Part Two; Gumption

In 4th grade, my teacher announced that the class would be hosting an entrepreneurial fair. Each student was to thoughtfully plan out a carnival game to launch as their business and a plan to make it a success. The other 4th grade classes would then visit our carnival (with spare change in hand) and the game that drew in the most money would win. Not bad for public school, eh?
My mom, a mortgage lender and an incredibly smart businesswoman, helped me sift through tons of ideas and work the numbers until we finally landed on an ultra simple, yet genius carnival game idea. When I presented my idea in front of the class (part of the process leading up to the event), there were snickers. Other students had plans of constructing elaborate dunking machines, skee ball apparatus' and flashy ways to attract fellow peers to their booth. My pitch was a simple one. Fill a large bowl full of water, drop in floating bobbers with black dots drawn on the bottom of a select few and set another bowl of candy and prizes nearby. Each kid would pay a quarter for the chance to win a prize. The win was simply picking the bobber with the black dot. The classroom actually felt kind of bad for me after I gave my presentation. So much so that I was given the first booth space as students walked in the room. I didn't complain.
The morning of the fair, I watched as everyone pulled together their stations. Lots of frustrations, missing pieces, non-functioning machines, parental assistance and even a few tears. I sat quietly by my bowl of water and waited.
I think you might know how this story ends. My little fishing bobber booth? It won. By a landslide. Even though other games were charging double or triple what I was, mine still came in first. A shock to everyone...including me.

Why do I share that story? Well, who wouldn't want to brag about winning a 4th grade entrepreneurial fair? But beyond bragging rights, that experience was my first in the world of business and its vivid lessons have helped shape my view on basic principles like~ how to turn a little into a lot, how to work smarter not harder and how to make the simplest idea a successful one.
Those same principles have helped carry our family through over a decade of financial slim pickings. Full time missions work, a young family with student loans and overdue bills, and more recently the extended two year layoff.
So many of you sent me emails, private Facebook messages and cards regarding the Part 1 post a few days ago. I am so honored that I get to share in life with you and that you take the time to share yours. So many are struggling in various areas of life and I could relate to so much of what was said in those notes.
I wanted to follow up that post with some thoughts on gumption.



  1. Energy of mind and body, enthusiasm. 
  2. Boldness of enterprise; initiative; guts; spunk; initiative.

Gumption, seriously will get you through some tough stuff.  I highly recommend it. Actually, scratch that. I find it essential for taking a bad situation and turning it around for good, for putting one step in front of the other when all you want to do is stop and for rediscovering purpose and passion in life when each day seems to throw nothing but obstacles, hardships and frustration.
When I look back on the past two years, I am utterly amazed at what we, as a family, have accomplished. You know that saying, "it takes money to make money?" I disagree. If that were true, we'd be in a world of hurt right now. In my opinion and experience, it takes gumption to make money. It take ingenuity to make money. It takes focus, determination, tenacity, resourcefulness and thinking outside-the-box to make money. It takes a belief in your ideas and instincts and above all else it takes guts to move from an idea towards action. There is no room for fear or doubt....but it will come. And when it does, you still move forward.
And there's no room for excuses. I possess only a high school diploma. Years ago I even had one teacher tell me she thought I was mentally "slow" (not kidding.) Rise above it....whatever it is.
I wanted to share our journey in photographs. Each one of these endeavors has had its share of fears, risk and reward. The biggest one to date is in the pipeline and I want to share that with you soon.
If you have a dream, a hope, a desire for your life, get it down on paper. Start flushing it out and see if its a possibility. Actually, you know what? Even on paper it may not seem like a possibility but don't let that deter you. Test the waters, knock on doors and see if they open for you. You might be surprised.
Whatever you do, wake up each day with gumption. Even if you are reading this in a chaise lounge on your own private island with cabana boys waving palm fronds beside you~ you still need to nurture that energy of mind and body~ that enthusiasm and boldness of enterprise. A gumption mindset is the spice of life here on Earth. Purpose and passion....go get 'em tiger.

You can read about our beloved bakery, The Homestead, here . We opened it, just a few short months after the layoff began, without borrowing anything~ truly a case of ingenuity overload. The Homestead definitely scratched that itch Mike and I had since our dating days of owning a coffee shop. We loved it and we loved that a couple decided to come along and buy it just five months after opening and make it their own.

Art of Homemaking continues to grow and new opportunities open up everyday to share with readers nationwide via newspaper, magazine and web the creative and beautiful ways to make a house a home.  

The evolution of Canaan's business has been astounding. This picture, taken in 2009, was the first company photo. I love looking back on the journey~ you can read about that here. Tomorrow he and I will both speak at a roundtable luncheon sponsored by Women Leading Kentucky. He also recently spoke on a panel at a statewide Philanthropy summit. Proud, proud mama.

This is the next about pushing through fear. The end result? Who knows. But the journey is absolutely incredible...