On the Search for Failure

I’ve determined, after seven years, that I’m on the search for failure.

I’m also on the search for success. Grand success. Maybe not the kind of success that allows me fancy cars and houses across the globe, but success that allows me the items I desire: helping others; living comfortably, without worrying about paying bills, or deciding if buying underwear is more of a priority than groceries, as an example; being able to help my family reach that same level of comfortable; traveling when I want and to where ever I want; less stress and more health.

No where in there am I striving to amass a great wealth. I do want to be secure for my future, should I be fortunate to live to my 99th birthday, but again, I want the security in the points above.

For around a month or so, I’ve mentioned closing the custom & wedding side of S2 Stationery and Design. And I have. October 1st, closed that door. And I’m glad it has been closed. It’s left me with time to really focus on the things I want to focus on and most importantly plan for the ways I want to grow S2.

I’m no where near complete on my goals. They’re evolving and every time I write one down, another comes to me later. Not to mention, I have other things that pop up and show up and steer my path a different way, which I know shifts my goals a bit more.

This past weekend, I found myself discussing with very good friends my goals for both my business and personal life. We discussed pregnancy and relationships. We discussed it all honestly. What sticks from the two conversations was the statement I said several times in both:

I’m never going to be happy until I actually fail. Until, I can say, I did the best I could with the stationery and I failed and it’s time for me to be an adult and stop following this dream.

Chances are, I’m not going to fail. I know in my heart that what I’m doing is what I’m suppose to be doing. I know it’s hard to explain and for those who aren’t like-minded to understand or even begin to fathom, but I’m not going to fail. Mostly because I don’t see failing as a bad thing. I think even in the things that don’t go right, or that crash and burn, or realize that something I felt so strongly about doesn’t work any more and needs to be revamped or cancelled or changed, there is opportunity. There is growth. This is the natural flow of life.

I’m sure I will fail in little ways as this dream continues, but I wouldn’t quite say that this journey has been a failure thus far.

It is this reason that I struggle now. That I’ve been struggling for the past three years since returning from Japan. It is why, I’ve allowed myself to fall into this abyss of uncertainty and comfortable, yet uncomfortable, discomfort while working a job I don’t like and going through the motions of living a life that isn’t doing anything for me or my goals.

I have good friends at my job, I have made great connections and I’ve allowed myself to believe that I need this backup because at one time, I did. And I’m sure I need this backup a little bit longer, too, but the reality is that until I let go of the backup, I’m never really going to fail and because I’ve yet to really “fail,” I’m going to continue to stay annoyed and in this uncertain abyss because this doesn’t make me happy. This doesn’t make me motivated to grow or change or fail.

And so, all of this has led me back to the point of origin for S2 Stationery & Design. Over the next few weeks, I’m going to get back to the root – to the dream that launched this business idea and company seven years ago. Once that’s in order, I’m adding the passion project that I believe will be my legacy.

Once these things are ironed out, I’m sure my future will look bright, my pockets will be as well, and I’ll be living a life where failure isn’t something I’m seeking, it’s something I’m staring at and saying, “hello, where are you taking me next?”

I can’t wait to share all of this with you!



“Sara, Where Are You Now?”

I’ve gotten this question a bit recently. Those that are friends and follow me on Facebook and Instagram, actually read this blog, and got my personal emails updating my journey know that I am back in the US, but haven’t got a clue as to where exactly in the US I am. (I like being a bit of a mystery! Or at least that’s part of my new plan…to being a mystery even to those I love much and hold close to my heart.)

I am homeless, a bit, and so I bumped around from place to place. I landed in Los Angeles and spent a night in the company of one of my dearest friends before taking Amtrak to the Bay Area to stay with another good friend. I stayed outside of San Francisco in a city called Mountain View for seven days. It was nice. Quiet. I stayed in most of the time, but walked daily to a coffee shop about one-and-a-half miles from my friend’s apartment to get out, exercise my legs and enjoy the air. I was also able to see three good friends in the area, one of whom I hadn’t seen since I met her three years ago in Chile!

On January 16th, I took a flight from the San Jose airport and made my way to the East Coast, to Maryland to be exact, where I’ve been staying with my mother. It has been wonderful to put my bags down and leave them down for a large bit of time and space. I carried a lot of baggage with me on this past journey and they were heavy, stressful, and exhausting. Simply carrying a purse and my laptop make me happy these days, instead of those two along with a backpack and suitcase in tow.

Since returning to the East Coast a week ago (so little time and yet, I’ve accomplished much!), I took a weekend to visit New York City and it was pleasant. After being away for three months, it was nice to step back into my home city.Before I left, I had such an intense hatred for NYC  that this feeling of comfort and slight sense of security that I experienced was a pleasant surprise.

Walking around New York last weekend was heavenly. Not only did I get to see my best friend, I was able to stay in her apartment just across the street from my old apartment in Manhattan. I spent a large amount of time in Williamsburg, Brooklyn hanging out with my family, and I managed to see my printing company, have an interview with a woman I met during my internship at Etsy last year in Park Slope, Brooklyn, and meet with clients- one at my favorite place “City Bakery” and the other in their home on the Upper West Side which allowed me to peek into another favorite place of mine, “Zabars.” Needless to say, I traveled around, rode the subway, walked a bit, and felt home. While I definitely felt that riding the subway was new, I knew it wasn’t, but that feeling of hating the subway didn’t exist. In fact, it just felt good. Good to ride the subway, good to be back in my element.

I am 85% a changed woman, although, I’ll never get over the serious amount of stupid and selfish people that roam around the world and NYC specifically, but I felt different as I made my way around a City that blindfolded I know by heart. I felt deep in my heart that I belong to that City, but also that I need to be patient about moving around it and moving back to it, no matter how excited I am to get back into the swing of things.

I wasn’t quite sure how this would all play out and I’m still not sure how it will, but I feel like the general pull of my life is to New York. The Universe is showing me signs that I should be heading that way and that I will be heading that way in due time. Which is awesome!  At first, I thought that I would end up spending a lot of time in the Maryland area and even considered possible moves to cities like Detroit, maybe even Cleveland (I have a large network there). Of course, my heart isn’t in any of those places, they just offer space, which I want, and in New York, I don’t have space. Either way, I can confidently say that New York is where I will land, and there is even a possibility that I’ll end up in New Jersey. I have been considering it more and more and it seems rather feasible at this point. I can get decent space for myself and my business and be just across the river allowing me to get into NYC just as easily as if I lived in the actual City. But I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it. It’s nice to look for options in the interim.

Having said that, as we passed from 2012 into 2013, I took some time to write down goals and objectives for the new year. I didn’t put anything down too specific because it was more of a full-on 10 year plan, and things will change, but I gave myself some time to really consider what it is that I want in my life over all. I admitted things like wanting to get married and have children. These are HUGE for me. HUGE! I also admitted that I want space for my business that is separate from my personal life and even if that means a different room, or a den, I want it, as long as it is affordable. That space should be positioned in a place where I can reach my city and yet leave it so I don’t ever grow to hate it again.

I’m not going to go into the entire list of goals and objectives, but I did get in touch with my real self and she showed herself quite clearly; I’m happy to help lead/follow my true self to where she wants to go in 2013 and beyond. Japan taught me that.

As for where I am now, well, I’m on the cusp of temporary and something-like permanent, with a healthy gallon-size space for flexibility, change (because the only thing that is constant in this life is change), and adventure. My travels will continue (I still have many more paper-making countries to visit) and I may have another stint in Japan for a longer period of time, but I know with every fiber of my being that New York City is calling and I’m getting ready to head back with a full, curious sense of wonder and willing to make sure that my stationery business and myself go out and do what it needs to do to be present, alert, and implement change.

So yeah, that’s where Sara is. Still on that journey, but getting steps closer to a place she wants to be. Huzzah!

Moving Forward

Before I left for my road trip adventure with my little bro, almost two-weeks ago, I got the following horoscope:

Sagittarius: Do you stare for hours every day into little screens like those on smart phones, computer monitors, and TVs? If so, I recommend that you tear your gaze away from them more than usual in the coming week. A change in your brain chemistry needs to happen, and one good way to accomplish it will be to feast your eyes on vast panoramas and expansive natural scenes. Doing so will invigorate your thinking about the design and contours of your own destiny, and that would be in sweet alignment with the astrological omens. So catch regular views of the big picture, Sagittarius. Treat clouds and birds and stars as if they were restorative messages from the wide-open future. Gaze lovingly at the big sky.  (courtesy of Free Will Astrology)

As soon as I read it, I was giddy as could be. After all, I was heading out to the West to drive back East. Could Rob Brezny been more spot-on about “feast your eyes on vast panoramas and expansive natural scenes”?!

Me walking toward the sunset up in the Shenandoah Mountains, July 2011

Needless to say with extreme optimism and high spirits, I went out West with my little brother and, as I mentioned in a previous posting, traveled/drove through 16 states in 5 days. Amazing!  As we drove, I did indeed feast my eyes on vast panoramas and expansive natural scenes along with feeling the sensation of freedom that comes with being behind the wheel.

I’ve discussed freedom and my need for freedom before, but as I drove and looked out at the beauty that is the United States of America my passion was ignited even more than before. As I looked at reds and oranges of the rocks in Sedona, Arizona and bits of Albuquerque, New Mexico, I saw fall themed cards and wedding invitations.  More importantly, as I drove, I saw quite clear signs about my life in the next few years.

I want to be as clear as possible yet cautious when I make the next few claims.  I have always believed that when we want something, we must speak those wants out into the universe (yes, this is the hippie Sara coming out). In order for goals to come true, we must make them happen and there is nothing like speaking the words out loud, whether to a good friend, a few good friends, or even just the open air, to make them happen. I know that every time I have spoken a goal/desire, it has come to be. Yes, of course it has come to be with some extra arm muscle of my own, but it has also come to be because I have stated it. I have willed it.

This speaking has led me to both good and not so good things; all part of life lessons. However the one thing that I have struggled with the past year or so is that I state things and people expect them to come true. More so than myself.  I realize that this is mostly my own fault and also a result of me continuously doing the things I’ve said I will do. I am a doer and being a doer requires a great deal of responsibility and action. I am completely aware of this and I accept it, but in the past I’ve gotten some slack from friends that have questioned why something planned hasn’t been happened.

A great example is my idea to move to Italy by 2012.  For those readers who do not know about this plan, the gist is this-after I returned from traveling around Italy in 2009, I was so enamored with the country (I have been since I was 8-years-old), that I boldly stated that I was going to move to Naples, Italy and make stationery.  I originally said by 2011, but then realized I needed to be here for my little brother’s graduation in June 2012.  And now look, if I had moved in 2011, I wouldn’t have been able to go on the road trip with my little brother just last week. Again, everything happens for a reason and everything unfolds as it should.

Which is why as I drove and my life plan evolved yet again, I realized that nothing lasts for ever. Something I am okay with. We must remain flexible beings otherwise when things crash, or abruptly end we will face great disappointment. Not to mention, if we don’t allow for flexibility, we will never allow for new and potentially life changing experiences to move us forward.

Henceforth, my new plan:

1. Spend the rest of 2011 getting my business in forward direction (potential wholesale orders, complete and start wedding invitation orders, complete other stationery orders, strategize other revenue streams,  launch website, update etsy account, start goodsie site, create facebook business page – that’s a lot!).

2.  Save money and look at freelance opportunities to develop my revenue streams outside of stationery.

3.  See my little brother graduate from high school and help prep him for college.

4. Travel to Japan and South East Asia in late Summer/Fall of 2012.

5. Apply for internship at Hatch Print Show

6. Return from Asia and move to Nashville and Memphis for a year.  Also, apply for a Masters at the School of Visual Arts

7. Move back to NYC with less debt, more experience and (hopefully) to complete the two year program.

If none of this pans out as planned, although I have a feeling it will (unless something catastrophic occurs), then I’ll probably move out of NYC for a bit and focus on stationery.

Stationery will be the main focus here because it is my passion and it is what I want to do.  Along with all the clarity and shake-up that I received from this trip was the following two things:

1. I mailed a postcard to a friend of mine and yesterday received a message that said, “thank you for the post card you sent me, it means a lot. It made me happy and was nice to wake up to.”  My response to him was, “your reaction just helped solidify why I make stationery.”

2. While traveling, I received notification from my Etsy New York team, The {NewNew} confirming that I had been selected as a new writer for the team blog. I am so excited!

Several weeks ago an email was sent out about joining the blog team.  I know what you are thinking- “Sara, aren’t you stretched thin enough?” Yes. Most definitely.  However, even with everything I have on my plate this can not hurt;  it can only help me build my editing/writing portfolio.  Starting this month, I will  have one or two columns to write.  I am looking into writing a green column for artists. My first posting is due August 30th, which also happens to be my Dad’s birthday (he would have been 55 this year). I find it promising, encouraging and a new challenge. Needless to say, I’m excited for the new opportunity.

Which is why I think I needed to write this blog today. I needed to reel in my thoughts and goals and get them down so I have a better sense on where I am headed and in what direction it will lead S2 Stationery and Design.  This posting helps me to see things as clearly as the signs for Arizona State (for my little brother), my dad’s name (on the road) and the emblem of the United States Marines (something a little private).

It seems as though I’ve created a new set of goals mid-year. How exciting! Happy New Mid-Year to me!

I hope that this posting helps you to consider a mid-year review. Happy moving forward. It is the only way to move!

In the spirit of moving forward, exciting things are happening this month in the S2 Stationery and Design realm.  Stay tuned!

Is This Worth More Than…?

Let me give you some context here. I’m HORRIBLE with money management. I think it’s the one trait I picked up from my dad really well. You know what I mean. Some people are just great at not spending a dime and other people are amazing at spending lots of dimes. I’d have to say I’m in the middle, but if spending lots of dimes is to the right side of the bar, I’m a bit closer right than perfect middle ground.

Needless to say, I’ve spent a good portion of my 20’s racking up credit card debt. I’m not proud of it, but sometimes you have to face the problem in order to fix it. So there that goes. On my personal blog, I’ve talked a bit about debt, or rather made a promise each year that this will be the year I pay off debt. I have paid some debt down. But I have also racked up some more in the process. It’s a fine see-saw motion, people!

Either way, this year, I’ve created the mantra, “Is this worth more than X?” Now, the “X” in my case is part of my BIG adventure that’s coming up in a few months,  but for you, it may be something else. Maybe a car?  A home? A vacation? A new pair of shoes? A shirt, skirt or dress you’ve been eying? It could be anything really. In my case, it’s the chance to hone a skill.

Yesterday, after a productive day at the Hill taking photos, responding to emails, finishing up some designs, I decided to work on my February budget. I wrote down what I received, what I will receive in the coming weeks and then deducted my givens–credit card payments, rent, phone bill. I proceeded to write down in three columns, things I owed money on–doctor’s bill from the month before; things I need – bath and home products such as laundry detergent, conditioner, soap; and finally, things I want – albums off of itunes, to see a movie, etc. Clearly I had to tackle the stuff owed and the needs first. Those are the most important. Then I had to tackle, what of the things I want, do I absolutely must have.

Let me tell you, this is hard and for someone who lacks control when it comes to needing/wanting, it was tough. I can justify music as a need. I can do the same thing with books and movies. Hello, I’m expanding my horizon here! But I wrote these things down and decided what I needed and what I want and I’m not allowed to budge on this. Although, I should add that I did download the three albums that I wanted off of itunes. It’s gonna be a bit of a struggle this year and tunes will always brighten my life.

The important thing here is that I learned a lesson, I probably should have learned many moons ago. Need and want is different. I WANT “X” more than anything else. More than a different and exciting meal during restaurant week. Not so much more than new music, but definitely more than a new shirt. With that in mind, this morning, I wrote on several sticky notes “Is this work more than X? NO!!” I wrote one for each of my two bank accounts – personal and business- including debit cards and check books and I wrote one for all of my credit cards. Of course, it was a bit difficult when I went to use the MTA machine this afternoon–I had to take the sticky note off the card in order to use it, but that’s the point…each time I want to use my card, I want it to be a nuisance to remove the post-it. I want to be reminded that I’m probably not acting in the best interest of myself and my future. Most importantly, I want to teach myself that I do have self-control.

As that wonderful movie “Field of Dreams” stated, ‘If you build it, they will come.” If I build it, I will come.”  Here is a photo of my notes…

Notes to Self!

Fun, eh? I hope whatever your “X” is, you have a way of building up for it. If you have any inspiring or fun ways to help save for your goal, share it. I’d love to know I’m not the only one with kooky thoughts on saving for a dream. Oh and if you need a bit more inspiration, or help, check out Daily Worth…such a great site of money management advice and tips. You can sign up and get daily tips. They’re extremely helpful.

January Articles

Last month, I did a round up of the articles I found most helpful to me through the year.  I’ll be the first to admit that it was kind of shoddy. Mostly because I wanted in some way to spread a bit of the people who have helped me in the past couple of months.  While I think that was a good thing, one of my goals for this blog and for potential readers moving through the new year is to instead space the helpful articles out a bit more.

So, having said that, sometime within the last two weeks of each month I will post the articles that came out in the month that I found the most helpful, complete with links. Should you choose to read them, you can.  And this way, I’ll be better at organizing the many thoughts that get sent my way without scrambling to find where I read that one really great article.

Here my friends and readers is my January listing:

Seven Steps to Understanding Online Advertising, The Mogul Mom:om: http://www.themogulmom.com/2011/01/understanding-advertising/

Build a Community with Social Media: 3 Things You Must Know, The Mogul Mom: http://www.themogulmom.com/2011/01/building-a-community-with-social-media-3-things-you-must-know/

I just can’t get ENOUGH of The Mogul Mom!

**How to Manifest Money, Steve Paulina: http://www.stevepavlina.com/blog/2010/11/how-to-manifest-money/

Will come back to this one a few times, I think.

20 Personal Money Practices that Got me to a Place of Grooving Prosperity. (Part 1), White Hot Truth: http://whitehottruth.com/business-wealth-articles/20-personal-money-practices-that-got-me-to-a-place-of-grooving-prosperity-part-1/

17 Money Practices for Business that Cost Me A Lot to Learn. (Part 2), White Hot Truth:

The Declaration of Deserving, White Hot Truth: http://whitehottruth.com/white-hot/the-declaration-of-deserving-just-because-youre-here/

Qualified Requests: How to Ask for Stuff, White Hot Truth: http://whitehottruth.com/business-wealth-articles/qualified-requests-how-to-ask-for-stuff/

Um, Danielle is on FIRE!

Bullet Proof Your Goals, Heartmade Blog: http://www.heartmadeblog.com/blog/bullet-proof-your-goals

How to Keep Your Creative Space Inspiring, Mayi Carles of Heartmade: http://www.ohmyhandmade.com/2011/contributors/how-to-keep-your-creative-space-inspiring/

Mayi is awesome!

That is it. I think. Any articles/links that come my way in the next two weeks will be included in the Feb list.  Please let me know if there are any articles YOU think I should read. I’m open!