Category Archives: getting real

open up let the light in

Getting Real: Open up Let the Light In

I sat in an office and was having a conversation. During this meeting, I was hit smack in the face. Another one of those moments,  I became definitively more self aware in a seconds then I had been in years. It was phrased as a simple question.

“Mel, what if the very things you desire in life, are the very things you are insulating yourself from?”

It was after that conversation I went on a journey. It was surrounded by a simple question. In light of the mess, the current challenges that life had delivered, how was I going to be mindful and to live open? What did dropping perfectionism, shame, and letting others in again look like. How would I lend myself to trust again, putting together pieces, and invite people into relationship.

I’m thankful to admit that the subsequent months got better. Things got easier. As an creative entrepreneur it’s easy to relate to others out of a feed, likes, engagement, and following. We’re all committed to the hustle and as an extrovert who frequently works from a coffee shop, we all can sit in our respective corners and relate strictly to one another out of curated feeds and content that fill our days. It’s easy, but far from true, honest, or the connection we so deeply long for. The year got better and there was something that was unlocked within others. Somewhere through mindfulness, journey, and much prayer, I was able to live open and found myself in a place where greater freedom existed. I was no longer confined to the definitions of my work or the significance that my creativity could bring to the world. Rather, I found breath, freedom, and love in relating to others without expectation. There was a freshness, a rawness to it all that I have come to love.

How will you live open today?

We’d love to hear from you! Let us know in the comments below.

getting-real-how-to-overcome-rejection

Getting Real: How to Overcome Rejection

Life has good seasons, ebbs and flows to it. There are peaceful partings where forks in the road come, relationships naturally change, and there’s mutual understanding. Then there’s the other moments. The romantic relationship that ends unexpectedly, the friend of years that walks out, or the dream job where they love your work, but don’t necessarily love you. At some in life, we all face rejection, loneliness, and the hurt that comes with it. But how we deal with rejection, pain, and moving forward, determines the ability for our heart to love and lend trust to others again.

Over the past two years, I’ve gone through an intensive process and have found that overcoming rejection was one of my biggest victories. Very rarely in life and love do we talk about vulnerability, rejection, and hurt. While it brings depths of meaning to the relationships where people choose us, as we navigate life, we’re rarely given tools to face pain, cope with it, and overcome rejection. We tell ourselves time will heal wounds and we learn how to put our feet on the ground every morning. If we’re perfectly honest, no one wants to identify themselves as someone who struggles with rejection and acceptance.

Here are a few things I’ve learned over the past few years that have been vital.

Learn to face your pain.

It’s easy to run from our pain, push it down, and try to keep on navigating life. Learn how to healthfully express your pain, validate the emotion you’re feeling, and choose not to remain in those feelings. Sometimes it might mean writing things out in a journal or verbally processing with a trusted friend. (For most of us, an honest hour conversation with a trusted friend could replace hours in therapy.) 

Get a fresh vision for what you desire as you move forward.

Once we experience a painful experience with others it’s easy to wall ourselves off, becoming closed off and a fortress. It leads to superficial relationships, lacking the very depth and nuances of meaning we truly desire. Once a bit of time has past, ask yourself the kind of community, romantic relationship, or career opportunity it is that you desire. As you put pen to paper, focus on the things you do desire, rather than solely the negative. What are the things you value in friendship, the kind of people you desire to surround yourself with? What culture do you long to be in?

Love yourself.

I never thought I had an issue loving myself, but I am surprised how often it can come up. Whether it’s negative thoughts toward my body, the way I age, or the way I take care of myself throughout the week, it can become apparent. How we think about ourselves often is the way we view others as well. Choose to look in the mirror and practice positive self-talk. Statistically we have 27,000 negative thoughts run through our head throughout the day. Learn to love yourself by capturing anything less than true and throwing it out the window while driving down the I-5. Get into the practice of doing this and you’ll find it transferring to the way you see others as well. During a season where rejection has felt somewhat brutal, give yourself the necessary treats to love yourself. You’ve lived with you for a while, so you know what you need. For me, this means good night’s sleep, some great time in prayer and scripture, and healthy food that my body craves. When I do this and workout, my body feels so much better.

Find the positive and encouraging friends that bring out the best in you.

I love to surround myself with champions. They’re the people that champion me, ask the best questions, and our absolutely killing it in their fields and spheres of influence. When I’m around these people I know I’m going to have a great time. We can laugh together, cry together, lean on one another for support, and celebrate each other’s wins. There’s something about surrounding yourself with people that inspire you and you walk away challenged, stretched, and smiling. These communities of people are rare gems. Once you have these relationships, cultivate them, hold onto them, and enjoy them for as long as the season lasts. They will be anchors and benchmarks in your life.

Know this you belong.

What’s the opposite of rejection? It’s acceptance, love, and belonging. What makes you believe that you belong? You were meant to take up space. To be the bold, audacious, loud, quiet, strong, gentle, tender being that you are. The things you believe about the world, others, and faith shape the way you see everything. For me my faith, encounters with the living God, the ways he has spoken, shown love, care, and acceptance over and over again have changed everything for me over the past few years. It has been the core of who I am and the anchor through whatever I may face and how I have overcome rejection. I know that I belong and that I am enough.

What are some of the ways that you overcome rejection?

5 Ways to Reach Your Financial Goals

5 Ways to Reach Your Financial Goals

I’ve always been a goal oriented person. Over the years, goals have changed and evolved from health to fashion to business goals. As 2017 rolled around, it came great changes. The business and blog evolved. Partnerships closed and collaborations, new clients, and opportunities opened up. As an entrepreneur, I’m incredibly aware of my ability to increase or decrease my income. I determine my income ceiling. I’m 6 months from turning 30 and can’t tell you how amazing my finances have been in my 29th year. I set a goal to increase my sales and services by $20,000 this year. (It comes out to increasing service revenue by $5,000 a quarter which has proven to be very manageable.) Yes, that’s a significant increase and it’s strategic. I have a few pending major purchases and knew I wanted to make and save some serious money this year. As I have these purchasing long-term goals in mind, it’s been easy to save. Maybe for you, you’re hoping to pay down debt, build an emergency fund, or make a major purchase.

Here are 5 tips we’ve learned along the way to help reach our financial goals.

1. Be conscientious about your spending.

When it comes to credit and debit cards, it’s easy to lose track of your balance. Not ready to ditch the perks of credit cards and shift to the cash envelope system? Keep track of your expenses through the calculator app on your phone. Get into the habit, by making sure you enter the amount into the calculator right after checkout and prior to leaving the store. It takes around 10 seconds and you’ll create a great habit.

2. Live off one paycheck a month. 

For most of us, we get paid on a bi-weekly basis. As our income grows, we often allow our expenses to increase with our income. By keeping living expenses to one paycheck a month, it allows you to save the other check. With saving half of your monthly income, you can reach financial goals quickly and get past living paycheck to paycheck.

3. Cut the excess expenses in your budget.

It’s easy to spend hundreds of dollars on clothing, coffees, eating out, and entertainment throughout the month. Set a budget and choose to meal prep and make your cold brew at home. (We have an awesome recipe for cold brew right here. And teach you how to buy organic for $50 a week.)

4. Pursue multiple streams of income.

As an entrepreneur or career minded person, it’s always wise to diversify finances and pursue multiple streams of income at the same time. Whether a student, working multiple side jobs, or being self-employed, figure out ways to develop passive income or increase the money coming in through additional jobs. This is a great way to increase money coming in allowing you to reach your financial goals faster. Keep a spreadsheet of your income. This will track multiple streams, allowing for estimates in income growth for each quarter, allowing for ebb and flow throughout the year, knowing where hustle and rest need to find their natural rhythm.

5. Keep your goals in front of you.

Whether it’s a major purchase, paying down debt, or filling in a paper thermometer to track your income increase, set your long-term goals in front of you. It will keep you moving forward as you visualize the best option for your finances. We keep a mood board with all things financial goals in our Evernote app. It’s on our phone all the time and great for referencing when we need additional inspiration.

Looking for more resources on finances?

We love this blog. The Financial Diet is great and our go-to resource when it comes to being a creative entrepreneur and becoming financially savvy.

Dave Ramsey is a master and with good reason. If you’re looking for an intensive and needing to pay down debt quickly, we can’t recommend him enough.

This is a blog post on our past relationship with finances and one worth rereading. Getting Real: From Broke to $10K

Interested in a fun challenge? We spent one week living off of $0. Find the full series of posts, as we completed the No Money Challenge. Intro | 2 | 3 | 4

What are your current financial goals? Any tips that have worked for you?

We’d love to hear from you. Let us know in the comments below.

how to create margin

How to Create Margin

“Never mistake busyness for significance.”

I heard this statement made by Bill Johnson, our senior pastor, as the final address to our graduating class. It hit me straight between the eyes. It’s easy to fill our schedules and days with things. But are the tasks that fill our days significant? If they don’t happen, who will it effect? Will it affect anyone?

Margin. Breathing room. The work-life balance. It’s something we all desperately need and strive to have. It can feel proverbial in the life of an entrepreneur. When it comes to being in business for yourself, it’s easy to fill up your days, going from one thing to the next. You have emails to answer, invoices to send, content to create, and sales to increase. You’re the only one that can increase your income ceiling so you run at full speed. Maybe you’re running after your dreams, doing the self-employment thing and are finding yourself in the same place. It’s easy to glamorize our busyness by calling it hustle. There’s some strange form of value found in the 100 hour work week, but at the end of the day we’re hyped up on caffeine, with minimal food in our stomachs, and are absolutely exhausted.

What if life could be different? What if there were ways to create margin?

How to Create Margin

1. Acknowledge you can’t do it all.

It takes wisdom to know when to delegate and hire things out. Where are the moments where your drive and creativity needs to be handed off to someone else? Maybe you need to hire a part-time project manager, assistant, or virtual assistant for various tasks. Choose to have focus and streamline what you do throughout the day.

2. Schedule time off. Don’t put anything in that slot.

It’s one thing to state you have days off, it’s another thing to fill them up. During the past school year, my days off were far from it. They included homework, groceries, blog shoots, and laundry, usually within 5 hours of time. Protect your time off and follow through on the commitment to yourself. For me this means, scheduling spontaneity, adventures, and placing it in my Google Calendar. If it’s in my Google Calendar, it will happen.

3. Put your screens away.

Our life is filled with visual clutter and noise. We go from watching TV to minutes later watching mind-numbing Instagram Stories as we get ready for bed. Rather than connecting with others we go from screen to screen throughout our day. What would it look like to place your phone on the opposite side of the room, connect with your partner, or enjoy the physical pages of a good book? Find breathing room by choosing to consume less. It will be hard at first, but worth it.

4. Value rest and peace above anything else.

There is nothing worth your peace. Absolutely nothing. If you find your mornings filled with rush or regret that you slept in for 10 minutes, let this be your wake up call. Life should never be filled with so much that your mind is reeling before your feet hit the floor. It’s time to listen to your heart, body, and needs. Whether you’re working for someone else or yourself, cultivate ways to cope and bring a breath of fresh air to your day. Whether it’s finding solace in prayer, meditation, scripture, or a walk, cultivate peace in your life. It’s an invaluable practice.

5. Prioritize.

Often time margin isn’t created due to lack of priorities. Develop clear and top priorities for your days. Statistically you won’t get more than three major tasks accomplished in a single day. Give yourself grace and tackle projects accordingly. Once you set realistic expectations, you will find margin will begin to surface. Embrace it. Take a walk, make a good meal, find connection with a friend, or go for a run.

How do you create margin?

We’d love to hear from you! Let us know in the comments below.

 

 

flying solo buying for one

Flying Solo: Buying for One

There’s something about the grocery store, isn’t there? I can’t tell you how many sitcoms are filled with scenes of singles wheeling around the store. There’s a bump of carts, followed by a laugh track, and an ironic and slightly awkward exchange at the butcher counter. Boy meets girl. As least that’s what’s supposed to happen, right? But what happens when life doesn’t look like an episode of Seinfeld or Friends?

Ironically, my trips to the store couldn’t be any different. I frequently tell myself, maybe today will be the day as I hastily grab my to-go Greek salad for $2.99. Then I remind myself, wait there’s no meat counter, where’s the place for my ironic small talk? The freezer aisle?

And then there’s the checkout.

Every time I go through the line at my local T.J., I am usually asked the same question. (It’s usually in the lane with the super cute cashier, so I don’t mind the conversation all that much.) “So who are you cooking for? Are you having a party?” I try my best not to laugh, explain the recipes that are in the development stage for the blog, or upcoming photo shoots for various companies. Sometimes my cart is incredibly full. More often than not, I just probably haven’t done proper grocery shopping for weeks. Other times I’ve found myself perusing aisles without a list and a gnarling hole in my stomach. I’m hungry and there’s a whole cart to fill. I guess I could instead be asked, “Wow, feeding your husband and kids?” or “Dang girl. You eat. A lot.” One time I was purchasing food from a deli when I lived in Texas, wearing an oversized tank. The person serving me asked a question. If you’re a woman, it’s the dreaded question. Out came, “Are you pregnant?” I definitely was not. Needless to say, that shirt was never worn again and quickly thrown in the trash.

Has this ever happened to you? Nope. Just me? Anyway, moving on…

There’s something about buying food, meal prepping, and cooking for one. It’s easy to waste food and any time a recipe is written it is made for four servings. What about those of us who don’t desire to have leftovers for months?

Chili for Days

I remember one winter I decided to make a pot of chili. Simple enough it was comforting, delicious, and made cold winter nights a bit more bearable. I ate that pot of chili for close to a week straight and couldn’t stand the sight of chili for a few months. I think that’s why many singles I know have chosen to live simply, finding their nutrition through smoothies with protein powder and cups of coffee. As I write this post, it’s almost noon and solely I’ve consumed a latte. Not great, but tomorrow’s a new day right?

On Buying Beef

As I fly solo, there’s many times I wish I could go to the aisle and buy steak. I don’t really consume much meat. I eat very little, maybe 3 times a week. Due to some past health problems, I try to avoid steak and pork at all costs. For some reason, steak equates manliness and an edible luxury for the forever roommate. (Because all men love meat, right?) Maybe that’s an assumption, but I digress.

When Buying for One Shifts to a Party of One

Then there’s the moments that many would relish in. You know the stay-at-home mom who can’t wait to sit in a hotel room by herself, embracing quiet for the first time in months? Or the dad that sneaks out late at night to go to the theater and watch the latest Marvel release? For some strange reason, I look on those who are sitting alone in a restaurant or theater and feel a bit of pity for them. Maybe it’s because it’s territory I haven’t journeyed into quite yet, or that I find it slightly, say, depressing. When I find a night free, I go through the contact list, scrolling because I couldn’t think of anything worse than going out by myself. If you’re single and love doing this, please let me know how you do it and why you love it.

What are some of your best stories when it comes to buying for one? Any humorous tales of singleness you could tell?

We’d love to hear from you! Let us know in the comments below.