{Inspiration is all around you.}

I was just a small town boy. Sure, I had an adventurous spirit, probably more adventurous than most. My view of the world, though, was small in scope…

wedding-gussy-sews

^ from our wedding day, June, 7th 2008

Sure, I thought it would be cool to move to a big city and experience that side of life, but I never thought I would. Yes, I dreamed of working in film production, but real film production? I assumed Hollywood wasn’t in the cards for me. I thought it would be cool to experience a new culture some day. I never thought we’d see Africa though. To meet a real Maasai tribesman face to face and talk to them. I wanted to have a family that’s adventurous and passionate. To be perfectly honest though, I figured settling for less is just what people do. 

tanzania-gussy-sews

^ flying into Tanzania, Africa in May 2012

It’s not that I thought that these things were impossible; Maggie will attest that I am a can-do personality. It’s just that a person needs constant support for all of these things. None of them would’ve happened without Maggie and I telling each other, “That sounds outrageous, but I’m in.”

tanzania-gussy-sews

^ our first day in Tanzania with Compassion International

If you say, “It would be cool to move to Italy for a few months,” many people will laugh. But not all people. Some people, the very finest people, will say instead, “OK, how can we make that happen?”

See, anyone can believe in themselves — but how much easier is it if you’re not alone in that belief?

When you say to someone, “You are capable” you become part of that person’s success story.

When I married Maggie, I was worried that we’d settle. We’d settle down, settle in, and settle for whatever came our way. That settlement has yet to happen. If you’re engaged to be married and are writing your own vows, I recommend adding this line, “I promise to pursue your dreams. I promise to push you to greater heights. I promise to say ‘yes’ to your ambitions.”

maxwell-gussy-sews

^ at the beach with my son, June 2013

I’ve heard many people through the years tell me personally how much my wife has inspired them. How her story has helped to shape theirs. How her bravery has helped them to be brave. How her encouragement helped them to finally catch up to that dream. To every person who has been encouraged by her words, I am part of your ranks.

More importantly, I want to encourage you to do the same for others. 

Do you have a business that you’re thinking about starting? Do you have a trip that you’ve always wanted to plan? Better yet, a move? Do you have something in your mind that you want to do, but are hesitant?

minneapolis-gussy-sews

 ^ Minneapolis’s skyline at night, 2012

Guess what? I encourage you. 

Yes, you. You can do it. You are capable. Do not doubt yourself, because as of this moment, you officially have one fan, right here, that knows you have that potential. Do something with that.

Once you know how it feels to have someone believe in you, pass that on. Inspiration is contagious and it begs to be shared. Just like my wife inspires me at every ridiculous turn, I challenge you to inspire someone else.

Give your friend a call, and when they tell you about what they wish they were doing, remember what it’s like to have someone backing you.

Please tell me in the comments what it is that you want. What change, what goal, what do you want to start? Share it below so we can discuss and encourage each other.

-Zack

Comments

  1. 1

    Valarie says

    That was a great post, thank you!

    *When you say to someone, “You are capable” you become part of that person’s success story.* Pretty awesome quote I am writing down now.

  2. 3

    says

    Wow! What a sweet surprise to hear from you, Zack! I love how you and your wife are so supportive of each other. How you help support her make her dreams come true.
    I have struggled with my little dream. I try different items, and still my shop is stagnant. I work part-time outside of the home because I am not being as successful as I wish. I need to be independent from my husband, financially. He is controlling with money. SUPER, choke-hold controlling. By my business succeeding, I would have freedom to take better care of myself. THAT would be a part of my dream. To help others as well.
    Thank you for letting me vent a bit and feel the love and hope that you have for you very sweet and talented wife! You are pretty amazing, too!
    Alison

    • 4

      says

      @Alison O’Grady, Allison, I’m really sorry to hear that your husband is not on the same page as you financially. I pray that that situation improves and that he can see your side of the financial story. Never stop trying to keep that communication with him open.

      Keep pushing your shop. If you really want it, and really work hard at it, things will happen. Mountains can be moved.

  3. 5

    says

    Super awesome inspiring words Zack! And something I needed to hear this morning. Thank you!! I had yet another night of sewing for my business until midnight and now I am at work all day and will return to the sewing machine tonight. I feel completely stuck. I can’t devote more time to my business because I work full time, but I can’t quit my job because my business doesn’t make enough to even be considered part time income, plus we are trying to buy a house and I carry the benefits. Certainly a lot to figure out over here and I am burnt out. As life just whizzes by, I am still holding onto this dream of supporting myself and really it is the only thing I want to do with my life. My husband is very supportive but I am fiercely independent and want to be able to support myself. I turn 30 in May, 2014 and I always hoped to be able to quit my day job by then. That is my goal and I truly hope with all my beginning I can make it happen.

    Thank you again to both you and Maggie! You both have such a positive spirit and inspiring words!
    -Michelle

    • 6

      says

      @Michelle @theLoveMichCollection, Michelle! Don’t give up! This sounds so familiar. Just a few short years ago that was Maggie. So in love with her shop, so *over* working for someone else, but stuck doing both because we knew we wouldn’t be able to make ends meet. If you’re waiting for Handmade to be highly lucrative, don’t. It’s something that takes sacrifice to make work, but it can definitely be worth it.

      Try saving up 3 months of your current wages and set a social media goal to achieve before quitting (ie 5000 followers on website x). Put concrete specific goals out there and chase em with all you have. Even at 2 in the morning.

  4. 9

    says

    Thank you for the encouragement! I’ve been dealing with some pretty difficult health struggles the past two years and some days it feels like my dreams can never come true. Life is pretty up in the air right now as we do everything we can to get me better. I know what God has called me and my husband to and we are trusting that God will heal me so we can follow our calling with everything we have instead of having to spend so much time trying to manage my health. Thanks for the reminder that God is in control and has plans for each and every one of us.

    • 10

      says

      @Laura, I’m sorry, Laura, about your health struggles. I can’t pretend to fully understand your situation. It sounds like you have big aspirations for very positive things, though. Don’t give up. Find a way. Don’t give up. Don’t give up.

    • 12

      says

      @Jenna, Ha! I’m flattered. Thank you so much. I bet your post just made someone’s day.

      Do say it out loud. As a husband, and a tough guy, I understand that getting a little verbal positive feedback from time-to-time can completely change your outlook.

  5. 13

    says

    Thank you for this post! Perfect timing. I have been toying with opening an etsy shop and this is just the push to really get me started.

  6. 15

    Michele N says

    Thank you so much for this post. About a year ago I started making some unique jewelry, a friend pushed me to put some in her booth at a Christmas Show. I sold one piece there & 2 other pieces to a friend. I’ve made some more & recently made a facebook page but that’s not going anywhere either. I can’t devote a ton of time due to I work full time with a disabled husband & 3 teenagers each with 2 or 3 activities they are involved in. I’m scared to put out a lot of money for booths at events or fairs due to our finances are very tight, but I really want to get my stuff out there. Definitely need the encouragement.

    • 17

      NDCAS says

      @Michele N, Michele N ~
      Hi! I don’t know you from Eve, but I have a few other friends who make and sell their own jewelry (many friends make other products besides jewelry, but for now I’m referencing just these particular ones…). The ones who are successful, or whome I see who appear to feel successful in their jewelry making/selling endeavors are the ones who, actually, started by making pieces for friends for birthday’s, holiday’s, etc. Sure, they were selling the whole time, but it was pieces here and there and nothing big or big sales. And the pieces gifted to the friends were well liked (not implying that your friends don’t or won’t love yours…) and the friends wanted to wear them. (I have pieces from a few different friends, but only a couple of friends creations get worn all the time…I just like them more…) I get compliments all the time on many of the pieces and pass the friends name on all the time. I don’t know if it has helped her business, but she seems busier and with more turn around (made and sold…) than some of the other friends. And the pieces I’ve been given (as well as the ones I’ve bought from her…) mean more because she had me in mind when she made something personal for me. Just a thought; instead of buying a present for a friend, gift her something personal that you make. And when they love it, it will show in how they wear it, and they may just pass your name on to another person. Best of luck. I do lots and sell items too so I know part of your frustration. I do know though that when I’m frustrated and I switch to a project I’m making for someone special, even just as a wedding gift, etc. I’m happier at least momentarily and their smile when they open it drives me to continue with the other pieces I’m making and trying to sell. Just some thoughts. Best of luck and thanks Zack for the great words that I also feel like I needed to hear today.
      ~Christine~

  7. 19

    says

    Gosh, Zach! You made me cry! :) My husband and I have a pretty big dream and most days it feels like it might be TOO big. My husband is finishing up his Masters in Counseling and with my gift of hospitality, we believe God has called us to open a home that people can come to and receive both of those things. My husband use to be in to ministry and after a very hard experience, our desire is to encourage ministry families who may be going through a hard time as well. I’m attaching the blog we created. We only have an “about” and “welcome” page so far, but you have inspired me to keep working on it. :)

  8. 21

    M says

    I love this post! Thank you SO very much for sharing. I think sometimes (in the Christian realm especially) we are taught to believe that hoping for something better means you are unhappy with what you have and where you are. I don’t believe that for one moment! I think that God has given us dreams and ambitions for a reason, and watching Him work through them when we take steps out in faith is SO amazing. I am currently pursuing a career in opera, and I have my sights set high. Not high on fame and fortune, but high because I know that I serve an awesome God who literally has the whole world (and more) at His disposal. Who are we to limit that? =) Good luck God Bless to you and your beautiful wife as you pursue your dreams!

  9. 23

    says

    What a wonderful, inspiring, and overall great post. I have a list of dreams I want to accomplish. This year alone I’ve made huge leaps, that at times don’t feel like much. I can honestly say a year ago with my art I didn’t feel like I was good enough, but I pushed through and kept painting and drawing. My art improved, I found my own voice/style, and all this gave me the confidence to participate/sign up for local art shows. Once I started putting myself out there, regardless of the results, each next step felt a bit easier.

    I’ve also had a dream about teaching art classes to kids (outside of public schools), which is also something that I’ve mustered up the courage to do this year. I also have a dream of writing/illustrating children’s picture books, so I signed up for an online class, Writing for Children, which has been a wonderful experience. And also getting my art licensed.

    It’s funny, as I write all of this down now, and though there are days the journey seems long or I feel stuck, I’ve made huge strides this year in working towards making my dreams in life come true.

    My next goal is to start advertising my blog/online shop to hopefully gain some followers and potential customers.

    Thank you for your encouragement and support. It came at the perfect time.

  10. 25

    says

    Thank you so much for sharing!!! I find myself encouraged daily with the work your wife does and her inspirational story and day to day life :)

    I am about to really dive into creating something for my business and learning to let go and grow my creativity “organically” (like, not just in my head but by doing). You just gave me the push I needed :D

  11. 27

    Stacey Kukkonen says

    Super inspiring, Zack! I really need to show this to my husband, Zach. He went back to school to get a second bachelor’s degree to improve life for our baby boy. Even in the workforce with his new career, he has yet to feel inspired and it’s sad. Wish there was something I could say to him to make it better. Thanks for sharing your story!

  12. 30

    says

    Zack, wow! this was amazing. I would love to move our family but uprooting and leaving parents and grandparents seems so scary, even though I only want to move a few hours away! You really have me thinking…why not? Why am I so afraid? Thank you for writing this, I needed it!

    • 31

      says

      @Emma, I felt exactly the same way until I had no other choice. Ask yourself, “If I had no other choice, what’s the very worst that would happen, and how could I address that?”

      I think you’ll find that it actually wouldn’t be as terrifying as it seems, and you may find new opportunities that you would’ve missed otherwise.

      You can do it.

  13. 32

    Anna Dorthea says

    Thank you, Zack, for a truly inspiring and well-written post! Your wife and son are lucky to have you in their lives!
    Here’s a bit of my story:
    I first became ill, when I was about 12. My dreams of a normal youth was crushed. I was heart-broken! I became seriously ill (again)when I was in my early 20’s and had to quit my studies. I was heart-broken! Then my dream of ever having my own family was crushed by illness too. I was heart-broken – again.
    I was ill for a total of 20 years (out of my 32), but at the age of 28, I made a decision. This would prove to be the most significant decision of my life so far!
    I decided that I would never end up bitter!
    A couple of months went by and by pure coincidence, I met an old friend.
    We arranged to meet and go on a proper date, and we’ve been together ever since.
    He has two gorgeous children from a failed marriage. Their mother isn’t able to care for them properly, so they live with him.
    We’ve been together for almost 4 years now, we’re engaged, the kids thrive and I’m starting college in 2 weeks!
    All of this because I found the strength in loving unconditionally and being loved back! –
    Now I know, that I can do whatever I set my mind to AND be there for my future husband and my kids, as they set out to fulfill their dreams!

    Thank you for reminding me how lucky I am!

  14. 35

    NDCAS says

    Michele N ~
    Hi! I don’t know you from Eve, but I have a few other friends who make and sell their own jewelry (many friends make other products besides jewelry, but for now I’m referencing just these particular ones…). The ones who are successful, or whome I see who appear to feel successful in their jewelry making/selling endeavors are the ones who, actually, started by making pieces for friends for birthday’s, holiday’s, etc. Sure, they were selling the whole time, but it was pieces here and there and nothing big or big sales. And the pieces gifted to the friends were well liked (not implying that your friends don’t or won’t love yours…) and the friends wanted to wear them. (I have pieces from a few different friends, but only a couple of friends creations get worn all the time…I just like them more…) I get compliments all the time on many of the pieces and pass the friends name on all the time. I don’t know if it has helped her business, but she seems busier and with more turn around (made and sold…) than some of the other friends. And the pieces I’ve been given (as well as the ones I’ve bought from her…) mean more because she had me in mind when she made something personal for me. Just a thought; instead of buying a present for a friend, gift her something personal that you make. And when they love it, it will show in how they wear it, and they may just pass your name on to another person. Best of luck. I do lots and sell items too so I know part of your frustration. I do know though that when I’m frustrated and I switch to a project I’m making for someone special, even just as a wedding gift, etc. I’m happier at least momentarily and their smile when they open it drives me to continue with the other pieces I’m making and trying to sell. Just some thoughts. Best of luck and thanks Zack for the great words that I also feel like I needed to hear today.

  15. 36

    says

    I think it is SO wonderful that you went after your dreams and that Maggie supports you and you support Maggie. It is a rare and beautiful thing when your spouse believes in you as much as you believe in yourself.

  16. 38

    says

    Wow, Zack. Great post. After reading it, I have a confession. I have a habit of settling for less. I think of myself as positive and optimistic, but in reality, I have a hard time believing in myself. I’m a single mom of four and have been struggling the past three years since my husband left to provide for my kids. My desire is to be with them as much as possible and be able to provide financially also. Right now I work outside the home part time and do in home child care. My dream is to be able to support us with my handmade items and art, and while doing so, be an encourager and offer hope to others. It’s been a struggle, but God is so good. He always takes care of us. Though life does not look like I planned or hoped it would at this point, we are in His hands, and He still has good in store for us. God bless you and your family, and thank you. Thank you both, for stepping out to pursue your dreams and offering some hope to those of us a few steps back on the journey.

  17. 41

    says

    Great post! I know that a big reason why I have managed some success with my handmade biz is my husband that doesn’t let me quit. It is soooo important! For all the times he has done the dishes, and put the kids to bed so I can work at night and pushed me in the ups and downs of the business, I am so grateful. Sometimes its scary and maybe it would be easier if we “settled” into “normal” but I couldn’t imagine not being in this place where we are so dependent on the Lord for every move. It’s a great place to be!

  18. 43

    says

    Zac, thank you so much for sharing this post. For the past few years I’ve exploring my creativity and discovering my passions. My dream is to become a full-time creative business owner. Right now I work 40 hours/week and have a busy 4 year old boy, husband, and home to care for. I’ve been feeling “stuck” and that I don’t have enough time to devote to building a business, but I’m beginning to realize that the only real roadblock is myself. There are so many other wonderful, creative women with successful businesses that have the same responsibilities that I do – like Maggie. I think I need to do some deep thinking to figure out what’s really holding me back.

    • 44

      says

      @Emily, Emily, truly what helped Gussy Sews make some serious progress is having my husband not only know what’s going on, but he supported it. In the beginning, having Zack simply support me when saying I needed to work late was a huge part of finding success. xo

    • 45

      says

      @Emily, Do you tell your husband that you have these ideal goals? Sometimes people don’t say the crazy thing that they really want because they’re afraid of being laughed at. When Maggie told me she wanted to quit her day job ––over half of our income at the time–– I admit I had a chuckle before I realized she was serious.

      But as soon as I knew she meant it, all I could think was “Ok. What can I do to help?”

  19. 46

    says

    Yes, yes and yes! I prayed for our family to be moved and weeks later my husband accepted a job offer in south florida. I’ve prayed for inspiration to be a proverbs 31 mother to our family of 6 all the while helping people – it is coming together. Grateful. Happy. Scared as all get out. But we only live once so why are we always “waiting” to do so? The time is now! God is calling now! Great post!!!!

  20. 48

    says

    This was so incredibly encouraging, as I struggle to build my own handmade shop! There are a lot of people close to me who do not encourage, instead they seem to judge. I didn’t realize how much encouragement and support meant until I read this post…now I feel all gungho to keep going, building, and doing my best! Thank you SOOO much!

    {Psst, Maggie…Where on earth did you find that man? And does he have a brother??? (wink!) }

    • 49

      says

      @Nicole, Why is it so easy for people to discourage those that have dreams and want to chase them? I think it boils down to them being afraid, them wishing they chased their dreams, them feeling like they can’t ever stray from the placid life they are living towards a more adventurous life. DO NOT let their thoughts take up space in your creative, inspiring mind. I remember a time when our ideas were constantly being questioned — it was really hard to keep going knowing we were doing things differently, but over the years these comments have turned a bit more positive, which is super encouraging for us.

      Sometimes fear can overtake even the best of people — but don’t let include you :)

      PS. we met in college — I saw Zack walking on the sidewalk across campus and I knew I couldn’t let him get away ;)

  21. 50

    mom whitley says

    Zack, Don’t ever stop being you. You are the amazing result of a whole lot of amazing “can do” people that we love and admire, rolled into one. We are beyond blessed.
    Maggie is the answer to “Dr. James Dobson’s” pray for who your child will marry, beginning at 6 months old. (Your welcome) and what a beautiful team you are.
    Finally to the above comment, he does not have a brother, HE is one of a kind!

  22. 53

    Teresa says

    I love this post for so many reasons…that it is a husband’s public, yet personal love letter to his wife, that it is deeply honest, and that it encourages. Thank you for that.

    I have been in church communications for 10 years. I love it. I feel truly blessed to have the opportunity to do what I do and support my family in the process. I have always been very aware, though, how few churches — really great churches, and non-profits for that matter — can afford to pay someone full-time to be on staff in this position. A position, that in my humble opinion undergirds so much of what happens at a church — telling the STORY of personal redemption, transformation, and salvation. I’ve always thought it would be awesome to one day be able to consult smaller churches in how to achieve effective communications and maybe even freelance graphic design needs to the same sort of churches/organizations. As much as I love the local church, it would be great to have a larger reach to those without the same resources of a large congregation. Just something that’s been on my mind off and on. Thanks for giving me the encouragement to really give it some thought. Blessings to you both!

  23. 54

    says

    Seriously, this is one of the most encouraging and empowering posts I’ve read! It is the cry of a woman’s heart to be validated, especially in what she dreams to do. Thank you for this. :)

  24. 55

    says

    This is such a beautiful and encouraging post. Thank you so much for writing this. There are so many big dreams my husband and I share. We want to move out of state, have a family, and land. I would like to take my papercrafts to a whole new level, become a name, or a somebody. Dream something that becomes a reality. So many things!

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