Cultivator: Paulene Cruse

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I’m so excited to introduce Paulene Cruse to you all today. Paulene is the talented owner behind creative brand Leen Machine Calligraphy & Design, and just recently delved into her business full-time last month. As a new full-time business owner, Paulene shares her heart with us below, including her daily struggles and triumphs, the motivation behind her business, and how she has begun cultivating tangible seeds of Giving in her life. I’m confident that you’ll learn a thing or two about what Paulene has to say about Giving, and how we can Give in multiple ways – not just ways that come from our wallets. Happy reading!

Q: When did you first launch Leen Machine Calligraphy & Design, and what are some of the inevitable ups and downs that you've experienced as a business owner?

Leen Machine started in 2010 as a stationery shop on Etsy. It was my creative outlet brought upon by laboring over our DIY pocketfold invitations for our October wedding. My dream was to help brides with their wedding details as well. Fast forward to May 2013, and I picked up calligraphy as a hobby. I didn't expect calligraphy to take over my business but I wouldn't have it any other way. Now with Leen Machine, I offer wedding & event calligraphy, custom design, and paper goods as well as teach calligraphy classes.

Since my business is a one-woman show, I have to make sure that I am confident in all that I do. That's easier said than done. In fact, it took me 3 years in business to find out who I am, to own it and to believe in myself. Once I did that, things started to happen. Even now, I have to remember the quote "You are far too smart to be the only thing standing in your way." For years, I hindered growth in my business because I stood in my way. Do yourself a favor and be brave. The worst thing that could happen is to never find out what you're capable of.

Q: What is your day-to-day like while managing Leen Machine, and how do you stay grounded during even the busiest of weeks?

I transitioned to having Leen Machine full-time last month and my day-to-day varies. However, my day always starts with spending time with my Bible and journaling in my Gratitude journal. It helps set the tone for the day. Then I eat breakfast, feed our two beagles, Sunshine and Rose, and spend some time with my husband before he leaves for work. I do my best not to go near my desk until my office hours begin.

I definitely struggle with time management and I am still figuring out how to be the most productive in a short amount of time. I thought finally being able to do my business full-time would give me plenty of time, but I really don't have as much time as I thought I would.

I stay grounded during busy weeks by adhering to the office hours I set for myself and not working overtime. I've also learned to break up my day – go get coffee, go for a walk or meet up with a friend – so I'm not at my desk all day.

Q: You recently mentioned in The Cultivators online community that you've been cultivating seeds of Giving in your life – can you tell us more about these changes to your heart and how they came about?

One of the things I love about working in The Cultivated Heart workbook is reflecting and finding out what's truly in my heart. When I came across the Giving section, I was surprised when I started writing things down; money was not the first thing I wrote. For the longest time, I thought giving = money. I found out that wasn't the case for me. My time, my encouragement, my attention, my talents, my words...those are ways I can also give. Money helps, sure, but giving our time and gifts is just as important, if not more.

Since coming to this realization, I've reached out to my church and I'm giving my time and talents to help with Vacation Bible School next month. I've wanted to give back to my church for the longest time. It's so fulfilling to do so and use the gifts that God has blessed me with.  

Q: What's the biggest lesson that you've learned from working through The Cultivated Heart thus far? How do you hope to grow and learn more about your heart in the future?

Working through The Cultivated Heart has shown me, over and over again, that I consider the people in my life the most important, but my actions do not match that value. Having the workbook to physically show me I need to work on cultivating my relationships and being a part of the Facebook group to keep me focused and accountable has really been helpful in making progress.

My goal and hope for the future is a life focused on enjoying the smallest things, showing love to others, and facing the difficult times head on while seeing the good it brings.

Keep up with Paulene and Leen Machine on Facebook and Instagram, or drop her a note at paulene@leenmachine.com.