Tag Archives: little lessons

Little Lessons #12: What A Long Lost Disney Character Taught Me About Comebacks

Nubby Twiglet | What A Long Lost Disney Character Taught Me About Comebacks

It all started on Main Street in Disney World.

As I was walking out of a store brimming with merchandise in the Magic Kingdom, something peculiar caught my eye. A classic Mickey hat had sprouted massive black rabbit ears. “It must be a special edition for Halloween,” I thought. Amused, I picked it up and saw a very Mickey-esque badge on the front emblazoned with Oswald The Lucky Rabbit. Still having not a clue what this oddity was, I carried it up to the cash register. “Is this a real character?,” I asked. The cashier didn’t miss a beat. “Yes, he was Walt’s original creation before Mickey.”

This was my eighth time visiting a Disney theme park and I’d never heard of this so-called lucky rabbit. Surely, I couldn’t be the only one left in the dark about his existence.

Gala and I bought matching Oswald hats and started googling the second we got back to our hotel room, obsession quickly setting in.

It turns out that Oswald was dreamed up by Walt Disney and a partner in the 1920s but Walt eventually separated from the project. New people joined in to create Oswald cartoons, carrying him into the 1940s before he faded into near obscurity.

Walt of course went on to create Mickey Mouse, who bears a striking resemblance to Oswald while the poor rabbit gathered dust until 2010, when Disney finally negotiated buying the rights for good.

The story has a familiar ring: Oswald came first and in my opinion was cuter and much more unique, but things didn’t go as planned and soon, Mickey hogged all the spotlight. Long the underdog, Oswald is finally getting the recognition he’s always deserved.

We all know that feeling too well: we work hard to be original only to feel slighted when someone seemingly less talented rolls up with a similar idea and hits the big time. The sting can be intense and jealousy filled, leaving even the strongest soul feeling slighted.

Being an underdog isn’t easy. The comparison game creeps in and on the hardest days, quitting can feel like the only option. If you’re feeling this way, I want to encourage you to keep on going. Stay focused and stay determined.

Whenever I feel comparison taking hold, I always remind myself that slow and steady wins the race. It’s better to take your time and build your vision in an ethical, meaningful way than to duke it out for a quick moment in the spotlight.

Oswald is my new Disney hero because he’s a great reminder that anyone can make a comeback.


For even more Little Lessons posts, click here.

Little Lessons #11: Live The Impossible

Nubby Twiglet | Live The Impossible

“Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m possible’!” —Audrey Hepburn

Last week, I flew into Vegas and hopped on over to Makeup Forever alongside Kat and Gala for a hefty dusting of glitter and some serious false eyelashes. We’d talked about seeing David Copperfield’s show for years and it was finally happening.

We arrived at the MGM Grand where Copperfield has his own theatre and took our seats in the front row. I’d seen many of his TV specials throughout the 90s and was expecting a handful of mind-blowing magic tricks but what I ended up with was something I didn’t expect at all: inspiration to keep following my dreams.

David’s show wasn’t just a traditional magic show. While it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, I appreciated the walk down memory lane, starting with a photo flashed up of him as a child, clutching a dinosaur skeleton, Frank. Copperfield was a lonely outcast as a child and Frank was his best friend. During the show, Copperfield told the audience to “Live the impossible” and by the end, Frank reappeared as a massive mechanical skeleton that took up most of the stage.

In real life, Copperfield managed to live out a seemingly impossible dream, going from the awkward kid who called a dinosaur skeleton his best friend to being the most successful solo entertainer in history with over 40 million tickets sold. Oh, and he owns a string of islands in The Bahamas. Not bad at all.

What does all of this have to do with you?

When you have big dreams and are trying to live the impossible, you’ll get shot down time and again by people who don’t get it. I want to remind you that just because someone else doesn’t think your dream is possible, you’ve got to keep believing. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.


If life has thrown a major curveball at your dreams, here are three quick and easy suggestions to get back on track:

1. Write down an affirmation.

Words have power and an affirmation can be repeated when you’re feeling down as a way to cut through the negativity in an instant. Affirmations are simple reminders of how you want to live your life and the more often you repeat them, the more realistic they become. For instance, “Live the impossible” is a great reminder to follow your dreams, no matter how far-fetched and scary they may seem. I’ll sometimes write an affirmation on a sticky note and place it next to my computer.

If you want more information on creating great affirmations, you can read up here.

2. Make a vision board.

A vision board is a visual representation of your goals. This is your chance to go big and own your future. The formatting of vision boards can be open-ended so feel free to piece together your images in Photoshop and set the composition as your desktop wallpaper or buy a huge piece of tagboard, grab some scissors and glue and get to work!

I’ve recently read a few different accounts of how making vision boards produced fantastic results and there were too many particularities in each to simply be a coincidence. To get the most out of your vision board, you need to be very specific. For instance, if I wanted to live in Palm Springs, I’d place an image of the midcentury modern house of my dreams and the words “Palm Springs” on my board instead of just a gaggle of palm trees.

Once your board is finished, it’s important to set aside a few minutes to focus on it every single day. The goal is to firmly implant your ideal existence so deeply in your mind that you begin to believe there’s no other option than to make it a reality.

If you want more information on vision boards, click here.

3. Keep a gratitude journal.

We all have those days where it feels like we’re moving backwards. But if you focus in closely enough, you can find things to be grateful for. Maybe the bus driver waited an extra 5 seconds so you could hop on. Maybe the grocery store clerk scanned an extra coupon that saved you a few dollars. Maybe the Starbucks barista remade your drink free of charge when you accidentally dropped it while getting into your car. Gratitude doesn’t have to focus on massive, life altering events. It doesn’t have to feel like fireworks going off ever time your pen hits the paper. Gratitude can be simple — it’s lurking in everyday occurrences.

I’m new to the world of gratitude journals but my entry was unexpected — my studio, Branch designed one for the Olivine Happily Ever After course where writing in one is required for 28 days. I participated and it definitely shifted my perspective.

If you’re looking for more information about gratitude journals, click here.

I hope these tips help you move forward with living the impossible and remind you that no dream is too big if you truly believe in it.


For even more Little Lessons posts, click here.

Little Lessons #10: Conquer Your Fear Of Public Speaking By Tying It Into Something That You’re Passionate About

Nubby Twiglet | Conquer Your Fear Of Public Speaking By Tying It Into Something That You're Passionate About

I was always terrified of public speaking. Even if it was a quick introduction on the first day of class, I completely dreaded it. My voice would tremble and I’d talk as quickly as possible just to get it over with.

I’ve always been fine in small social groups and can carry on a conversation without a second thought (especially if you ask me about celebrity trivia!) but just thinking about speaking in front of an audience by myself made me want to hide in a cave.

I never had any ambitions of engaging in public speaking and being a graphic designer allowed me to skirt the issue for years — I could hide behind my computer and still make a comfortable living. That only lasted so long, though before I finally had to face my fears. When Kat, Gala and I hatched the idea of The Blogcademy two and a half years ago, one thing was clear: we agreed upfront that we’d each have to chip in on teaching the 18 segments. Oh wait…teaching equaled public speaking in front of large groups of complete strangers.

I agreed to do it but didn’t overthink it at the time because we didn’t even know if the workshop would take off…and then six days later, our first class sold out. I had less than two months to get over my fear of public speaking because I was going to be in front of a room of women I’d never met, doing exactly that!

When you’re faced with a hurdle, if you think about the big picture, chances are that you’ll get overwhelmed and shut down. Instead, I started really small. I figured out my introduction because if I could get that out without breaking a sweat, I could build some momentum. I didn’t want to stumble and stammer within the first five minutes and lose every ounce of confidence I’d built up so I practiced my intro out loud in my car as I drove to and from work every day. “Hi! I’m Shauna, a graphic designer from Portland….*deep breath*….By the end of the week, I had three paragraphs strung together and memorized.

The first class happened…and you know what? It was way easier than I thought it would be. The secret, I soon realized, is that if you focus on speaking about a subject you’re really passionate about, you’ll never feel lost because deep down inside, you already know the material. In my case, my segments during the two day workshop revolved branding and blogging, both of which I’d been doing professionally for a long time so the conversation just flowed.

I’ve since realized that public speaking is sort of like riding a bike. The first time is scary as hell and then once you have your bearings, it gets a little easier each time. Now, I don’t think twice about it. Remember, your audience wants to relate with you. Unless you’re a newscaster, a few rough edges and surprises will add to your charm so keep it real and speak from the heart.

Your turn: Have you ever been terrified of public speaking? What did you do to overcome the fear?


You’re Awesome postcard by Sian.

Little Lessons #9: Fight The Fear

Nubby Twiglet | Little Lessons: Fight The Fear

I flew into Amsterdam mid-week, a quick flight from Berlin. There’s nothing better than exploring Europe in the summer. As I walked down the streets mid-day, taking in all the (new to me) sights, the words tumbled out. I said,”I never thought I’d have the chance to visit Holland” to Kat and Gala without much thought.

But, on our winding walk home down the cobblestone streets, the significance hit me: I’d been dreaming of traveling the world since my early 20s and now, it was finally happening. At the time though, I still remember how it felt very much out of reach. I was always in school or working full time and I never had the time off or the budget. I still quietly dreamed, even though the life I wanted felt very far away.

All those years ago, I dreamed of a lifestyle melded together with various freedoms which to me, were very specific. This lifestyle meant choosing the clients I wanted to work with (instead of spending 6 months on a corporate campaign I was assigned to), traveling the world with friends (even if it meant mixing business with pleasure), buying a home that I could decorate however I wanted (with no beige walls or carpet in sight like my rental) and feeling confident enough to just be myself (which can be more challenging than it seems).

I’d stand at the cash register or sit at the desk of whichever job I was working and read the blogs of people I thought had “made it” based on my internalized ideal lifestyle list. I wanted what they had but the truth was, there was a wall of fear holding me back from that life. I just hadn’t quite figured that part out yet.

I knew it wasn’t impossible to get that life — people were already hiring me for the design work I wanted to do and I was slowly finding ways to travel more, even if it was just a state away. But, the fear always crept up like a sneaky road block. What if I quit all of my outside work and didn’t make enough money to pay my mortgage? What if I was traveling the world but got lost and my cell phone didn’t work? What if the clients I wanted stopped coming to me and I had to go back to office life? What if…? There were so many excuses and they were like a broken record…they never seemed to stop. There was so much fear.

What was the tipping point? It wasn’t any one day or moment. It was more of a feeling that the clock was ticking and it was up to me to create the life I wanted — nobody else was going to show up and do it for me. After talking with friends and peers I admired, I realized that everyone feels that same fear when faced with big changes. It wasn’t unusual; they just didn’t let it get in the way like I did.

Once I affirmed that I was going to give it my all and find a way to do my own thing, I knew there was no turning back. Failure wasn’t an option. By dedicating myself to the path I knew was right, I became infinitely happier and felt more free. A year into fully committing to doing things my way, I’ve never felt better. My life is far from perfect — even when I’m visiting a cool city like Amsterdam, what you don’t see is that I’m taking Skype calls with clients at 9 pm and waking up at 6 am to finish off a round of work before exploring the city.

In retrospect, I actually work harder now but as cliché as it sounds, it’s work I love so much that it never feels that way. That’s the difference. When you let go of fear and people’s expectations of how you should live your life, you feel happier: you’re more in line with your ideal purpose, and in turn, are probably more at peace and kinder to those around you. It has a ripple effect in your life.

My advice to you is to fight that fear. We all have it.
It’s just a matter of letting go and seeing what happens.


Photo taken on my lunch break from teaching at The Blogcademy in Amsterdam yesterday.
Check out even more Little lessons posts right here.

Little Lessons #8: Step Outside Of Your Comfort Zone

Nubby Twiglet | Little Lessons: Step Outside Of Your Comfort Zone

On Saturday, I received an invitation to somewhere I least expected: the rodeo. I’m a city person at heart and my personal style and taste in music can best be described as avant-garde…or just plain weird. It’s about as far away from country as you can get.

But, I was intrigued. There’s something fascinating about entering a completely different cultural realm and soaking it up. I love seeing how other people live, what types of hobbies they’re into and what their version of “normal” looks like. Do you, too?

It’s good to get out of your comfort zone as often as possible because it will leave you feeling inspired in ways that you least expect. I ended up having an absolute blast at the rodeo. I made friends with some very handsome livestock, hung out next to a very patriotic carousel and happily stepped in to snap photos of folks posing on saddles in the rodeo bar.

The rodeo was the last place on my mind when I woke up but by that night, I was thankful that I’d kept an open mind, said yes and let the rest unfold. When we become overly attached to our idealized way of living life, it becomes too easy to play it safe and miss out on experiences.

Lesson learned: Inspiration is lurking everywhere. Everywhere! When the potential for a great adventure comes your way, say yes, even if it’s off the beaten path.

Your turn: What unexpected adventure have you been on lately?

Little Lessons #7: Stop Overthinking It

Nubby Twiglet | Little Lessons: Stop Overthinking It

It’s been exactly one week since we launched Blogcademy Home School and the response so far has been enormous. I’m so glad we just went for it and didn’t overthink it.

Do you have those people in your life that seem to move quickly and do things effortlessly without ever seeming fearful or breaking a sweat?

I do. My brother, Carey has always been that way. He never overthinks things. He goes, he does, he makes things happen…and figures out the rest later. Because of that, he has friends all over the world, juggles multiple careers and has so many hobbies that it drives me crazy (if another motorcycle part shows up in our house, I’ll scream).

I’ve always admired that quality in him and at times, I’m envious of it. I’ve never been that type of person. I’ve always been more of a planner, a little quieter, a little more cautious.

Nearly two years ago, I began to break out of that mold.

It all started when I nervously hit publish on a blog post I’d spent the weekend working on. I’d taken a short break to cross the border into Washington to catch a Motley Crue and Kiss show with my brother (we showed up without tickets — remember, he’s the spontaneous one!). Afterwards, I raced home to put the finishing touches on The Blogcademy site. Stepping out on a limb before everything was perfectly prepared and publishing that post (even though I was beyond nervous) was a domino effect that changed my life for the better.

When you have a good idea, act on it. Otherwise, it loses juice and in turn, you lose momentum.

Last week, I joined Kat and Gala as we did the same exact thing with Home School. It’s true that we did do a little more planning. But, considering that there were 10 separate videos, a brand new website to build and over two dozen worksheets to produce, we moved pretty fast!

Did we know if this new format was going to be a success?
You never really know.

Did we have any idea what demand would actually be?
Not a clue.

Did we spend countless hours doing endless market research to find out?
Not at all.

The bottom line? We felt good about it so we just went for it.

I want to encourage you to stop focusing on perfection. Perfection doesn’t exist. Own what you excel at and share your knowledge with the world. It’s doesn’t need to be polished to a high shine. Real and relatable is almost always better and it’s a whole lot more endearing.

Show us what you’ve got.
We’re listening and waiting.


Photo: Death to the Stock Photo.
Check out even more Little Lessons here.

Little Lessons #6: The Only Thing That Is Constant Is Change. Embrace It.

Nubby Twiglet | Stay True To Your Path

“The Only Thing That Is Constant Is Change.” —Heraclitus

When we’re kids, we’re taught that we can be anything we want to be when we grow up and that the world is full of endless possibilities. We openly use that encouragement to explore the options. Kids can change their minds every single day about what they want to be “when they grow up” with absolutely no consequences.

But as adults? If we change our minds too often, we’re called hypocrites, flakes, flip-floppers and unfocused. It’s looked down upon to change your mind, especially with school and careers. People, especially your parents can be really hard on you. “You’ll ruin your life!” “How will you make any money?” “Why would you want to leave a comfortable path for this?!” It’s painful to hear.

If you’re having a hard time right now, it does get better.

I get so many emails from readers who feel stuck in school for a degree they are no longer passionate about, a career that isn’t a good fit or a job that is soul sucking. At The Blogcademy, many of our students are burnt out by their current blog topics but worried about changing it up. It doesn’t have to be that way forever. Changing up your life is okay. Give yourself permission.

I spent all my free time in school doodling on my worksheets. When anyone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I had it all figured out: an artist.

When I was touring colleges back in 2000, I realized that I couldn’t take the ups and downs that being an artist would have in store for me — a degree in business seemed like the most sensible option. During my summers off from school, I spent my days in a corporate office. I sat next to ladies who, in their 50s and 60s, had spent the better parts of their lives in offices. None of them seemed like they were having much fun. All anyone around me did was gossip about one another by day and drink heavily and chain smoke by night. Sure, I could finish school, climb the corporate ladder and have a nice paycheck waiting for me every two weeks…but that just didn’t feel right. I wanted out but I’m not a quitter. Instead, I finished up my degree, left that office job for good and took a year off, selling shoes instead.

Once I’d regrouped, I went back to school for what I was actually meant to do: design. I still remember sitting in my college’s office, filling out paperwork explaining why I wanted to return for a “lesser degree” (I had a four year degree and my design program was two). I don’t even exactly remember what I wrote. I just knew that I had to find a way in.

When you’re feeling stuck and like you’re not on the path you want to be, there are always going to be people who will try to convince you to stay right where you are. But remember, it’s not their life, it’s yours. It’s never too late to make a change.


Photo: Made U Look.