Tuesday, May 14, 2019

How this "closet illustrator" & writer became a working Artist - A peek into my artsy journey

The classic case of “life is what happens when you’re making other plans” actually happened to me on my birthday on March 30. 


Just as I was reaching the 5,000 word mark of my second in-the-works Kindle book, I morphed into an artist. A “for real” artist, who paints for a living and plays with beautiful colors and brushes for all her “working hours”.

So this is what happened. I was taking a break from writing, after having published a bestselling Kindle book “The Work-At-Home Military Wife”, and was hoping to recharge my batteries and get more ideas for my next ebook “Self-care for Women”. The best way to indulge in self-care myself was to bring out my paints and brushes, and paint the joyful pictures that I knew would rejuvenate me and fill up my well with happiness.

I shared the photos of those finished paintings on social media and these led to a few initial queries from moms who wanted to buy my artwork for their kids’ rooms. All of it snowballed into ‘Jugnoo Story Art my cute + quirky art venture, where I fuse my passion for painting & stories.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

The Brigade that Builds Brands: Novelist, ex-Army officer & Navy Wife Sajita Nair draws inspiration from her military life

Hello everyone! Today, I've invited Sajita Nair at #thebrigadethatbuildsbrands. She is a former Army officer, a Navy wife & an acclaimed novelist. We talk about how the #military life can actually spur a #Milspouse to create meaningful work for herself.


C. Please tell us something about yourself – what do you do, where are you based and how long have you been a fauji wife.

S.I am a former army Captain and writer based in Bangalore. My father served in the Air Force and I have been married to a Naval officer for the past twenty years. Hence I have experienced life in the three arms of the forces.

C. What has been your business or creative journey been like: how & when did you start your venture?

S.Post my tenure in the army, I began to work towards my dream of being a writer. Initially I published short stories, articles and travelogues in reputed publications. Only when I gathered enough confidence, did I attempt writing a full-length novel. My debut novel ‘She’s a Jolly Good Fellow’ was published by Hachette India in 2010 and follows the life of two pioneer women officers, trying to find their place in the male dominated army. 

C. Were you in a different profession and re-trained for the current one? If yes, can you share how/where you learned the skills required for your current profession?

S.I learnt everything about writing, on the internet. Formatting query letters, researching information, editing written work and presenting a polished piece of writing to the editor – I learnt all these from various websites. For serious learners, there is no bigger guru than the internet.


Sunday, March 31, 2019

The Brigade that Builds Brands: Army wife Shreya Sharan Pawar builds two businesses on the move


Hello everyone! For every #militaryspouse #entrepreneur I meet, I meet 10 other talented #military wives, who tell me that being their own boss from military bases in boondocks is impossible. Today, I speak to a young Army wife, who shows us how you can not only build one but multiple brands on the go. Meet my #bizbuddy Shreya Sharan Pawar and let's find out how she does what she does.

Shreya Sharan Pawar

 C. Please tell us something about yourself – what do you do, where are you based and how long have you been a fauji wife.

S. I was an army kid and became an army wife in 2012. I am currently based in Wellington, Tamil Nadu but we will be shifting once again by mid April. As of today, I don’t know where I will be 6 weeks later.
I am a solo entrepreneur and have 2 business ventures which are very different from each one.
My first venture is“Burst of Happyness”  - a brand of vegan, handmade & natural bath and body products.
My most recent venture is Business Mentoring for creative Indian women where I help them build a business around a passion or a hobby.

C. What has been your business or creative journey been like: how & when did you start your venture?

S. I have always been a creative, DIY kind of a person and my first experience of entrepreneurship was at the age of 11 when I tried to sell handmade trinkets and cards to a local store in Panagarh, West Bengal. Unfortunately, my dreams were dashed coz I sold none.

I never thought of entrepreneurship again till I got married (while studying for my MBA), ditched a high paying corporate job offer post my MBA  and moved to MamunCantt, Pathankot with my husband.

 That's when I started Burst of Happyness as a hobby  from a Captain’s kitchen. It was a result of my own struggle with severe acne and hormonal issues which prompted me to follow a sustainable, green and a natural lifestyle. Soapmaking was a hobby I had picked up along the way to avoid hormone disrupting chemicals present in most bath and body products. I combined my background in adverting + my MBA in Marketing and my soapmaking hobby to build a business.

I started my other venture - Business Coaching - 2 years back. The reason for launching this was because a lot of women started to approach me seeing my progress with Burst of Happyness. So, I use this platform to share tips, tricks and all the lessons I have learnt as a solo woman entrepreneur in India.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

The Writer's Den: Novelist Katie Mettner's journey as a prolific writer & self-published author

Hello friends! We’re launching a new series this month called The Writer’s Den (#thewritersden)! Once a month, we’ll invite a writer and author to come over to the blog and tell us about their journey in writing and publishing, their craft and their struggles, their inspirations and their stories. Today, we’ve invited #inddieauthor Katie Mettner, who has written 36 novels and published 31 of those, to tell us what got her started in this journey.


 C. Please tell us about yourself – what you do, the number of books you’ve written, where do you live, your family.

K. My name is Katie Mettner and I live in the Northwoods of Wisconsin near Lake Superior. My husband is a teacher for a local school district, and we’ve been married eighteen years. We had our own little instalove story. We met online in November 1999, met at Thanksgiving, he proposed on New Year’s Eve 1999, and we were married in April 2000! We have three kids, whom we call the three E’s because their names all start with E! Emily is starting college this year as a music education major, Edward is learning to drive, and Elias is learning the tuba! Our only pet is a very special leopard gecko named Leroy Jethro Gibbs (my daughter is a huge fan of NCIS).

I’m disabled as an amputee, but I used to be a medical transcriptionist for a dozen years. That job gave me a lot of fodder for stories and the knowledge to write about physical conditions and how to research them. I spend my days writing, editing, reading, crocheting, and momming (is that a word?) I just finished my 36th novel and currently have 31 published. I have two more releases for 2018.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

How to Write & Self-publish your First Kindle Book: Lessons from my indie publishing journey

Hello friends! I recently wrote and published a Kindle book (which made it to the #amazonbestseller list in the first week) called ‘The Work-At-Home Military Wife – A quickstart guide to creating a pack-and-carry career and work-from-home lifestyle on the move’. It took me a few months, from start to finish, and it’s been one roller coaster of a learning experience.

self publishing
How to write, launch and promo that first Kindle book
I’d love to write and publish more books, both non-fiction and fiction, and the lessons learnt here will help me in the months to come. If you’re self-publishing your first book, I hope my journey will help you too.

Writing a book: I started writing this book in December 2018, when my parents were visiting me, and I could grab a few extra hours to write every day as they were helping out with my homeschooled son. When it comes to writing a book, there are so many tiny steps, and Hassan Osman's ebook helped me break down the process into bite sized pieces. Here are the steps I followed:
1.      Write down the ideas for your book, and choose one that you want to take up for the current project.
2.    Break it down into a list of topics and create a table of contents.
3.    Add in the extras like Acknowledgements, notes, copyright information and anything else that you want in your book apart from the chapters.
4.    Set some deadlines for yourself, like maybe 1000 words each day or 45 minutes at your desk writing your book. While a lot of authors suggest writing tonnes of words each day, I fit things according to my schedule. This is the best thing about Hassan’s book; he asks you to spend only 30 minutes per day, if that’s all you have, to get your book done.
5.     Spend at least 5 days a week on your book, so that you don’t lose the rhythm and flow.
6.    Finish the book. This can be the tedious part because by the time you’re at the end of it, you might feel a tad bored or may want to take a break from it.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

The Brigade that Builds Brands: Air Force wife Sanyukta's Children's Room Decor & Linen Biz

Hello friends! I’m back with another story from #thebrigadethatbuildsbrands series. We’re featuring Air Force wife Sanyukta Bhardwaj today and her ‘Apple of My Eye’ – a handmade children’s room linen and art venture. I’d  like to mention that we will also feature veterans, veteran ladies and Veer Naari’s as well as Armed Forces wives, who have set up interesting businesses and brands. If you know anyone we can feature, drop us a line (contact details below). 
Now, on to our chat with Sanyukta.

Sanyukta Bhardwaj - #Milpreneur

C. Please tell us something about yourself – what do you do, where are you based and how long have you been a fauji wife.
S. I’m an Air Force wife, stay-at-home parent and an Architect by education. Currently based out of the outskirts of Delhi NCR and have been married to my man in blue since 10 years.

C. What has been your business or creative journey been like: how & when did you start your venture?
S. The venture honestly started by chance; it all started when I was packing the hospital bag for my yet to be born son. Being an architect and a daughter of an artist (my mother), I have had a flair for painting, so both of us decided to hand paint and stitch linen for him. Post the birth I happened to show all the hand painted stuff to my fellow Air Force friends. And they motivated me to start this venture when they mentioned how such kind of linen and accessories are not available and even if it is, it costs a bomb.


So that is how ‘Apple of my eye’ was conceived and formed. My very first order for customized bedding set was from the same dear friend (an Air Force wife herself).

My mother and I run this venture together. I mostly do the PR, managing the Facebook page, handling client orders, and my mother does the execution or field work ( since she is stationed and I move from place to place) so we discuss all the details of fabrics, textures, designs, colors etc over the phone.
I however, do most of the wall art orders myself as sourcing canvases and stocking on art and craft supplies is easy with the constant moving!

C. Were you in a different profession and re-trained for the current one? If yes, can you share how/where you learned the skills required for your current profession?

S. I’m an architect by education and all architects are artists/designers by default, so I’m the jack of all trades; the trades being sketching, drawing, doodling, painting and scribbling. So I just had to polish my skills when I started with ‘Apple of my eye’, and now I’m planning to learn stitching too.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Homeschooling a Kindergartner in India – Part 2

We started homeschooling our 5-year-old about 10 months ago. Though we were always intrigued by the concept of homeschooling, we didn’t really know where and how to begin.

Photo credit: Smokey Bandit

Should we set up a strict school-like timetable? Should we set up an entire room like a classroom? Will I, as the primary homeschooling parent, be able to cope with entire days of studies, play and activities, with very little time to do my own work?

There were many questions jostling for attention in my mind, but we decided to take the plunge and go with the flow. This is what we did to get started in our homeschooling journey:

Stocked up on good quality children’s books. I stumbled across a curriculum called Build Your Library, and liked how everything is taught through beautiful storybooks and ‘Living Books’. While I do have the curriculum with me, I generally tend to pick and choose the books as per what we want to learn that day.

Made art and craft material accessible. While we always had art supplies that my son could work through, we put it all in a basket and kept it at a place that he could easily access. This way, now he is always working on a project of his own, upcycling cardboard boxes into robots, cameras and whatnot.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

6 Common Challenges you Encounter as a Work-from-home Military Wife


I’ve been a work-from-home military spouse for 13 years now. From working for a small publishing company to leading a pitch-and-query life of a freelance journalist and content writer, to starting an on-phone health coaching practice, I’ve done an assortment of work. Like many military wives, I’ve worked from bases in the boondocks most of the time, with erratic internet, too many social commitments and odd comments about this strange work-from-home life that I lead.
Create a work-from-home career on the move!

Here’s a bucket list of everything that you stumble across as a military wife, who works-from-home:
1.     Spotty or non-existent internet: While fast internet connectivity is taken for granted in “big cities”, when you’re in the boondocks, this is a rare commodity. I’ve spent countless hours tearing my hair out when I’ve missed my deadline just because the internet refused to boot up. I’ve also had to take sabbaticals because either it took too long to get an internet connection at a new base or because the internet cables got cut & it took ages (read: 6 months) to mend them.
2.    Power cuts: Almost every small town base you’re based in has a regular schedule for long periods of power cuts. “Load Shedding” as it’s called, can play havoc into your work, especially if you don’t yet have an inverter or, even when you have one, the battery’s given up because the power cut has spilled into the next day.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

‘The Work-At-Home Military Wife’: Why is it a necessary read for military spouses with ambitions and professional dreams of their own?

Hello friends! I have some happy news to share. I’ve just released my first #Kindlebook about creating a work-from-home lifestyle on the move (The Work-At-Home Military Wife – A quickstart guide to creating a pack-and-carry career and work-from-home lifestyle on the move) + a Free ebook with 25 legit work-from-home careers.

(on Amazon)

While there are lots of books on work-at-home jobs, there weren’t any for the always-on-the-move military wife. But why is a book like this even necessary, you may ask?

Here’s why:

We’re always on the move. And when you’re on the move, you’re moving on to a new base, a new part of the country (or world), new friends and new horizons. It’s difficult to hold down a permanent job, unless you’re in the military yourself. This often leaves us wondering about what we can do at this new place and how we can use our education and talents to get a job.

We’re often in the boondocks. Several military bases are in farflung areas of the country, with zero job opportunities. In such situations, the choice is often between not working and well, not working.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

How to begin homeschooling in India – 6 Questions to ask yourself

About 10 months ago, we took the decision to homeschool our son. With a cutback on the school transport, excessive and sudden travel plans at our front and eventually, a posting to a small town with meager schooling options, homeschooling was a decision we entered into with trepidation.  But over the months, I’m getting used to being my son’s teacher and we’re finding our own groove to this homeschooling life.

Homeschooling in India - A beginner's guide
While I’m no expert in being a homeschooling parent, I can offer you tried and tested tips to help you make the transition to a homeschooling life, if that’s something you’re thinking about.

Here’s what you should think through, plan for and embrace as you start homeschooling:

Why are you homeschooling or thinking of doing so? 
For me the number one reason was my son, who wanted to be taught at home and secondly, the lack of logistical support in sending him to a school he enjoyed going to. And, now that we’re in a place that doesn’t have schools that teach in a hands-on way, the only option is to homeschool. Your reasons can be similar to or different than mine. But whatever are your reasons, be very clear on these because there will be times along this journey, when you will need your reasons to motivate you to go on.

Are you ready to dedicate a solid chunk of your time to homeschooling? 
In a homeschooling family, at least one parent needs to spend time teaching and doing activities with the child. Leaving the child home with a maid or delegating all the classes to a tutor, won’t really help in creating a nurturing homeschooling environment. It also defeats the purpose of taking the child out of the school system to homeschool.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

My Big Rocks for 2019 - Filling up the jar with what matters

The New Year’s rolled in, and it’s the possibilities that a new beginning is filled with that’s got me scrabbling to chalk out what I’d like to fill my jar with. 

2019 Goals
Goals and plans for 2019

What will be my Big Rocks, Medium Rocks, and Sand this year? I know that if I don’t jot this down, I’ll fill my jar with far too many things and get overwhelmed in the process.

So, here’s my Big Rocks for 2019. Big Rocks are all the things that are on top priority for me, and I will want to carve out a chunk of time for these:

1.      Homeschooling my son. About 10 months ago, we plunged into a homeschool life. What started with the hunt for a detailed curriculum has now eased into a with-the-flow education. We spend our mornings in our makeshift school on the porch overlooking our garden. And this is an essential part of our week.
2.    Writing more. As a health coach and writer, I spend my days doing both – upgrading my wellness know-how, creating workshops, writing and teaching creative writing. But this year, I want to dedicate a chunk of time daily to writing books, blogs, and stories.
3.    Family time. We are like the 3 Bears and enjoy huddling in at home, pottering around in the kitchen garden, baking something and enjoying a good Netflix movie on television. This is the sugar and spice to our daily life, and just as essential or more to our days.
4.    Learning new skills. As a #militaryspouse entrepreneur, I have to constantly evolve and add to my knowledge pool, to do work that I love from the back-of-beyond places that we are posted in. I’m learning about being a self-published author, which involves everything from how to write more books to designing and editing to marketing them using social media platforms.
5.     Exercise. With the hours that I put in the chair, stretching and walking are imperative to factor in. Spending an hour every day exercising also keeps me happy and energetic.
6.    Meditation and Reiki. For a while last year, I was consistent with my meditation and Reiki practice, and the way it helped ground, center and calm me, is wondrous. So, this year, I want to schedule it in and be more consistent about getting to my mat.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Happy 2019 + My 2018 at a glance

Hello everyone! Happy New Year. May 2019 be joyous, peaceful, prosperous, productive and healthy for all of us.


So, I’ve been away for a while, packing and moving, unpacking again and setting up home in a far-flung part of the country. Amidst all of this, I’ve been figuring out how I can fit in homeschooling, social obligations and my own dreams into the same canvas.

It’s not only been a full two months, but also a full 2018. With so much of traveling and living out of suitcases, not knowing where we would be every month, transitioning to a homeschooling life, and trying to find a place for my goals within the jigsaw puzzle of this, it’s been a rollercoaster of a year.

Here’s looking back at 2018 that’s whizzed and whooshed past like a dervish. At a glance, this is what I was up to:

Began settling into our first big town posting at the beginning of 2018.

Started teaching Creative Writing to children and enjoyed it immensely.

Got into the groove of DIY cleaning and housekeeping (our byebye maid phase), with our trusty spin mop and dishwasher.

Launched www.GorgeousGirlsGoGreen.com, an online resource for women who want to live a healthy life by being gentle to the Earth.

Completed and earned my Women’s Wellness Educator Certification, and taught in-person health workshops.

Continued creating wellness content for my website and workshops.

Launched #TheBrigaethatBuildsBrands series that features #militarywives, who launch #workfromhome careers while moving across the country with their husbands.

Started learning a variety of things – from Reiki Level 2 and Angel Card Reading to nuances of growing one’s small business via social media to learning how to become a #selfpublished author, it’s been about absorbing skills that can help me grow as a professional.

Wrote the first draft of my first full-length #nonfiction book.

Started #homeschooling my son.

Moved to multiple places + got posted yet again to a tiny town.

What has 2018 been like for you?

Leave a comment below + connect with me via Twitter (@ChandanaMilspo / @4GGorgeousGreen) & Instagram (@ChandanaMilSpo / @gorgeousgirlsgogreen)

#2018 #NewYear #yearataglance

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