It’s Chaos. Be Kind.

Katie here.

I got my COVID vaccine this week, which, in addition to fully knocking me on my ass for a couple days (but 100% worth it, so please don’t let that discourage you), has me a little bit introspective.

It has been a hell of a year. You don’t need me to tell you that. We’ve gone through such a crazy range of emotions—grief, loneliness, isolation, panic, overwhelm, even the occasional burst of joy at getting a break from routine and additional time home with our nearest and dearest (in some cases) or a chance to get to know ourselves again (in others). We’ve taken up hiking and embraced daytime pajamas and gotten creative with our Zoom backgrounds. It’s really been a roller coaster.

I missed out on the early-pandemic bread-baking craze, but I’ve taken up cross-stitch in the past few months as my official “things my grandma taught me that I’d mostly forgotten” hobby. I’d show you the project I just finished, but it’s a gift for Emma, and I don’t want to ruin the surprise since I know she’ll read this email. Maybe she’ll share it on our Instagram once I manage to get it in the mail to her.

As with any good pandemic hobby, I couldn’t just do it by half measures, and instead I’ve decided to pick up more patterns than I’ll be able to finish in the next two years. We’ve got folk art and festive skeletons and human body parts made of swirling night skies, but perhaps the most truly pandemic-inspired of the bunch is a simple floral pattern with the phrase, “It’s chaos. Be kind.”

This one will probably end up as a gift for my mom, but I really got it as a reminder to myself. Made popular by Patton Oswalt, it was his late wife Michelle McNamara’s central philosophy, and a mantra I’ve found myself turning to more than once. I’ve spent the past year adjusting to single parenting while in a pandemic while running my own business while holding myself to standards that, frankly, don’t apply right now (or shouldn’t). And that is why this is the perfect hobby for me.

See, the thing about cross-stitch is: I’m not very good at it. I enjoy it, and I like the fact that I can put in the time and make progress, and in the end, you probably won’t notice that there are a few wobbly Xs unless you look really closely. The back side may be a total mess, but there’s no reason for anyone to see that.

And really…that’s the way it should be. We can mess up, and the world (probably) won’t end. We can slowly get better at something without being perfect. We can make progress and be proud of it even if it doesn’t look exactly how we expected. And what goes on in the back is nobody’s business but our own.

Send out 500 emails as part of a launch and then take two weeks of silence to recover. (Ahem, I’m in this picture and don’t like it, etc.) Put together an offering you think is great but don’t get the response you expected. Start putting together an offer only to realize it’s not what you wanted to do, or that it’s going to be a bigger project than expected. Lose your shit just a little and spend a few days staring at a wall. Get that sleep. Take care of yourself. Hire help. Make imperfect progress and see how it comes together anyway. Set your boundaries—and stick to them.

It’s chaos. Be kind.


P.S. We’ve decided to make our special Aurum bonus, the Bonafide Brand Blueprint, available for purchase. If you’re looking for a quick, easy, and complete guide to getting your website up and running—or rebranded and updated—it’s got everything you really need to know to establish an authentic, cohesive, DIY online presence for your business. We’re pretty sure you could follow this guide and have your website up in a day, if you wanted to. And at just $47, it’s a lot of bang for your buck. (If you’re looking for something to fill more of your time, maybe try cross-stitch.)

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