Friday, January 23, 2015

A Long Time Coming: Part Two

Sweet friends, thank you so much for all of your kind words, support, and encouragement on my last post where I recapped the Creative at Heart Conference! You have no idea how much it means to me that there are people out there who believe in me. When I'm late night coding attempting to learn code, and trying to figure out Wordpress for our new site (more to come on that!) I love knowing I have y'all out there to hold me accountable. To keep working hard, and to believe I can truly do this crazy thing called starting a business. 

One of the most impactful parts of the conference was not learning techniques and tips on running a business, but Kat's closing presentation Hardwork & Fairydust. I seriously felt like she was telling parts of my own life story as she was up there spilling out her dreams, fears, and how she got to where she is with her business. It made me want to work harder, to keep pushing, to really do this thing. Because you may not know it, but I have given up so many times.

Reflecting on my life and decisions recently, I have learned that I do not challenge myself as much as I should. Maybe I fill my plate with responsibilities to the point of exhaustion, but I do not truly challenge my skills and abilities or fully pursue my interests.

via Lara Casey Shop
When I was in high school I dove into all of my passions head first. I was dancing (which I had done since a young age), taking ceramics, and head over heels with journalism. Anything creative that I could get my hands on--I grabbed it! I filled my parent's house with ceramic pieces and completely collaged my room with every teen magazine I could get my hands on. 

My senior year I was selected as editor-in-chief for our high school yearbook and I literally was eating, breathing, and sleeping that publication. Like seriously. I got to school early, I stayed late, I spent my lunch in the yearbook room, I actually was enrolled in two class periods of the class, and I took proofs home to edit every chance I could get. It took time, but I learned how to use Macs. I fell in love with graphic design and teaching myself how to use every Adobe program in the book. It was the first year we were using digital images--which was an incredibly big deal in 2004!

And I don't know if I have ever felt as much pride as I did when copies of those yearbooks came in and I held my hard work in my hands. I flipped through the beautiful spreads, and smelled pages hot off the press. I was actually really good at something, something bigger than myself, something impactful. OK, well as impactful as a high school yearbook can be, but you get the point.

I looked at colleges with journalism programs and had daydreams of working for a magazine in New York. Maybe I wasn't the best writer, but I could learn, I could find other areas of a publication to thrive in. Then I ended up at a college with only a journalism minor which I began and then quit when I thought the first copy writing class was "too hard". I completely ate up my creative writing class, but didn't think I was good enough to continue. I was incredibly interested in marketing--but I did not have the guts to persevere through having to take calculus.

When I got to the end of those four years the I had a ridiculous amount of student involvement experience and a room full of sorority crafts. Funnily enough, I did have one small a full service bridal boutique. I was floored to have the opportunity, but I did not run with it. Instead I steamed dresses, picked up paper goods from the printer, and ran errands. And I did not speak up. I did not beg them to teach me all the things. I did however listen to Norah Jones' Come Away With Me album at least 100 times that spring. They literally owned NO other music.

It can be hard not to look back and regret some of these choices or wonder where I would be had majored in something different or continued to pursue those passions in college. Without life the way it happened I probably would not have gotten to spend a year on the road working for my sorority. I may have not originally started blogging back in July 2009. I would not have had an incredible graduate school experience at South Carolina. I definitely would not have met my selfless and amazing husband, Mr. Young. I would most likely not currently be in Richmond, Virginia. I would not have met Bonnie, my fabulous partner in crime with Dogwood Brides.

Right now I am currently reminding myself to be grateful. Grateful to have come to this realization at 27 and not 47. To be at a place in my life where I have the emotional and financial support to pursue these crazy dreams. To have so many decisions to look back on and say "why?", ensuring that I start to follow my heart. It makes me feel a bit cray cray and sometimes I get teary when I'm overwhelmed with the excitement of it all. I am so grateful to already know I will look back at 2015 as the year that things happened.

Ten years after I held that first beautiful publication in my hands, I will finally launch another. 

Sunday, January 11, 2015

A Long Time Coming: Part One

I can't believe that this time one week ago I was at the Creative at Heart Conference listening to Katelyn James give a powerful opening session. OK so when this post goes live that's probably not exactly who was up on stage, but as I write the timing is perfect! I was making new friends and starting to realize why I've always had such a hard time putting my finger on what I've wanted for a career.

But let's get back to C@H, more on that last thought to come. Hence the "part one".

Y'all--it was an absolutely incredible experience and I owe so many big hugs and thanks to Kat and Taylor for taking this dream of theirs and making it a reality! For bringing together 80 some creatives whether already established or still in the stages of dreaming. For not just hosting a conference, but truly creating a community and starting a movement in the industry. A movement of sharing, listening, and supporting one another. Of having confidence in being a small business owner and knowing that your work matters and is a real job.

I'm going to be honest here for a second. I may be rather extroverted, I may have lived out of a suitcase and stayed with different people every week for a year, I may have made many solo moves to new places by myself, but I was actually pretty nervous about attending C@H. There were going to be so many incredibly successful creatives who have built businesses and followings, and then there would be me. A girl with big dreams and lofty plans.

Lettering by Letters of Grace Calligraphy, Cakes by Sorby Sweets, Linens by Classic Party Rentals of VA, Flowers by Dear Sweetheart Events
This didn't matter at all once I got to the Stonewall Jackson Hotel in Staunton, VA. I was not alone as I found so many other like-minded ladies with dreams of making 2015 the year they finally launch their business. I had meaningful conversations with them and found out we have the same worries and hesitations. That all of us are scared out of our mind to think about bookkeeping and taxes as a small business owner!

I've done a lot of soul searching over the past few years really trying to put my finger on what type of work ignites me. While I do love my day job, some of my interests are missing and my entrepreneurial heart needs a blank slate to grow. I'm lucky that I get to create and have ownership over some new programs this year but am lacking the creative aspect that makes me feel so energized.

As a career advisor by trade, I've finally decided to take my own advice. Pursue a passion as a side hustle, see where it goes, and shoot for the stars. Find mentors, follow those who have been successful, and begin to learn new skills that will help me reach my goals. It took me 27 years and this conference to also learn that I think I knew this is what I wanted all along, but more on that next time!

If you followed along while I was at the conference on Instagram and want to know more, check out their website. A second conference will be offered in March with registration information coming out soon. I promise it's worth any penny, and am happy to share more detailed information with you personally if you're interested. And you might just make some new best friends!

While I've posted a lot on different social media if you're not yet following my new venture, Dogwood Brides, you can do so here: Instagram | Facebook | Twitter

I'm so glad you're along for the ride!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

15 in 2015

Happy 2015 friends! It's hard to believe that 2014 is already over, she came in quickly and was gone in a blink of an eye. This year held so many big moments, but I am incredibly excited for 2015.

I love beginnings. 

I'm a morning person and feel that anything is possible before lunch time, when my energy starts to taper. When I feel defeated or a lack of creativity, heading to bed and rising early to reset is always the best remedy. I've realized recently this doesn't just apply to each day, but to hours, months, years, projects, etc. So much of my energy comes from strategizing, brainstorming, and big picture thinking that it only makes sense for me to love beginnings. 

Waking up to 2015 feels like an absolutely amazing brand new morning. After a bit of food, a lot of coffee, time on Pinterest, and devouring every second of Endless Love, which I had stashed on the DVR for me time, I'm feeling up to the challenge to pull all of my inspiration into 2015 planning.

15 in 2015

1. Read at least 20 books. I definitely fell short of my reading goal this past year and it made me sad to not spend much time with good books. The wedding can be to blame for this, but now it's time to get back on track! To follow along with what I choose to pick up check out Good Reads.

2. Run three races. Not picking them out because who knows what the year will hold. They can be any length and of any variety.

3. Get back to meal planning. When Mr. Young and I first moved in together I was the queen of meal planning. And that's when I wasn't eating meat! Life has happened and now that we have so many evening engagements we've gotten into a rut with our eating. Glad I still have my May Designs meal planner to put back to good use!

4. Institute meatless Mondays. I went an entire year and a half without eating meat (though I did still have seafood) and I truly noticed the difference that it made. I felt lighter, cleaner, and all around more healthy--I also ate a ton more veggies.

5. Intentional reflection. At the beginning of each month I vow to sit down and reflect. What did I accomplish? What can I continue to do better? Are there mini goals to make for the month ahead? I made the most progress when I break things into chunks and know that this will be crucial towards reaching all of my goals.

6. Establish a regular activity oriented date night. Yes, we're old. We're the people that I never knew we could be--a regular date night, really? But yes it's completely necessary. Living together isn't one big date and we've realized lately how much we miss going to do fun things (not just eating), just the two of us.

7. Launch Dogwood Brides! This one definitely gets an exclamation point. While there's no date in sight yet the wheels are moving towards getting our website up and running.

8. Learn and develop a new creative skill. I'm thinking either photography or basic design with Adobe programs. The latter of which I actually used to be good at. Or maybe calligraphy?

9. Save mo money. After listening hearing this classic last night I just can't say more. Mr. Young and I have some big goals of our own for this year and we really need to get some mo money in the bank. Sometimes I wish we both weren't in education, but then I remember all of the personal wealth that comes from teaching others. Can't put a price tag on that!

10. Move more. There you go, here's the typical exercise goal. The problem is that I love exercising...I really just have to get started and then not burn myself out. It's not realistic to do something intense every day of the week so even if I can only get out for a 10 minute walk somedays, I need to realize that's better than nothing.

11. Organize memories. I save so much stuff with the intention of doing something great with it, it's time that greatness happens. This specifically includes: make photobooks (wedding, honeymoon, 2013 & 2014), Holiday card/letter scrapbook, photo albums (random college & post grad photo mountains), and figure out what to do with wedding cards.

12. Create a space that inspires me. I've started working on my home office which you may have seen on Instagram, but I still have a ways to go. Getting everything organized and refreshed will definitely help motivate me to start making things happen with other goals!

13. Social media purge. There are tooooo many things completely saturating every bit of social media that I'm on. I want to sit down and do a total clean out on who I'm following and how I organize this information.

14. Re-establish a morning routine. Gah, I used to be such a boss at this. When we were back in our apartment I was up so early every morning. I would run, have breakfast, blog, and read all before getting to work early.

15. Carve out happy time. There are so many things that I love and that bring me so much joy: painting, crafting, writing, dreaming. The problem is that I never give myself the time to do it, I need this pin tattooed on my inner wrist. Whether I can get it in once a week or every other I hope to carve out a week night or chunk of the weekend to spend in my office doing something creative, and completely getting lost in it.

BONUS! After writing this list I remembered that one of my 101 in 1001 items is Project 365, aka take a picture every day of the year. To follow along check out #project365ay on Instagram.

There we go, so let's get out there and get to it. 365 days of greatness coming in 2015!