Blogs We Love- The Series

What up, blog babes? And blog dudes, for my 9 male readers that I’m not actually related to.

When I decided to redesign our site and brand to work with bloggers and online business owners, I knew that I really wanted to support other bloggers and give back in some way. That whole love and be of service thing is a big one to me and that’s where our new series comes in! In the next few weeks, we’ll be starting a weekly feature of “Blogs We Love”  or perhaps “Blogs We Heart”. Something cool like that!

My boys have some awful stomach flu right now so  my head is a bit fuzzy from lack of sleep and the inhalation of too much laundry soap. They have literally barfed on just about everything in the past two days. If you’ve got a better idea for a title for the series, let me know because my brain is a bit fried. I’ll be right here trying not to fall asleep while typing.

Join our email list to be notified when the Blogs We Love series goes live. We want to work with and feature your online business or blog.

I haven’t figured out all of the details yet but I wanted to put the word out that we’re looking to feature hard working bloggers and business owners. Sharing the love and promoting your work and your gorgeous website. Or handsome site for you 9 dudes. That’s some good stuff right there!

I love reading blogs and usually devote a good hour laying in bed every morning, (dropping the phone on my face and such) to reading the blogs I’ve subscribed to and browsing Bloglovin (this link takes you to mine if you want to follow along!). I used to feel guilty at what I considered an indulgence and time waster until I remembered that this is why blogs exist. For people to read them. Duh.

And because we’re moving forward with our blog and online business supports as well as our new shop I decided to call this research and now embrace this as part of my work. Bam. Obsessive worry about wasting time? Officially gone. Don’t hate me because I can rationalize anything, k? It’s a gift.

But really, folks. Blogging is about community, networking, and support, regardless of what your niche is. It’s been said a zillion times in a brazillion (sure, that’s a word) ways but building your tribe is part of blogging. You start by finding your passion, you build your blog, and you create your tribe. I want us to be a tribe!

More Good Stuff!

We’re going to be adding a Facebook Group to help you build your amazing blog, online business, and website. Yes, we are! For people that sign up, you’ll have access to our freebies and a whole bunch of ideas, tips and tutorials around blogging and building your tribe.

Around the same time, we’ll develop the Blogs We Heart/Love series and we’ll feature one each week, probably towards the weekend. A little Saturday morning reading, if you will. The best way to hear about when the series goes live is to subscribe to our email list. You can do that easy peasy by clicking the subscribe button below!

 

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And, of course, the shop is launching in April. Much yay!!

Now get out there and build your business, Hotstuff! ♥ 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Find Your Purpose In Life

How to find your purpose in life. Lessons from an Indigenous Elder.

Let’s be clear right off the bat. I’m not an Elder. But I wanted to share some words of wisdom that I received a few years ago from one of mine about understanding your life’s purpose.

Understanding how to find your life's purpose! Hint. It's not what y ou

As a former social worker and a college instructor in the same field, this is almost a regular conversation for students and colleagues. It’s easy to say you’ve found your purpose in life when you’ve signed up for a career that focuses on helping other people. But what if you  have a yearning to help or provide something “bigger”  (that’s in quotes for a reason, y’all!) and you feel like your “menial job” (which provides for your family and all) isn’t the kind of profession where you’re giving.

A few weeks ago I had breakfast in town at my favorite poached egg place (because I can’t cook an egg to save my life) and wound up chatting with two construction workers who were taking a break from fixing the roads in our county. We were chatting about work and what we did and one of the fellows said it must feel good to make such a contribution to society all day long. Sometimes it feels great and sometimes it sucks beyond reason but that’s okay. He went on to say that he’d love to figure out his life’s purpose and do something meaningful besides fixing roads for the rest of his life but he had to provide for his family and had obligations.

Oh, man! I get that feeling. I work two part time social work jobs and this blog along with my other websites. Half the time I feel like I’m running in circles just trying to keep up with the electric bill. (Yay, Ontario for doubling our rates this winter!!) And, at the same time I’m trying to launch a shop.

It bugged me so much that this fellow felt like he should be doing something bigger with his life but couldn’t’ find a way to do that. And then, two days later, I hit a pothole hard and blew out my front tire. In Canada. In February. Here’s what I’d like to be able to go back and say to this fellow:

“Dude, you’re already providing the most wonderful and loving service by keeping our roads safe. If you don’t think that matters, think again.”

I think it’s pretty clear most of us are looking to fulfill our purpose in life. This drive is what keeps us moving forward. Going to school. Getting married. Having children. Working.

Here’s  where I’m going to get a bit radical. What if we defined our purpose in life as separate from our day jobs?

I know, right? So not the North American way of living where work is our identity.

A few years ago I was struggling with the same “find your purpose” thing while working in the helping profession, of all things. So I got quiet and settled in for some reflection. Because my life was, and still is kind of nuts, that meant in fifteen minute increments before one of the boys cried or I fell asleep on my notepad. True story.

Now, I’m a spiritual kind of gal so I went with what I understood which was looking at my “Divine purpose”. If you’re not into that, go with life purpose. If you’re a Christian you know what to do… God’s purpose.

So when I got quiet, I went back to my Indigenous roots where I’d been taught that my work was to love Creator  (God, for the rest of you) and to be of service.

How should I be of service? I remember asking the Elder who was kind enough to talk  to me about this life purpose thing. He laughed and said “Well it doesn’t need to be as a social worker if that’s making you so resentful and tired all the time. ” He was an observant fellow. And then he went on to say something along the lines of “if your being of service job is driving you to neglect your family or other parts of life, who are you serving?”

Wait. What? In my culture, there are tons of us that are in the helping profession.  Teaching, healing, social work, counseling. It’s part of our teachings. So while I sat there, just kind of staring and trying not to cry as I remembered yelling at the boys the  night before because I was exhausted and needed them to just be quiet, he gently reminded me that you bring love and service to every job you do if you’re doing it to serve our Creator.

Back to the construction guy. You fix roads? You’re already a hero who’s of service. Do it with love and you’re there. You’re serving humanity. I don’t really care what you do or where you “work” because this applies to everyone. You  make widget in a factory all day? You’re being of service. Serve Big Macs? Do it with love, and you’re being of service. A person’s gotta eat afterall.

See where I’m going with this? Do your work, “menial”, or otherwise with love and you’re of service. I know that’s hard. It’s hard to get excited about slinging eggs, or making parts for a car, or picking up garbage. But you’re serving humanity and Creator in doing so. Bam.

How to find your life's purpose. Hint. You alrea

 

Which brings me to my own struggle.

I was taught not to self-promote because no one likes a bragger, right? And, in my family, being an entrepreneur, isn’t something that’s done. Hell, I had a hard enough time explaining social work to my peeps. So I’ve struggled with feelings of guilt as I’ve moved out of helping people for a living and trying to work my online business and blogs.

But I remembered the words of my Elder recently and started to refocus on building our shop, the blogs, and my side business as a form of love and service. And suddenly, everything came into focus. If our purpose is to love and serve others, (which I believe it is), then it doesn’t matter what you do to fulfill that calling. For me, at the moment, it’s helping bloggers and online biz owners build prettier websites.

Now, if you take a moment to picture my Indigenous/social worker guilt about just wanting to make the world and web prettier instead of more just and equitable and you’ll know what kind of guilt I’ve been struggling with! Huh. Enough of that.

Loving and serving people doesn’t require that we all be Mother Theresa. Which is great because quite frankly, most of us would look terrible in that nun habit and don’t really want to move to India. Finding your life’s purpose, in my humble corner of the world, is far more about love and service than about how you get that done.

Kind of like my breakfast eating road warrior hero, no? Because two days after my tire blow out, most of the potholes on that crazy road have been filled. That road repair is a beautiful gift to humanity, Construction Guy.

 

Super Quick Survey

Super quick post today, lovelies. I have a survey with just 8 short questions and I would  be mucho grateful if you could take 3 minutes (I swear!) and fill it out. It’s to help us focus on your needs and what you’d like to see more of on this site.

Everyone who take the survey is automatically entered into a giveaway at our shop launch and will receive one free header with logo for their very own website. Or stationary. Or business cards. Or bathroom wallpaper. We don’t judge! Do whatever you’d like with it and make it yours!!

Once you’ve completed the survey, just add a quick comment on our page here for a chance to win. Nothing complicated if you’re busy. A simple “done” will do. We’re easy like that. And if you don’t mind sharing on social media to get the word out, we’d be even more grateful.

xoxo

Big News! We’re Making Some Changes!

You guys! I’m so seriously excited to announce that there are some big changes coming down the lane. Cottonwood Lane to be exact. 😉

For those of you that have been here for awhile you’ve probably noticed that things have been pretty quiet for the past few months. I talked about some of the struggles afew weeks ago but I’ve finally figured out what’s been dragging and where we’re going from here.

In the next few months, the site is going to undergo a re-design while we update and pull our online shop together. Omg! Even putting that in writing makes me so happy and excited! I’ve been missing the happy excited feeling for awhile which is why I haven’t been posting as often. While we’re still going to be doing posts around design and decor, I’ve decided to focus a lot more time and energy on blogging and website design.

We’ll be starting small with pre-made blog headers and logos for both blogger and wordpress and moving towards styling and branding as things get rolling. In addition, we’re going to be offering design style sheets to help you get started building your brand.

How fun is that??

I realized awhile ago that the stuff that a lot of bloggers don’t want to deal with is the building and branding of sites which seemed funny to me because most of the time I liked doing that sort of thing more than blogging. And there you go. A dream was born.

Blogging resources and brand styling. Pre-made blogging headers and logos. Brand your blog affordably.

 

We’re planning a re-launch on April 19, 2017. Which also happens to be my Daisy Dog’s 14th birthday. It seemed fitting to launch on her birthday since she brings so much fun and joy to our home and my intent is to bring that same love to our brand. And yours!

So excuse our mess in the next few weeks as we fiddle around with layouts and customizing this site to make it easy to use and find what you’re looking for. Once everything is in place, I’ll update with a big launch party and a giveaway! That’s right! You’ll have the opportunity to win a header and logo of your choice once we launch! We just want to share the love. Seriously. I wish Valentine’s day had been this exciting.

We want this shop to be as much yours as it is ours and to do that, we’re looking for input. Tell us what your biggest frustration has been getting your blog set up and looking the way you’d like it. Tell us what you’re looking for and we’ll do our best to provide it! If you have ideas or things you’d like to see as part of the shop, you can contact me using the form below or just leave us a comment.

Stay tuned, my lovelies. There’s so much more to come 🙂

 

 

 

Blogging and Social Media- A look back at 2016 and some changes

Happy New Year! Aside from the freezing weather, I really do love this time of year because I find it so motivating. A brand new year means brand new plans, dreams, and ideas. All things I love to do. Follow through is a bit more work for me but I’m working on that. But like any look ahead, I firmly believe you need to take some time to look back to see where you’ve been before you move forward. Which brings us to why I’m  here today…

 

Blogging and social media. A look back at what has and hasn't worked for me over the past year and what I'm doing differently in 2017. 24cottonwoodlane.com

 

2016 was a really terrific year for me and our family in so many ways. The boys were finally made Crown Wards (terminating parental rights for you US folks) which means the threat of removing them from my care is no longer in my face every single day. The agency also backed off on forcing adoption on us as it really isn’t a good fit at this time. Which means I can focus on long term fostering without fear and it’s made a huge difference all the way around. The stress I’ve been under and constant implied threats have taken their toll. I’m glad that piece has wrapped up.

Although we were forced to move over the summer, read those stories here and here, I absolutely love our new house. This space just works so much better for our family. PS….a few coats of paint can really make a huge change. Everything happens for a reason and all that good stuff. (Note to self the next time I freak out about change!) I will, eventually, get around to sharing some updates. No dramatic room reveals since I’m never really finished but some updates are in order.

New Websites

I launched two new websites last year. FASD Families has been a huge hit in providing practical (and sometimes humorous) stories and ideas for families raising children with FASD. Thanks to all of the readers who are so actively engaged and keep the love flowing. I wasn’t as consistent as I hoped to be in adding posts but I’m plugging away.

FASD families....supports and resources for families raising children with FASD.

 

Traveling Single Mom launched last spring and I’m adding material here and there. Our travels were much more limited than I’d planned since I went back to my social work career in early spring (part time), limiting the amount of time I have for blogging, travelling, and writing in general. Travel is my true love (next to sleep) so I have no intention of giving this site up. It’s just going to take some time to develop. Stay with us 😉

Travelingsinglemom.com- Ideas, stories, trips for single parents and kids

Which brings me to blogging in general. I love, love, love blogging. What I don’t love is the crazy pressure to be the biggest, the best, and having to be a social media guru. When I starting teaching college this fall, I took a huge step back from blogging out of necessity. It just wasn’t possible to plan, teach, and follow through on four courses and then DIY everything and write about it. The fact is, I’m not the biggest and most well known blog. I haven’t made a living blogging even though it’s more than four years. And as a single parent, making a living is kind of a big deal. Also, I’m pretty shitty at self-promotion so even if I made and shared something brilliant, the idea of being in everyone’s face about it just isn’t for me. Mad respect for you full time blogging ladies, but I just can’t. I need sleep, comfort food, and a fairly steady pay check…so back to work I went after my almost two year hiatus from social work.

 

feminine WordPress themes

Social Media

Oh, social media. I love and hate it all at the same time. I recognized that I maybe had a social media addiction when we came home from Cuba (there’s no wifi at any of the hotels unless you pay for it and stand close to a computer lol) and spent two hours at 3:30 am scrolling through Facebook while my boys slept in the hotel bed next to me. I acknowledge, in full, my addiction to Facebook and Pinterest.

But social media also makes me feel overwhelmed and kind of lacking at times. And the pressure as a blogger to use social media to promote my blogs has proven too much for me. I don’t want to spend hours scheduling and promoting my posts nor do I want my Pinterest feed cluttered up with blogging idea posts. I want to look at pretty things, funny memes, and inspirational quotes. Pinterest became a chore and a responsibility rather than the inspiration board it was intended to be. So I pulled out of all the groups I was in to promote my stuff, scaled way back on who I followed and have just starting pinning things for me again. I don’t care how to get followers or how to promote anything on Pinterest. I just want to be selfish and inspired. My boards are for me but if you like the same sort of things we can be Pinterest friends. 🙂

Twitter…not even going there. It is like junk food for my already scattered brain so I’m pulling out. I might just use it follow really funny people.

Facebook. God, I need a break but I just can’t. I have people to stalk and friends to share love with. And that’s it. If my post publishes to FB, that’s great. But I’m done with the attention seeking, like my post, follow me thing that I’m not so good at.

Genesis Framework for WordPress

Instagram. Oooohh…Instagram. So pretty. Except in the interest of being polite and doing Instagram challenges where we all have to follow each other it became yet another site full of things I didn’t care about. I’m unfollowing just about anyone who doesn’t inspire me with pretty pictures. That’s all I want on Instagram these days. Pictures of pretty rooms, flat lays, and beach photos. Maybe some bullet journals but that’s a story for another day. To my friends and family, I already see your lovely photos on FB so forgive me for deleting you on Instagram. Sixteen photos of your kids skating is great but I want a picture with pink flowers on a marble background.  No offence. I’ll still like and love all your stuff on FB, though. Promise 🙂

Blogging

Interestingly, I got some negative feedback this year over a few posts, features on my link party, and lost a shit ton of followers over my last post, both here and on my social media sites. That’s totally okay. In fact, that feels great. It tells me that you’re not feeling my vibe and I get that. If we don’t mesh, or our political ideals and my cultural heritage makes you uncomfortable, it’s cool to unfollow. It’s not cool to make racist and hateful comments about me or why I’m not a Trump supporter. I get to delete those types of comments because this is my happy space and that’s just not helpful or something I need to see when I sit down to write for those of you that still like me. I unfollow stuff that doesn’t interest me, too. It’s all good.

I’ve never shared anything about my Native culture and ancestry before on this site, nor have I shared anything political. But I stepped out of the lifestyle blog last week, took a chance on sharing my history and feelings about this past year and I’m so grateful for the love via comments, and emails that I have received about that post. It felt good to come out of the well designed pantry closet and just chat. Haters gonna hate, but the rest of you made me weep with gratitude. Love you all.

Ah. The Blog.  I have no idea where I’m going with it, but with teaching college and doing court investigations for custody and access disputes, I don’t have the time to be creating 15 fun ways to make Valentine’s day special. Truthfully, I never really did, but I tried. And if I do find some time and inspiration to create something crafty, you’ll be the first to know.

I have a feeling we’re heading in a different direction around here… more in the moment things I want to share and less planning and stressing about holiday posts and all that craziness.  Right now I’m all about taking care of the age spots that have crept over my face (because I’ll be 49 this year and all), organizing my life, and bullet journals. If you like those things, too, that’s great. Love you all madly and I hope we can still be friends.