February 18, 2013

Dreaming big. Who's with me?

When you're a freshman in college, it's inevitable that you will be asked the following question, in many different forms:

"What do you want to be when you grow up?"

One summer break after a weeknight church service, myself and several of my high school classmates were faced with the question. Seated in a circle of the finest quality folding chairs, we sat and listened as each person spilled his (or her) guts vocational goals.

"I want to be a teacher."

"I'd like to become a doctor and open my own practice one day."

"I'd like to travel the world!"

By the time my turn came around, I said the first thing that came to my mind:

"I want to be happy."

Cheesy, yes? (And would you expect anything less from yours truly?)

Seriously. That was my answer. It was true then, and it's true now.

I've never really had ONE dream job or career path, but several. At one point or another, in no particular order, I've wanted to be a news anchor, a TV host, a college professor (check), a mom (glorious check!), a counselor, a published (and worth reading!) author, a fundraiser, a professional speaker, and a professional organizer. (Really thought about that last one, then realized I should probably have all my own closets organized before I consider calling myself a professional.)

In some ways, I've done a little of each of these. But in many ways, I know there's more I'm called to do. I've been thinking about it, praying about it, and reading about it until I couldn't keep my eyeballs open any longer, and I've got a new, much, much bigger dream.

Here's the scoop.

Lessons from a Screensaver
When I first started Stories from a Screensaver almost exactly a year ago, the point was to share stories from our life out here in Aloha Land. We live too far away from most of you, and I wanted to keep you in the loop AND keep record of these precious moments and memories before they're flushed out of my brain forever.

The response was so much more than I expected! By just a few posts each month in the year since then, this little corner of the blogosphere has welcomed over 1,100 unique visitors and over 8,200 pageviews. Sure, half of those are probably from my mom, and a handful of visitors have accidentally arrived by googling "Park Ranger Barbie" - but still. I think this means we're onto something.

Pageviews and visitor counts aside, what means most to me is your encouragement. I have received so many sweet messages from you, letting me know that you enjoy reading what I write. It's insanely humbling. And I really think it means something. I take each one of your messages of encouragement to heart. To me, each is affirmation that I'm on the right path.  

Thank you for that!

The New Dream
So here's what's going on. I'm going to start a new website at my own domain. Not a mommy blog, not a total business blog, but a fusion of the two. I'm not ready to tell you what it will be called just yet, since it's not set up! But I think you'll love it.

The content will be very similar to what you've read here, but it will be less about me, and more about YOU!

I want to do what I can to use what I've got to help you, the reader. Since the biggest focus for me right now is my role as Mama, most of the focus will be on that. {NOTE: I know that you may not be a mom, and you may not want to be a mom just yet, or ever. I hope you keep reading too!} I will definitely keep telling our stories and using our experiences to provide context and keep my own flavor, but the goal of most posts will be bigger than that.

I want to make your life easier, more efficient, and more enjoyable. I may do that by sharing a list of must-haves for the hospital, or by sharing a fun video of my favorite tiny dancer. I may research an important topic to provide you with the key takeaways, or I may pose a provocative question to start a discussion worth having.

I want to build a community. I don't want to just spit out information and personal stories and leave it at that. I want to engage with you. I want to engage with your friends! A huge part of this dream is that you will share content that you think is worth sharing, encouraging others to do the same. That's the best way to grow. I want to create a community where we can learn from each other and laugh at ourselves, knowing that time we spend together in this space is worthwhile.

I want to provide tangible help. I've always wanted to write a book, and I've got some big ideas that just keep popping back into my brain. These are books I want to read, but they're not written yet. (So I better get busy, right?) This new website will be a great way for me to test out those ideas and see if you think they're worth pursuing. Your honest feedback throughout the whole process will be crucial!

Eventually I'm hoping to find a seamless way to incorporate everything I care about - not just toddler mom stuff, but pregnancy, military life, faith, career, writing, presentation tips, then of course one day he'll be a teenager, which will be a whole new mom level...

The possibilities are so endless, it's crazy. And so exciting. I just gotta stay focused and start.
  
Your Support Means Everything
As I mentioned, your support means everything. It really does. First, if a blog posts in a forest, and there's no one around to read it.... you get the idea. Without anyone to read what I write, this is a glorified diary. Second, I'm a pretty confident person, but I can't count how many times I've called myself a bit crazy over the past couple of weeks. 
  • Why would anyone want to read what I have to say?
  • It'll be boring. No one will care to share it.
  • Everything there is to say about [motherhood, communication, basket weaving] has already been said. Why do they need to (want to) hear it from me?
These are legit questions that I will wrestle with on a regular. Turning a dream into reality is scary, people. Exciting, but scary. I mean, I'm really about to put myself out there (and here I am, telling you about it)! There's no turning back now.

I'm trying to drown out the negative and focus on the positives. 

Thankfully, I hold onto those positives for rainy days! That way, when I'm feeling cynical, I can reread some of the amazing encouragement you've sent me over the past year, and I do. 

To me, these gems are like messages sent from angels, guiding me in the right direction:
  • "Btw, your blog is amazing! You are truly an incredible writer."
  • "I think you've got a great blog and the uplifting messages are wonderful to read...you could write something publishable that could be appealing to a large market...in turn helping many mothers out there."
  • "I love your blog. You have such a gift with writing, and I cannot say that emphatically enough. Seriously, keep writing." 
  • "I enjoy reading every blog you write. Please write a book." 
Seriously. Have I mentioned that your support means everything?

Preparing to Launch
Even though I feel like this is the right thing to do, I know it's not going to be easy. 

I know I will doubt myself along the way. Not all of the feedback I receive will be sent via butterflies traveling over the rainbow, and that's okay. 

When all is said and done, I want to use the gifts and talents God has given me to make life better for the people I get to "do life" with. If I can find a way to help support my family by doing that, well, I'd be livin' the dream.

I don't have an official launch date, since there are plenty of details to work out. I just wanted to write this to keep you in the loop. I'm putting a lot of thought into this new digital home of ours. I want to make sure the name is just right. I want to make sure the design and layout are just right. And I want to make sure the first few posts are just right. I genuinely believe this could be the start of something big, friends, so I want to give the best first impression possible!

What I'll do for now is continue to post here once a week while I'm working behind the scenes to get everything ready for launch in the new 'hood. I want it to be just right the first time you see it! 

Who's with me?
So that's the scoop. I feel like I just publicly committed to running a marathon (I didn't. Let's be clear on that.). Back when I was in college, I attended a career conference and inspirational speaker Patrick Combs gave each of us a dream bean. He encouraged us to find out what we were passionate about and pursue it. To work at it. Find time to "water" it each and every day. 

For all these years, I've held on to my dream bean, not knowing what form it would take. Now I think I know (and now you know too!). I hope you hold me accountable and don't let me stop working on making this dream a reality. 

Even better, use my public proclamation to inspire your OWN, and start working on the dream that's been tugging at YOU lately! This new business-building, dream-chasing adventure will be a lot more fun with good company.


Are you with me? 

 

 I'd really like to know what you think! In the comments section below, please tell me: Why have you been reading Stories from a Screensaver? What would you like to see more of? How can this new site help you and make your life better? What are the questions, issues, problems, dreams worth discussing over there?
 

If you want to provide more detailed feedback (which I would LOVE), please send me a Facebook message or reach out via Twitter (@nikkielledge).

Can't wait to read your comments!


Exciting update: It's decided! My business is about helping bright entrepreneurs attract their dream clients, one brilliant message at a time. If you like my writing and want help with your own, sign up for free tips at www.nikkielledgebrown.com!


candy heart photo credit: Nomadic Lass via photopin cc

14 comments:

  1. Dreams are meant to be followed. Step out in faith and see what happens. Things may morph and change over time and that will be in response to feedback and changes in your life. The words "nothing ventured, nothing gained" have truth in them.

    I'm so proud of you... Go for it! You have my support.

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    1. Absolutely, Dawn! Thanks for always being so supportive :)

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  2. Honestly, I love reading your stories. You are so good at organizing your thoughts and your perspective is so genuine and "real life"... I think this is a brilliant idea and I hope you do write a book one day. You're one of my only friends who posts frequently on facebook but never annoys me! haha. But seriously, you are awesome and I'm excited to follow your new blog.

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    1. Ha! Thank you, Jane. That means a lot! I'm excited to see what it turns into. Glad you'll be with me!

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  3. Your comment that you want to be happy reminded me to recommend "The Happiness Project" to you. If nothing else, you'll appreciate the research side of her year long project to be intentional about doing life in a way that increased her happiness. May also inspire some new topics for your new site. Proud of you and your ambitions!

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    1. I have seen it! I was dreaming up domain names and whattya know - that one already existed. I love it - very inspired by her work and the purpose behind it!

      And thank you! Your support means so much :)

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  4. You already know that I consider myself your number one fan/supporter in this new venture (and that's not just because your are my one and only little sister)! You have a god given talent to engage people and people truly enjoy listening to your lessons, stories, and amazing tidbits of information. I can't wait to see how your 'dream bean' grows and I really can't wait to have you autograph my copy of your not yet written number one best seller. :) I love you more than words can say and I am so proud of your willingness to put yourself out there! - Stacey

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    1. You sure know how to make a sister feel supported, StaceFace. I love you!

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  5. Hi Nikki,

    I rarely comment, but I do enjoy reading your blog regularly! Your stories are heartfelt and funny and give me hope for my own crazy life! I like that you say a lot of the things that I've been musing about better than I could ever say them myself! I think it's wonderful that you are taking it to a new level, I genuinely hope it fulfills you in the way you want! I will certainly continue creeping on your new website!

    All the best!
    Heather

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    1. Thank you so much, Heather! It's fun to be in this new phase of life together.

      What kind of content do you see as most helpful to you and other new moms?

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    2. For me personally, the issue front and center is what it means for my family to have both myself and Adam working outside the home. Adam went back yesterday after (an unheard of) 6 weeks of paternity leave and adding the pain of the daycare drop-off to the long days away, awkwardness of pumping at work (or in a public bathroom...or in your car...), and the lack of sleep trying to get everything done *after* J is in bed. I'd also be interested in reading a post or two about breastfeeding, if you did that--I feel like there's a LOT about this so-called natural business that no one tells you! Like how unnatural it feels!!!

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    3. Been there, done that, leaked on the t-shirt.

      Seriously, you read my mind. I've been meaning to write about breastfeeding since we started almost 16 months ago. (It was enormously difficult at the beginning, but we got the hang of it, and he's actually still nursing. "Extended" breastfeeding and the stigma attached could be its own post!)

      I'll do a series of posts about breastfeeding - must-have products to help set you up for success, things nobody tells you, extended breastfeeding, and why breast vs. formula should not be a barometer of what makes a "good mom." It's such a touchy subject and I wish it wouldn't be!

      All I want to do is provide support and info for moms who are giving it their best go. Just because it's the most natural thing in the world, doesn't mean it's easy!

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  6. I read it because you are a great writer! You find a way to talk about every day life and make it sound exciting, which is exactly as it should be! Many of us fall into thinking of our daily life as a bore, but you bring out the tiny adventures in every day life.

    -Ana Paula Maynard

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    1. Thanks, Ana! I am a firm believer that the fun is in the details :)

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