Mental Post-Its

Thoughts, Notes and General Mental Mayhem


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Tribe Conference 2017 Notes & Quotes

TribeConfThis past weekend I attended my first Tribe Conference in Franklin, Tenn. Unofficially sponsored by various local donut companies, because they got mentioned from the stage so often, this gathering for writers is the brainchild of Jeff Goins. It was only my second writer’s conference, and even though I’m probably not quite the target audience for the group, which focuses mostly on book authors, I really enjoyed it. In fact, I’ve already signed up for next year!

If you’ve been reading this blog for a few months or longer, you’ve likely seen other conference notes on here. I attend a lot of conferences. I LOVE conferences. I’d attend one every month if I could. But the events I usually take part in for my business are often centered on social justice, leadership, entrepreneurship or other business topics. Of course, I write all the time for myself and my clients, but this was a bit of a different slant, which was great, because it meant my brain was working in a different way. So, it was lovely to be around other writers for a few days.

I believe that one of the hallmarks of a great conference is when you see the speakers hanging out with attendees and taking notes—and I definitely saw that at #TribeConf. A couple of the speakers even noted that they had previously purchased tickets to this year’s event not knowing they’d be on stage! Another great indicator. So, if you’re a writer, I’d encourage you to look into this annual gathering.

Below you’ll find all the things I scratched down in my notebook, and I hope you find them helpful.

Jeff Goins, founder of Tribe Conference

  • “Isn’t it interesting that we have to learn shame, but we are born knowing how to dance.”
  • “Real artists don’t have to starve.” (His latest book.)
  • “You may have to ‘behave’ as a writer, before you ‘believe’ you’re a writer.”
  • Conference rules: Be present. Be helpful. Be brave.
  • Most of our failures are invisible to others, but they consume us.
  • “Why does your definition of success not include struggle?” – Jeff’s therapist (for the times we get caught up in what’s going wrong)

Rachel Bagby

  • Check out her Dekaaz for how to reduce complex thoughts and concepts to 10 syllables.

Marsha Shandur, storyteller

  • Author of Off the Mic: The World’s Best Stand-Up Comedians Get Serious About Comedy
  • Marsha taught us how to not be awkward at conferences and in networking. 🙂
  • “Networking is just talking to people you like about things you’re both interested in.”
  • Your storytelling must be vulnerable. (How did you feel? Name the emotion. What was your internal monologue at the time?)

Pamela Slim, small business coach and author of Body of Work: Finding the Thread the Ties Your Story Together

  • Think about your beloved readers.
    • What problems do they face around your topic?
    • What do they aspire to?
    • “Do not define your audience by your demographics; define them by their problems.” – Susan Baier
    • Who do they admire?
    • Where do they go for answers?
    • What do they read?
    • Be the weirdo in the room.
    • What can I create that will solve their problems and light them up?

SESSION 1: HONING YOUR VOICE

Jonathan Fields, serial entrepreneur and growth strategest

  • The Good Life Project and Camp Good Life
  • Author of How to Live a Good Life: Soulful Stories, Surprising Science, and Practical Wisdom
  • “WHAT you say will usually be similar to someone else. HOW you say it will be unique. It’s your voice that makes it different.”
  • “Better input means better output. What are you putting into your process?”
  • You cannot respond appropriately to a “bid” you can’t see. – Gottman Study (a bid is an attempt at getting someone’s attention)
  • “Exquisite attention” allows people to rise to the occasion. – Walk to Listen book
  • People respond not to text, but subtext.

Ishita Gupta, consultant and publisher of Fear.Less Magazine

  • How to Turn Your Mess Into Your Message
    • To find your voice, you have to use your voice.
    • To find your voice, amplify your quirks.
    • Keeping your mess from the world may be slowing your work/art.
    • Her coach tells her, “New level. New devil.” Every success comes with a new challenge.
    • Confidence isn’t a personality trait. It’s a learned skill.
    • Do the scary thing.
    • Use your life and story. Start with solving your own problems and struggles. Others will identify.

Chris Marlow, Help One Now

SESSION 2: ESTABLISHING YOUR PLATFORM

Tsh Oxenreider, The Art of Simple

  • Author of At Home in the World: Reflections on Belonging While Wandering the Globe
    •  Traveling
      • Gives you empathy.
      • Gets you out of a rut.
      • Slows you down. (Provides forced essentialism.)
      • Gives you more perspective.
      • Is good for you as a person. Your audience wants your authenticity.
  • Listen to your frustration. “What am I doing right now because I’m supposed to?”
  • Listen to your life.
  • Dream and scheme.
  • Take the leap and make a plan.
  • Do one thing that breaks the rules.

Sean McCabe, Building an Audience

  • Author of Overlap: Start a Business While Working a Full-Time Job
  • He developed a writing habit of writing 1,000 words per day. Now he writes over 1 million per year. He wrote a 75,000-word book in 15 days!
  • He wrote and created hand-lettering for two years before anyone really noticed.
  • “What if you created as much as you consume?”
    • “I’m tired of reading about the achievements of others.” – Game of Thrones character
  • You have to show up and keep practicing.
    • Get the imperfect words out.
    • You can’t edit what you haven’t written.
    • Your best work is ahead.
      • Studied famous composers. Almost all of them didn’t have their most popular pieces until 10 years into their career. A few had them at years eight or nine, but only a couple, and none prior.
  • Keys to Building an Audience:
    • Curation (kind) – Selectively project a focused thing. Simplify.
    • Consistency (frequency)
    • Quality (value) – Make something remarkable.
    • Time (patience)
  • AudienceBuildingCourse.com
  • Show up everyday. Publish at least weekly. (Daily to stay top of mind.)
  • Doing your normal work is not how to get better. You have to identify your weak spots to improve them. Deliberate practice makes you better.
  • Motivation is a result of doing.

Leslie Newman, Journey to Imperfect

  • “Courage sets things in motion. Determination keeps them going.”

Crystal Paine, Money Saving Mom

  • Author of Say Goodbye to Survival Mode: 9 Simple Strategies to Stress Less, Sleep More, and Restore Your Passion for Life
  • 3 Countercultural Lessons to Building Your Business Without Killing Your Soul
    • Ditch the Hustle
      • Why do we live as if we are a slave to our Inbox? We’re self-employed!
      • Rest is the new hustle.
    • Determine your boundaries.
      • Create a framework for decision-making.
        • Is this commitment in line with my goals for this year?
        • Am I excited about it?
        • Do I have the time, capacity, and energy for it?
        • Are my “people” on board? (ex: family)
    • Dare to focus and finish.
      • One project at a time. (She commits to one thing to learn and one task to complete each week.)

Benjamin Hardy, the #1 Writer on Medium.com

  • Author of How to Consciously Design Your Ideal Future
  • Medium.com tips:
    • Headlines are important.
    • Be bold in your message.
    • Good, easy to read layouts (ex: short paragraphs and using headings)
    • Real, raw emotions work well.
    • Make sure there is a Call to Action in the post. (Must be easy.)
      • Sending to landing page is ok.

Shaunta Grimes, author and teacher at WhatIsAPlot.com

  • Author of Viral Nation series
  • “A story well told can change the world.”
  • “Your books may be your babies, but be prepared to move on to the next one. Your first one may not be successful, and sometimes it takes an entire body of work to get noticed.”

Leo Babauta, ZenHabits.net

  • Author of Essential Zen Habits: Mastering the Art of Change, Briefly
  • The Habits That Built My Blog
    • Solitude
      • Your best work is done in solitude. (including without the internet)
      • Write daily.
    • Connection
      • Get to know your readers.
      • Focus on their problems.
      • Help as much as you can.
      • Put them at the heart of every decision.
      • Put yourself into their shoes.
      • Connect with fellow bloggers.
    • Joy
      • Change lives.
      • Motivate people.
      • Make a connection.
      • Help them move past their fears.
    • Fear
      • Overcome procrastination.
      • Be okay with uncertainty.
      • Find the joy.
      • Relish the groundlessness.
  • How I Build the Habits
    • Have a why and a passion
    • Audience = accountability, connection, and community
    • Start small and lower the barriers to the habit.
    • Set up a positive environment.
    • Deal with the uncertainty.

SESSION 3: EXPANDING YOUR REACH

Dan Miller

  • 48 Days to the Work You Love: Preparing for the New Normal
  • “We become what we think about.”
  • Invest 3% of your income into your success. – Brian Tracy.
    • At $50K, bump it up to 5%.
  • Don’t wait until things are perfect to put your work out there. Try things, get feedback, and edit.
  • Check out The Lean Startup
  • When you’re trying new things, find someone to coach you.

Frank McKinley, author and tribe builder

Jackie Bledsoe, author focused on marriage

SESSION 4: GOING PRO

Ryan Holiday, Meditations on Strategy and Life

  • Author of Perennial Seller: The Art of Making and Marketing Work That Lasts
  • If you want to keep your happy employees, pay the unhappy ones to leave.
  • The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing book – get it
  • How to Last
    • Do the work.
      • If you can rush through it, it’s probably not made to last.
    • Uniqueness
      • Where does your work fit into the market?
      • Where is the least competition? Where can you have the monopoly?
      • What’s the book that only you can write?
    • Timelessness
      • “Focus on the things that don’t change.” – Jeff Bezos
      • Fine the timelessness in the timely.
    • Effectiveness
      • This is the _______ that does ________ for __________.
      • “It’s not what a book is, but what it does.” – Niki Papadopolos
    • Community
      • Who is this for? You have to get your audience right.
    • Time
      • This isn’t an overnight success.
      • Put more time into marketing than creating it. But spend plenty of time creating something great.
      • It’s easier to keep something going than to start and stop.
      • It keeps you humble to keep working.
      • Always taking on hard projects keeps your ego in check.

Natalie Brenner, author of This Undeserved Life: Uncovering the Gifts of Grief and the Fullness of Life

  • She decided to self-publish. (Used Create Space)
  • $3,000 can create a quality self-published book according to Guy Kawaski. This is Natalie’s breakdown:
    • $1,600 for editor
    • $400 for interior layout
    • $300 for cover and social media images
    • What’s left bought the ISBN number and things like that.
  • She recommends Amazon Advantage for pre-orders.

Jon Acuff, author and speaker

  • He recommends Grant Snider’s The Shape of Ideas
  • Has a new book called Finish.
  • 92% of New Year’s resolutions fail, according to a Scranton University study.
  • Your remember incomplete goals more than complete goals. – The Zeigarnik Effect
  • 1. Get the size right.
    • We often believe we can get more done in less time than we actually can.
    • Cut the goal in half to make it 63% more successful.
  • 2. Make it fun if you want it done.
    • We think it needs to be a bad experience to benefit us. (ex: running for exercise when we hate it)
    • We typically measure satisfaction and performance, but we should make fun a metric.
    • Two main types of motivation: Reward and fear.
      • If you want a new idea, finish an old one. (ex: He had the money for new ski boots, but wouldn’t let himself buy them until this book was done.)
  • Eliminate your secret rules.
    • We have secret, unspoken, maybe unconscious things that hold us back.
    • Borrow someone else’s diploma. Learn from others and don’t reinvent the wheel when you don’t have to.
    • Don’t snub a formula. See what works.
    • You’ll never finish if you don’t know the rules.
  • The future belongs to finishers.

 

*Amazon links are affiliate links.

 

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7 Lessons From the First Year of Business

7 Lessons From the First Year of BusinessI still have a hard time believing it, but I launched my business, Signify, on July 1st of last year! Some days it really does seem like yesterday, and others feel more like a seasoned pro. Regardless, it’s been an intense learning experience.

I created Signify out of a desire to help my friends. I knew people with small nonprofits and purpose-driven for-profits and social enterprises that needed someone like me who could lend another set of hands and breakdown marketing and communications for them. They cared deeply about their mission, since it was the driving force of their organization, but marketing and communications weren’t their strong suite. They knew they needed to look and sound more professional in order to get noticed and grow, but they didn’t have time, or maybe even the know-how.

So, I stepped in. I’d already been freelancing, giving them advice, volunteering, and helping them as best I could along the way, but with this as my full-time business, I was going to be able to help them even more.

Many of these relationships became my first clients, and they’ve even stuck around for multiple projects, or referred their friends to me. It’s been a wonderful way to sustain and grow my business. Whether they need writing, consulting, or strategy help—and most often a combination of all three—these organizations have been a privilege to serve. I wanted to assist cause-focused organizations who were doing great things in the world. They were already making a difference, and I knew I could help them create a bigger impact.

It’s been an incredible journey, and I’m eager to start year two.

But first, here are seven lessons I learned from these first twelve months.


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5 Years of Chronic Illness

freestocks-org-126848April 30th marked five years of chronic illness for me. I’ve improved, for sure, but I still feel like I have a long way to go. Some days, that thought gives me hope, and some days it pains me more than I can say.

I got sick when I was 35, and last September I turned 40. There is, of course, a flood of feelings about hitting that milestone regardless. For me, most of them revolve around the realization that I spent the last half of my thirties—half a decade—sick. I mourn what might have been.

Sure, I made some great memories. A lot of them, actually. I know that I am extremely blessed. And I accomplished some big things, like starting my own business. But I am also deeply saddened by the people and places I missed, either knowingly or unknowingly. I skipped parties, occasions, trips, coffee dates, and numerous other events big and small because I just wasn’t physically or emotionally up for it. I’ve spent so many hours in bed or on my couch that I sometimes joke that I should’ve created my own line of lounge wear by now. At the very least, I should’ve bought stock in Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon.

I also know that some of these feelings can be part of the territory that comes with turning 40. I am certainly not immune to the baggage that can come with turning that corner, while looking behind you. But, obviously, I have to factor in my other extenuating circumstances as well.

Spring 2012: I was under a lot of stress and working really long hours. So, I just assumed that not feeling well more frequently was due to those two things.

April 30, 2012: I finished up my big work project the week before, and was headed into the office on Monday morning. Shortly after I arrived, I realized just how bad I felt—and it was bad. Like being hit by a tsunami and a 18-wheeler at the same time. I turned around and went home immediately. That entire week I thought I had the flu. I had a lot of the signs, and was more exhausted than I knew was possible. After it didn’t get any better, I went to the doctor. Turns out I had mono, a really bad case. Adults aren’t supposed to get mono, especially a 35-year-old.  I still don’t know how it happened, but sadly, it wasn’t the fun way. 😉

What I knew about mono is that it felt a lot like the flu, except for making you a lot more tired, and that it lasted for several months. So, because I’m an adult with a job and bills, I chose to work from home in May, and a good bit throughout the summer. I was just waiting for this thing to pass. Meanwhile, my symptoms improved only slightly. I still had extreme tiredness, aches, fever, and more—every day.

I just keep my routine as best I could. And I didn’t really feel like I had any options. (I only found out last fall that I could’ve applied for FMLA.)

September 12, 2012: I had a work trip to Tampa for an event with a bunch of my co-workers. It was just an overnight trip, so again, I thought I’d just tough it out. That night I began to feel pretty, well, horrible. In fact, I had to miss most of the next day due to just how bad I felt. I worked a little bit at the event the latter half of the day, and then we got back on the plane. One of my co-worker even remarked that I looked a little “green” to her. That weekend, no improvement. At this point, I knew something was wrong other than the mono, but it was the weekend and I couldn’t see my doctor. But, you know me, I waited it out.

Understand that, up until this point in my life, I’ve never really had anything wrong with me—not even a cavity. Maybe the occasional cold. So this was all uncharted territory. Monday morning I called my doctor, only to find out she was on vacation. Then I thought that maybe I should go to the ER. But again, I had no idea what it felt like to make that decision. I’d never been to the ER! However, I thought at this point I should go see exactly what’s wrong. So, I got up, grabbed my keys, and headed for the door—until I realized that I didn’t even know where an ER was. Yep, no reference. So, I Googled one nearby, and went there immediately.

I was actually pretty certain now that it was a kidney infection since I’d had those once or twice before. My back and side had really started hurting. That, on top of the mono, seemed like a bad recipe. An hour or so later they started running tests. Yes, it was a kidney infection—oh, and my gallbladder needed to come out immediately. WHAT?!?!?!

I was checked in and put on some sort of “standby” list for the operating room. They wouldn’t even let me leave to go pack a bag. Sadly, I had to wait a few days for the gallbladder surgery, but it eventually came out. I actually lost about 10 pounds that week! Not the diet I recommend, but it is extremely effective. So, my first case of mono, my first trip to the ER, and now my first surgery. That’s when I concluded that 2012 was trying to kill me.

November 16, 2012: I’d seen my naturopath, Nelli, about a year and a half before. She actually helped me with a gluten intolerance. I was gluten-free for over a year before I started seeing her, and haven’t had any problems with it since. So, now post-surgery, I wasn’t feeling a whole lot better. In fact, I was pretty much a walking zombie. I knew it was time to call her up again. She could see immediately from looking at me how bad things were. Actually, even not being an expert, you probably could have too. I kept thinking about the quote from Bilbo Baggins, “I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.”

The mono was still really bad, and now my body was coping with losing an organ, even a damaged one. And I was getting sick all the time from every little bug that floated by.

So, I began regular biofeedback treatments with her, accompanied by supplements. To be completely honest, I think she and biofeedback saved me. Biofeedback is utterly amazing. I’m such an advocate for it. The healing progress was incredibly slow, but it wasn’t getting worse, and I believe it totally could have. I have read horror stories about people becoming bedridden over similar conditions.

My primary doctor was also supportive of the process because she knew that there was no magic pill for me. There is actually no pill at all. So she encouraged me to do whatever I could that might help—and she knew it wasn’t going to be her. (Side note: Emory is now starting to look into biofeedback. My doctor is a part of the Emory system.)

I also learned about adrenal fatigue at this time. It was actually the “egg” to my mono “chicken.” Adrenal fatigue isn’t recognized in traditional medicine. But I am a big fan of natural medicine, and with some of the things I’ve dealt with, alternative medicine was the only thing that could explain, and treat, them. Anyway, I learned that severe adrenal fatigue had already set in early in the year from the stress and long work hours, so that’s what opened the door for mono. And it’s the reason that I still felt as bad as I did months later.

Everything in my life had changed at this point. I rarely left the house unless I had to, because I was so tired all the time, and also usually felt bad. I went into work late, left early, took a nap, and continued working as much as I could. I was like a toddler who couldn’t make it through a day without a nap at this point—sometimes two per day.

September 2013: After seeing Nelli for almost a year, I was still seeing only incremental progress. That wasn’t due to her expertise, it was due to what my body was dealing with and other life conditions. However, naively, I just kept thinking I had to push through and time would heal the wounds.

It was this month that I developed a thyroid problem. Yay—now, I’m a triple threat! I gained about 50 pounds in a little over four months. Again, my body was revolting against me. And I could feel the additional strain. I was still taking daily naps, and though, not feeling like as much of a zombie now, still dealing with how badly I felt on a daily basis. I was also still getting every virus, cold, and infection that came along. And, of course, with the weight gain, my self-esteem took a big hit. In researching mono, as I have done all these years, one of the bad “side effects” is that it can lead to depression (something I already struggled with) because you just feel so useless and unable to live a regular life. But again, I did what I always do, and just plugged along.

(Side note: I never took thyroid meds for two reasons. First, I absolutely refuse to take a pill for the rest of my life. Second, the meds would stimulate my adrenals, making them work even harder, thereby potentially causing even more harm than good.)

I also had some conversations with co-workers around this time who knew of people with, not exactly similar, but not completely dissimilar conditions to me. And, sadly, I learned from them that with the hits my immune system had taken in those long months during 2012, it could take me years to rebuild it. I was devastated by this news, but it also made sense. I had obliterated my immune system in three, huge stages, and now, despite the time that had already passed, I was still looking at a very long road ahead.

January 27, 2015: Nelli moved to a new clinic now, which was a good move for her because she’d been practicing solo the last few years. So, now she’d be working with a team of holistic practitioners. In my first few visits with them, they told me the same thing Nelli had been telling me. They were all shocked that I’d been able to carry on as much of a normal life as I had until this point with how sick I was. In fact, they were surprised I was still able to work full-time. I don’t believe that’s any real kudos to me, but a nod to how remarkable and adaptable the human body can be.

I also started using an essential oil brand, doTerra, at this time. I loved the ability to live even more naturally. I’m a big fan, and use them daily for all kinds of things.

Over the next two years, I saw my team of naturopaths frequently. (Yes, it is extremely expensive because it’s not covered by insurance. My health is the reason I’m still in debt, but it’s also the thing I can’t afford to lose.) We slowed the biofeedback down in favor of some of their other techniques, to see if we could get different (better) results.

I was still napping almost daily, sometimes just for 15 minutes, and sometimes for up to two hours depending on how strenuous my week had been. I love traveling so much, but it was/is very hard on my system. So, effort like that or a really busy work week would take a lot out of me, and it could take me a week or more to return to my new “normal.” Everything was a battle between me and my immune system, because we certainly didn’t seem to be working in tandem.

In seeing them, Nelli, and my primary care doc, one consistency kept coming up in every conversation. My job circumstances had to change. I had a fairly demanding job, as is the nature of marketing and sales. And I wasn’t the same person who’d started that job only seven months prior to acquiring mono. My capacity had changed drastically and I was fighting to keep my head above water, despite the fact that the events I was responsible for marketing were all doing great and growing. But it was taking a bigger, personal toll. And, you know the effort that it takes you to get ready for the day when you have something like the flu? I felt that every single morning. I woke up every day like I hadn’t slept. Between the severe adrenal fatigue, mono (my levels were still insanely high), and the thyroid issues, my body was so worn out, and worn down.

December 7, 2015: It was on this morning, over breakfast with my mentor, that I decided to leave my job. (I chronicled a bit of that, and the impact of planning a personal retreat, in this guest post for the Yellow Conference.) I was so sick and tired of being sick and tired, and my job was one thing I had control over. And that’s when I started making big plans to launch my own business. If you’re still hanging with me, some of you may be thinking that there is still a ton of work and stress involved in starting your own business.

While that’s true, I also have the ability to tailor it to my own needs. I don’t have to get dressed and go into an office. I can work during the hours I feel best. And I can take off on the days/hours I feel really bad. And I desperately needed those things.

May 25, 2016: This was my last day as a full-time employee. I even took off during the month of June to rest. I had never taken that much time off before, and hadn’t even had an unplugged vacation in over six years! Yes, it has definitely had it’s challenges, but I wouldn’t trade them. I’ve seen the greatest leaps in my health, for the better, since making this change.

Up until this date, I’d only gone two stretches of seven days without having to take a nap. Two weeks out of four years! I’d get maybe up to three or even four days at a time now and again, but really infrequently. Most every day required a nap, and yes, some of them still required two. Unless you have dealt with something similar, you cannot begin to imagine the toll this kind of sickness and tiredness can take on your life.

May 13, 2017: I now rarely need naps, at least by my previous standard. But I still haven’t had a single day where I felt normal. I wake up every morning feeling the symptoms of my sickness.

I’m also still a virus magnet since the mono is remains at abnormal levels, but it’s much better than it used to be. I’ve had mostly minor, but a few major cases, of the flu every other month for the past 16 months. Luckily, I am able to treat it solely with essential oils, and sometimes over the counter meds.

Being able to work from home, and set my own guidelines has allowed me to get more rest (a key to my three ailments), sleep longer at night (when those three said ailments aren’t cause insomnia, as they do), and exert less effort each day by not having to get dressed and made up. There’s still a lot of stress, and a whole lot of work, but the tradeoff for my health improvements has been totally worth it. And I love working with a variety of amazing clients who are improving the world.

I’m still friends with a lot of my co-workers, and my old job still hires me for contract work now and again. I love the work they do. I absolutely support the work they do. But I needed the change.

What now?

After leaving a full-time job (hear: full-time salary with benefits), I had to slow working with my naturopaths due to the cost. I still take supplements daily, but less of them. And I only see Nelli and the naturopaths every couple of months. However, due to the other big changes, it seems to be ok for now.

Another change I made last December that I know has made a positive impact is that I started taking doTerra‘s Life Long Vitality Pack daily. I also internally take a few additional immunity boosting oils, including Melissa, every morning. These, coupled with the other supplements, have made a difference.

As I mentioned in the beginning (and thanks for hanging with me), I am not out of the woods yet. I still wake up with the weight of this three issues every day. I feel them throughout the day. I fight their urges. But I do know how far I’ve come over the past five years. With the distance I still have to go, it is unimaginable to think of how bad things might be if I hadn’t walked into Nelli’s office, and started using natural treatments. There are still no real answers in traditional medicine, and I could’ve very well ended up one of those bedridden individuals otherwise. I thank God for Nelli!

You can see that the progress has largely been slow and incremental. It’s like mono, adrenal fatigue, and thyroid issues are all a Catch 22 for each other. And the learning curve never ends.

I hope that I write another post before too long about my first symptom-free day. I hope shortly after that I write a post about complete healing. I don’t know how long either of those things will take, but they are much closer than they used to be. And I cling to that hope.

I don’t have a lot of answers. I still have a lot of questions. One thing I can tell you is that, if you’re dealing with chronic health issues, you’re not alone. And that both saddens and comforts me, as I’m sure it does you. I have a friend who dealt with mono and a few other things for 15 years before she found healing. But, she has.

It’s not the most fun club to be a part of, but it is a reminder how connected we all are. If chronic illness doesn’t effect you personally, you probably know someone who struggles. Show them kindness, grace, and love. Be someone who improves their lives.

But if you are suffering from a chronic illness or long-term health issue, and you care to leave a comment about your situation, I will be more than happy to say a prayer for your healing as well. I hear you. I empathize with you. I am one of you.


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The Orange Conference: Live Stream

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Photo courtesy: The Orange Conference

I may not work for Orange anymore, but I’m still a big fan of what they do! And The Orange Conference begins today!

If you aren’t going to be on-site at the event, you might want to tune into the live stream, starting at 6:30 p.m. Eastern TONIGHT.  You’ll be able to see the opening session this evening, which is always full of good music and great speakers, including Reggie Joiner, Orange’s founder. You can also see the full live stream schedule there on the site. It’s going to be a great couple of days. Tell the church leaders and volunteers in your life.

I’ll be there in person again, but hope you can join us virtually!


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The Impact of Planning a Personal Retreat

Personal retreat

Photos by: Valerie Denise Photos featuring The Created Co. mugs

I’ve talked several times before on this blog about my personal and business retreats. I’m actually out on another one this week, but more on that later. They are incredibly valuable to me, and I recommend them to everyone.

In fact, I even shared specific tips on how to plan one for this guest post for The Yellow Conference last week. Take a look, and let me know what you think.

A few quotes:

  • “Anxiety was growing. Stress was building. My head was swimming. And I had more questions than answers. This was December 2015 for me.”
  • “Until that time, I’d always considered retreats a luxury. Something wealthy people did. Something people who were offered sabbaticals did. I thought, a retreat wasn’t something ‘regular’ people did—but there I found myself.”
  • “It was during this intentional, introspective time that I resolved something huge—I needed to start my own business.”
  • “Of course, I didn’t leave with all the answers. But this time did, however, become a catalyst in taking my next steps.”

Read the full post: THE IMPACT OF PLANNING A PERSONAL RETREAT