardest to apply in your life? For me it was Investing rather than Spending.
    I'd love to know.

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