Mental Post-Its

Thoughts, Notes and General Mental Mayhem


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2019 In Review

Kristi Porter's 2019 in ReviewIs anyone else still finding it hard to believe that we’re halfway through February of 2020? A new year, a new decade. Here we are.

Yet, I’m still writing 2019 on everything. Still settling in. Anyone else?

And, I don’t know about you, but I’m still reflecting on last year. It’s super easy to plunge head-long into moving forward, but to properly steward what’s ahead, I need a good grasp on what is behind. I need learn its lessons, so I can avoid the same mistakes.

Well, who am I kidding? There’s probably some of that in my future anyway, as hard-headed as I am, but I’m gonna try.

Here are some of last year’s highlights and lessons:

HEALTH

If you’re new around here, I’ve had chronic health issues since April 2012. Most of them stem from severe adrenal fatigue, but that same year I also got mono and had my gallbladder removed. Dealing with all of these things within a few months of each other devastated my immune system, and I’ve been trying to rebuild it ever since. Additionally, since I’ve had health problems for so long, it’s caused other issues now and again, such as with my thyroid.

So, yep, I get to deal with the general peskiness of getting older along with this kind of junk. Not fun.

Anyway, I try and treat everything naturally. It’s more time-consuming and certainly expensive, but for things like adrenal fatigue, there is no pill. And, when using medication, you’re also primarily treating symptoms anyway, not root issues.

But that’s how I got here. It’s involved a lot of natural treatments, and a whole lot of supplements.

One thing that went well for my health last year was my supplements. We’re always fiddling with them and trying new ones. And I feel like we hit a good (but expensive) mix last year. I certainly still have a lot of ups and downs, but overall, I noticed an improvement—and that’s very good news. I’ll take any improvements I can get.

Also, I started using the Noom app last year. Due to my health issues, it’s harder for me to lose weight, so it’s been a real struggle, both internally and externally. And, of course, I have very little energy on a lot of days, which means exercise is almost nonexistent. But after I got my supplements in good order, I felt like it was time to try again.

I’ve given Noom a try and lost about 12 pounds in the last four months. It’s a slow process, but I have to admit, it’s good to see some movement on the scale and in my clothes. I’m going to keep at it. (My link saves you 20% if you want to try it.)

All in all, it’s progress for my health, and that’s a very good thing.

PERSONAL

Honestly, this is the part of my life that gets the least attention. For better or worse, that’s how it is for me, at least for now.

Since I’m self-employed and work from home, my job takes up a lot of my time and energy, and most days, there’s not a lot left over. I have incredible friends, but I don’t get to see them all that often. Weekends are usually about rest because of working long hours and needing to recover for the sake of my health before the next work week starts.

To some people, that may sound sad. To others, highly relatable. To me, it is what it is.

Anytime I get together with friends, they tend to reiterate a lot of what I’m saying, even though many of them have spouses and kids. People, in general, seem disconnected. It’s become a little cliche to say that we even though we live in a highly-connected world, many people feel disconnected—but I still find it to be mostly true from the conversations I have.

I’m grateful for every time I get to see family and friends, but those are small moments throughout the year.

TRAVEL

Travel is a part of both my personal and work life, so I’m sandwiching it in-between. Travel is one of my absolute favorite things, but I didn’t get to do much of it last year.

2018 was a BIG travel year for me (England/Ireland/Scotland and cross-country by Amtrak, to name a few), so I needed to reign it in last year. Plus, pretty much all of my travel points were gone, ha!

So, last year, I took quick trips to Blue Ridge, Birmingham, and Chattanooga for my quarterly work retreats, and of course, I went to Texas for the holidays as usual, but that’s about it.

I’m not quite sure what 2020 has in store for travel just yet, but I certainly hope I can squeeze in a few more trips this year.

WORK

As someone who is self-employed, this is where I focus a lot of my time. I often work long hours, and it’s certainly not filled with long lunches, trips to the beach, and doing whatever I want—no matter what many people advertise. Again, maybe one day. 🙂

I talk to a lot of entrepreneurs, and my journey seems to be fairly typical. Last year marked three years in business for me, and it’s been quite a ride! According to myself and friends in similar situations, the first two-ish years is all about holding on for dear life and saying yes to everything possible.

The third-ish year is about getting your business model solidified, learning what you like to work on, making sure you have good systems and process in place to keep you moving forward. That’s certainly true for me.

In 2019, I took three online classes for my business. I’m a bit of a compulsive course-buyer, so this was me showing some restraint. 😉

The first class, The Blueprint Model, was about becoming a better business owner. I freely admit that I’m someone who turned a marketable skill (writing) into a business, not someone who had a good head for business and tried to figure out what I should do. The Blueprint Model really helped me with the financial side, which is what I really needed, but also just helped me understand the business-side of my business better. That meant I became a more confident business owner.

The second class was called Partnership Accelerator, and only lasted a month. But it was an extremely packed month! Because my word for 2019 was Synergy, I wanted to work on my understand of partnerships and really use those to my business advantage. The class was really good, but different than I thought it would be. So, it required a change in expectations. Overall, though, I learned a lot and was able to apply that knowledge going forward. And I’m still learning a lot from that company.

The third class was totally unplanned, to be honest, but ended up being awesome. One of the things I decided that I wanted to work on in the latter half of the year was Search Engine Optimization (SEO). That’s because it is a total grind to constantly go out and find new clients. I wanted more clients to come to me, and SEO is a good way to do that.

I heard Meg Casebolt on a podcast, and she was the first person who actually made SEO easy to understand for me. So, I took her free SEOctober challenge, and low and behold, ended up getting a new client via Google that same month! As you can imagine, I was hooked. I poured myself into the challenge, and ending up winning a spot into her Attract & Activate course. I’ve learned a ton over the past couple of months from her, and am excited to now implement this strategy into my business.

Outside of those classes, yes, I did actually manage to get work done. In fact, it was my most profitable year yet! Only, by about $1,100, but I’ll take it, ha!

These three classes, sustaining relationships, and lots of networking were the key to my success last year. And I think they laid a really solid foundation for 2020. I’m still reaping their benefits for sure, and hope to improve on them. (More on this soon!)

Last year was a pivotable year for my company, Signify, and I hope that I can keep up the momentum going. I’m certainly trying hard.

CONCLUSION

So, that’s some insight into last year. As always, it was busy and went quickly. But I’m grateful for the lessons learned, new experiences, and certainly, the improvements along the way.

How was 2019 for you?


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My 2019 Reading List

Books I Read in 2019

The last, few years since I became an entrepreneur have been wonderful in many ways, but my reading has certainly tapered off, which I don’t like. When I had a long commute, I could easily get through audiobooks in the car, but I’ve had to be a lot more intentional since working from home.

In 2019, I wanted to recommit to reading more, and that meant Kindle. Believe it or not, I don’t actually love to read. I love to learn, and that’s why Audible was so important to me. It made it so much easier to read books while driving—and there’s a lot of that here in Atlanta.

However, if I wanted to read more last year, it meant I’d have to re-commit to Kindle. I’ve tried to get into the habit of reading about a chapter per night, which has been good for my bedtime routine. Overall, I’ve enjoyed it more than I thought I would, and am even giving Kindle Unlimited a try.

I didn’t really increase the number of books I read much from my total count in 2018, but I’m making progress. I think 2020 will be a good year for reading, though!

“Leaders are readers” and “leaders are learners” are two messages that have been instilled in me over the years, and I know reading also makes me a better writer. So, as much as I enjoy podcasts, I want to make sure reading stays on my radar. And that means being thoughtful about it.

Of course, it’s never as much about the quantity of books as it is the quality. Luckily, I found some terrific options. Take a look for yourself . . .

 

Books I read in 2019:

 

Here are some of my favorite podcasts from last year:

 

I was even on a few podcasts last year:

 

Need more suggestions?

2018 Reading List

2017 Reading List

2016 Reading List

2015 Reading List

2014 Reading List

2013 Reading List

2012 Reading List

2011 Reading List

 

Short on time, too? Try Blinkist, which recaps popular books in 10 minutes!

Enjoy!

 

PS: Some links are affiliate links, which means I get a small kick back for introducing awesome people to awesome things. I only promote what I love. 


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8 Of My Favorite Ways to Save Money Online

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Love a good deal? Me, too!

And I know many of us are always looking to save a buck. So, if that’s you, listen up! I’ve got some great tips on how to do that with just a few keystrokes.

Frankly, I’m not much of a coupon clipper. And like a lot of us these days, I do most of my shopping online…which means I need to do my savings online as well.

Let’s face it, I also want it to be easy. I’m willing to put out some effort, but like you, I’m busy. Meaning, I want to find ways to effortlessly and automatically save some of my hard-earned cash.

The good news is that I have indeed found handful that I regularly rely on, and thought you might be interested in learning about them as well.

So, here are a few of my favorite ways to save money online:

1. Trim 

I don’t know how I stumbled on to Trim, but it’s a real gem. My two favorite services include negotiating lower rates on bills and finding credits for cable bills.

For rate negotiation, Trim recently saved me and my friends $320 on our AT&T family plan for the next year. And for Comcast, they saved me over $50 last year in refunds from when there were power outages nearby (some of which I wasn’t even aware of!). They take 25% off of their savings to you, but it’s such a passive way to save money, it’s totally worth it.

By the way, you can also use Gabi, a partner of Trim’s, to compare your auto insurance with others in about two minutes. My rates were already the lowest, but I was impressed with this service regardless.

2. TrustedHousesitters.com 

Hotel bills can easily run up your vacation budget. Enter: Trusted Housesitters. With this service, you can stay in people’s homes around the world for free in exchange for watching their pets. I’ve done this a few times, and definitely plan to do it again this year.

And for those of you with pets yourselves, it’s worth signing up so that you don’t have to board your furbabies, which can also be quite expensive. I’ve even seen housesitting jobs with no pets, but where people didn’t want to leave their houses unattended while away.

FYI, these gigs can range from overnight to many months!

(Save 20% using my link.)

3. Brandless 

As you likely already know, buying “private label” brands at the grocery store is cheaper. Think Kroger brand, Trader Joe’s brand, Publix brand, IKEA, or even Amazon’s own brands.

Brandless only sells their stuff, and they keep it pretty cheap. There are definitely some great deals to be had, but pay close attention to the size of the product, which is where the deal is really found. I’ve purchased peanut butter, flax and chia seeds, salad dressing, cleaning products, and more.

Plus, for every order, they donate a free meal! And on the third of the month, they triple that! So, save a little, give a little. I can definitely get behind that.

(Save $6 using my link.)

4. Rakuten (formerly Ebates) 

You may have seen their commercials recently where they try and get people to correctly pronounce their new name. Man, I wish I lived near one of those machines that was giving out cash!

Regardless, I’ve been with Ebates since 2011, and have saved over $500 in that time. Yep, I shop mostly online. And they make it so easy with a simple browser extension. Simply click the extension when you land on a site (or shop directly from their URL), and they’ll find eligible savings for you to apply, plus give you cash back.

(Spend $25 with my link, and you’ll get $10 back.)

5. Honey 

Honey is a great alternative to Rakuten. You can’t use both of them at the same time, but between the two, you can find some terrific deals. And having both of them means you’re more likely to find savings since they sometimes work on different websites.

Each time you use their deals, you also earn Honey points which can be redeemed for gifts cards.

(Get additional Honey points with my link.)

6. Fullscript

If you take supplements, I suggest checking out Fullscript. I take quite a few every day for my chronic health issues.

Many of them I get from my naturopath, and sometimes on Amazon, but Fullscript has some quality brands and offers as well. Yes, you have to spend $50 to get free shipping, but in my case, that’s not hard to do. There are a handful of my regular supplements that I’ve found much cheaper on here than I can get from my naturopath or on Amazon.

7. Goldstar 

Live entertainment is another cost that can add up quickly, which is why I like Goldstar. You can often find cheaper tickets here than directly on the event website. Plus, if you’re attending an event with a friend, you can pay separately or add tickets later and still get seats together, which is a terrific benefit.

Oh, and for smaller, community events, they sometimes also give away freebies! So, a fun night out? Covered.

8. Amazon Prime

I couldn’t create this post without mentioning Prime. Many of us have it these days, but if you don’t, I’d tell you to consider it. I’m a huge fan.

And if you’ve been living under a rock, with Prime you get fast and free delivery, exclusive deals, and free access to Prime Video, Prime Music, Prime Wardrobe, and Prime Photo. (And more!)

Most of us thought two-day shipping was quite a treat, but they’ve recently expanded their one-day shipping and even two-hour shipping, so your impatience has been rewarded!

I also shop at Whole Foods from time-to-time, and get a discount on select items there since WF folded under their umbrella.

So, yeah, lots of stuff…

In fact, it’s hard to remember when Amazon just sold books!

(PSST—are you an EBT card holder? You can get Discounted Prime for only $5.99/mo.)

Already have Prime or want something a little different? Consider:

(Get 30 days free with my link.)

 

Whew—ok, that was quite a list! But before I go, do you want some other ideas for saving money in your life? These posts might help:

 

Any of your favorite sites that I missed? What deals have you found?


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My 2018 Reading List

Books I read in 2018One of the other annual posts I love writing, but haven’t had a chance to post yet, is my reading list. Granted, my reading has taken a nose dive over the last couple of years since I started working from home.

That’s because “reading” usually means audiobooks for me. I love Audible! And my commute used to be over an hour, so I’d get through a lot of audiobooks. These days, there is no commute and car time is relatively short, so books have largely been replaced by podcasts. I love podcasts, don’t get me wrong, but I really do miss my audiobooks.

So, though a fairly short list, here’s what I read in 2018:

 

And here are some of the podcasts I recommend:

 

I was even a guest on a few podcasts last year!

 

Need more suggestions?

2017 Reading List

2016 Reading List

2015 Reading List

2014 Reading List

2013 Reading List

2012 Reading List

2011 Reading List

 

Short on time, too? Try Blinkist, which recaps popular books in 10 minutes!

Enjoy!

 

PS: Some links are affiliate links, which means I get a small kick back for introducing awesome people to awesome things. I only promote what I love. 


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2018 In Review

2018 in Review, by Kristi PorterFriends,

Let me start with an apology. I can’t believe it’s been four months since my last update. Well, actually, yes I can.

I’ve thought about updating you so many times, especially as the end of the year came. But, then it went. And so did the New Year. Work has been crazy, my health has been crazy (per usual), and I frankly didn’t have the energy to be on a keyboard unless it was for my job. Not fun, but there it is.

So many thoughts have been piling up in my head, and today, I finally got a burst of energy where I wanted to sit down and tell you about them. Since last year was a blur, and I was pretty infrequent on updates, I figured I’d just start with a year in review post. So, this should at least get you caught up on what’s been happening here. Hopefully, many more posts to come in 2019!

 

TRAVEL

Okay, let’s start with one of my favorite topics. Last year was an incredible year for travel. That was definitely the thing I had going for me, and very probably, one of the reasons I was so tired. 😉

January: To start the year, I once again kicked things off with a business retreat. I love my quarterly business retreats. They keep me grounded, and allow me to regularly set and review goals with fresh perspective. And I always manage to have some fun as well. For this one, I went to a “resort” (I consider that a loose interpretation) in Northeast Georgia, and stopped by the always entertaining Helen, Georgia, on my way home. (<– Please take a look!)

February/March: Early last year, my friend Raechel and I went to England, Scotland, and Ireland! It was a bucket list trip, and it didn’t disappoint. We obviously covered a lot of ground in two weeks, and I can honestly tell you that I’m ready to go back! Three beautiful countries, wonderful people, and yummy food. We had an absolute blast, and I am so grateful to have had this opportunity with a good friend and excellent travel buddy.

March: About 10 days after returning from that trip, I was off to San Diego! This was for a work conference, but I I found a petsitting gig through TrustedHousesitters.com that allowed me to spend about nine days there, without paying for a hotel. (My link gets you 20% off!) The 90 Day Year Live event was pretty amazing, and I hope to go back again this fall. But, if you’ve been around here for a while, you already know how much I love attending conferences!

May: In May, I went to hang out with some of my best friends in their hometown of Clarkston, Tennessee. Several of our other friends all met there for a women’s retreat at their church, and while the retreat was nice, I cherished this weekend for the quality time I got to spend with people I don’t see near enough.

June: For the first time, I took a friend on one of my retreats. She’s also a solopreneur, so we worked and played. It was a different experience to bring someone along, but also a good change for me. We went to the picturesque Dahlonega, Georgia, and had a great time.

July: I went with my best friend and her family to Charleston for a couple of days. I hadn’t been to Charleston in a number of years, so it was fun to go again, and even more fun to be with close friends. If you’re in that area in the future, be sure to stop by the only tea plantation in the US, which is quite different than the tea plantation I visited in India, but still a unique experience. And free tea tastings!

October: Having been gone so much during the first half of the year, I stayed put for a couple of months. But, boy, did I get out of town with a bang! I took another bucket list trip with my aforementioned best friend—a cross-country Amtrak adventure! Heather and I started our journey in San Francisco, and made stops in Salt Lake City, Denver, Chicago (where she went home), and New York City. It was another trip I’d wanted to do for a long time, and now I am addicted to train travel! I will definitely be getting back on Amtrak in the coming months. (I also did some retreat tasks on the train.)

October: For the second time, I attended Tribe Conference, an event primarily for writers and creative types. My client and friend was there as well, so that made it extra special. I loved my first year, but thought this one was even better. Hope I can make that happen again this fall as well.

December: The end of the year always means my annual trek to Texas. And I was all over the place this year. I connected in Austin, went on to my mom’s house in West Texas, traveled to Lubbock to see my friends from college, drove with mom to my aunt’s house in the Dallas area, and then mom and I took a day trip to Waco to see all things Magnolia. Whew! That all happened in just over a week, and it was extra tiring due to the head cold I picked up on the front end. But it was good to see everyone and celebrate the holidays.

(For more info on how I make a lot of these trips cheap, check out my post on travel hacking.)

 

HEALTH

Let me follow up my favorite section with my least favorite section. As much as I love to travel, and it fills me up in a way almost nothing else does, it’s also very hard on my body. If you’re new to me, I’ve had chronic health issues for almost seven years. It has taken a toll on me in so many ways, and I’m sure others I’m not even aware of.

The super frustrating thing is that I thought 2018 was going to be a real turning point. In late 2017, I started taking this brand new series of supplements that were helping me in a major way. So, 2018 started off awesome from a health perspective. I saw a leap in progress!

Then, after returning from the UK, I was out of these miracle supplements, so I frantically called my naturopath for a refill. Well, turns out that they’d had a terrific effect on people all over the world. Good news, yes, but it kinda caught the manufacturer off-guard, and they ran out. Like, completely ran out of the main supplement!

So, me and these poor other folks not-so-patiently waited for over six months while they had to regrow the herbs and plants that were in this thing. Ugh. So, progress was made, then stalled, and then after the effects of 20+ days of travel in March, I went back to feeling terrible. Like, I had forgotten what it felt like to feel that bad. It was bad. We tried a few other supplements, but nothing worked as well. And it wasn’t until a day or two before I boarded the Amtrak train that I got a refill.

It also takes a couple of cycles (14 days) to work its way into your system. So, basically, I was in holiday mode before I could tell the difference. It was rough, to say the least. And then I huge work project that occupied most of my days and nights at the end of the year, taking up a lot of extra energy. So, all the high hopes I had for 2018’s health report card were dashed.

Prayers said and fingers crossed that 2019 will be a completely different story. That remains to be seen as I picked up that never-ending head cold over the holidays and followed it up with the flu. Sheesh.

Me and Paula Abdul are always two steps forward, two steps back.

 

WORK

Hmmm, where to begin. Last year was a whopper. As Charles Dickens would say, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

We’ll get the bad stuff out of the way first. It was a rough income year. I was past the 18-month mark in my business, but still learning daily. Things I got right, and definitely things I got wrong.

If you recall, MOMENTUM was my word for the year. And it’s always so interesting how things can turn out very differently than you think. I expected (and worked toward) one thing, and ended up with something different.

The biggest issue was that, unlike 2016 and 2017, I didn’t have enough really big contract clients. I love working with my little guys, and they are who I started my business for, but sometimes it takes the big ones to keep things flush. I did a ton of networking last year, which I’m seeing pay off this year, but it can often be a long-term strategy. (Solopreneurs, small business owners, and freelancers, it’s important to nurture those leads on a ongoing basis—even when things are crazy busy. I neglected that aspect for too long, and it came back to bite me.)

Most of my clients are people I know and referrals, but it still takes time for these things to happen. So, lesson learned. (I hope.)

On to the good stuff! I do really love what I do and who I get to do it with. I work with lots of ideal clients on ideal projects, and am so incredibly grateful for that. No dreading weekdays. Plus, it makes those days when I don’t feel like working much easier.

If you need the crash course on my company: Signify provides copywriting and consulting services to cause-focused organizations, like nonprofits and social enterprises. My goal is for them to get noticed and grow through effective marketing and communications. Additionally, I teach solopreneurs and small businesses how to be more generous through easy philanthropy strategies. It’s fun stuff! And work I deeply believe in.

So, a few of the great things that happened with work last year were:

So, as you can see, it was a big year in a lot of ways.

 

PERSONAL

Well, if you’ve read this far, you may be wondering where I had time for anything personal. And, you’d pretty much be right!

Between travel, work, and health, there wasn’t much left. That’s why this is the smallest segment of this update.

I missed events, hanging out with friends, and many other things due to those trade-offs. Honestly, with the health stuff, I spend most evenings and weekends crashed on my couch. It’s just exhausting, and my body has to gear up for another five days of work.

“Dying is easy, young man. Living is harder.” – George Washington, Hamilton 

I’m trying to reach out and be better about maintaining relationships this year. Baby steps.

Isn’t being an entrepreneur glamorous? Sigh. It’s a self-imposed cage at times for sure, but I’m not giving up on a better work-life rhythm. It takes practice.

 

Okay, I think that’s about it! That’s my 2018 in review!

Again, apologies for my delay in updating you. I hope it won’t happen again, but if it does, I just ask for some grace. I’ll be sure to extend it to you as well. 🙂