Mental Post-Its

Thoughts, Notes and General Mental Mayhem


Leave a comment

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.


2 Comments

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!

 

(Amazon links are affiliate links.)


Leave a comment

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!

 


Leave a comment

Business Boutique: Notes & Quotes

fullsizerender-14I totally forgot to post about this event after attending in November. Maybe that’s because I feel like I sat with it so long, which is a good thing. One of the facets that I really liked about this event was that the notebook also served as a workbook. So, I’ve had it sitting out since coming back from Nashville just waiting to finish my homework. I’d intentionally set it aside for this year’s personal retreat (more on that soon!), so really, I think my conference experience just ended.

Christy Wright’s Business Boutique is a conference aimed for Christian women entrepreneurs. She started as a Dave Ramsey coach and speaker, and has now moved into this niche, which I believe will thrive. Business Boutique is extremely practical, which I appreciated most of all. And one of the most interesting pieces of the event to me was that it’s aimed at dreamers, starters and builders. The “dreamers” were the people I found most fascinating. I’d never seen a conference aimed at people who had no idea what they want to do! I talked to several of these ladies, and they confirmed that they either had a super vague idea (“I want to sell something online.”) to no idea (“I am open to anything. I just want a change.”) There were also a wide variety of women there from young moms looking for a career or something to contribute to their family, to new or established business owners, to retirees looking to begin again. It was kinda fun to hear the range of stories, backgrounds and ideas.

Outside of this two-day annual event in Nashville, she also has a really good podcast and a series of one-day events around the U.S. during 2017. Her events are extremely affordable, and a lot of fun. I’d definitely recommend this conference to other Christian women entrepreneurs!

But for now, here are just a few of my take-aways:

Christy Wright:

  • Your dream should be so big that if God’s not in it, you’ll fail.
  • If you set your goals before the why, dreams, vision, and mission statement, your goals have no soul.
  • You’ll be the most successful when you stay in your strengths.
  • Stay true to yourself by building your business around your personal values.
  • When talking about your business, focus on the benefit to the customer, not the features of the business. Start with why.
  • If you don’t believe in the goodness of business and making money, you’ll never have a good business or make money.
  • Turning your hobby into a business requires a mind-set shift. Its no longer a part of you. The business is its own thing.
  • You teach others how to value you. If you don’t value your work, no one else will.
  • Faith and fear require you to believe in something that hasn’t happened yet.
  • Fear doesn’t mean you’re doing something bad. It means your doing something bold.
  • Anything that tears you down is not from God.
  • Creating balance in your life comes down to what you spend your time on.
  • Stress and anxiety are caused when there is a disconnect between our values and our behavior.
  • Life balance is simply living from your values.
  • Jesus wasn’t focused on the need. He was focused on the assignment.

Dave Ramsey:

  • Goals must be specific.
  • Goals must be measurable.
  • Goals must have a time limit.
  • Goals must be yours.
  • Goals must be in writing.

Rachel Cruz:

  • Quite the comparisons.
  • Steer clear of debt.
  • Make a plan for your money.
  • Think before you spend
  • Save like you mean it.
  • Give a little…until you can give a lot.
  • Talk about money, even when its hard.

Christine Caine:

  • Impossible is where God starts.
  • You can’t change your past, but you can change your future.
  • Just be willing.
  • God has a plan, purpose and destiny for your life.
  • God always uses unlikely people.
  • It’s the job of the people of God to carry the message of God to their generation.
  • You’ve got to make a decision that what God did for you is bigger than what someone else did to you.
  • A word you’ll never find in the Bible is retirement.
  • Leave a gap in your business that only God can fill.
  • You’re going to have to take a step of faith to step into your God-given gifts.
  • Do not say no when God says go!

Hillary Scott:

  • One door closing is not all of them closing. Resilience and perseverance are required.
  • Have wise counsel and mentors.
  • Be humble enough to ask questions.
  • Remember you’re defined not by others, but by Who created you.
  • “Comparison is the thief of joy.” – CS Lewis

Amy Porterfield:

  • Social media works when you know your ideal customer identity.
  • Social media works when you create original content that serves your ideal customer.
  • Your content should be aligned with, but separate from, your product.
  • Social media works when you ignite action.
  • What does your ideal audience need to experience, be aware of, or believe in in order to want or need your product/service?

Nicole Walters:

  • Sales is not about pushing; it’s about influencing.
  • Sales comes from confidence and confidence is like a muscle; the more you use it, the stronger it becomes.
  • Be kind, but firm. Be specific.
  • It’s your God-given duty to share your gifts with the world.

Donald Miller:

  • Demonstrate empathy and authority.
  • Solve internal and external problems.
  • Give customers a plan.
  • Make your call to action clear.
  • Define how you will improve people’s lives.


2 Comments

Answering the Question: What Do I Do?

hands-typingSince leaving my old job in May, I now frequently get asked what kind of work I do. So, I figured I’d take the time to spell it out here.

The gist is that I am a writer and consultant (mostly marketing and communications) for nonprofits, social justice organizations and social enterprises. I also do a little magazine writing, and hope to expand that soon. Now and again, I do other odds and ends upon request or for friends, but writing and consulting is really the core.

I particularly love partnering with small organizations. I’ve found that many of the people who run and are employed at those organizations do so because they have a heart for the work, but may not be strongly suited for the strategy when it comes to communications and marketing. This is where I come in. I have always loved helping small businesses grow, and being in on the ground floor to build them up. So, when I apply my skills to their needs, I can help them get their message out in a bigger and better way. And in working with those three types of businesses (nonprofits, social justice organizations and social enterprises), I am ensuring a greater success for the types of companies that I want to support personally and see thrive.

Here are a few examples of the work I’ve done so far, and an introduction to some of my fantastic clients:

  • Atlanta Dream Center: They protect and support the area’s most vulnerable populations, including the homeless, at-risk children and women who have been trafficked or prostituted. Among other things, I wrote many of the communications pieces for their annual benefit dinner, such as the website, save the date, invitation, newsletter announcement, press release and sponsor package. I also created a marketing plan that they can use to more effectively organize the event moving forward, and provides a comprehensive strategy for the who’s, why’s and how’s of the annual dinner. Additionally, I consulted on all aspects of the dinner, and was able to give marketing and communications insight they didn’t have before. All of this resulted in their most profitable fundraiser to date—by far! I have been a volunteer with them for the past three years, so I was beyond excited to see them surpass their goals, and for a new audience to become aware of their amazing work.
  • Habitat for Humanity: Ok, so you’ve probably heard their name before. They provide safe, affordable homes to individuals and families around the world. Habitat is a solution to the global housing crisis, and while I’ve always had great respect for the organization, it’s in overdrive now that I’ve learned so much more about them. We both celebrate the big 4-0 this year, so I’ve been rewriting some of their web pages as they prepare for a new digital online presence. And I’ve been able to work with a friend from college, so that’s been fun too.
  • Connect Faith: I started writing for this magazine several years ago when I was at Orange because the focus is Christian event planners, and I fit that mold at the time. So, it’s been a place where I could use the knowledge from that job to help educate and inspire others in that field. I also attend a lot of Christian conferences, as you already know if you’ve read this blog much at all, so I could share the things I was learning with a larger audience. They are a great publication, and it’s been fun working with them. I hope to also be able to write for some of their other magazines soon. And, as I mentioned above, I hope to write for other publications as well before too long, particularly in the areas of social justice and travel.
  • Be the Bridge: This budding organization utilizes resources and conversations to further racial reconciliation. They believe that the Church must become a bigger answer to this issue, and are equipping people to host racially diverse small groups that create open lines of communication.  We should not be having the “race conversation” as only white people or only black people, but as friends and Christians. My friend, Latasha, started this organization because she was willing to have the awkward, but necessary conversations, and build bridges that foster healing. It’s important and timely work. They just held their launch parties here in Atlanta a few weeks ago, so I assisted in strategy and communications, and also did live Tweeting, Instagram and Facebook during the two inaugural events.
  • Dr. Bombay’s and The Learning Tea: This darling little tea shop in Atlanta’s Candler Park neighborhood funds “life scholarships” for girls in India. With these funds, girls can go to college, have a safe place to live, and have all their basic needs provided for. And her chai tea is my absolute favorite! I was introduced to Katrell, the owner, in 2012, and we’ve been friends ever since. I even traveled with her to India in July 2015 to meet the girls! I provide ongoing communications and marketing consulting services for both organizations, as well as for her book, Tiger Heart.
  • Naeem Fazal: My friend, Kitti, collaborated with Naeem on his first book, Ex-Muslim. It’s really fascinating and funny and heart-warming, so check it out. She was unable to collaborate on his second book, so she recommended me. We’re just getting started on the book proposal, so we have a long way to go. But it’s been fun getting to know him. This project falls into more of the odds and ends category, but my friends who know I’m working on this ask me about it a lot. I guess books are just more interesting. 🙂
  • TrueNorth: I just started working with them, and I’m really excited about the work that they do! My friend, Anne, started this organization just a couple of years ago after working with women who had been trafficked and prostituted. She decided that she wanted to work more “upstream” to focus on more of the source and start of the issues, rather than toward the end when women had already been abused. I think that is a terrific strategy. So, she is creating resources and providing information to combat our sex-saturated culture. Porn is a huge issue now, which probably isn’t hard for you to understand. But did you know that kids as young as eight are now seeing pornographic images, and most porn is consumed while individuals are at work? Anne wants to get to the root of that issue, and also help remove some of the shame associated with these behaviors so that individuals, children and families can get the help and freedom they so desperately need, and can only be found in Jesus. She currently speaks about the issues, and is working on a book and Bible study, and will also soon be expanding into events. So, I’m assisting in the writing, strategy and execution of their year-end giving campaign. I can’t wait to see her work and presence in the community grow!

Hopefully now you have a better understanding of what I’m doing now that I’m a full-time entrepreneur. It’s been so fun to partner with these causes that I believe in, and to do different kinds of work that furthers good things in the world.

If you know of anyone that I can help in these ways, please reach out! (Website coming soon!)

PS: Don’t I have some amazing friends? I’m so proud of them, and blessed to be a part of their work.