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  1. I haven’t been able to write anything down yet to reflect on 2013, but I am also feeling reflective and quiet in this season. Early this morning, during a normal battle with insomnia, I was thinking about friendship – something that has been on my mind quite a bit over the past two years, and have similar feelings. I am introverted, shy and private – hard to be believe if you’ve met me. 🙂 I call myself a “learned extrovert”. I’ve been burned so many times that I’m cautious and tend to keep my guard up with new friendships these days. Cutting out the friendships that have had a negative impact has also helped. It’s not worth it! That is where a lot of the cautiousness comes from–who am I letting in? With everyone around me starting or completing families (while we are not) and the busy pace of life, it’s hard to find time to create intimacy and trust in the friendships I do have, much less make new ones. I am beginning to understand that it’s a sign of maturing, getting older–and it’s okay because the close friendships I have are more valuable than ever and those are the ones I need to nurture. Love this post, Whitney. It’s so important to reflect so you can progress. 2014 is going to be a great year for you! xoxo

  2. Great post Whitney, I love that you are reflecting on both the successes and the struggles….keeps it real in a world where it’s often too easy to hide the ugly stuff and just put out the good stuff. (I don’t blog and have no link so apologies if this is long!)

    My successes this year:
    * Marking our first full year of living in the US since leaving the UK in October 2012. My husband and I have built a new life here and feel very happy and settled in a beautiful town in NJ. I still have to pinch myself that I can hop on a bus and be in Manhattan in just over an hour!
    * Getting my employment authorization to allow me to legally work in the US after being here 4 months. This got me fired up about being in business again and I was ready to get to work.
    * Visiting the National Stationery Show for the first time in May (and of course meeting you!) I also attended the Let’s Talk Stationery Brunch, walked the show with some LTSers and had a fabulous dinner in NYC with new friends. It was great to finally meet stationery friends I have been in that forum with for so many years.
    * I worked with 24 fee paying clients for my new business, some were very small design jobs, some were larger jobs but I ended the year on a high by wrapping up a full start to finish branding and web design client – a wedding planner in Florida. I want more of this in 2014.
    * My income for the year was very, very modest but I made a profit….just! It’s a very small profit but it’s a profit none the less. I need to be happy with that.
    * On a personal note, we travelled a lot and had some wonderful trips and adventures, countless trips into NYC, an amazing vacation to Napa to celebrate my 40th, we visited coast to coast (and some of the big bit in the middle!) and managed to squeeze in a trip back to the UK to see family and friends. This is what I live for…travel, adventure, seeing the world, enjoying good food & wine. More of this please in 2014.

    What didn’t work for me:
    * I felt invisible for a large part of the year. Starting all over from scratch again made me feel like the last person to arrive at the party. It’s so hard to make real connections with people past the initial introduction and I found it hard to feel part of a community. Actually, I feel like I’m peering in through the window to a party I wasn’t even invited to!
    * My first attempt at an Etsy store came to an abrupt end after only a few short months when Facebook closed me (and many, many others) down due to a copyright infringement issue. Seems you can’t sell custom color social media buttons on Etsy. Who knew? It was a whole big drama at the time.
    * My second attempt at an Etsy store didn’t work. After just 4 orders, I realised my line of personalized social stationery was being lost in the vast ocean of Etsy. I was neither able or willing to fight that hard for a $100 order of thank you notes. I closed that store down and got stuck with a huge pile of inventory and a brand new (now dust collecting) HP printer that I rushed into buying.
    * My current Etsy store with premade logos isn’t working (spot the pattern here?!) Again, I’m lost in the searches and the next to nothing prices. I can’t be found and I can’t compete. I need to address this early in 2014.
    * I focused on the $$$ way too much. I have a constant battle in my head with not earning enough money, not contributing to the pot and listening to the voice in my head that says I should stop all this creative nonsense and go and get a ‘real job’. So I tried applying for real jobs, that didn’t work either.
    * I wanted to sign up for workshops and events but found it so hard to justify the cost when the business isn’t making enough money. I mean, I can afford it, but it’s a personal dilemma to spend our own money to indulge my creative endeavors.
    * I spent a lot of time being envious of some of the high profile creative entrepreneurs we all know who seemingly struck gold this year. People whose businesses I have followed for years, this was their year, they hit the big time. I know they will have their own struggles but still, I find it hard not to be just a little jealous and left wondering just how they do it.
    * Blogging, Instagramming. I still have a lot of problems being comfortable putting the personal stuff out there but I know it’s holding my business back. I need to figure out how to get over that in 2014 if I want to move forward.
    * My own brand and visual identity is still not where I want it to be. I need to get my head round the fact that I can design for other clients who are delighted with my work but can’t seem to get my own nailed down. I have A LOT of work to do on my business this year.

    Thank you for allowing me write this out this morning. I needed this. Wishing you a happy, healthy and successful 2014!

  3. What a great post, Whitney. I struggle with the friendship thing, too. I feel I didn’t really nuture my friendships that I have out of fear of getting hurt. It sounds so silly, but I had a friend for over 20 years that was more like a sister who really hurt me. It’s been over a year but we still have the same circle of friends which makes things awkward for everyone. I felt like I could tell her about my hurt and we’d patch things up and move on, but that didn’t happen. I’m not really sure why. I think what hurt me most was not what she did, but the fact that she didn’t want to be friends any longer. I’ve moved on and have let go of the idea of reaching out to her, but it has definitely made me put a guard up. I feel like some of my closest friends are online friends whom I’ve never met. Pretty silly, huh? Ok, I’ll stop rambling. Happy New years! I look forward to seeing what 2014 brings your way!

  4. I really appreciate you sharing your successes and struggles. Beautiful post! I’ve never thought to create a ‘recap’ of the entire year. This has inspired me to take my daily gratitudes to the next level by taking time at the end of each month to reflect on my successes and struggles. Thank you – wishing you a happy start to the new year!

  5. Whitney, thank you for being so honest with us on your blog! Love reading your words…and I hope I’ll have another excuse to learn from you in the future (another Authenticate day sometime?!)

  6. Enjoyed reading this list! Particularly about using your voice/gifts to help others! God has been really showing me some ways that he wants me to be involved with improving education for kids in slums/impoverished areas. Scary to me because it seems so big, but waiting on God to reveal the exact role he would have me play! He is about making his things happen, so when he calls us he equips us! A truth I cling to regularly! Enjoyed stopping by!

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