Mental Post-Its

Thoughts, Notes and General Mental Mayhem


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My Current Food Obsessions

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Everyone has favorites at certain restaurants. Some people even constantly visit the same places, and order the same items. But that’s not typically me. I usually prefer more variety, including the restaurants I visit and the food I order. And I often try to patron local restaurants over chains, because I’d rather “buy local.”

However, lately I’ve found myself obsessed with some of the same food items at the same restaurants. And I love perusing the aisles at the grocery store for new brands and items, but I’ve recently been buying the same things there too.

Here are my current favorites in case you’re looking for food and drink recommendations. Bon appetit!

  • Tiff’s Treats: I both love and hate my friend, Kari, for introducing me to these cookies! This company is Texas-based, but they have expanded into Georgia over the past year or so. And there is a location only about two miles from me. Get this: they deliver, fresh, warm cookies! They’re baked once you place the order, and they are fantastic! My favorite are definitely the chocolate chip, though the other flavors are excellent too. I even turned this obsession into a paying gig. I’ll be writing about them for an upcoming magazine article. Being a freelance writer pays in more ways that one!
  • Chick-fil-A Cobb Salad with Avocado Lime Ranch Dressing: This is my biggest obsession right now. The past few weeks, I’ve even eaten it multiple times per week! I love this thing so very much. Yum, give it a try. And if you want to throw in some Icedream for dessert, I won’t fault you.
  • Figo’s Arugula Salad: This is my favorite local chain. And while it may seem odd to order a salad at an Italian restaurant, you clearly haven’t had this salad. It’s incredibly simple, and incredibly delicious. I love arugula, but it’s the dressing that makes this salad fantastic. Very lemony, slightly sweet, and lots of basil.
  • Zoe’s Live Mediterranean Salad: Yes, I’ve had quite a thing for salads lately! They are one of the best ways to enjoy summer veggies, and while I love veggies year-round, I definitely eat a lot more during warm weather. Zoe’s has a lot of great salads, but this is by far my favorite. Again, the dressing is key to this one, but I love all the ingredients together.
  • Pumpkin: Last year, I read a book about incorporating healthy habits into your lifestyle, and the author mentioned that she put 1/4 cup of pumpkin in her morning smoothies to add more fiber and thicken it up a bit. I thought this was a genius idea, so I’ve been doing it every weekday as well. And I order it online because it can be hard to find out of season in stores, and cans are heavy to carry around. You can’t taste it, and it does give the smoothie more staying power.
  • Bean and grain chips: Another switch I’ve made in order to eat a little bit healthier is sub traditional chips for ones made of beans and grains. And I absolutely love them! Simply7 has some great tasting chips! I know because I’ve had most of them. Plentils are another favorite of mine.
  • PERRIER Pink Grapefruit Flavored Sparkling Mineral Water: I’ve been obsessed with sparkling water since coming back from Barcelona last year. I had it before that trip, but didn’t like it. Weirdly, now I love it. Guess that’s the charming, European influence! I love this Perrier brand, especially because it comes in a smaller can, which I prefer. Sometimes I even add grapefruit or lemon essential oil, or a lemon slice, to jack up the flavor a bit. Very refreshing for summer!
  • Trader Joe’s Instant Coffee with Cream and Sugar: I needed to throw this drink in here as well. I love coffee, but I don’t drink it all that often. Mostly when hanging out with people, or on the weekends at home. But since my apartment has limited kitchen space, I don’t own a coffee maker. And when I tried to make it at home, the organic and all-natural creamers would often go bad because I didn’t drink it fast enough. So, I discovered these little gems, and I love them. Not as good as a latte for sure, but they do the trick for me! (My one issue is that they do have an artificial ingredient, so I’m hoping they change that.)
  • Emergen-C Energy Plus: This is probably a bit odd to throw in, but you do actually drink it. I’ve talked about my chronic illness, and because of it, I get sick a lot. This is a great way to get in some extra vitamins, and it has added energy as well. Energy is often lacking for me, especially in the afternoon, so this has been a great supplement.

 

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5 More Strange Things About Working From Home

5 More Strange Things About Working From HomeAfter I started working from home full-time last year, I wrote a post about five strange things that came with the territory. And it’s hard to believe, but it’s been just over a year since I started my own business. It doesn’t seem like 12 months could possibly have passed, but if I counted the cups of coffee, I know they’d confirm it.

Working from home 24/7 has been a really interesting adjustment that I honestly didn’t expect. Since I’d previously worked from home two days per week, I assumed it would be a fairly easy transition, but in some ways it has taken me by surprise.

Here are five additional observations:

  1. I don’t see other people regularly. As an introvert (though most people find that surprising), this doesn’t bother me most of the time. In fact, I thought it would be an asset. But I’ve realized that I am more creative and energized by making a little time each week to see or talk to people, whether that is through client meetings, phone calls, or get-togethers with friends. Sometimes I’m ready to see people, and sometimes I have to force myself if I don’t already have something on the calendar, but it always proves to be beneficial in some way.
  2. I occasionally crave leaving my apartment. If the week ahead calls for a lot of writing, or a bunch of similar tasks, I’ve found that I’ll accomplish them faster if I change up my environment. This usually means going to a coffee shop or cafe at least one day a week. I didn’t foresee getting tired of seeing my apartment every day, but it does happen sometimes, especially when my To Do list involves repetitive functions. So, the best option is to switch up my surroundings. And if I don’t plan for it ahead of time, I know it needs to happen when I start feeling the need to unload my dishwasher or vacuum during the middle of the day. I think I’d like to eventually belong to a co-working space, but at about $100+ per month, that’s an expense I don’t need right now.
  3. I’ve taken binge-watching to a whole new level. With no commute, five o’clock can easily mean that the computer gets turned off and the TV gets turned on. And I don’t feel as bad about being a night owl since I don’t have to get up early, get ready, and drive to work. So, that means bonus hours of binge time! Last summer I made it through all 16 seasons of CSI, and watched endless hours of Olympics coverage! 😉
  4. I do less laundry. Yep, I basically don yoga pants and a t-shirt everyday . . . and they’re likely the same ones for an entire week. I will take a moment to note that I do not stink, though! Come on, I still have some standards. And if I have to get out of the house for meetings, to see friends, or to work from a cafe, I’m probably wearing the same outfit to all of those that week as well. #classy But I prefer to position it as further doing my part for the environment.
  5. I’m only dressed and made-up from the waist up for video calls. While part of me gets annoyed that I have to get properly dressed and put on makeup to not leave my apartment, at least I have the satisfaction of only doing it halfway. I look decent from the waist up, but I’m still wearing yoga pants and fuzzy socks. And in talking to others who work from home, this is pretty common. So, there’s a peek behind the curtain!

And that’s more about the glamours life of working from home! This is how the magic happens, people.

If you work from home, do you agree, or have additional items to add?


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My Word for 2017

vertical-logo-w-taglinelargeThis year’s word was easy, peasy! I saw it coming from miles—actually, months—away, and I’ve been very excited to share it with you. But it took way more prep work than usual.

The word, you ask? SIGNIFY.

And that is because it’s my new business name! If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you may remember that I left my full-time job last May to start my own company. Now, I serve cause-focused organizations through writing, consulting and strategy. I want to help these purpose-driven companies improve their marketing and business communications so they can focus and shine. And I especially love helping small businesses get noticed and grow. You can read more about the background of my business here.

Since I’ve been practicing a word for the year tradition for a number of years, I used the same criteria to choose my business name: I like single words with multiple meanings in the form of a verb. It took me several months to figure out my organization’s name, but I’m very happy with it. And the website just launched yesterday, which is the prep work I mentioned. It’s been quite the adventure so far, and I’m sure that will continue!

So, basically, even though I had this business the latter half of 2016, this means that 2017 will be focused on getting this business off the ground and running. I have been very blessed to have spent the first seven months working for friends, and that sustained me. But I knew that wasn’t realistic for the long-haul, so that meant building a website and all the bells and whistles that came with it.

My verse for the year is one I hold very near to my heart. It’s one that continues to inspire me, has influenced my business, and especially seems like a good motto to live by these days.

Micah 6:8

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
    And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly with your God.

There you go! That’s it. My word for the year. As always, I can’t wait to see what the year has in store, and how I’ll view it through the lens of SIGNIFY.

You can read about last year’s word, RENEW, right here, if you’d like.

Did you choose a word for 2017? If so, I’d love to hear it!

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If you’re new to this whole word for the year thing, it is basically a way to take a proactive stance to the year. Instead of just arriving in December and taking stock of what happened, having a word of the year is a way to be proactive. We all have goals, wishes and hopes for our year, and sometimes those happen, and sometimes life gets in the way. Having a word for the year helps me to be intentional with my days and my time, and sometimes it also helps me make decisions that help to define outcomes. It’s a practice that some of my friends and I have done for probably almost 10 years now, and it is always a highlight of my year, especially when we’re able to discuss them together.

If you haven’t done this before, and want a little more guidance, here are a couple of resources to help you out:

One Word That Will Change Your Life

My One Word

Wishing you a joyful and productive 2017!

 

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My Second Annual Personal Retreat: Parts 1-3

fullsizerender-14If this post had a subtitle, it would be something like, “A Solopreneur’s Guide to Flexibility.” Like many of you, I had big plans for the New Year, and also for my second annual personal retreat. Plan A was to head to Tennessee to hang out with some of my best friends to ring in 2017. After leaving there, I was going to head to a hotel somewhere between my house and theirs to hole up for a few days to enjoy my retreat. I did this for the first time last year because I wanted dedicated time away from my house to plan and dream for the year ahead, especially for my business. I had another big list of tasks to accomplish, articles and posts to read, homework from my business coach, 2017 planning to do, and of course, a bit of relaxing needed to be thrown in.

PART 1:

But if there is any lesson you’re doomed to repeat as a self-employed entrepreneur, it’s one in flexibility. About two weeks prior to New Year’s, my friends needed to cancel. It was a good reason, but I was disappointed and so were they. So, I decided to move up my personal retreat to New Year’s Eve. But, no problem, Plan B kicked in. #flexible

Then I got another call.

I thought the first week of January was going to be really slow, and I was okay with that so I’d have plenty of time for my retreat and to finish up any additional items upon returning home. But my contact at my largest client called to say that he’d just accepted a new job, his two weeks notice had been turned in that morning, and we needed to finish our current project within that timeframe—which wasn’t originally due until March.

Hello, Plan C. Now it was two days until New Year’s Eve. So, I decided to cut the retreat down to one night since I’d be working hard over the weekend on my retreat, and needed to jump into client work first thing Monday morning. Additionally, due to this hiccup and the fact that I’d just be returning from Christmas travel as well, I decided to stick super close to home. Technically, I can do my work from just about anywhere, but I didn’t want to use a bunch of hotel points on a local hotel, especially if I wasn’t even going to be doing my own planning.

Ok, so I found a place that looked great, was close by, and had a kitchen so I could bring groceries to cut down on food costs. #budget So, now New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day were now officially planned! Additionally, to add some of the relaxation element, I made the decision to kick off my retreat with Rogue One.

So, I went to the movie (which was fun!), packed up, and headed to the hotel. And then plans fell apart again . . . womp womp. I did manage to get a few things done, but way less than I thought, and as the day went on I felt progressively worse. Then I discovered that while my kitchen looked adequate, it didn’t have an oven despite saying it had a full kitchen. And, you guessed it, my Trader Joe’s appetizers needed to be cooked in the oven and not by microwave or stovetop. So, because I wasn’t feeling well, I ordered room service rather than going out to pick something up—which was terrible. Therefore my big New Year’s Eve plans included sickness, a tasteless hamburger, and flipping between bad countdown shows. Ah, the glamorous life of an entrepreneur! But before I checked out, though, I eat get a fairly good (and free) breakfast buffet, and managed to check a big planning item off my list. So, I put the rest of my personal retreat on hold . . . because it’s mine and I can do that. And since I was feeling better, I decided to bookend the retreat with a movie, La La Land.

Just a couple of days later, my friend Katie came into town, and we got a group of girls together for brunch. I was feeling much better, so this was a welcome respite and mental break to some of the crazy that just happened.

PART 2:

I’d been emailing a bit with my aforementioned Tennessee friends, Daron and Margaret, and found out they had a long weekend for MLK Jr Day. So, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to continue my retreat now that the client work was finished, and I was originally supposed to start my retreat with them anyway! Plans made. Bags packed. Headed north. This was a great weekend! On the way to their house, I was able to meet up with two other friends, Amy and Rhonda, one of which I hadn’t seen in quite a while. Awesome start!

Then Saturday and Sunday were spent entirely with Daron, Margaret and their boys. It was fantastic to catch up with them, and see how much the boys have grown (4-years-old, and 2-years-old)! And Saturday night, they hired a babysitter, so just the three of us had great, quality time out on the town. We shared our words for the year (coming soon!), and oh so much more. The three of us always have great conversations, and it was a real life-giving experience, which we all needed. Sunday was mostly about relaxing, which was also needed by all of us.

Monday morning on my way out of town, I met another friend, Jana, for brunch in Nashville that I hadn’t seen in a year or so. Again, more great conversation. We even ran into a friend from our old church, so that was a fun surprise as well. So, overall, it was just an amazing weekend of nothing special and everything special, all at the same time. It put the “treat” in retreat. 🙂

PART 3:

This past week was full of completely unexpected gifts, which is why I’m considering it an extension of my planned retreat. It was already going to be a short week due to MLK Jr Day and returning from Tennessee. But it was packed full of goodness!

I did manage to get some work and planning done on Tuesday and Wednesday, but Wednesday night I had dinner with my friend Michelle, and our other friend, Rocio, whom neither of us had seen in years while she lived in Indonesia. Lots of laughing was involved!

Thursday, I attended an anti-trafficking conference put on by a local organization, which involved speakers from the FBI, Homeland Security, and other non-governmental orgs. (Notes coming soon.) While this may not sound very retreat-ish to you, it was for me. My mom once asked me how I could handle being around the terrible stats and stories that came with increased knowledge about trafficking and slavery. It is awful. But I told her, and still believe, that is how I know I’m called to it. Ever since I first heard about this issue in 2006, it has rooted itself deeply into my heart. So, while there is a lot of horrible-ness to it, I loved hearing success stories, being informed of laws are making it tougher for perpetrators (especially in Georgia), and meeting those on the front lines of this work. It was a great event.

Thursday night, my friend, Jen, and I attended a local networking event. These kinds of things aren’t usually our scene, for many of the same reasons you’d probably list, but Jen’s friend told her these are really low key and not insane or competitive. And she was right. This chapter nearby is just getting started, so there were only a handful of us at a local coffee shop, and we were able to hear from and encourage each other in our different work. It was nice.

Friday included my monthly chiropractic and massage appointment, so enough said there. Great way to end the week. And Friday night, another friend, Katrell, was in town, so I had dinner with her and our other friend, Stephanie. This included meeting Stephanie’s new baby, which was fun! He’s a keeper. Katrell and Stephanie are the friends I went to India with in 2015, and it’s been a few months since I’ve seen them. More good conversation, some baby talk, and figuring out what 2017 looks like for us. Of course, like many of you, most of my conversations have been focused on that topic over the past few weeks. Unfortunately, this also included an update that one of the girls in Katrell’s program has recently been tricked by her family and sold into marriage in India. It’s heartbreaking, and we are all hoping it doesn’t turn into a trafficking situation, which it easily could. We’re trying to get more information about the situation that’s going on thousands of miles away. Lots of praying there.

This morning I had coffee with Jen again, and was introduced to another freelancer, Robert. It was a time to meet in person, learn what projects we were all working on, and if there are ways to connect and encourage each other. I also stayed a few hours to catch up on the mound of emails in both my business and personal inbox that have been piling up over the past week. The rest of the day has pretty much involved catching up on Hulu and napping!

CONCLUSION:

So, despite some ups and downs, I had a very interesting personal retreat, and in some ways a very long one! It has also made for a super interesting January, and who knows where the year will go from here.

But there are a few things I am reminded of:

  1. Personal retreats are well worth the effort.
  2. I have amazing friends who keep me sane.
  3. Businesses are built on who you know.
  4. Flexibility is key!

I hope this encourages you to take a personal retreat! It may look very similar, or very different, for you, but the investment will pay off. I’m already looking forward to my next one! 😉

And if you’ve done one, let me know how it is or offer suggestions!

 


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Happy New Year!

Happy 2017 to you! Before I move on to this next year, I’m taking a moment to look back at the past 12 months. Here are just a few of my highlights!

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