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You Can Do the Hardest Things [2018 Recap + Reflections]

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Hi, love! How was your weekend? I’m writing to you from my dining room table, coffee with cashew creamer in hand (duh), and reflecting on the year. (Do you like to work all over your house, even if you have a designated office space? I just like to mix it up! #entrepreneurlife)

2018 reflections. sam vander wielen. diy legal templates.

Are you feeling all the pressure to reflect on 2018, plan 2019, and resolution your heart out?

I’m just going to be honest – I don’t have a clear strategy or plan yet. And that’s OK, too. 

Because of all the buzz around the New Year, I’ve been thinking a lot about what 2018 was like for me, my business, and me + Ryan, my husband.

Like anyone, 2018 was filled with amazing highs and super lows. Mostly, it was filled with things I’m very grateful for, regardless of which end of the spectrum they fell on. (You can go back and read my 2017 reflections here!)

And since my approach to biz is all about keeping it real + down-to-earth, today I thought I’d share a bit of what my 2018 was like with you. 

These are the things I’d share with you if I could take you out for coffee. (stay tuned all the way to the end — I’ll ask you to share with me, too!)

Travel

2018 was a year of adventure, for sure. Ryan and I started off 2018 living in Lyon, France and then traveling throughout Spain before coming home to Philadelphia.

Living and running an online business abroad was one of the best experiences I’ve had, but there were loads of hiccups I didn’t share online! Let’s just say… WiFi isn’t exactly the same (or as accessible) outside of the U.S. Which I actually think is a good thing… but not when you run this kind of business.

Overall, I was so grateful to be able to run my business from the cutest little cafes in Lyon. I’ll never forget how the baristas at Cafe Boîte would whisper to each other and how few people in the café ever used their phones.

In 2018, we also ate and laughed our way through Switzerland, Austria, the UK, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary.

The highlight of all our adventures? The time Ryan and I rented creaky bikes from Melk, Austria back to Vienna, but didn’t realize that the ferry that was supposed to get us back was closed for the season. It added several hours, miles, and a few choice words on my part, but it ended up being the highlight of our trip.

Read

After putting in some hard hours working to start-up my business in 2017, I got the itch to read totally-unrelated-to-business books in 2018. And I found some good ones I’d love to share.

If you’re looking for fiction in 2019, I’d highly recommend Little Fires EverywhereEleanor Oliphant Is Completely FineGoodbye ParisAn American Marriage, and The Orphan Master’s Son.

As we kick off 2019, I’m reading Educated and One Day in December (a cozy holiday book set in London).

These have absolutely nothing to do with helping you build your business — well, directly at least. I don’t know about you, but I actually get loads of inspiration being taken off to another world ; )

Saw

2018 was also the year of some serious Netflix-style bingeing. I’m smitten with The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon Prime), Netflix finds: I’m Sorry, 7 Days Out, Queer Eye, Somebody Feed Phil, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and, as always, Arrested Development. 

Growth

My business saw some serious growth this year. And that’s something I’m really proud of. I’m so grateful that 100s and 100s of you love your DIY legal templates and Ultimate Bundle.

I also made some serious personal and professional investments in myself and my business this year. I invested heavily in 2 business coaching programs and took my friend Simi Botic’s amazing group program, Beautifully Imperfect (you should definitely check it out when she opens it up this Spring!)

I invested in copywriters, web designers, branding designers, accountants, bookkeepers, coaches, consultants, my incredible VA, and so many more.

I journaled. I read some books that had to do with personal development. I asked for feedback. I interviewed clients. I spent loads and loads of time just learning and soaking online entrepreneurship up.

Business growth brings with it some beautiful growing pains — having to figure out when to hire and who, setting boundaries, and having clear standards.

It also means shelling out a ton of cash. <— this part doesn’t get talked about enough. When you see all these “I made $x this month” claims online, you’re not seeing how much went into it.

I’m actually proudest of how many other entrepreneurs I got to support in small ways this year. I feel like it keeps the entrepreneur wheel going round : )

And let’s face it, entrepreneurs are just the coolest people around, right?

August 16, 2018

I had a super busy first half of 2018 thanks to the pesky little GDPR bugger. And then Ryan and I took 3 weeks off to vacation in Europe until mid-July.

I was just getting back into the post-vacation groove of things mid-August when BOOM!

Life smacked me upside the head. And then some.

August 16, 2018 is when I got the call from my Dad, who never in his life has so much as had a cold or has mentioned going to the doctor, asking me to take him to the hospital.

I honestly thought he had a stomach bug. You know, the kind of stuff traditional medicine is good for.

I still have nightmares and flashbacks of hearing the seriously-unfriendly ER doctor say, “When’s the last time you’ve been to the doctor? Because we just got your blood results back, and it seems you have a blood malignancy.”

I just can’t say it enough: I’ll absolutely never forget that moment. All of the blood drained from my face as I burst into tears, turning a bit so hopefully my Dad wouldn’t see me absolutely losing my mind.

The next few hours, hell — weeks — weren’t pretty. I spent most of the first 48 hours crumpled in a ball in random hospital hallways, sobbing. I mean full-on Oprah ugly-cry sobbing.

I knew it was bad when random people would come from the waiting area to sit with me, bring me tissues, or offer to get me a chair. “I’m fine,” I’d say, “I’ll just stay here.”

I’ll save you the long story. So here’s the short version: at first, they told us my Dad had the ‘good kind’ of leukemia. But then some blood stuff came back a bit….complicated. So they said, “you should go see one of the best leukemia specialists at Penn. You know, just in case.”

We walked into the hematology oncologist’s office on September 18 thinking we were there to find out why, since he had the good kind of leukemia, some of his numbers were inconsistent.

It turned out that’s not what our meeting was about at all. His new HemOnc (as they’re called) was surprised to find out that we didn’t already know that my Dad did not, in fact, have the ‘good kind’ at all.

He had the absolute worst freakin’ kind of leukemia: AML. And it was everywhere.

The original doctors were right… he had had the ‘good kind’. But at some point (they don’t know when), it converted.

Thanks, leukemia. Cue the sobbing.

Ever since that day in September, our family’s lives have been filled with meetings, appointments, chemo, lots and LOTS of blood draws, crying, laughing, and spending loads of time together.

Ryan and I are doing all the things we normally do with my Dad: going to dinners, watching football on Sundays, walking the mall to get our daily steps in, and taking trips to see the Phillies or our favorite Philly jaunts.

I’ve struggled with how much to share. How open and honest to be along the way. I don’t want to be a drag.

People only want to see positive and inspiring things, right?

But I’ve learned a few things about the way this all really works.

  1. People actually just want honesty. They’d rather hear what’s actually going on than have you paint an inauthentic rosy picture.
  2. You can also inspire people with how you handle hard things. That includes sharing how you’re not handling it so great sometimes. And how you’re navigating it at other times.
  3. Even when you have the absolute worst stuff going down… you have so much to be grateful for.

So I’ve shared with you about the tears and the heartbreak, but what I haven’t mentioned is what’s been most present for me these past few months: GRATITUDE.

I actually feel immensely grateful lately.

Not for the fact that my Dad has leukemia, obviously. Although, I’m not doing any of that ‘why us’ stuff, because… well, unfortunately this stuff just happens.

I feel so grateful that I was able to have the time and spaciousness to drop everything and be there for my Dad.

I was with him from morning til’ night the entire time he was in the hospital. And I’ve been able to attend 99% of his appointments ever since.

I’ve taken off random Tuesdays, Friday afternoons, entire weekends, and more just to spend time with him.

I’ve been able to call it a day when I just couldn’t bring myself to write about legal stuff because I was too sad.

Sadly, I heard from so many of you, saying “me, too” when you heard my family was affected by leukemia now, too.

I feel insanely grateful for this community and my entrepreneur friends. They’ve been the most supportive group in my life. They made calls, sent gifts, dropped in, mailed cards, got me books — so many kind gestures.

More than anything, they made me feel like somebody out there recognized that I was in the middle of a sh*t storm, and they were going to hold my umbrella.

And I’m so grateful for my clients, this amazing little business I’ve built, and the way we’ve all stuck together.

We’ve still built 100s and 100s of legally legit businesses together this year. All because I built a business which affords me the flexibility to take care of what matters most in life, while also helping you build a business affording you the same.

So that’s my 2018 so far (still have a few hours left!)

I’ll admit, I have some weird feelings heading into 2019 and what it could bring for me and my family.

On the business front, I have some really exciting things planned for you! But I’m also a big believer in keeping in simple.

I can help you grow a legally legit business in 2 ways:

  1. DIY legal templates — a la carte contracts and website policies for coaches and creatives with service-based online businesses
  2. Fearlessly Legal™ Ultimate Bundle — which gives you 10 DIY legal templates and my course, Fearlessly Legal™.

If you want legit contracts and website policies in place, or aren’t sure whether it’s time to register your biz, book a free Legal Checkup call with me here.

I know this might all sound a bit heavy. And I know you’re going through things, too.

But I know that we can do hard things. Actually, the hardest things, when we:

  1. are kind to ourselves and cut ourselves some slack.
  2. let go of perfection + expectations from the outside
  3. speak up and let people know we need help
  4. focus on gratitude
  5. bring in joy, even in the simplest ways.

I’d love to hear from you by email and what your 2018 was like. Leave a ‘reply’ below and let me know what you took away from this post.

Thanks for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed catching up. It genuinely came from the heart <3

xo,

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  1. Beautiful and inspiring blog. When life throws a curve ball, it\’s nice to be in business for yourself, right? I mean, it\’s not easy but it\’s all in your control so you can do other things. Prayers of healing and comfort to you, your dad and family. Thank you for sharing. Happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!

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