Mental Post-Its

Thoughts, Notes and General Mental Mayhem


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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. 🙂

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Signify: Word for the Year Recap

vertical-logo-w-taglinelargeGoodness gracious! How on earth can it be December again already? Why do I feel like the years are speeding up? Anyone else? (If we were speaking in person, my voice would be getting higher right now . . . )

It’s been one crazy year! As always, things happen that you don’t expect. And even when you do expect them, they’re never quite the same as you planned. Can you relate?

2017 marked my first, full year year in business. And I knew that would be my primary focus for the year, so it just made sense that my word for the year was SIGNIFY. I just re-read my announcement post, and I can just read the hopefulness and enthusiasm in my tone. 🙂 I haven’t lost that tone, thank goodness, but it is a little more battle-worn.

The failure rate for startups is a little scary. And 80% don’t make it past five years. As a solopreneur, I can see why—it’s hard! Unless you somehow achieve success and popularity early so you can bring on more people to help you, the wear and tear of running a business by yourself daily isn’t easy. And there are so many decisions to make! There are always more things to do than more time to do them in, and you often feel like you’re pushing a rock up the hill. Actually, I call it being “admined to death” because all of the day-to-day tasks can take every bit of time you have available, and then some.

I achieved some of my goals for the year, but certainly not all of them. The big ones I didn’t meet really stung. I’m a bit of a Type A overachiever, so it’s been hard to work through that, and not let fatigue and comparing myself to others get me down. It definitely did some days. And to be honest, I’m just starting to come back from the brink of burnout.

One of the things I had to do this year was not travel as much. If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you can probably guess how hard that was for me. I love to travel, and it’s really life-giving for me. And even though I travel a lot using points by being an amateur travel hacker, little costs here and there do add up. So, I took a step back. Honestly, it was a good financial decision, but hurt me a lot mentally. I wasn’t able to get away, clear my head, and be inspired by new places and people. So, I hope to resume that next year.

SIGNIFY means to represent, to make known, and to be important. So, that’s what I set out to do in 2017. And though I definitely could’ve made improvements, I did accomplish that in some ways.

I chose the name to represent the things my clients and I could do together. I mostly work with small nonprofits and social enterprises, because I love and believe in small business. But many of them can’t afford someone like me on staff full-time, so I’m able to help them with their marketing and communications projects. And through my company, I’m able to help get their message out into the world in a bigger way. I’m able to support their work, and make their mission known to more people. And so, even on a small scale, I have accomplished that goal. I’ve been able to work with old friends and new friends, and on some really cool projects. It’s been a blessing and an honor to help them succeed.

On the personal front, I made some progress too, but I also had some setbacks. After struggling with chronic illness for five an a half years, I had some really good test results in September. My adrenal fatigue moved from a Stage 8 (the worst) to a Stage 4, so that’s awesome. However, my mono has reared it’s ugly head again, making me not feel as good as I should with the healing in my adrenal glands. I’m on a new protocol, and seeing good results, so I’m hopeful that progress will continue. I just have to keep the stress at bay, which as you know, just makes everything worse, including existing health issues.

Additionally, on the personal front, when my energy is higher and I’m feeling better, I’m also able to get in more exercise. I love walking on a trail near my home, and even though I usually listen to business podcasts, it still helps me relax. I also do some good praying out there when I walk. And I’ve also just started doing five-minute yoga sessions in the morning to get my blood pumping and my brain working. There are several on YouTube that I’ve been trying. Obviously, I’d love to scale up to longer routines, but I’m starting with what I know I can do so that I don’t put it off. Plus, I’m not a morning person, so I have to keep it easy.

Speaking of praying, I was able to read Mark for Everyone by Tom Wright again this year, and I really love that whole series. I’m reading Hebrews for Everyone right now. This is a very cool series that lays out the New Testament books in very easy-to-understand language. It’s like an everyman’s commentary. (Check it out, or some of the other books I read this year.)

I’ve also been praying more using affirmations rather than only supplication this year. It’s sort of an idea I pulled from conversations and books. I’m still not really sure how to describe it succinctly yet, but it’s been an interesting process over the past couple of months, and allows me to talk to God in a new way. But I’m talking to him, and that’s the point. He’s constant, but I’m always learning new facets of His personality (thanks to books like Experiencing God), so of course, that’s the best relationship to keep pursuing.

So, that’s kinda my year in a nutshell. Some highs and some lows, just like you. But I try to always live with intention, and that helps shape everything.

I have kind of a concept for my 2018 word for the year, but haven’t pinpointed the exact word yet. But I’ll certainly let you know in the next few weeks.

What about you? How was your year? What was your word (or phrase) for the year, and how did it go?


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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!

___________________________________________________

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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