Mental Post-Its

Thoughts, Notes and General Mental Mayhem


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Ideas for Making the Best of the Coronavirus at Home

Making the Best of the Coronavirus at HomeThere’s no shortage of information online about COVID-19 right now, and frankly, most of it is scary. It’s stressful and anxiety-inducing. Many of us are secluded and on edge.

BUT, in the midst of it, there are people helping, showing kindness, and inspiring others. I think those are the people we should be filling our screens with.

I never tire of this Mister Rogers quote, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'”

So, as we all practice “social distancing” for the next few weeks (at least), I wanted to highlight some helpers, as well as ways that can help you cope—because they’ve helped me.

 >> Update 3/21: Tips and Info From My Friend with Coronavirus <<

TO FEEL A SENSE OF CONTROL:

Stress, anxiety, and uncertainty are often a result of us feeling out-of-control. And, while we ultimately have little control in our lives anyway, this will help give you back a sense of control during these crazy times.

 

BE MINDFUL:

Practicing mindfulness is hard to do, especially if it’s new to you, but it helps keep you in the present. It’s not about what has happened (past) or what might happen (future), but what is actually going on in the space you inhabit at this moment, and what you can experience in your five senses right now.

  • Calm meditation app
  • Abide Christian meditation app
  • My friend, Jerome Lubbe, is giving away free, daily videos from his course, the NeuroTheology of Self-Care.
  • There are lots of meditation and yoga exercises on YouTube.

 

REDUCE ANXIETY:

Even if you don’t necessarily feel anxious, these suggestions can still improve your day.

  • Start a gratitude journal. I’ve been writing down three things every evening that I’m grateful for over the last few months, and find it helpful.
  • Use essential oils. They smell good, and have healing properties. (I use doTerra.)
  • Light a candle. This can lighten the mood for many of us.
  • Get a good night’s sleep. It may seem more difficult at times, but you’ll act more rationally when rested.
  • Listen to classical music. I was reminded of this one recently, so I turned on an Amazon Music classical music station, and almost immediately felt better.
  • Exercise indoors or outdoors. Get outside and get that Vitamin D! Or stay inside and try something new.
  • Get back to your hobbies. This can be a good way to fill your day, and keep your hands busy.
  • Stay connected. If you feel lonely or overwhelmed, reach out to someone else.
  • Read your Bible or the Jesus Calling app, and share your favorite verses with others.
  • Focus on hope. My friend, Jen Gordon, created the Hope Deck to keep scripture front-of-mind for people every day of the year. It’s also a great gift!
  • I’ll say it again, clean! Having a clean and serene environment can go a long way in making you feel more at ease.
  • Host a one-minute dance party! I have friends that do this regularly, but it certainly can’t hurt now! Blast your favorite music and get your groove on.
  • Curl up with a weighted blanket. Many of us love the “hug” feeling that comes with one of these blankets. (Here’s mine.)
  • Take a personal or business retreat. If you have the time, why not, right? This is a terrific time to do some planning.
  • Get a short-term pet! Some animal shelters are closing temporarily, so they’re looking for people to care for animals during the crisis.
  • Send a card. Make someone else smile, and yourself, too! Hallmark is giving away free cards!

 

ENJOY THE ARTS FROM HOME:

I’m currently lamenting that my ticket to “Hamilton” will likely be canceled next month, but just because we’re stuck at home doesn’t mean we can’t find any culture.

 

WATCH, LOOK, AND LISTEN TO THE GOOD STUFF:

I love a good “end of the world” show as much as anyone, but especially if you are someone who is easily affected by them, lay off for now. Watch something light-hearted or that will make you smile.

  • Morning Boost – TODAY Show does these segments where they just show vides that make you happy. There was a sweet one today where a woman in Spain turns 80, and her neighbors left a cake outsider her door and sang happy birthday from their windows.
  • Atlanta on the Cheap – Even if you aren’t in ATL like me, so many things are happening online right now, and this is a great resource for events. I also think it’s cool that the zoo is doing a “Safari from Home” for kids!
  • Virtual story hour for kids from popular authors is a really cool way to entertain kids.
  • Many streaming services are pitching in as well, for your viewing pleasure. For example, Disney+ released Frozen 2 early. Netflix, Hulu, and Prime are getting in on the action, too, so check your device!
  • Jimmy Fallon has been hosting at home versions of The Tonight Show on YouTube!
  • Travel Pirates has put together the “9 National Parks You Can Virtually Tour from Your Couch”
  • Many churches already offered their services through online streaming or audio, and lots more have started doing it this month as well. If you don’t belong to a church family, ask a friend what they recommend. This is a great time to turn to your faith.
  • Audible is providing free stories for kids since they’re are out of school. (Including the first Harry Potter book!)
  • There are also oodles of live web cams to keep you entertained, distracted, or calm. How about puppies or pandas?
  • Consider a Kindle Unlimited subscription to catch up on all those books you’ve wanted to read.
  • Rosetta Stone is giving students three months of free access.
  • Follow #COVIDkindness on social media for positive news and outcomes!

 

SAVE SOME MONEY:

  • Many libraries have online options where you can read books, magazines, get audiobooks, watch movies, and more.
  • Trim can help you save money in all kinds of ways, including saving money on your telephone and cable bills, and negotiating your APR.
  • Money Saving Mom is a great resource for deals.
  • Many cell phone carriers are opening up free Wifi hotspot access at this time, and also offering free and cheap plans for low-income families. Get the full scoop on what telephone and internet providers are doing here.
  • U-Haul is offering 30 days of free storage for students impacted by closings.
  • Homeowners affected by the coronavirus can get help with their mortgage payments. I’ve also heard it can be a good time to refinance mortgages due to low rates!
  • Meat can be expensive, so consider switching to more plant-based meals. They’re cheaper and often healthier!
  • Free and cheap ways to stream TV and movies.
  • Clark Howard and The Penny Hoarder put out content daily on saving money.
  • Save money on a meal prep kit, and get a comparison of the services.
  • Lots of stores are also offering great deals right now, so check out your favorites! (This includes business resources.)

 

SUPPORT SMALL BUSINESSES:

I saw a friend post about this, and I thought it was a terrific idea! So many of us who own small businesses, are self-employed, and/or part of the gig economy are really freaked out right now. My business income fluctuates each month, and several of my clients are travel-related, so I’m not sure what’s in store. And I feel so terrible for low-wage hourly workers, who are at home and also don’t have child care. Let’s do our part to support each other!

  • Shop online
  • Buy services and products (lots of restaurants, for example, are still doing pick-up and delivery) – Don’t forget to leave a good tip when possible!
  • Buy gift cards for physical stores you can’t visit right now
  • Order fresh, local produce – In Atlanta, I recommend Fresh Harvest!
  • Gift services, products, and gift cards to others if you can afford to share the love with those who might need it. Brighten their day!
  • Donate money to both for-profit and nonprofit organizations if you want to support them, but don’t need anything.
  • Follow your favorite small businesses (social media and email) and share their message with others.

 

SUPPORT CAUSES:

Obviously, because of my work, this one is important to me as well. This is a great time to let people know what you stand for!

  • If you can still afford to make donations, please do! If you can’t give, at least help spread their message.
  • The spring is prime event season, so many people are having to cancel major fundraisers, which is a huge burden. However, many nonprofits and social impact companies are also finding creative ways to host their events online or offer some sort of alternative experience.
  • If you aren’t sure how best to help, contact them and ask!
  • Have a few, spare dollars? Consider donating to Modest Needs, who is providing short-term assistance to those in need, including hourly workers.

 

SUPPORT THOSE AT RISK:

How can you lighten the load for those at risk, such as the elderly and those with compromised immune systems?

  • Offer to run errands for them. I have a weak immune system, and a friend offered to do my grocery shopping—so sweet! Especially, because wait times for deliveries right can be days away, and item availability changes quickly.
  • Point them to resources. Some grocery stores in your area may offer early hours for individuals aged 60+, so let them know. There are always multiple ways to make sure they get their medications (and at a discount). And, of course, many people (affected or not) could use financial service resources. Keep your people in the loop!
  • Reach out and say hi. Some of my favorite viral videos right now are the creative ways people are reaching out or keeping in touch. Many at-risk people are already prone to isolating themselves, so let’s make sure they are less lonely.

 

LIMIT NEWS:

Talk about stress-inducing! You definitely want to stay updated, but leaving news on all day long can feed your anxiety. Keep your news limited, and get it from credible sources.

  • http://coronavirus.gov/ – The official website from the CDC. I also follow them on Twitter just to see the new info at a glance.

 

MENTAL HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

I hope you don’t need this, but there’s no shame if you do. I’ve seen professional counselors and therapists throughout my life, and they can be incredibly helpful. Take care of yourself in every way possible.

 

ABOVE ALL, find ways to show kindness to others and share the good news. Nothing can boost your mood and give you a good distraction more than doing something for someone else. How can you be a helper?

What did I miss? I’ll try and update this post as we go.


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Get the 2020 Solopreneur Success Bundle!

2020 Solopreneur Success BundleHey, fellow female business owners!

Who has the time to scour the internet for the best resources to help you unlock your solopreneur success potential? 

Enter ➡️ The 2020 Solopreneur Success Bundle, aka your one-stop-shop for some of the best solo biz resources from creators who have been around the block and seen incredible success. 

From streamlining and automating your systems, conquering your client management, mastering SEO, or becoming an affiliate marketing pro,  there’s something for every solopreneur whether you’re service-based, product-based, brand new to biz, or boosting your brand to the next level. 

The only requirement? You’re dead-set on hitting your definition of solopreneur success this year. 

You bring the tenacity; this will deliver the tools. Deal?

Get The 2020 Solopreneur Success Bundle and gain access to 12 amazing products worth over $1,000 for just $129

But here’s the catch: it’s only available this week, from February 24-29. 

Here’s what’s included:

  • The Better Blogging Blueprint by Vanessa Shepherd of She’s Got Vision (Value: $29) – A done-for-you, idea-to-publishing system, complete with an editorial calendar, promotion tracker, and more. 
  • Create Your Business MasterFile by Kerstin Auer of Simply Good Business (Value: $29) – 10 steps to creating a digital MasterFile with everything you need to run, grow, or sell your business.
  • Create Your Course Using Only Free Tools – Content by Seema (Value: $197 ) – Ready to sell an online course but don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on the wrong tools to start? Seema will help you get started without spending a small fortune on software subscriptions so you can be profitable fast. 
  • Dubsado Setup Plan – Rae Targos of Productive Co. (Value: $49) – Your step-by-step, strategic action plan for Dubsado setup that will allow you to start experiencing the magic of workflow automation right away. 
  • Inbox for Solopreneurs – Jordan Gill of Systems Saved Me (Value $97) – Get rid of inbox insanity forever with Jordan’s signature system for labeling, filtering, and managing your email with a simple weekly routine. 
  • Paid To Post – Influencer Marketing, Sponsorship And Working With Brands – Chelsea Clarke of Her Paper Route (Value: $67) – Learn how to position your blog and yourself as an influential authority so you can successfully monetize your online persona.
  • Pin Practical Influence – Monica Froese of Redefining Mom (Value: $197) – The A to Z comprehensive course on all things building affiliate revenue via organic and paid Pinterest strategies. 
  • SEO Client Magnetism Workbook – Meg Casebolt of Megabolt Digital (Value: $37) – Meg’s signature 7-step process to simplify your content creation so that you get found and make sales via Google.
  • The Lazy Guide to Affiliate Marketing by Elizabeth Goddard (Value: $247) – Super simple tips and strategies for affiliate marketing that have brought Elizabeth earnings of $2k+ a month without really trying – minimum effort, maximum $$!
  • The Productivity Solopreneur – Sarah Morgan of XO Sarah (Value: $97)- Kick stress and overwhelm to the curb with Sarah’s framework for setting up processes, workflows and automations for literally every area of your solopreneur biz. 
  • The Ultimate Social Media Guide and Pinterest Made Easy ebook – Deanna of The Inspired Boss (Value: $57) – All of the need-to-know info to get your solo business up and running on all social cylinders and harness the power of organic search on Pinterest starting today. 
  • Your Perfect Opt in : How to Create an Opt in that helps you get More Clients in 4 Simple Steps by Vanessa Ryan (Value: $97) – No more guesswork on what will get your ideal client on to your list, Vanessa gives insights building an opt-in that capture attention and convert subscribers into clients. 

motionmailapp.com

Grab yours before the timer runs out!

 

 

(By the way, I’m an affiliate for this bundle, which means I get a small percentage of any sales I make. But I only recommend products I know and love!)


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Are You a Business Owner Just Trying to Figure It All Out?

nathan-dumlao-aZ9X3L1Va2Y-unsplashIf you’re a fellow small business owner, I bet you didn’t start your organization because you wanted to run a business. Sure, maybe you wanted some of the independence and freedom of making your own time-management decisions, but it wasn’t the allure of bookkeeping, IT trouble-shooting, learning to be a fundraiser and/or marketer, or navigating human resources that drew you to this life.

Instead, you wanted to do something you’re passionate about and make a difference. I do, too.

Unfortunately, though, all the other stuff comes with the territory—at least in the beginning as you bootstrap and do it all yourself.

And, if that’s the case, then (like me), you have those days where running a business feels overwhelming. There’s also a lot of self-doubt.

You may even wondered if your side gig will ever become your full-time career, if you’ll ever really make the impact you desire, or frankly, if you’ll even be doing this a year from now.

Been there.

I don’t know about you, but my self-doubt can be crippling. I’ve had many discouraging days where I just didn’t feel like I was cut out to run a business. In fact, “I don’t know how to run a business” was just one of the many lies I told myself. I’m a writer—and that’s the only part of it that came naturally to me.

But as a fellow founder, we also have to, well, run a business, right? Making a difference is the result of many things, including learning the fundamentals that set you up for long-term success. This is part of the foundation that helps determine your future.

It’s also where I felt unprepared and unequipped. And I knew that I wouldn’t make it to Signify’s next anniversary unless I got my proverbial house in order.

That’s where I found myself when I discovered Shanna Skidmore.

As someone who has always had trouble with math and numbers, I honestly just thought I’d never be able to understand it. But I also knew if I didn’t come to terms with that and find a better way forward, my business would continually suffer from my self-doubt. And, one thing’s for sure…that does no one any good.

I’ve read books, taken courses, and listened to other money gurus, but it still just never sunk in. However, with Shanna, I found a coach that could not only break down finances in a way that made it easier to understand, but show me the steps to take for sustainability in my business.

Shanna’s specialty is teaching finances to female creatives, and with her help, I’ve made some big strides this year. Not just in my bank account, but in my confidence as a business owner.

I feel empowered and equipped, and like I have a plan to work from. It’s made a huge difference, and I wish I would’ve met Shanna a couple of years ago.

Because here’s the big truth I’ve learned in the last, few months:

It’s not just about being able to ask for money when you need it, whether it’s from a customer or donor, it’s about understanding WHY that particular number matters, and what it will ultimately mean both for you personally as well as your organization and cause.

For us, this isn’t about retiring to our own private island. It’s about solving problems.

Money is as much a mental game as it is a physical currency. And if you don’t have a good relationship to money, you’ll never handle it well. You’ll never have the impact you could have otherwise.

Whew—that’s just some of what I’ve been learning this year! That is, in part, thanks to Shanna.

If you’d like to hear more of her approach to business finances, I encourage you to check out her FREE masterclass TOMORROW AT 1:30 PM EST, “How I Built A Six-Figure Business.”

I’m planning to be there to soak up the goodness myself. I hope you’ll join me, whether you’re a woman who runs a for-profit or a nonprofit organization.

Shanna’s a smart cookie, and as you can see, has helped me in my business tremendously. So, I hope you’ll give her a chance. And, really, what have you got to lose?

Register for the free “How I Built A Six-Figure Business” masterclass right now, and prepare to become a better business owner.

I want that for you, and you’ll see that Shanna does, too.

Plus, who can’t use some free advice?

 

Quick note for my nonprofit friends: While Shanna’s content is primarily geared to female entrepreneurs of for-profit businesses, nonprofit founders have also found success with Shanna’s methods. In fact, here’s Signify community member, Chantel Adams of Forever We, with her perspective:

“Blueprint Model gave me clarity on not only why I’m doing the work I’m doing, but also how I’m going to move forward to make it successful. I have more energy, ideas, and focus than ever before. If you want a real blueprint for making your business work for you, then this program is the best.”

You’ll have to do some creative thinking with some of the principles in how they relate to your nonprofit, but it can be done. I guarantee you’ll still find a lot of value in Shanna’s teaching.

 


UPDATE 8/8/19:

Shanna’s entire suite of business programs is on sale through 8/15/19!

As a reminder, this is the LAST TIME she’ll be offering her programs! I wish I’d known about Shanna three years ago when I started my business, but I’m glad I took her course when I did.

If numbers and finances confuse you, but you want to start or scale a profitable, life-giving business, now’s the time!

 

“You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.”
– C.S. Lewis

 


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Solopreneur and Small Business Resources

Solopreneur and Small Business ResourcesIf you’ve ever had a conversation with me, you know I love recommending resources of all kinds. From podcasts to books to products to events—and everything in-between—if I know something that would interest you or that I think you should know about, I feel compelled to share it!

In fact, I have a Resource List on my business website for this very reason. But my clients are primarily nonprofits, social enterprises, and other cause-focused organizations. While this is, of course, awesome, I also know about a lot of resources that aren’t a great fit for them as well. And those items don’t live in any organized place like my business Resource List.

So, for the sake of my other solopreneurs and small business friends (and my sanity), I thought I’d go ahead and include them all here for easy access.

Note: There are obviously a lot of other options besides what I’ve listed below, but these are the ones I refer again and again, as well as have personal experience with. And anything with a * means it’s one of my favorites!

BOOKS

 

PODCASTS

 

EMAIL LISTS

 

CONFERENCES

 

FREELANCE RATES

 

SOFTWARE

 

OTHER BUSINESS TOOLS

 

SAVING MONEY

  • Trim is negotiates lower bills for me
  • Ebates for money back while online shopping
  • Honey for online coupon codes
  • Fetch for saving money on grocery bills (referral code RM8DK)
  • iBotta for saving money on grocery bills ($20 referral bonus)
  • This post on saving money on medical bills
  • Medi-Share for health sharing plans
  • Check out my Travel Hacking 101 post for tips on how I travel to conferences cheaply.

 

MISC

 

And if you are a nonprofit, social enterprise, or other cause-focused organization, you can find more great resources for your business on Signify’s site! 😉

What am I missing? What would help you? What do you need?

PS: If this has been helpful, would you mind sharing it with another solopreneur or small business owner?

 

 

Some links are affiliate links, which means I get a little somethin’ somethin’ for telling you about them. However, I only promote things I know and love!


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My Third Annual New Year’s Retreat

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The beautiful view from my room in Hiawassee, Georgia.

So sorry for the delay on this post. I literally hit the ground running on January 1st, and haven’t stopped. I’ve been working late nights and weekends trying to get on top of my goals for the year. But now that I’m slowing down a little, more because I’m tired than anything else, I wanted to update you on my third annual New Year’s retreat.

You can read more about my first and second New Year’s retreats here, but even as I’ve had some practice at this, I still made some key mistakes that you can learn from.

First of all, if you’ve never planned a personal or business retreat before, let’s start with my basic tips. (By the way, I use the terms business and personal kind of interchangeably since I’m self-employed and all areas of my life tend to overlap. 😉

  • The schedule and format are up to you! You can read, reflect, journal, hammer out notes on your computer, or however you’d like to spend your time. Retreats are a time to reflect and focus on specific goals, so do whatever supports those. But, you need to know what you’re going to do before you leave, so plan ahead. Otherwise, you’ll end up wasting a lot of time trying to figure out how best to use your time.
  • The location is up to you! I’ve taken retreats several hours away, and also just down the road. For me, it usually depends on where I have travel points to use. But you can camp, fly, or drive. You can rent a room, rent a house, or just borrow some space that someone isn’t using. The point, however, is to be away from home. You’ll get distracted at home, and that’s not what you want for your retreat.
  • The budget is up to you! It doesn’t have to be expensive. I’ve eaten out, bought groceries, and stayed inside 99% of the time rather than spending money on activities. But there is always a way to fit it in your budget. On this year’s retreat, I actually paid for the hotel (thought I got a great Cyber Monday deal), so it was my most expensive retreat yet at $250.
  • Who you go with is up to you! You can take a retreat solo, or go with a spouse or business partner.
  • The length is up to you! If you’ve never done this, and aren’t sure how it’ll work for you, start small. Take a few hours and go to a co-working space, coffee shop, or park. Work up to a day trip, overnight trip, or even a couple of days. And then do it again!
  • Make sure you rid yourself of distractions! Turn your phone, email, and social media off. Tell people that you’ll be unavailable. Again, resist the urge to waste time. Make the most of your retreat, which is a total gift.
  • Know what happens when you get home. You likely need to act on what you accomplished at your retreat. Have a plan for when life gets back to normal.
  • Final tip: Create time for fun! I do this at the end to celebrate the retreat, and get my head of task mode.

Are you catching a theme here? Yep, it’s up to you! It’s called a personal retreat for a reason.

For my January retreats, I usually like to stick close-ish to home because I’ve just returned from holiday travel. This year, I drove about two hours north of Atlanta, which was a good distance, and also gave me enough time to finish an audiobook on the drive.

The only real downside to this year’s location is that we were going through a major cold snap here, and it was literally in the single digits while on my retreat. So, I just hunkered down rather than venturing out to coffee shops and other interesting places.

And as I said, even having planned my own retreats several times, I still made a few mistakes this year:

  • I didn’t think through the timing. I’d started my retreat on New Year’s Day the past two years, so that was the plan. BUT this year, I’d only been back in town for 48 hours before leaving for my retreat. And those 48 hours were fairly filled with activity. So, I was tired and slightly unmotivated when I woke up and had to drive two hours north to the retreat. However, this was important to me, so I sucked it up, and made the most of it! #entrepreneur
  • The other timing issue for me was the normal schedule I’d already developed for my business. The first of the month, and first of the week, is filled with things like writing my email newsletter, scheduling my social media, writing my business blog post, etc. So, the entire first day was spent on these items rather than digging into my retreat. That was frustrating.
  • I WAY underestimated what I could get done this time. My list was really long to try and accomplish in just a couple of days. I always tend to do this a little anyway, but I was way off this time because of an email series I wanted to watch that ended up taking most of day two.

The good news was, that the first of the year is typically a slow time for people, and I had some “buffer” time built in which allowed me to get few more things done when I got home.  So, if you can plan a little buffer time, that’s ideal. It’s hard to get out of retreat mode! It’s a beautiful place to be.

Regardless, this is why it’s important to know what exactly you’re going to be doing on your retreat, and also prioritize the most important items. That way, no matter what comes up, you get the essentials taken care of.

I really can’t stress taking a personal/business retreat enough. Here’s why:

  • They allow you to focus on very specific areas. This could be specific projects, long-term goals, or anything in-between.
  • They provide clarity. When you’re out of your own environment, you see things differently.
  • They provide renewal. If you love to travel, like me, you’ll get filled up with an experience like this one.

And I can’t state this enough times: retreats aren’t a luxury. This was a big lesson for me to learn, but they can be a vital way to re-examine your own business, goals, etc. There are so many ways to plan retreats to make them work for you.

As of last year, my goal is actually to take quarterly retreats, even if they’re short. This way I’m reflecting throughout the year, so I can make small adjustments along the way, rather than only doing that at the end of the year. It’s another way I strive to be intentional, and would recommend that approach for you as well.

Oh, and by the way, you don’t have to be a business owner to do this. They are a great tool for anyone to utilize. You just have to decide to make them a priority. We all put our time and money somewhere, so it’s up to you to decide.

Finally, if you think a retreat would be a great idea for your year, get it on your calendar now! If you wait, you’re more likely to keep putting it off. Again, it’s about prioritizing it.

If you decide to plan your own retreat, let me know any of your lessons or best practices. Or even just tell me how your retreat went. I’d love to hear!

(And if you have any questions about a retreat, just let me know!)

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At the end of this year’s retreat, I stopped in nearby Helen, Georgia. It’s a strange, fun, and touristy place north of Atlanta that resembles a Bavarian village. But it was a good spot to stop, grab lunch, and walk around for a bit before returning home.

You can see more pictures here in Instagram.