How to Be a Good Girlfriend (When You're a Busy Bee)

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How to Be a Good Girlfriend (When You're a Busy Bee)

 

You're firing off emails, scheduling calls, writing blog posts, trying to be present on social media, making dinner, sweeping floors, and still trying to sleep at night. How do you fit in a social life when you feel like you're buzzing around like the very definition of a busy bee?

How do we invest in and prioritize our relationships-- with our family, friends, and significant others?

In short, how can we be good girlfriends when we're busy bees?

Here are a few practical tips to make sure our people feel loved and appreciated in the midst of the busyness of everyday life and business.

 

send a quick message

We might not have half an hour for a phone call to catch up in between all the appointments and to-do's penciled into our planners, but we can send a quick text to see how a friend's doing.

This works for friends we haven't seen in a while and friends, family, or significant others we see several times a week. Everyone likes to know that they're being thought of!

Even just a simple, "Hey! I was thinking about you this morning. How have you been?" communicates that we care, that we haven't forgotten our friends, and that we want to know how they're doing. It also opens the door for further conversation and the possibility of planning an in-person get-together or phone call later on when we do have more time for it.

 

make note of birthdays

One of the easiest ways we can show our people that we care is to remember their birthdays!

Making note of someone's birthday is such a simple way to build and strengthen a relationship. Consider the difference between having only your parents, sister, and best friend wish you happy birthday compared to having ten of your friends call or text you with best wishes. There's a big difference, right? 

Birthdays matter. We like to think they don't sometimes, but they really do. And other people's birthdays are an easy way for us to show how much we care.

Depending on a handful of factors like the type of relationship we have with them and geographical distance, we might celebrate these birthdays differently, but there are several ways we can show love to our people on their birthdays.

We can send a card.

We can send a text.

We can call.

We can simply show up (whether they're expecting it or not).

We can throw a party.

 

set reminders to message people

It might sound too rigid or unnatural, but we can also set reminders to message or call our people. Of course, in a perfect world, we wouldn't need reminders. We would call our moms and message our college roommates regularly just because we're thinking of them and want to stay connected.

But we all know our world isn't perfect. Our lives are incredibly busy, and sometimes we need reminders to keep the most important things top of mind. There's no shame in using reminders (either written or digital, like through an app)!

One of my favorite ways is to utilize the "call/email" section of the weekly page in my planner each week. I love that there's a specific space dedicated to that each week! If that's not the case for you, you could easily make a note in the margin of your planner or calendar with the name of someone you want to connect with that week, too.

I like to write names down for a few weeks ahead so I always have someone to connect with and touch base with. I often write a few names for one week because once I get started, it's hard to stop! Connecting with one friend brings me so much joy that I want to connect with them all! But I also know that writing down just a few each week is more sustainable.

 

ask for prayer requests

Reaching out with text messages to ask someone how they're doing is great, but sometimes we need it to go beyond small talk. Asking friends for prayer requests is a great way to accomplish that!

One of the best ways my college roommates and I have managed to stay in touch since we graduated and went our separate ways has been to ask each other for prayer requests and offer up our own.

We have a group message going, but we don't typically just update it with tidbits of life or everyday conversations. We do, however, share big milestones in the form of praises for ways God has been moving and providing, and we share struggles and challenges with requests for specific prayers.

Not only does this keep us talking regularly, but it keeps up a deep level of connection as we dive far beyond small talk with each other and work to maintain a level of intimacy similar to what we shared when we lived together and saw one another every day.

It's definitely not the same as seeing their faces regularly, but it's a close second!

 

plan regular get-togethers

Life is busy. We all know that. And it doesn't seem like it's going to be slowing down anytime soon. So if we want to truly invest in our relationships, we have to be intentional with them. We have to plan time to spend with our people.

If we don't make plans and put them on our calendars, the chances of them actually happening plummet to the ground. "We should get coffee sometime!" becomes nothing more than a sweet-sounding sentiment.

It's nobody's fault; we all meant to grab coffee, but if we don't pick a day and coffee shop, we'll let the busyness of life take over, and we'll be stuck making our coffee at home or going through the drive-thru on the way to our next meeting or yoga class.

To make plans we'll actually stick to, we need to get them on our calendars. And if we're looking to build strong friendships (which I think we all are, am I right?), it helps tremendously if those plans have some sort of regularity to them.

I've been a part of a community group through my church for over four years, and while the members of the group have changed some over the years, it's been one of the most wonderfully consistent things in my life. Those friendships have become so strong and deep as we've continued meeting, and that wouldn't have been the case if we hadn't all been committed to showing up every Thursday.

I also have regular family nights with my parents and sister on Mondays. What we do varies with the seasons, but we've been setting aside our Monday nights for the last several years as a time to reconnect. Of course, we're not going to really go our separate ways, but since my sister and I moved out, it's proven to be a good way to stay involved in one another's lives.

These regular get-togethers of ours don't have to be weekly dinners. They could be monthly coffee dates or bi-weekly walks around the local park. They could even be Skype dates or phone calls. The way we connect with our people isn't as important as choosing to connect and to do it regularly.

 

do regular things together

Sometimes it feels like trying to engage in relationships with others is just one more thing on our never-ending to-do lists. I hear you. I'm willing to bet most of us don't have room to add another thing to our plates.

Allow me to suggest a different option.

What if we simply invited people into things we're already doing?

Now this isn't my idea, but I'm a big fan of it. I love engaging with my people, but I don't always have time to schedule a coffee date or a girls' night.

Sometimes my time with friends looks more like this: find a recipe that sounds good, each of us picks up half the ingredients to cobble it together with things at my house, we start half an hour later than planned because one or the other of us lost track of time, we catch up while we cook, we savor the delicious food and talk some more about life and work and faith and good food and how summer's ending too soon, and then we end the night short because we're grandmas and go to bed early.

Sometimes it looks like grocery shopping together. Other times it involves going for a walk together so we can get in our exercise for the day. It might mean going to a class at the gym with a friend for you, or taking a cooking class, or weeding your garden, or going for a bike ride, or shopping for a new dress.

If there's something you have planned that you could invite someone else to join you in, that's the perfect opportunity to invest in relationship in the everyday moments of life!

 

be present

One of the simplest and best ways we can all be good girlfriends to all the people in our lives is to be present when we're with them.

Whether we get to spend as much time with our friends, family, and significant others as we'd like or not, we can give them the gift of our full attention.

If we're running through tomorrow's schedule or our grocery list in our heads when we're eating dinner with a friend or significant other, we're not giving them the attention they deserve.

One way I've found to practice presence better is to put my phone away. It's often close enough that I can check it to know what time it is and make sure I haven't missed any urgent calls, but I don't reply to text messages or emails or scroll through social media when I'm with my people. I can do that on my own time. I want to make the most of the time I have with them because it seems like there's never quite enough of it.

My family has been trying out a "no phones at the table" rule for dinner, and I'm loving it! Instead of being interrupted by buzzing and chiming, we're free to engage in conversation and laugh at each other's stories and jokes. Our attention is much more devoted, and we all feel like we're better connected without our phones being the center of our focus. Maybe a similar approach would work for you, too!

 

Action steps: 

Consider the answers to these reflection questions so you can be a great girlfriend!

Who can you send a quick text message to today?

Who has a birthday coming up that you can join in celebrating?

How can you make regular reminders to engage with your people?

Who can you reach out to this week to ask if they have any prayer requests?

Who can you make regular plans with?

What are you already doing that your friends could join you for?

How can you practice presence around your people?

 

Later, lovely!Jessie (2).png

How to Leverage Online Community (When You Work from Home)

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How to Leverage Online Community (When You Work from Home)

 

find groups that are active

Regular engagement is going to work in your favor when you're searching for community. Being in groups that don't have much conversation on a daily or weekly basis won't meet your need for connection.

You can simply scroll through the posts on the main page of the group to see how frequently members are posting, liking, and commenting.

I like to find groups that have 10+ new posts each day, but it will depend on the amount of time you're looking to spend in your groups. If you're looking to be heavily involved (which you probably are, since you're reading this article), then you might want to look for groups with 20+ new posts so you can engage with even more active people.

If you post in the group and get crickets, only to scroll through the feed and see that the lack of response is a pattern with everyone else's posts, that's a sign that the group isn't very engaged. At that point, it's your choice whether you want to stay or find a group that's more active.

 

find local groups

To connect even more with people online, you can look for groups that are location-specific to places around you! Most large cities or the surrounding areas have groups based on their location and people's interests.

To find these groups, all you have to do is search for groups based on location in the Facebook search bar. Alternately, you can navigate to the groups section, select "discover," and then click the button for local groups.

You can also post in groups to see where people are from and connect with them that way! 

Connecting with groups and people who are near you gives you one more level of connection, and it also opens up the opportunity to meet in person!

 

create your own!

If you're feeling stuck trying to find community online and not finding anything that really fits, you can always create your own group!

Creating a group is simple. If you navigate to the groups page on Facebook, there's a button to create a group. Facebook will then guide you through the steps to set it up with a name, category, and description. Make sure you make it clear who the group is for and what it's about so the right people can find it.

Then it's time to start inviting people! (Note: there's not currently an "invite" option, just and "add" option, so it's usually best to write a post about the group and include the link or ask people you know if they would want to join instead of adding them directly.)

Once you have some people in your group, it's time to get them talking! You can post questions for people to get to know each other, create a meet-up if they're all local, share a live video talking about who you are and what you do, and share all kinds of resources. The options are limitless! You can encourage other group members to post freely, too, to boost engagement and get more people involved.

 

show up consistently

Whether you're creating your own group or posting in others, one of the biggest keys to to be consistent. It's hard for people to get to know you if you pop in one week and then go MIA for a month.

I've found it helpful to set aside time each day or two to go through my main groups and see what's going on. I read others' posts, liking and commenting as I go, and then I share something of my own.

Just like building relationships with people offline, it takes time and persistence. It's far more effective to show up week after week over the long haul than to show up once or twice and then bail (only to wonder why we didn't gain any new biz besties or clients there).

Pro tip: To remember to post about specific things on specific days (like #tiptuesday or #promothursday), I set regular reminders to repeat on those days of the week. That way, in addition to the more organic posting that I do in all my main groups, I'm also working to get my name and business out there consistently on the days designated for more promotion. This ensures more balance between fun engagement and business promotion.

 

PRIORITIZE RELATIONSHIPS

It's easy to see groups as one more way to promote our businesses, and they are admittedly great for that! But when we work from home, it's especially important to see them first and foremost as a way of connecting with others.

It's about the relationship first, always.

So instead of going into a group with the sole intention of promoting my business, I first ask questions to get people talking and make sure I like and comment on others' posts. I'm not just there to get new clients. I'm also there to learn from others and network.

People are much more willing to work with us (as collaborators or clients) when we've proven that we're not just in it for the sale. If we approach our interactions with an attitude of "people over profit" first and choose to engage and build relationships (and provide real value) before trying to sell anything, we build our ever-so-valuable know, like, and trust factors. And we set ourselves up to create stronger online friendships and create more leads for our businesses! It's a win all around!

So what groups will you be engaging in this week, and how can I help you up your game there? I'd love to hear from you! You can email me at jessie@notesfromjessie.com, comment below, or plan a time to chat with me on the phone about it! I'd love to hear from you!

Later, lovely!Jessie (2).png

 

P.S. In case you missed it or skipped straight to the bottom, the secret to leveraging online community when you work from home is to find active groups, find local groups, create your own group, show up consistently, and prioritize the relationships over the revenue.

To chat with me more about upleveling your group game, let's schedule a call!

How to Have a Healthy Relationship with Yourself

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How to Have a Healthy Relationship with Yourself

When you think about healthy relationships, you might think about romantic relationships. Or workplace relationships. Or friendships.

But what about your relationship with yourself?

It's the longest-lasting relationship you'll ever have. After all, you're always with yourself. You can't escape it. You might as well have a good relationship with yourself.

But what does that really entail?

 

MINDSET

Loving yourself is vital to how you present yourself to the world and to how others will treat you.

People will treat you like you're worth what you think you are, for better or worse.

If you love yourself, you'll come off as more confident, showing up boldly as yourself. And others will see you as more sure of yourself and comfortable in your own skin.

If you don't love yourself, second guess yourself, and belittle yourself, others will take notice. They might not pay as much attention to you, take advantage of you (or at least take the opportunity to be in charge if you're staying quiet and small), and ignore your needs that you're too shy or uncomfortable expressing.

Self-criticism spills over into judging others, too. If you're critical of your own mistakes or perceived flaws, you're more likely to see them in others because you're effectively training your eyes to see the negative things. On the flip side, if you work to highlight the positive things about yourself, you will also be more likely to see the good things in others.

Your mindset also affects how you treat others because it affects your mood. If you've had a rough day of beating yourself up for a mistake you made, you're probably not in a good position to be encouraging others or engaging in a lighthearted conversation with a new friend. However, if you learn to give yourself grace for your mistakes and learn from them, you're better able to bounce back and see the silver lining, keeping yourself in a more positive mood and being more pleasant to be around.

 

IDENTITY

Your identity is unchangeable.

You are a masterpiece, God's workmanship. He worked hard to make you who you uniquely are, and He doesn't make mistakes.

When you remember your identity as a beloved daughter of God, you're better able to love yourself right where you're at because you know that nothing you do or don't do can change who you fundamentally are.

You are secure in your identity because it's not based on what you do or what your title is or how much money you have. It's based on what God says about you, and that doesn't change.

What the Bible says about who we are:

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
-Psalm 139:14
You are altogether beautiful, my darling;
    there is no flaw in you.
-Song of Songs 4:7
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
-Ephesians 2:10
The Lord your God is with you,
    the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
    in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
    but will rejoice over you with singing.
-Zephaniah 3:17

When we embrace our God-given identity as beloved daughters of the King, we're free to be ourselves, free to pursue the unique passions and purposes He's given us, and free to walk with our heads held high because we know our worth.

(For more on your identity and how it can help you determine your gifts and your purpose, check out my book-- Ready, Set...Now What? Discovering Your Identity, Gifts, and Purpose in the Real World.)

 

SELF-TALK

Our self-talk is so powerful! It sets our mood, it shapes our view of ourselves, and it contributes to what we can accomplish through self-fulfilling prophecies.

When you continually tell yourself you'll never be able to learn that new skill or reach that new milestone, it's like you're shooting yourself in the foot. By speaking those words over yourself, you're giving yourself permission to not try because you don't think you can succeed. 

When you say something is too hard or too big or too scary, you're holding yourself back and keeping yourself small. You're letting fear win. 

If you want to break free from the fear, all it takes is a flip of the switch on the negative script that's been running through your head.

This simple exercise can help: say out loud the words that are running through your head. The fear wins when you stay quiet. When you name your fears and struggles, you take away their power.

Once you've begun to say out loud the negative things you're thinking about yourself, begin to rewrite your story.

When you think or say something negative and untrue, correct it with Scripture and affirmations. Memorize verses about who you are in Christ and remind yourself that nothing can change that. If necessary, get others involved. We all need some help from time to time, and there's no shame in that!

To help flip the switch on your negative self-talk, consider some of these swaps:

I can't do it --> I'm trying my best/I can't do it YET, but I'm getting better

It's too hard --> I'm making progress/I'm going to try my best

I'm a failure --> I made a mistake, but I am not a failure

I wish/I want... --> I'm so grateful for everything I have already

Why can't I be like her? --> My story is my own and I don't have to compete

 

HONOR WHAT YOU NEED

Life happens in seasons, and each one has its own pros and cons, its own blessings and needs. 

When you know your worth and have a healthy mindset about who you are, you're better able to take care of yourself. You understand that you might have certain limits, even if you'd like to move beyond them.

As your relationship with yourself grows and develops, you're better able to listen to your body, honoring what you need.

Instead of feeling the need to compete with others or do all the things, you can recognize what you, as a unique individual, need in that moment and that season.

This can be apparent in different ways:

  • rest vs. activity
  • social engagements vs. "me time"
  • going to bed early, sleeping in
  • nourishing body and soul with food

Paying attention to what you need and choosing to honor it takes practice and intention. If you don't have those things, you'll probably follow along with the crowd because it's simply easier. But living on autopilot isn't sustainable. If you don't recognize your needs, they'll go unmet until you burn out.

By working on your relationship with yourself and truly taking care of yourself (by honoring your needs), you'll set yourself up for healthy relationships with others, too!

 

Later, lovely!Jessie (1).png

P.S. In case you skimmed or skipped straight to the end, having a healthy relationship is all about having the right mindset-- remembering your identity as a beloved daughter of Christ, rewriting your self-talk, and honoring what you need. For more encouragement to live joyfully and with intention in your relationships, life, and work, check out The Joy + Full Living Community!

How to Find Real Community When You Work from Home

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How to Find Real Community When You Work from Home

Working from home is great, but it can present its own unique set of challenges, not the least of which is how to experience friendship and community outside the structure of a traditional workplace.

Whether you've recently transitioned out of an office job, been working from home for a while, or are planning to start working from home soon, finding community is a challenge you will likely face.

But it's not all bad news!

There are simple ways to find and build real community when you work from home!

 

MAKE FRIENDS WHERE YOU ALREADY ARE

Are you already involved in other group activities like a book club or entrepreneur mastermind? Perhaps the other people in that group could be good friends and provide the support you're looking for!

Maybe you already go to the gym, the coffee shop, the library, the farmer's market, or the same little cafe on the regular. Why not befriend someone else who frequents those places? If you're both already interested in similar things, you have a built-in connection and a place to start a conversation!

Where are you already interacting with other people that you could turn to for community? Take another look today to see if that just might be the key for you!

 

GO OTHER PLACES

There's no secret formula for this. Just get outside the house.

The biggest hindrance to building real community when you work from home is the fact that you're not surrounded by people every day.

When you work in an office, you're automatically in a social place. Even if everyone works in their own offices or cubicles, there are other people around with whom you could have a conversation and build a friendship.

The best way to imitate that environment when you work from home is to intentionally go other places and be around people.

Depending on your work schedule, personality, interests, local options, and other commitments, this could look like any number of things:

  • work from a coffee shop or park or library or coworking space
  • start or join your own local entrepreneur group
  • join a sport team
  • join a Bible study or small group through your church
  • join a class at the gym
  • get to know your next-door neighbors
  • start visiting local small businesses

 

GO ONLINE

One of the beautiful parts of having a society so centered around technology is that we're not limited to building relationships with the people who live near us.

To find and build community, you can go online!

When you join online groups for entrepreneurs, you'll find a whole host of people in the same boat as you! And they'll be eager to welcome you with open arms, share tips with you, and encourage you along your journey.

There are groups for every niche, some as broad as entrepreneur groups, some more specific like groups for bloggers or coaches or even just faith-based coaches. Just plug some keywords into the search bar of Facebook, and you'll find a whole slew of them!

Once you're in a group, make the most of it! Post an introductory mini bio with a photo to let the group know who you are and what you do. Comment on other people's posts. Once you've engaged with someone, request to be their friend. Treat it like a fantastic networking opportunity that doesn't even require you to get out of your pajamas!

 

BE PATIENT

Making friends and building community takes time, there's no question about that. In today's culture, we all too often want an instant fix.

But if we hope for these relationships to last (and we do, don't we?), then we need to be willing to let them develop in their own time.

It also takes an element of trial and error. Not everyone you meet is going to be your new best friend or want to join your book club or entrepreneur mastermind group. That's okay! The practice you gain from reaching out will pay off with the right people at the right time.

 

BE CONSISTENT

Creating real, lasting, vibrant community requires taking a risk and showing up. Somebody has to go first, and often that's a lonely position to occupy until others reciprocate.

Sometimes people don't respond to friend requests the way you'd hope (in person or online), and sometimes they don't accept invitations. 

Consistency and resiliency will take you from having surface-level acquaintances to having deep community as you show up time and time again as your real, whole self. 

That doesn't mean you have to bare your entire soul or tell your whole life's story upon meeting someone, but it does mean that you have to be present and continue to invest in the community you're building.

The community that I'm a part of right now has changed so much over the years, but we've been together for four and a half years, and it's been one of the most enriching experiences of my life. I've gotten to learn so much from these dear friends as I've watched them live, work, marry, have children, build friendships, go through transitions, struggle, and share their experiences. We wouldn't have that if we'd given up when only a few people came sporadically and sat in awkward silence when we asked questions they weren't yet comfortable enough to answer. It took time and faithfulness for our group to get there. Yours will, too, if you take the time and energy to properly nourish it.

To grow your community, you'll need these essential components:

  • time
  • effort
  • consistency
  • vulnerability
  • courage
  • patience

That's it! I'm excited for you to find and grow your community! I've witnessed the irreplaceable value of community in my own life, and I want that so badly for you, too!

And if you're looking for a virtual community to join, may I suggest The Joy + Full Living Community?

Later, lovely!Jessie (1).png

7 Tips to Make Real Friends as an Adult

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1. Get outside.

Go to the park, local library, local small businesses, gym, or another place other people gather, and where you feel comfortable. Grab a table at the corner coffee shop to read a book, sip on a cup of coffee, scroll through Instagram, or people watch.

It doesn't matter where you go so much. It just matters that you get out of your house and regular routine, or at the very least, the autopilot setting you go through your daily routine in.

There are people all around us, but we spend so much of our time in our own little bubbles that we're not engaging with them in meaningful ways (and yet we wonder why we're so lonely).

So get out where the people are. Engage in your normal activities, but do them in places where you could bump into someone who's interested in the same things. Smile at the person running on the treadmill next to yours. Say hi to the person walking their dog through the park, too. Ask the person you found in the memoir aisle of the library if they have any book recommendations.

 

2. Get social. 

Of course, this is the digital age, so you don't even have to venture outside of your normal locales to engage with people (although it's still recommended). With things like social media, you can meet people without leaving the comfort of your couch.

You can find Facebook groups for any interest and any location, getting to chat with people who share your perspectives and hobbies and live in your area!

Then take it a step further and message them to grab coffee (after all, virtual relationships are great, but they're no true replacement for in-person interaction).

 

3. Gather people.

Once you've met people, it's time to get to know them! After all, you're probably not just looking for people with whom you can discuss the weather or current events. You want more than that.

It doesn't have to be intense or scary, but it does require some intentionality on your part. It requires an invitation-- not fancy or formal necessarily, but stepping out and extending the offer to have people over to your home or to meet somewhere at a specific time and date. It's admittedly a small risk, because the other person (or people) could say no, but they'll never say yes if you don't give them the chance.

You could invite people over for a book club, start a neighborhood walking club, or start up a biking group through downtown. You could simply invite your neighbors over for coffee or dinner or a game night.

It doesn't matter so much what you do, just that you get some time together to build that connection and friendship. You could start with an activity that you already have a mutual interest in, or one that's a crowd-pleaser, like dinner.

 

4. Go first.

Now it gets a little harder. If you want to get past the small talk, you're going to have to be the one to do it. Say hi, ask some questions, start the conversation.

Somebody has to go first, and that's you in this situation. You don't have to tell your whole life story or kick it off with your most embarrassing moment, but you might share something you've been learning lately or a funny story from last summer's vacation. The goal is to let them get to know you, relax a little, and feel comfortable reciprocating the gesture and talking more freely about themselves in return.

 

5. Get-together frequently.

Consistency breeds intimacy. It takes time. Be patient. But also be consistent. If you're showing up just once a month, it might take a year to feel comfortable sharing deeper, more private things with new friends. However, if you gather weekly, it might only take three months. And it's different for everyone. Some people take longer than others. It's not an exact science. But one thing is true: time spent together over the long haul breeds deep friendship.

So extend a follow-up invite for coffee the next week. Suggest meeting every month. Decide your group will read a book together for the season, and then pick another one after that. Commit to getting to know your people, and show up consistently. 

People feel valued when others show up for them, especially when it's not particularly convenient or when life gets messy. If you're looking to make genuine, long-term friends (and I think you are, since you're here reading this), it's going to take some effort to be present, to engage, to live life with people.

 

6. Go deep.

You can't make real, tried-and-true friends by just sticking to talking about the weather and current events. At some point, you're going to have to venture into other, more personal topics.

It can be challenging to know where to begin. I know. I've been there, sitting in a room with a handful of other people (or more than a handful), where everyone's looking around with blank expressions, wondering who's going to be the first one to crack and say something to fill the silence.

I'm not saying it's easy; I'm just saying it's worth it. People are always worth our discomfort and awkwardness.

Sometimes it can help to have an icebreaker and then expand from there. Or it might be helpful to have a list of questions or topics to consider, such as the following:

  • best vacation ever
  • best gift you've received
  • best birthday ever
  • what you've been learning lately
  • best book you've ever read
  • favorite childhood activity
  • what you wanted to be when you grew up
  • favorite musician/song
  • favorite food/restaurant
  • favorite activity/hobby
  • where you'd travel if you could go anywhere

Once you get people talking, you can identify similarities and topics to branch off from to keep the conversation going!

 

7. Go do something.

Engage in your favorite hobbies, and do them with others. Whether you're grocery shopping together or taking a vacation with a friend, you'll grow closer and get to know each other better through the experience.

Friends do everyday things together, so invite people into your everyday life. Go for a walk at the end of a long day. Call someone on your way home from work. See if someone wants to run to the farmer's market with you this weekend. Invite someone to grab a cup of coffee. You just might find a new great friend! 

 

It's that simple! Get out there, start the conversation, be consistent, and engage with people in your daily life!

It might take some trial and error. Not everyone you meet will click with you, and that's okay! You'll learn along the way what kind of people are your people. You'll gain confidence in your ability to strike up conversations and steer them through the small talk to more important things. And you'll make more and more friends as you go!

 

I challenge you to go out somewhere this week and strike up a conversation with a new potential friend, whether that's another dog walker at the park or lifter at the gym or the barista at your favorite coffee shop. Say "hi," ask a question, and see where the conversation takes you!

 

And to make more virtual friends, I invite you to join The Joy + Full Living Community! We're all about living and working with joy, simplicity, and intention, and we have a blast while doing it!

 

 

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Later, lovely!Jessie (1).png

 

 

Highlight Reel (July 2018 Favorites)

I thought it would be fun if I took a moment each month to let you know what things are currently striking my fancy, so here goes the July installment! 

[This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something through my link, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thanks for supporting Notes from Jessie!] 

CURRENT FAVORITES:

BOOKS:

I finished reading Jess Connolly's Dance, Stand, Run, and it was SO GOOD! As was Erin Loechner's Chasing Slow. I love spiritual memoirs that share the author's story and the lessons they learned along the way, especially when they relate to my life and something I could stand to learn-- like freedom, grace, and identity. I read Elizabeth Gilbert's Big Magic, too, which was a fun read about the nature of creativity and how to live a creative life without forcing it to be something it's not, but celebrating it for what it is.

I listened to Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple, and it made a great accompaniment to a long drive I had and some walks-- audiobooks are my favorite way to pass long drives!

I picked up The Real Me by Natalie Grant, too. Although I've read it before, it was good to read it again, as she talks about learning her identity in Christ through her own personal struggles. I LOVED Ree Drummond's book The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels- A Love Story, and identified with parts of her story so well that I got completely swept up in it and just about finished it all in one sitting. To top it all off, I read Dear Fahrenheit 451 by Annie Spence, which was a charming and humorous (and sometimes enlightening) nod to other books and their relationships with readers, or one reader in particular. It was fun to reminisce about how various books have affected my life, and I even added some to my to-read list!

I finished Stephanie May Wilson's Lipstick Gospel Devotional and Lipstick Gospel Prayer Journal, too, and I'm sad to see them go! I loved these two books and had a great experience incorporating them into my morning time with God. The devotional was full of experiences from Stephanie's life that demonstrated how she's seen God in her life and reflection questions, and the prayer journal was full of unique prompts for me to focus on communicating with God about different things each day, which was a fresh way of looking at prayer!

 

QUOTE:

"You are worthy, dear one, regardless of the outcome. You will keep making your work, regardless of the outcome. You will keep sharing your work, regardless of the outcome. You were born to create, regardless of the outcome. You will never lose trust in the creative process, even when you don't understand the outcome." -- Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic

 

MOVIES/TV SHOWS: 

I'm still watching Parks and Rec here and there and loving it!

I also watched the new episodes of Anne with an E, which is right up my alley. I didn't realize the last episode was the last one, so I was disappointed because I hadn't gotten to prepare myself. But I'm looking forward to more in the future (they're doing more, right? Someone please tell me they're doing more!). 

 

SONG: 

"Forever On Your Side" is the newest single from Needtobreathe, and I'm loving it! Of course, I love all their music, and I have a field day with anything new from them, but this one is a little different AND it's a collaboration with Jonnyswim, which just makes me excited to see them both in concert in September!

 

FOOD: 

I made a delicious cherry crisp that went over well with paleo and non-paleo eaters alike, which I consider a big win! And the recipe made far too much topping (not such a bad problem!), so I'm thinking of making it again here soon!

I made a really good Hawaiian fried cauliflower rice recipe, along with walnut chorizo tacos with pineapple salsa (hopefully you know by now that I'm unashamed about my love of tacos-- sorry not sorry).

 

MEMORIES FROM JULY:

I can't believe July is over! I feel like summer is just FLYING by! My family is traveled to Nebraska for a family reunion, and it was so good to see my extended family that I haven't seen in a few years. I also got to see my "second family" for the Fourth of July, which was so sweet! We maintained our Thanksgiving tradition (until now the only time we saw them during the year) of getting dinner at Champps, and we watched fireworks from a roof. So fun!

I also got to spend a few days up north at a cabin with friends, which provided some much-needed mental rest. I worked my tail off to get my work done before I left, and the reception up north wasn't the best, so I got to take a few days off from emails, blog posts, and social media. Instead, I got to go for paddle boat rides, play ladder golf, go tubing, gaze at the stars (which is hard to do here in the suburbs with all the lights), and sit around a bonfire. It was so restful!

 

LOOKING FORWARD TO IN AUGUST:

I'm going to my dad's softball tournament, which is always fun to watch! I also have a baby shower for one of my college roommates, which is exciting in its own right, but she's the first of us to have a baby, so it's extra special!

 

What were some of your favorite things this month? I'd love to hear from you in the comments!

Later, lovely!Jessie (1).png

Self-Care Without Breaking the Bank {Simple Self-Care Part 7}

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Self-care is expensive.

Self-care is time-consuming.

Self-care is something only rich, famous, or irresponsible people have time and funds for.

Self-care is something I'll get around to when I have more time and money.

Have you found yourself thinking or saying those things before?

You're not alone!

But can I tell you something? Those things aren't necessarily true, and they're definitely not serving you!

 

THE REAL COST OF SELF-CARE

When we don't take care of ourselves, everyone suffers the consequences.

Don't believe me? What happens when we're stressed out and spread too thin? It affects our work, our family life, and our health (just to name a few).

Our work gets done too quickly and isn't up to par. We miss deadlines. We send passive-aggressive emails to the whole team when we're upset because our coworker didn't make more coffee when she emptied the pot. We're distracted, unable to function at our highest level creatively, and we're far less productive because we're going off on bunny trails, overthinking, second-guessing, and unable to make decisions due to our fatigue fog. 

We snap at our friends, siblings, roommates, and significant others who simply ask what the plan is for dinner because we just can't think about that right now on top of everything else. We say "yes" to all the invitations because we want to be included and to please everybody, and we're afraid turning down an invite (even for a valid reason) would end the friendship. We show up late, duck out early, and are glued to our phones or distractedly staring off into space for much of the time that we're there, physically present but mentally a hundred miles away.

We skimp on sleep, thinking we can get by on 7, 6, 5, 4 1/2 hours of sleep and still be functioning human beings. We stare at screens all the livelong day and ignore the strain it puts on our eyes and our brains. We elect to stay at the computer longer, skipping that workout class or walk, with no concerns for how our daily habit of doing so is affecting our ability to walk up a flight of stairs without huffing and puffing or contributing to our constant state of fatigue. We push through feelings of early-onset cold symptoms and exhaustion because we tell ourselves we have to, only making it worse in the end.

Are you willing to live like that? I'm not! The best way to avoid these situations is to engage in regular rhythms of self-care.

 

WEIGHING THE COST OF WHAT REALLY MATTERS

As with many other things in life, it comes down to your priorities. You have to decide what matters more to you-- in this case, productivity (or perceived productivity) versus your health (physically, mentally, relationally, creatively).

It's really not much of a contest, is it?

Our health matters. And making time to care for ourselves, inside and out, matters.

When we take the time to pamper ourselves (whatever that looks like for each of us; more ideas below), we give ourselves permission to rest, to enjoy life, and to focus on the good things in life. Doing this balances out the challenges and obstacles with blessings and joy. It also refreshes and renews us so that we can return to our work (and the previously mentioned challenges and obstacles in life) with new energy and drive.

 

FRUGAL SELF-CARE IDEAS

One of the biggest myths about self-care is that is has to be expensive. And sure, treating yourself to an all-day spa vacation package isn't cheap, but there are so many other options to consider, regardless of your budget!

  • go for a leisurely walk with no agenda
  • listen to your favorite music
  • watch your favorite movie
  • paint your nails at home, old-school style
  • make a cup of tea
  • go to bed half an hour early
  • sleep in
  • take a bubble bath
  • make a new body scrub with household ingredients
  • read a book
  • listen to a podcast
  • learn a new hobby or skill by watching a video on YouTube
  • journal

See, it doesn't have to break the bank! There are plenty of ways to take a break, carve out some "me time," and take care of yourself so you can be the kind of person you want to be for your family, yourself, and your work!

What new forms of self-care are you itching to try? I'd love to hear from you in the comments or via email (jessie@notesfromjessie.com)!

Later, lovely!Jessie (1).png

 

Looking for ways to incorporate more self-care into your life or pursue other goals? I'd love to chat with you, friend! It's my passion to empower and encourage women to create lives, homes, and businesses they LOVE, and I'd be honored and elated to help YOU do just that! Let's chat!

 

Self-Care Through Food & Fitness {Simple Self-Care Part 8}

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True or false: exercise is only for athletes and "fit" people.

True or false: healthy food tastes bad.

True or false: "healthy" looks the same for all of us.

True or false: to be fit and live a healthful life, you have to run every day, count calories, make all your food from scratch, avoid dairy, limit carbs, be a vegetarian, and take pictures of all your food for everyone to see and drool over on Instagram.

Do I need to tell you that all of those statements are false, or did you figure it out on your own? 

 

JUST MOVE

Find a way to move your body that works for you. It doesn't have to be the activity that your mom, sister, best friend, or neighbor enjoys. You can do what you love, no matter what that is (well, unless it's just sitting on the couch with a bowl of ice cream every single day; there has to be some balance and movement!).

Finding a form of exercise that you enjoy is a life-changer, I promise. I'm not coordinated or gifted in any particular sport, so I always hated gym class. I thought that meant all physical activities just weren't my thing. But when I went to college, I got into running. And I had free access to our school's gym, so I started some simple weight lifting. When I graduated, I continued running and found some pilates and strength training videos to follow.

I know people who prefer class formats so they have others working out with them and an instructor to keep them going. I know people who need a race to train for to get them running consistently. I know people who loathe running but like hiking. You don't have to run, or bike, or hike, or lift. But you do need to get moving somehow. Try something out. See how it goes. Change it up if it's not working for you. But find a way to move your body that gets you excited to do it again. You only get one body, and this is part of how you care for it. 

 

NOURISH YOUR BODY

Self-care doesn't stop with moving your body; it also extends to what you put into your body. Fuel your body with food that makes you feel good, and find a balance between eating with intention and eating for indulgence. A good rule of thumb is an 80/20 balance between good-for-your-body food and food that's just tasty and good for your soul. And the best part? You get to decide what falls in which category!

I'm not going to tell you that you have to eat paleo or vegan or keto or raw. I'm not a big fan of restricting entire food groups unless you have an actual food intolerance. But I am an advocate for paying attention to how your body responds to certain foods and recognizing which types of things might have to be limited more than others (back to the 80/20 here, that's the 20 part).

For example, by body doesn't handle dairy particularly well, but I'm not lactose intolerant. I also generally feel better when I don't eat too many carb-heavy foods, but I'm not gluten-sensitive or celiac. I try, then, to eat largely paleo-ish (limiting dairy, added sugar, and carbs), but I take my approach loosely. I eat beans (not traditionally paleo). I still eat some pasta, rice, and bread when I want it. The difference is that I don't have it all the time, and I'm more conscious of the choices I'm making. I can still say "yes" to those things (and I do), but I know that I'm saying "yes" more thoughtfully, and that's the approach I want to have in all of life!

 

HONOR WHAT YOUR BODY NEEDS IN DIFFERENT SEASONS

I ran a half-marathon a couple years ago. And I was battling shin splints. Shortly after that, hip pain set in. I finally went to physical therapy for the hip pain ('cause, hello, I'm 80, apparently), and the therapist gently suggested dialing back on my workouts and runs. Cue my defensiveness and stubborn reaction, believing I could "dial back" about 10% and mostly keep going as normal.

Big surprise when that didn't do the trick. Nothing changed. I had to pull back further to allow my body to truly recover. And I wasn't happy about it. Fast forward a year (a year including some foot pain in addition to the hip pain), and I'm still working my way back to where I was, ever so slowly. I'm learning that I have to pay attention to what my body's telling me, and pain is a pretty clear message that I'm starting to finally listen to.

Yes, I'd love to be able to go for 6 mile runs again. I'd even like to do another half-marathon. But that's not where I'm at right now, and I have to accept the limitations (as well as the blessings, namely that 3-mile runs are far less time-consuming) of the season I'm in.

Self-care requires that we pay attention to our bodies and listen to what they're trying to tell us. Our bodies give us cues, and it's our responsibility to listen to them. I'm still putting that into practice for myself.

Wondering what that looks like? Sleeping when I need to sleep, acknowledging that I'm a better person when I've gotten at least 7 hours. Choosing foods that make me feel good, regardless of what others are choosing (whether that means choosing the kale salad because I need more greens or opting for the chips and salsa because my soul craves them, no shame). Eating when I'm hungry and stopping when I'm full, even if it doesn't coincide perfectly with others' meal times, snack times, or food preferences. Nobody really cares if I skip dessert because I'm full or squeeze in an extra snack because my stomach's grumbling. The world carries on just fine. And it means skipping my morning workout in favor of rest when I'm too sore or adding in another activity or workout when I want one. It's all a big-picture balance sort of thing, and it's different for all of us!

 

RECOMMENDATIONS

Food made with real-food ingredients, with an emphasis on lots of fresh produce.

Ambitious Kitchen

Pinch of Yum

Fit Foodie Finds

Minimalist Baker

 

Some type of movement that you enjoy.

Blogilates

Fitness Blender

POP Sugar Fitness

The Live Fit Girl

 

What are your favorite ways to nourish your body through food and exercise? I'd love to hear from you, either in the comments or via email (jessie@notesfromjessie.com)!

 

Later, lovely!Jessie (1).png

 

 

P.S. If you'd like more encouragement to incorporate more self-care into your life, I'd love to chat with you about it! You can book a call here!

 

How to Give Yourself Grace for Your Anxiety {Simple Self-Care Part 4}

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Summer is supposed to be a time of rest and relaxation. So why is it that it so often stresses us out instead?

We're anxious about getting all of our work done before we leave for our vacation.

We're stressed about packing everything in our suitcases-- how does anyone manage to fit it all?

We're worried we're going to forget something important and mess it all up.

We're even anxious about our anxiety, concerned about our worrying, and stressed without knowing exactly why.

Sound familiar?

What in the world do we do about it?

I'm going to offer some simple solutions for reducing our stress and anxiety levels, as well as giving ourselves grace for them as we go along. What do you say?

[Anxiety is no joking matter. Neither is grief or depression. I'm not saying these things aren't real problems that deserve thoughtful approaches, and I don't want to underestimate the power of a good psychologist or pharmaceutical help for even a second. I'm merely opening the conversation up for things that can be added onto outside help for those with mental illnesses and things that can help the rest of us who just experience some anxiety from time to time.]

 

IDENTIFY THE ROOT PROBLEM

What's really causing our anxiety? Chances are, if we're obsessing about packing just the right t-shirt, it's not about the shirt.

Most of the time, things like finding the right shirt are just the straw that broke the camel's back, not the bigger problem. There's generally an underlying issue or a problem swept under the rug that needs to be unearthed and addressed.

To discern what the bigger problem might be, there are some introspective questions you can ask.

  • What am I really upset about?
  • Why am I upset?
  • Am I upset about something someone else said to me?
  • Am I worried about what other people will think?
  • Am I fearing the worst case scenario?
  • Am I afraid to fail?
  • Am I getting upset with the wrong person?
  • Is this a time management issue?
  • Is there a bigger conflict with my family, friends, or coworkers?
  • Is this feeling triggered by a sensitivity?

Once you're aware of the underlying issue, you can begin to face it! 

*If you can't identify the root problem, consider talking to a friend, family member, mentor, or counselor for some help. They'll be able to help you see things differently, and that will be the beginning of working your way through it! There's no shame in getting help!

 

STEP BACK

One of the best ways to reduce our anxiety and stress surrounding a situation is to gain some perspective. We often lose ourselves in our circumstances and challenges simply because we're just too close to the problem to see the solution.

Taking a step back to gain perspective allows you to see the problem within its context and observe its objective size and weight. When you're standing too close to the problem or all wrapped up in the middle of it, it feels all-consuming. It's not until you look at it from another vantage point that you're able to realize it's not as overwhelming as you once thought.

To gain better perspective, here are some questions you can ask yourself:

  • How big of a deal is this problem?
  • What will happen if this goes unresolved?
  • What will happen if I fail?
  • How long would it take for me to recover from this?
  • What are some good things in my life right now?
  • What do I know to be true about myself and my circumstances?

Assessing the actual size of your problem (which generally means realizing it's smaller than you originally thought) allows you to release some of the built-up stress surrounding it. It's like shrinking the problem back down from a mountain to a molehill. It immediately makes the issue feel more manageable.

 

JUST BREATHE

No matter what the problem is, I've always found that taking a minute to just breathe helps me refocus. It helps me also avoid knee-jerk reactions, and when I'm stressed or not quite myself, that's paramount.

Whether you have to take a little walk and actually remove yourself from the situation or just sit with it and pay attention to your breathing, focusing on the simple act of breathing gives you a break from trying to solve the issue right away. It allows you to pause so you don't react too quickly and rashly, instead giving you a moment to refocus and return with clearer vision.

 

REMEMBER WHAT'S TRUE

When our perspective has shrunk and all we can see is the issue that's causing us stress, anxiety, or worry, we find ourselves believing lies about who we are, where our worth comes from, what we're capable of, who God is, what God is capable of, and the reality of our situation.

I'm a BIG believer in affirmations. I have several that I speak over my life every day to remind myself of what's true because it is all too easy to get sucked into believing lies.

Some affirmations you might try include:

  • I am doing my very best.
  • I can learn from my mistakes.
  • Every experience offers an opportunity to grow and learn.
  • I'm not alone in this.
  • There are people I can talk to and trust.
  • This too shall pass.
  • There's a light at the end of the tunnel.
  • Just keep swimming.
  • Don't stop believing.
  • God has brought me this far and will continue providing for me.
  • I can do this.
  • I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.

 

WORK THROUGH IT

Now that we've taken the time to identify the root issue, gain some perspective, and remember what's true, we can work through the situation that's causing our anxiety and stress. Often it's fear of failure, fear of messing up, or fear of disappointing others.

But what's the worst that would happen if we did mess up or disappoint others? We would learn from our mistakes. We would have to start again with the knowledge we gained. We would maybe have a little mess to clean up. We would perhaps have to apologize. We might have to run to the store for something we forgot to pack or go without that thing we left at home. We might have to come up with a Plan B. 

But did you notice that none of those things are earth-shaking? That none of them are really that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things? We might have to endure an embarrassing or uncomfortable moment, but we will make it through and live to tell the tale. And, what's more, we'll learn from our mistakes and grow as people, which is all we can really ask of ourselves.

So let's embrace the journey we're on, a journey filled with mishaps and mistakes because we're all human, but a journey that's unbelievably beautiful because of all its humanity and authenticity, all its variety and growth and strength resulting from persevering through challenges. Doesn't that sound better than hiding in the corner and letting our fear and anxiety win? Let's give ourselves grace and space for the journey, and I think we just might come to enjoy it.

 

Later, lovely!Jessie (1).png

P.S. If you want to chat more about giving yourself grace, I'd love to talk to you! And if you're looking for a place where you can be encouraged and empowered to create a life, home, and/or business you LOVE by designing them with joy, simplicity, and intention, I have just the place for you! It's called The Joy + Full Living Community, and I know you're going to love it!

How to Make Time for Yourself {Simple Self-Care Part 3}

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We take care of our people, our to-do lists, our errands, and, occasionally, items on our bucket list. But how often do we take care of ourselves? I'm talking about real, good-quality, slowing-down, deep-work self-care. 

If you're anything like I was a couple years ago, the answer to that might not be one you want to admit out loud. But that's okay, friend! You're not alone!

Many women, especially those caring for other people, working full-time, volunteering, supporting families, and/or running businesses, don't feel like they have time to invest in stereotypical self-care. Several of them might even offer up a litany of excuses for why they can't afford to do so.

But might I encourage you to be open to creating more time to take care of yourself? There's only one you, and the world needs you! Your people need you. Your work needs you. And you can offer them the best version of you only by taking care of yourself. I promise it can be manageable, too!

 

START SMALL

You might have dreams of taking a whole Saturday for an all-day pampering session, but you might not actually have room for that in your life right now. There's nothing wrong with that! It doesn't disqualify you from making time for yourself.

Much like making time for Sabbath, making time for self-care starts right where you're at! Do you have five minutes? Ten minutes? Half an hour? An afternoon? Start where you're at, take what you've got, and go from there!

Anything people have accomplished has started with small steps taken forward from square one. We were all beginners at some point, we've just gone at different times and different paces. It's okay if you're not where you want to be or not where your best friend or sister is. You're on a journey that's uniquely yours, and a step forward-- no matter how small-- is still a step in the right direction!

 

DO MORE OF WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY

What do you love? Engaging in things that make you happy is one way to take care of yourself on a soul level. This world is chock-full of things that are hard and disappointing, but it's full of beautiful and good things, too, and we get the opportunity to choose which set of things we're going to focus on and fill our days with. I don't know about you, but I want to choose to fill my days, my life, and my heart with good and beautiful things. 

What's beautiful and good in your life, and how can you incorporate more of it into your days? When we infuse more of what brings us joy into our everyday lives, we radiate that joy. We turn our focus to what's good in the world, and it changes us from the inside out. We start seeing the glass as half-full. We spread joy and positivity. We're less stressed. We're friendlier. We're more fun to be around. And we enjoy ourselves and our lives more, which alone would be worth it!

So what do YOU love?

  • a good cup of coffee
  • puppy snuggles
  • rainbows
  • sunsets
  • flowers
  • scented candles
  • essential oils
  • journaling
  • music
  • movies
  • talking to your friends
  • going for walks
  • being near water
  • being in nature
  • running
  • biking
  • reading
  • cooking
  • dancing
  • learning new things

I could go on and on, but I'm sure you get the point. Some things on that list are actual things, and some are activities-- that's part of the point. There's a wide variety of things you could incorporate into your life to bring you joy, based on what YOU love. And did you notice that the things I listed were all simple pleasures, things that could easily be added to our lives? That was 100% intentional. This is meant to be applicable, not just material to read, but tips that can help you in your actual everyday life.

 

SAY "NO"

One of the most freeing words in the English language is "no." I'm not talking about saying it like a petulant two-year-old testing the power she has over her parents. I'm talking about choosing to intentionally say "no" to certain opportunities so we can say "yes" to the best things.

I've talked about it before, but I'm going to say it again (and I'll probably talk about it until I die): we can't do it all. We have to say "no" to some things in order to make room for others. And we get the opportunity to decide which things we're going to say "yes" and "no" to.

What matters most to you? What gives you life? On the opposite side of the spectrum, what drains you? What do you dread doing? And why are you investing your time and energy in the things that you are?

I've started asking myself why I'm doing what I'm doing all the time, and it's had some interesting effects:

  • I've let go of some things I was doing just because I thought I was "supposed to"
  • I've committed more to some things I love because I reaffirmed the reasons why I was doing them
  • I've begun adopting healthier habits because I'm making more intentional choices about what I need 
  • I'm living more by design and less by default
  • I'm finding myself investing more time and energy in things that matter, and less in things that will pass or fade
  • I'm showing up more consistently because I'm reminding myself of what really matters and what my goals are

 

STRIVE FOR HEALTHY BALANCE

No matter how much we want to take care of ourselves, we still have to work, and we still need community. Those aren't bad things (in fact, they're great things!), but they compete with our "me time." 

I'm an introvert, and I've had to figure out what balancing the various aspects of my life looks like for me in this season. So far, it looks like working by myself at home during the day, where I can get my work done in peace and quiet, all the while having time to myself and taking care of myself as necessary, along with planning social get-togethers for evenings and weekends. When I worked in a corporate environment, I found myself skipping more social events and planning more "me time" in the evenings just to save my sanity.

I was surrounded by wonderful people all day at work, and while I liked them a great deal, being with people for so many hours left me feeling too depleted to spend more time in social situations after work. If I planned too many social events in a week, I'd feel like I was running ragged, distracted, and not able to give anyone all of my attention or energy that I felt they deserved. Not to mention there was always a part of me that wanted to go home and rest because I was just so worn out.

Now that I work by myself, I have more time to "recharge" and then pour into relationships in social situations on evenings and weekends. I knew that I couldn't work at home all day by myself and then spend all my weeknights and weekends doing the same. I would go stir-crazy (in fact, I almost did when we had that unexpected April blizzard and I was stuck at home by myself for three days). I still have to make time to invest in myself, and I do, but it's a balance I had to strike, and it's something that looks different for everyone!

 

SCHEDULE IT

It might sound too Type-A (which I readily admit I am, along with an enneagram type 1, which probably explains a lot), but scheduling time for myself was probably THE number one way I made more time for self-care.

When I was working in an office during the day, I would schedule a date night with myself on Friday nights-- to catch up on my favorite show's latest episode, paint my nails, give myself a facial, and go to bed whenever I got tired. It was my gift to myself for making it through another week, and it allowed me to recharge the way I do best. I would then be energized enough to make plans with friends and family for the remainder of the weekend. 

Now my life looks a little different and I'm more flexible with the plans I make because I can afford to be, but I still actually write down when I'm going to invest in some "me time." I put it in my planner so I can make sure I do it. If I don't write it down, I'm apt to put it off, and I know I need to not ignore my own need to take care of myself. So on the calendar it goes!

 

What do you think? Does making time for yourself seem simpler now? I sincerely hope it does! Just remember you can start small, and it all just comes down to incorporating more of what makes you happy!

Later, lovely!Jessie (1).png

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

P.S. If you're looking to chat more about self-care or find a way to incorporate more of it into your life, I'd absolutely LOVE to talk to you about it!

How to Prioritize Family Time (When Life & Business Keep You Busy) {Simple Self-Care Part 2}

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Life keeps us busy. Running businesses keeps us even busier.

Between writing new content for our blogs, posting on social media, being present for our real-life people, writing emails, scheduling dentist appointments, responding to various emails and comments, processing our analytics, attending birthday parties, managing our accounting, and trying to sleep enough to be a functioning human being, it's no wonder we're worn out!

Our plates are full, but they're full of good and necessary things, so what are we supposed to do? It's summer time, and the lake is calling to us with its enticing song, our families are begging us to close our computers and join them for a game, and yet the notifications keep popping up, our to-do lists keep growing, and there is always more to be doing to keep the wheels turning in our businesses.

What's a girl to do?

 

WRITE DOWN yOUR PRIORITIES

What matters most to you? If you want to spend more time with your family, that's going to require some sacrifices in other areas.

There will always be more work to be done, so you have to decide how much time you're willing to invest in your work when you could be spending time with your family. How much work are you willing to do on vacation, if any? How many days will you take off completely? What's the tradeoff? 

At the end of the day, your business won't fly out the window if you don't answer that last email or if you fail to post to Instagram for a couple days. I'm not saying you won't suffer any potential loss of steam, growth, or revenue, but things won't blow up just because you took a little break.

You and I could work twenty-four/seven and still have work to do, so we have to draw the line somewhere. We only have so much time to spend in this season with our families and loved ones, and I know we all want to make the most of it while still successfully running our businesses.

Choosing to invest more time in our relationships with our friends and families is an intentional choice that we can follow up with intentional actions to make it happen.

 

PREP AHEAD

I'm not going to jump right into how to balance work with family time on our vacations. There are several things you can do to prepare ahead for some concentrated family time that requires taking a break from work.

You can do your best to work ahead. If you know you're going to be taking some time off, you can do your level best to get as much done as possible before you go. You can clear out your email inbox, responding to everyone before you head out. You can tie up the loose ends with your projects. You can plan, outline, and draft your next project ahead of the duedate so you'll be all set to jump right back in when you get back. 

Further, you can schedule things out. So many things can be prepared ahead of time and scheduled to post, go live, or go out at a later date and time. I've been doing that for a couple weeks as I prepared to go on a couple short trips-- I wrote blog posts early, wrote social media content early, and scheduled out the rest of my content for the month so I could be better prepared to take some time off (and pick right back up when I returned).

You can simply reschedule things to accommodate your different schedule. I had to move a few client calls to fit them around my trips recently, and people were very understanding. Choosing to move things and explaining why you're rescheduling (so you can focus on spending time with your family) demonstrates your values and your commitment to the important things in life. Most people will understand and be willing to reschedule with you.

You can delegate tasks when possible. If you have a team that can help you out, you could have them respond to emails in your absence, post content for you, or completely take over the reins and run the whole shebang while you're gone. 

If you're currently a one-woman show (like me), you could consider automating some things. There are apps and programs that can help you schedule out your content so you can create it all at once and have it post later. You can set up funnels with evergreen content so you're not constantly creating new material or having to manually move people through your sequence.

You can turn on out-of-office email responses (some other apps allow this function, too, so check that out!) to let people know you've received their message and will reply when you're back. Having things like this set up is what keeps me from worrying about missing things while I'm away-- I have social media content scheduled out and an auto-responder on my business page, along with an email funnel, so people still hear from me while I'm gone, and I can engage with them more personally when I get back.

 

BE FLEXIBLE

The time you spend preparing for a trip will likely not look like your normal days. Whether you're trying to work ahead or just prepare a week's worth of content to be disseminated while you're out, you're going to be busy. You might have to move some things around and make last-minute changes.

You might have to work a little longer for a few days to compensate for your days off. And that's okay! I think it's 100% worth it to hustle a little harder for a few days (investing intentionally, of course, working efficiently and purposefully) so you and I can reap the benefits of our hard work by taking some well-deserved time off. It just requires a little flexibility on our part!

I'm changing up my schedule for the next couple weeks in order to get a couple weeks' worth of work done in about half the time without losing my sanity. Much of that requires moving some things around, letting go of some things (ahem, sweeping my floors, cooking fancy meals, and taking extra walks) so I can focus on the things that are most important right now-- preparing for my trips by buckling down and getting my work done.

Approaching this kind of work/life balance with grace and flexibility allows us to make changes as necessary. Maybe you'll try working in the morning and spending time with your family in the afternoon, only to find out it would work better the other way around. Or perhaps you'll find that delegating isn't the best option for you, but working ahead and scheduling things out for yourself does work. It can take some trial and error, but that's part of why there are several approaches-- because different things work for different people and situations!

 

TIME BLOCK

Whether you're preparing for some concentrated family time that will have you stepping away from work or you're just trying to figure out how to get normal work done with kids running around or neighbors knocking in the background, the simplest answer I can give you is to block your time.

If you know of times during the day when you can get in some uninterrupted work time, capitalize on it! I like working when the house is empty and nobody else is vying for my time. And while I'm working my tail off to get work done before traveling, I know that if I end up taking any of it with me, it's going to work best for me to complete my work before others get up in the morning or while they're busy doing their own individual things, not when everyone else is gathering for meals or outings and I'd be left sitting inside by myself, missing out on the fun and community.

If you're trying to balance work and rest or fun, consider when you do your absolute best work. I'm a morning person, so I know that if I need to get some hard work done, my best chance for doing it is before lunch. For that reason, I don't schedule other things before lunch. I plan my errands and coaching calls for the afternoon. Doing so allows me to take advantage of when I do my best work.

Time blocking also helps me stay focused because it requires that I've declared a purpose for each section of my day. Knowing what I'm supposed to be focusing on is actually liberating because it frees me from having to question whether there's something else (or better) I should be doing with my time. It eliminates distractions and helps me be as productive as possible because I block out time for the most important things and get them done faster when I've dedicated time to them.

Blocking your time is also a great way to approach partial solutions-- for instance, if you're working from home and trying to juggle family time and work time (or even work time and tending to household tasks). If you set aside certain hours for work, explaining to your family that those hours are for work, and that there's another portion of your day entirely devoted to family time, it's easier to engage fully in both. You'll have greater peace knowing you're not ignoring one or the other entirely, but doing your best to balance both, and people on both sides are more understanding because you're investing intentionally in both and setting boundaries to save your sanity in the process and keep one from bleeding into the other.

 

SAY "NO"

We all have limited time in our day and endless options for how we can spend it. But none of us can do it all. We have to choose what we're going to invest in, and I'm a big advocate for making those choices intentionally, with our priorities and purpose in mind.

What matters most to you? What is your purpose (in life and in your business)? What choices support those things?

Saying "yes" to one opportunity means saying "no" to something else, and the opposite is also true. To make more time to spend with our families while still running our businesses with integrity, we'll have to start saying "no" to some good things so we can say "yes" to the best things.

Here are some guidelines I use:

Say "yes" to what makes you come alive.

Say "yes" to what you love.

Say "yes" to what's best for your family in this season.

Say "yes" to what suits your skill set and season of life.

Say "yes" to what lasts.

Say "no" to what someone else is better suited for.

Say "no" to what you don't have passion for.

Say "no" to what just amounts to keeping up with the Joneses.

Say "no" to what drains you more than energizes you.

Say "no" to what has little return on investment.

These guidelines might not have all hit home for you, but I'm willing to bet some of them have! And even if they didn't, I'm sure they got you thinking about what kind of guidelines would help you make decisions that honor your priorities and your purpose. And when you lead with those two things, you can't lose!

I sincerely hope these words here have helped you find a way to run your business while still prioritizing time with your family. I know "work/life balance" is a trendy topic that's raised some debate about what it means to have a life and work, especially for those of us running our own businesses.

It's something that looks different for all of us and that changes with the seasons. It's a give and take mentality that asks how we can navigate the tension of doing two opposing things, but it really just takes finding the middle ground and working to keep the first things first. It means preparing ahead, rescheduling, delegating or automating, saying "no," and above all, being flexible.

 

 

 

Which one of those tips was most helpful for you? How are you managing to be present for your people while running your business (or just juggling a full work schedule if you're not a business owner-- I see you, too!)? I'd love to hear from you! You can simply comment below, shoot me an email at jessie@notesfromjessie.com, or schedule a call with me to chat some more!

Later, lovely!Jessie (1).png

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

P.S. If you're looking for some help creating space for rest or navigating your own time management, you don't have to figure it out alone! I'd love to help you!

 

 

Why Rest & Sleep Matter {Simple Self-Care Part 1}

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"Rest" and "self-care" have become buzzwords all over the internet and in our offline conversations. We talk about incorporating them into our lives, but we're still not very good at following through.

We take pictures of ourselves reading a novel, lighting a candle, prepping a bubble bath and tea situation, or laying in bed at noon on a Saturday, hashtag it #lazysaturday #selfcaresaturday, and call it good. But we're not giving our souls the kind of rest they crave.

 

WHAT REST DOES FOR US

Rest and sleep have such an amazing effect on us when we get enough of them! And the great thing is that we can start seeing results quickly if we change our habits now to incorporate more rest and sleep-- we don't have to wait weeks or months to see a difference.

Rest makes us more creative. Have you ever tried to create something when you're sleep-deprived? I know that when I'm low on sleep, I'm only able to run on autopilot. I can't generate fresh ideas, brainstorm, paint, design, write, or even dream. My creativity tank is on empty when I haven't gotten enough sleep.

But when I'm well-rested, I can approach my creative work with renewed energy and a greater ability to come up with new ideas and perspectives. It's only when I've allowed myself to rest and sleep enough that I'm able to fire on all cylinders.

Rest allows us to be more productive. I'm pretty much useless after ten pm. I can be present physically, but my brain is very punctual in turning off. If I stay up too late or have too many nights where I get less than eight hours of sleep (yes, I'm one of those people), I can hardly think straight, let alone think or work quickly or efficiently. Tasks take five times longer. It's a struggle to put the right words together to say what I want, which is a problem when my work is word-focused.

I'm recognizing that in order to be the most effective in my work, I need sleep and rest. My body needs to rest and my mind needs to take a break in order for me to come back and be able to give my work the attention it deserves.

Rest rejuvenates us and heals us physically. Have you ever tried to get back to your normal level of activity too quickly after an injury? I have. I thought I could just push myself a little harder and a little faster, maybe even skipping a little icing or extra stretching here and there, and it wouldn't do any real harm. I just wanted to get back to normal faster. I was impatient. Do you know what happened? You probably do.

I delayed my healing. Instead of skipping from square one to square three, I went back to zero. I had to start the healing process all over again. My attempts to bypass rest only hurt me more in the long run. It's still hard for me to remember that my body needs rest sometimes when I want to be going, going, going all the time, but I'm learning to embrace it because I only get this one body, and I need to take good care of it. 

Rest and sleep give our brains a break. I need brain breaks. I stare at screens, answer emails, reply to comments, ask questions of my own, post messages and photos and articles and links, write content here, record videos, watch and listen to others' content, and that's just Tuesdays. If I don't get up and take breaks, my eyes start to hurt, I get distracted by the simplest things, I get frustrated about the smallest inconveniences, and I'm apt to fret over small details or spend too much time overthinking a problem that isn't even mine to solve.

One of the best solutions I've found for myself is to take a break to go for a walk. Obviously, this requires the weather to cooperate, which it doesn't always do. But I've found that setting aside time to get up from my chair, walk away from my computer, and leave my work behind for a little bit is incredibly freeing and refreshing. Getting my muscles moving also gets the wheels inside my head turning in new ways, granting me new creative bursts and fresh ideas.

Rest and sleep relieve stress. I sometimes find myself getting all bent out of shape because I can't figure out how to fix wonky formatting on a blog post or get my latest Facebook Live replay to upload fast enough to my YouTube channel. It's in those moments that my eyes are opened to just how impatient and high-strung I can be. So I'm choosing more often to take breaks when I reach that point (ideally before I reach that point). Then, after I've gotten the chance to calm down and gain some perspective about what really matters, I can revisit the problem and usually resolve it pretty quickly, and with a better attitude.

Rest and sleep help us perform at our best and show up as our best selves. Nobody wants to hang out with a sourpuss or grumpy gus, right? And no one wants to get paired up with the kid who never contributes anything to the group. I don't even think any of us want to be those people. But we are. Or at least, I am when I haven't gotten enough sleep. I'm more hesitant to step outside of my comfort zone, less likely to go above and beyond to help others, less willing to put in extra time or effort, less encouraging and motivating, and just less fun to be around.

On the other hand, when I've gotten more sleep at night and make time for rest breaks throughout my week, I'm much more flexible and willing to help others. I'm more likely to stop what I'm doing to answer someone's question, more likely to change up my schedule to go visit friends, more likely to stay for the second round of the game instead of making excuses to leave early because I'm tired. I'm more like the person I want to be when I've gotten enough rest. And that alone is a good enough reason for me to pursue it more.

 

PRACTICAL WAYS TO GET MORE REST

Now that we understand how vital rest and sleep are to our mental, physical, and relational health, how do we prioritize rest in our real lives? It's one thing to talk about how important it is to make time for rest, sleep, and self-care, but it's another thing entirely to set aside time for it between our dentist appointments, grocery runs, work meetings, and coffee dates.

If we're not careful, making time for rest can become just another thing to check of our to-do list. What's a girl to do?

Rest, sleep, and even self-care in general, look different for everyone, and they manifest themselves a little differently in various seasons of life. I talked recently about how we set ourselves up for success by approaching self-care through a lens of lifelong learning on a Facebook Live, and that applies to figuring out how to best rest and incorporate sleep, too!

  • go to sleep half an hour earlier
  • get up half an hour later
  • take a 30-minute power nap
  • go for a leisurely walk
  • light a candle
  • get a mani-pedi
  • put your favorite essential oils in your diffuser
  • take something off your to-do list without completing it
  • take a snack break
  • read a book
  • try to get up at the same time every day (and go to bed at the same time)
  • find great sheets, blankets, and pillows to make your bed cozy and comfy
  • get comfy watching your favorite movie or tv show
  • meditate or pray
  • turn off your screens an hour before bed
  • take a midday screen break
  • put your phone on "do not disturb" mode
  • practice 10 slow breaths
  • call a friend
  • turn on your favorite song
  • go for a drive
  • don't set an alarm
  • have a pajama day

No matter what rest looks like for you in this season, I encourage you to make it a priority. You'll be more creative, more productive, more attentive, more patient, and more like the best version of yourself!

I'd love to hear about your experience pursuing rest and sleep! You can comment below, shoot me an email at jessie@notesfromjessie.com, or schedule a time to chat with me!

Later, lovely!Jessie (1).png

 

 

 

Your Ideal Client Roadmap

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So you're hustling to create amazing products and services, but you're seeing no return on your investment. 

You're posting on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest and only hearing crickets in response.

You're putting in all the effort for no results, and you're feeling burned out for all the energy it's taken to still be at square one.

What are you doing wrong?

Perhaps you haven't taken the time or effort to dig deep and identify your ideal client in great detail. You have a general idea (or you even think you have a solid grasp on) who you're targeting, but your messaging isn't specific enough, nobody's responding, and you're beginning to wonder what you're missing.

I've been there! I thought I knew who I was gearing my messaging toward, but it was too broad. I thought I had the copy pinned down, but it wasn't speaking specifically to my niche audience. I had to get more specific and spend time working to identify who I was really best positioned and gifted to help so I could make the biggest impact and reach the right people.

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IDENTIFYING YOUR IDEAL CLIENT

1. DEMOGRAPHICS

It's important that you understand the basic demographic information of the people you're targeting with your services, products, and messaging. Different people respond to content differently, and to best target the right people, you have to understand some fundamental things about them.

  • What age range does your ideal client fall within?
  • What level of education does your ideal client have?
  • Where does your ideal client live (state/country/time zone/type of home)?
  • What is your ideal client's socioeconomic status?
  • What is your ideal client's relationship status and family situation (single/dating/engaged/married/married with kids/single parent/empty nester)?
  • Is your ideal client part of a specific political or religious or academic group?

 

2. ATTRIBUTES 

What character qualities are you looking for in your ideal client, if any? These might seem less important than demographic information, and they're often less obvious, but that doesn't make them insignificant. Consider for a moment trying to work with someone who isn't particularly ambitious, hard-working, or committed. It's going to be far more challenging to work with them than it would be to work with someone who shows great determination, intrinsic motivation, and a good work ethic.

These qualities will also determine the kind of content and the format of the content you create for them. If your ideal clients need a step-by-step plan with a detailed workbook, a loose self-guided audio program isn't going to be as appealing or as good of a use of your time.

  • What attributes are vital to a healthy working relationship with you?
  • Is your ideal client a leader or a follower?
  • Is your ideal client methodical or more impulsive?
  • Is your ideal client detail-oriented or more interested in the big picture?

 

3. LIKES & DISLIKES

What does your client like about their current stage of life, health, relationships, business, or whatever area you're trying to assist them in? What frustrates them about that area of their life? Do they hate the accounting portion of running their own business even though they love networking? Do they hate meal planning but love cooking?

Knowing what your clients love helps you focus your content on giving them the skills and tools they need to do those things more efficiently and support them by helping them with the more tedious parts so they can invest more time, money, and energy doing more of what they love and less of what they hate.

This is also applicable to considering what types of content resonate with your ideal client. Are they more interested in audio? Video? Detailed guides or big-picture videos?

  • What part of your ideal client's life, health, relationships, or business do they already love?
  • What part do they hate?
  • What tasks do they continually procrastinate?
  • What tasks overwhelm them?
  • What format are they most drawn to?
  • How long is their attention span?
  • Do they like step-by-step guides or more lackadaisical approaches?

 

4. INTERESTS & SKILLS

What is your ideal client interested in? What do they want to learn or grow in? This is an opportunity for you to use your expertise and knowledge to assist them in areas where they have room to grow.

What is your ideal client already good at, and how can you capitalize on that to help them strengthen their life, health, relationships, home, or business? Everyone's good at something (usually several things), so how can you support them in doing what they're already good at-- only better, faster, easier, or more efficiently?

  • What interests your ideal client?
  • What causes is your ideal client passionate about?
  • Who does your ideal client already follow?
  • What are you good at that your ideal client would want to learn about?
  • What is your ideal client already good at? 
  • How does your ideal client spend their time?
  • How could your ideal client's strengths be leveraged or optimized?

 

5. PRESENCE

Where does your ideal client spend their time? Where can you find people to observe, engage with, interview, and use for your market research? It's important to identify where they "hang out," so to speak, so that you can not only conduct your research into what their pain points and needs are, but also so you can circle back with your solutions!

  • What social media platforms does your ideal client use the most?
  • What types of content is your ideal client engaging with the most?
  • What groups is your ideal client a part of?

 

6. THOUGHTS & FEELINGS

On an average day, what does your ideal client think, feel, say, and do? Take a moment to get inside the head of your ideal client and flesh those qualities out so you can get to know your ideal client inside and out.

  • What do they talk about?
  • What do they have to say on the topic you're trying to help them regarding?
  • What do they think about?
  • What do they think about the topic you're focusing on?
  • How do they feel about the topic you're focusing on?
  • How do they feel about where their life, health, relationships, or business is right now?
  • What are they doing that's hindering their progress?
  • What activities are they engaging in regularly?

 

7. PAIN POINTS

What's your client's biggest struggle? Where do they find themselves being challenged and frustrated time and again?

  • What makes your ideal client angry?
  • What makes your ideal client sad?
  • What frustrates your ideal client?
  • What does your ideal client struggle with?
  • What aspects of their life, home, health, relationships, or business does your ideal client not understand or not excel in?

 

8. NEEDS

Based on their pain points, what does your ideal client need? This will give you an opportunity to create a product, service, or free gift to support them and provide for their specific needs instead of guessing about what they could use. It's a surefire way to connect with them, provide real value, build your relationship with them, and turn readers and followers into paying clients!

  • What service could your ideal client use to help with their pain points?
  • What product could your ideal client use to help with their pain points?
  • What is the best solution to your ideal client's problem?
  • How does your knowledge and expertise answer your ideal client's problem?
  • What can you offer to solve your ideal client's problem?

 

CONDUCTING MARKET RESEARCH

To find answers to the above questions, there are a few different approaches you can take. It's often best to mix them up to ensure you get enough answers to be confident in the prevalence of your ideal client's problems and the opinions attached to them (instead of just a few specific people's opinions) and to go deeper with a few to get more information than some will be willing to offer up (so you can get even more specific!).

 

1-ON-1 CLIENTS

You can sign some individual coaching clients to help people work through their specific needs. In doing so, you'll gain insight into what people within your target audience struggle with the most and how you specifically can help them.

You can repurpose the content you use in your coaching (tools, worksheets, exercises, even tips and tricks) for a product, service, or program you offer later on, and you'll have the opportunity to gather testimonials from your one-on-one clients to demonstrate your ability to help in your niche!

 

INFORMAL INTERVIEWS

Oftentimes, our ideal clients are similar to us, or at least who we were a few steps back from where we are now. That means we likely know people in our personal lives who fit within our target audience. Even though you probably won't want to sell to your friends and family, you can take the opportunity to interview them, listen to their stories and experiences, offer some value, and learn more about your target audience in the process.

If you're crafting a business around helping first-time moms cope with the transition to life with a new baby, it would be helpful to sit down with your friend who just had her first kid a couple months ago to get her perspective. 

You could ask what your friend's biggest struggles are, what type of content she resonates with most, where she goes to find answers to her questions, what she would expect from certain products or services, and how much she might be willing to pay for such products or services. Of course, this is also when you could offer some of the information or experience you are preparing to turn into products or services for your ideal client, in return for your friend helping you with your research and to see how it resonates with someone who is part of your target audience.

 

POLLS & SURVEYS

On a less personal and time-consuming note, you can post polls and link to surveys. One of the best ways to do this is within targeted Facebook groups. If you ask just one simple question through a poll, you're more likely to get more responses than if you post several or link to an outside survey. However, a survey could get you more demographic information, along with more personalized and in-depth answers.

Bonus tip: engage with the people who reply to your polls and surveys! If someone votes on a poll and comments with more information, reply to them! Offer some tips or advice if applicable, ask a follow-up question, or offer to get on the phone to talk to them further! It could get you more information, build a valuable relationship, demonstrate your authority, and even turn into a paying client relationship if you get on the phone and offer your services!

 

KEYWORD SEARCH

If you know what you're searching for, you can do a keyword search in targeted Facebook groups to find group members' posts that are relevant to the subject you're researching. This is a great way to see what language people within your target audience are using (which you can adopt and use in your website copy, advertising, and social media messaging to better resonate with your target audience).

Just remember to search for your keywords and any related variations or synonyms so you don't miss anything! And remember to use words that have both positive and negative connotations with your subject because people might have posted with struggles or triumphs.

For instance, when I was looking for information to use for my decluttering bootcamp, I searched words like declutter, decluttering, minimalism, simplicity, simplify, clean, organize, and clutter. 

 

ASKING QUESTIONS

You can always ask direct questions, too! If you're part of a relevant Facebook group, you can ask group members what they struggle with most on your topic or how you can best help them with your topic. You could ask for stories or examples (often specific requests gain more engagement because people are better equipped to answer specific requests in comparison to general ones). 

Examples include:

  • What are your decluttering goals for this week?
  • What are you struggling with most in writing your website copy?
  • What was the hardest part of creating your social media strategy?
  • What made you want to start your journey of simplifying your life?

 

WHAT YOU'RE LOOKING FOR

THEMES

Are there patterns you can observe based on the research you've done? Are there questions that keep coming up, common struggles, or shared issues? Chances are, the biggest problems one person in your target audience is facing are the same as the problems others in your target audience are facing. When you get specific enough about your ideal client, you'll be able to identify themes between the individuals because they will have common pain points and interests.

 

LANGUAGE

What language are they using? Are there phrases, words, statements, or questions that keep coming up over and over again? Is there language you can adopt for your own messaging to demonstrate how well you understand your target audience and identify with them?

 

BIG PROBLEMS

Your ideal client will likely have more than one problem in his or her life, home, relationships, health, or business. That means there's a substantial amount of room for growth!

But for maximum impact, start with their biggest pain point. What struggle do they talk about the most? Where are they focusing? What issue is causing the biggest impact on their daily life?

 

INFLUENCERS

Who does your target audience already listen to? You can target them with ads, but you can also take a more organic approach and just observe and take notes on what they're doing that your target audience is responding to so well.

  • Where is your audience most engaged with these influencers?
  • What types of posts seem to resonate most with your audience?
  • Do these influencers have a specific tone that your audience responds to?
  • What draws your audience toward the influencers they listen to?
  • What common threads exist between the influencers your audience is drawn to? 
  • How are you similar to and how are you different from these influencers?

 

Now you know what the common struggles are, what the language is, and where to find your ideal clients. All you have to do is use your knowledge and expertise to craft products or services that directly address your ideal client's pain points and use language they understand (positioning yourself in the places they frequent) to capture their attention, demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of their situation, and get them to work with you!

 

That's it! That's how you identify your ideal client, get super specific about who they are, where they hang out, what they're struggling with, how you can best resonate with them, and how to craft a product or service to address their biggest struggles (which will compel them to work with you!). What tip was the most helpful to you? I'd love to hear from you-- in the comments or via email at jessie@notesfromjessie.com!

And if you want to talk more about finding your ideal clients, creating a visibility or engagement strategy, setting up your website, crafting your messages, articulating your vision and mission, or doing the mindset work that makes all of that possible, let's chat!

 

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Later, lovely!Jessie (1).png

 

 

June 2018 Favorites

I thought it would be fun if I took a moment each month to let you know what things are currently striking my fancy, so here goes the June installment! 

[This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something through my link, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thanks for supporting Notes from Jessie!] 

CURRENT FAVORITES:

BOOKS:

I finished The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas, and it was really good! It's a long book, but I loved the themes of friendship and integrity. I also read The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler, but I wasn't a big fan. It was far more about the relationships and histories of the main characters and not enough about Austen and her books for my taste. I picked up Me Before You by JoJo Moyes finally (it's been on my bookshelf for longer than I want to admit, along with several other titles I'm hoping to make it through this year so they can stop mocking me with their unread-ness). 

I started reading Jess Connolly's Dance, Stand, Run, too, which is really good! I'm going through it pretty slowly because I want to digest and mull it over (and because severe headaches don't pair well with trying to read, so I got slowed down by that).

 

QUOTE:

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him, He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." -Hebrews 12:1-2

 

MOVIES/TV SHOWS: 

I started watching Parks and Recreation after watching a few bits and pieces with friends over a year ago and feeling like I'd given it a try and not found it to my taste. I was wrong. It's charming and humorous without taking much of my attention, so it makes for a nice little breather when I need a break in my day to unwind. 

I also discovered a DVD set of the first season of Little House on the Prairie at my parents' house, and I've been watching that, too. I loved the books and the show as a kid, and it's been so sweet to watch it again! 

 

SONG: 

Dierks Bentley's new single "Woman Amen" has been playing a lot lately, and I'm not mad about it. I love the sentiment of the song and the catchy tune!

 

FOOD: 

I found a delicious recipe for paleo/vegan chocolate, and I think I'm in love! I've loved dark chocolate for years, but when I made the choice to try to avoid dairy at the beginning of the year, I included chocolate, and it made me kind of sad (okay, disproportionately sad for it being just chocolate). But this recipe has no dairy, is simple and uses ingredients I always have on hand, and I promise it tastes just like dark chocolate!

Once I made my new-found love, I tried my hand at making a paleo dessert (these double chocolate turtle bars) for a get-together I had coming up (always risky, making new food for new friends). It was less complicated than it looked at first, came together easily, and tasted so good it might be a new go-to for me! Bonus: my friends really liked it, too!

 

MEMORIES FROM JUNE:

I can't believe we're already at the end of June! Summer will be over before I know it. But that doesn't mean I haven't done my darnedest to make the most of June!

I went to a friend's bridal shower, helped another friend deliver and set up cupcakes for a wedding, took a day trip to Stillwater, went to a lovely wedding reception, and spent some more time with friends and family. It was a great month!

 

LOOKING FORWARD TO IN July:

My family is traveling to Nebraska for a family reunion, and I'm looking forward to getting to see my extended family that I haven't seen in a few years. I also get to see my "second family" for the Fourth of July, which I'm excited about!

 

What were some of your favorite things this month? I'd love to hear from you in the comments!

Later, lovely!Jessie (1).png

Be a Champion of the Small Things

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We're slowing down for summer around here, but that doesn't mean everything comes to a screeching halt. It just means that instead of rushing around and trying to accomplish ten thousand things, we're moving at a slower, more intentional pace so we can savor the season and all that it has to offer because we don't want to miss it!

As we're slowing down, we're noticing things. We're seeing with renewed sight and refreshed perspective. We're gaining clarity of purpose and vision as we choose how we want to show up and what we want to invest in.

One thing that I want to personally invest in is being what I call a champion of the small things. That means noticing, savoring, and celebrating small graces, gifts, and gains. Doesn't that just sound like a fabulously intentional, simple, and joyful way to live?

So what does it actually look like to be a champion of the small things? It's one thing to say it, but it's another thing to do it.

 

1. IT BEGINS WITH NOTICING.

We can't notice what we don't slow down enough or pay enough attention to see. When we're rushing through life at breakneck speed, we miss out on the things around us.

When we're rushing, we're apt to miss out on things like beautiful sunsets, gorgeous flowers, budding garden plants, the smiles on the faces around us, a kind word, a door held open, and even intricate spider webs (I don't like spiders, but I have to admit they're so creative!).

I don't want to miss those things, and I don't think you do, either. When I'm having a stressful or not-so-great day, those simple things are what bring me back to life again. It's not the mountaintop high of a vacation or business win, but it's the simple joy of spending time with the people I love or listening to my current favorite song that brings me back. And the extra beauty in that is the fact that those everyday joys are far more accessible-- they're right at my fingertips. All I have to do is slow down enough to notice them.

 

2. IT REQUIRES THAT WE SAVOR THINGS.

Our lives won't be changed much if we notice the world around us and the season we're in without taking the opportunity to savor them.

This world, and our lives in particular, are filled to overflowing with blessings, and we all too often rush right past them. We would be much richer if we paused long enough to not only see them, but to soak them in and cherish them.

Have you noticed how many people post up-close photos of everyday, ordinary things? Do you know why that's so compelling? It's because they have a way of capturing things we see every day in a new way, a way that catches our attention because it demands that we slow down enough to realize those things have been around us the whole time, just waiting for us to pay attention and enjoy them.

I want to be the kind of person who relishes in a slow morning, a good cup of tea, a well-written book, or a good song without rushing onto the next thing right away. I can spare a few minutes just to be, to relax, to cherish the moment and everything it brings before moving forward. And I know my day will be better for it because I took a moment to breathe and savor the world around me.

Life is constantly changing, and if I don't embrace everything this season has to offer with arms open wide, it will be gone before I know it. I don't want to miss it, so I'm choosing to slow down and savor it while it's here.

 

3. IT MEANS CELEBRATING ALONG THE WAY.

Life happens in the little moments, that's true. It's the regular, daily things that become habits and make up our lives. We can choose whether to get lost in the mundane activities or celebrate the small, everyday choices, wins, and gifts all around us. (I'm choosing and advocating for the latter!)

I'm celebrating the small steps toward growing my business.

I'm celebrating the small steps toward growing stronger as I work out.

I'm celebrating the relationships I'm gaining as I put myself out there and work on networking and building community.

I'm celebrating each benchmark of new followers, subscribers, and friends as I work toward broadening my reach so I can encourage more women.

I'm celebrating each healthy choice as I pause long enough to pay more attention to what my body needs instead of just acting on impulse.

I'm celebrating the days when I actually sit down to start work on time.

I'm celebrating each book I finish as I work toward my annual goal.

Choosing to focus on celebrating keeps me focusing on the positive and reminds me that each step forward is an important one, and each accomplishment is worth noting. It also reminds me that I am the kind of person who _______ (e.g. makes healthy choices, works toward getting stronger, and grows her network), because I'm consistently doing those things and celebrating each of them, reinforcing my decisions going forward. It makes it easier to be faithful to my goals and keep taking steps forward when I've celebrated the steps I've taken so far.

 

4. IT'S GRATITUDE FOR SMALL GRACES.

It's easy to be grateful for the big things and the good times in our lives. But what about the times of life that fit squarely between those good times?

Life's too hard and messy to not go through it with gratitude and joy. If we focus on what's challenging or not going our way, we're just simply going to be discouraged.

If, on the other hand, we focus on the good things that exist smack-dab in the middle of the hard things, we'll gain perspective and be able to hold onto joy no matter what we're facing.

It's so easy to be negative, but I have started challenging myself to see things in a positive light because I find that it makes my life more enjoyable, and it makes me more enjoyable to be around. Nobody likes being around someone who's negative all the time, especially if they're constantly griping and spreading their negativity. Instead, I've begun looking for the bright side or a little bit of grace in the grit-- the blessing of a flexible schedule in the midst of a nasty virus that would've kept me out of office work, canceled family plans making way for last-minute plans with friends or time to catch up on much-needed sleep.

Sometimes it's hard to find the little joys and moments of grace in the midst of hard times, but I believe there is always something to be thankful for. I just might have to occasionally look a little harder for it.

 

5. IT'S APPRECIATION FOR SMALL GIFTS.

I'm not a gifts person, per se, but I do appreciate them and love the heart behind them. I recently got a beautiful bouquet of flowers after having battled a nasty virus, and it was such a sweet, thoughtful gift! 

Gifts don't negate the tougher parts of life, but they can make life sweeter. And they don't have to be big, flashy, or expensive, either. 

People give gifts in different ways and have their own preferences for the types of gifts they'd like to receive. I think it's a great deal of fun to figure out how my people best receive love and lean into that. My tendency is to use words to communicate how I feel, but I know some people prefer having things done for them (dishes washed, a favor done, a helping hand) or just spending time with people.

I love it when people use their words to affirm and support me, and I've had a few amazing conversations with different friends over the last few weeks that have ended with me walking away with a big smile on my face. My people just have a way of naming things that I'm unable to see in myself, and when they encourage and commend me, I'm filled with joy and motivation to keep going. It truly brightens my day and makes me feel like I can conquer the world.

I also appreciate it when friends come over to make dinner and help with the dishes or clearing the table. Or if they brainstorm business ideas with me. Or if they engage with my social media content. When my people do things for me, it matters. In becoming a champion of the small things, I'm taking notice of and practicing gratitude for each and every action that supports and encourages me, no matter how small, because they all add up and make a big difference!

 

6. IT'S THANKFULNESS FOR SMALL GAINS.

Too often we don't let ourselves get excited until we reach our finish line. But what does that say about each step we take along the way? It says that those steps aren't important; only the last one really counts.

I don't want to believe that or live like that. Sometimes the road toward a goal can be long and hard, and the only way I know to make it easier and to motivate myself to keep going is to be grateful for each step I take in the right direction, no matter how small.

It goes back to number 3, celebrating along the way. I wouldn't still be here, doing this, if I didn't celebrate small wins along the way. Even though I'm not yet where I want to be (who is?), I can be grateful and proud of how far I've already come. And taking the time to appreciate that gives me the momentum I need to keep going forward, especially when it's hard.

Being a champion of small things also means being a champion of small steps. It doesn't matter how many more steps there are ahead, each one we take is a big deal because it still took effort and some amount of risk. It's still forward movement, and that's what counts.

So let's choose to celebrate each step, along with each gift and grace, as we go, slowing down enough to notice, savor, and celebrate the small things that make up our lives.

 

That's it! Now may we all go forward for the rest of this summer and beyond to be champions of the small things in our lives!

I'd love to chat with you about what it looks like for YOU to be a champion of small things in your life (and other goals you have for your life!). Let's chat!

Later, lovely!Jessie (1).png

 

 

Simple Hospitality in 5 Steps {Sanity Savers Part 3}

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Pinterest has made us all think we have to have elaborate set-ups and picture-perfect meals in order to invite some friends over for dinner. It's great for inspiring our creativity, but it can cause us to drown in comparison and feeling like we're not enough just because we don't have the mental energy to make everything follow a theme or plate your dishes like you're competing on Iron Chef.

I'm giving us all permission right here and now to set our expectations lower, to focus on the things that are truly important for our get-togethers and let the rest go.

I'm all about focusing on what's most important, and while that differs for everyone, I know there are some key parts to consider when planning a party, barbecue, dinner party, girls' night, or other gathering.

 

1. THE PEOPLE

The most important thing about any get-together is the people. Our guests come to spend time with us and each other, not to be impressed by an immaculately clean house or fancy table setting.

When choosing who to invite, there are a few things I like to keep in mind.

Including people who can initiate and carry conversations. Unless holding a conversation isn't crucial to the gathering (think movie night), it's important to have people there who are good conversationalists. They take some of the burden of making everything go smoothly and making the get-together fun off our shoulders.

I also try to make sure that everyone I invite knows at least two other people besides me. It  makes it easier to know that guests will be more comfortable, more engaged, and more relaxed in an environment with people they already know. And it means I don't have to feel the need to "babysit" anyone who's the odd one out.

 

2. THE FOOD

I love making new recipes, but it can be really stressful and time-consuming to try new recipes for a get-together. When I want to simplify things and reduce my stress before a party or big dinner, I try to stick to known dishes or slight variations on them. Because I've made them before, I know that I can make them again, and I have a better idea of what will go over well with my guests.

The food doesn't have to be complicated. I might throw together a simple salad and make some pasta to go with it. Or pull together the ingredients for tacos (always a winner). Earlier this week, I hosted a sort of Thanksgiving-esque dinner with my family, and I eliminated many of the side dishes I could have made in the name of simplicity. I cooked the turkey, roasted some potatoes, and put together a green bean dish. It was delicious and pretty easy!

I also try to prep the food as much as I can ahead of time (step 5). 

 

3. THE ENTERTAINMENT

I like to have some entertainment options thought out when I'm having people over. The reason for the get-together usually dictates my choices pretty easily.

If I'm having people over for a movie night, I'll pull out a few ideas so my guests don't spend twenty minutes discussing what everyone wants to watch. It saves time and mental energy to reduce the options to a select few (while still giving everyone the opportunity to contribute their opinion and find something they'll like).

When I'm having people over for a game night, I might also pull out a few suggestions, or at least have them in the back of my mind. Sometimes my guests are shy or reluctant to give their opinion, so sometimes I have to be willing to make the call or suggest a couple games to get the ball rolling.

And if I'm having people over for dinner, or a birthday party, or a game night, or just about any other kind of get-together, I'll turn on some music. It's much more relaxing to have some music playing in the background than to have complete silence whenever people aren't actively conversing with one another, and it makes the breaks in conversation less obvious. If we're getting pumped up for a louder, more active party, I'll start a playlist with more upbeat songs. If it's going to be a quieter night of chatting with a few friends, I'm more likely to play a more "chill" playlist.

 

4. THE CLEANING

My guests probably aren't going to be spending time in every room of my house. Even if I give a tour of my home, I don't have to deep-clean every space. I can just focus on the ones that will make the biggest impact.

The bathroom needs to be cleaned, of course. It gets a lot of use during the week, and it's going to get used by my guests. I typically clean the mirror, wipe down the sink and the toilet, clean inside the toilet bowl, and clean the floors. Nobody cares about the bath or shower, so as long as there are shower doors or a curtain, I'm golden there!

The kitchen. Assuming that my guests and I be spending at least some time in my kitchen when I'm prepping food, welcoming the guests, serving food, or refilling dishes, my kitchen is going to be involved, so it should be at least presentable. Because I'm making food for my get-together, it doesn't have to be spotless. I promise everyone will understands when I have dishes in the sink or extra food on the counter. But that doesn't mean that I can't make my job a little easier by having the dishwasher or dish drying rack emptied before the party to streamline the post-party dishwashing process!

My living room, dining room, patio, or other entertaining space. I ask myself: Where are my guests and I going to be spending most of our time? Where do I plan to sit? That space ought to be tidied and at least not embarrassingly dirty. I dust anything that's obviously dusty (but don't worry about what's out of sight, like ceiling fan blades or the top of six-foot tall bookcases). I sweep or vacuum. I move clutter out of the room. That's it. It doesn't have to take five hours or stress me out. I just tidy up and clean a little and call it good.

 

5. THE PREP

My favorite way to prep for parties is to spread the work out, and I do that in a couple different ways.

I get as much work done early as possible. I prep food earlier in the day or the day before when possible. I clean a day or two in advance. If I'm being fancy and decorating for the party, I do it the night before or earlier in the day. Doing so allows me to have time for rest in between completing party prep tasks. It saves me from running around like a chicken with my head cut off as I try to get everything done in the couple hours before people are due to show up. And it keeps me calm and relaxed as I prep because I know I have ample time to do everything.

I also accept (and sometimes request) help from others! People often offer to bring something, and it can be hard sometimes to accept because I want to do it all myself, but it's so much easier when I let other people help out! Not only does it take some of the weight off my shoulders, but it also gives my guests something to contribute, which many of them will appreciate because they don't like coming empty-handed. If I have everything you need, I let guests help me prep the food, set the table, or wash the dishes. That way, I get an extra set of hands and can spend more time together. It's a win-win!

 

That's it. You can go fancy and keep everything on a theme if you want. You can make elaborate dishes or try new recipes if that's what your little heart desires. But something tells me you might just appreciate some permission to pare down your hosting this summer in the name of slowing things down, savoring the season, and saving your sanity! I know I do!

I'd love to know what you thought of these tips! Drop a comment below or reach out to chat more about simplifying every area of your life, home, and/or business!

Later, lovely!Jessie (1).png

 

 

5 Keys to Embracing Slower Living

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Tired of living life at a frenetic pace? Exhausted from the length of your to-do list? Overwhelmed with how jam-packed your calendar is?

I feel your pain.

I know what it's like to feel the need to say "yes" to everything, to feel like you have to always be doing more in order to keep up, let alone get ahead or "be someone."

Our society moves at a sprint, and somewhere along the line we've bought into the lie that we have to push ourselves to keep up.

But what if we didn't? 

What if we started living our lives at a slower, more sustainable pace? What if we could show the world that there's a better, more peaceful, more joyful, more productive way to live?

There are a few keys to embracing this sort of slower living.

 

1. KNOW YOUR PRIORITIES

What matters the very most to you? Most people can come up with an answer to that question pretty quickly, saying things like their family, their friends, their work, or their faith.

But when it really comes down to it, many of us don't live like our priorities are what we say they are.

We hustle and rush to put in more hours at work to make more money to buy fancy things to impress people because it's what we think we're supposed to do. We think we have to compete to be the best and have the best.

But that's not the truth. 

I've been there, too, saying my friends and family matter to me, but then putting those relationships on the back burner because after a long day of work, running errands, and making dinner, all I wanted was some "me time."

Having a more flexible schedule with my work-from-home life has been such a game-changer for me. Now I'm more in control of my schedule, and I can make more time for my people. Of course, that began before I started working from home, and it's definitely doable without being your own boss. 

I reached a point where the things I valued weren't being prioritized correctly in my life. I was living my life on autopilot, making time for what was absolutely necessary (or what seemed like it was) and sacrificing the things that are truly more important (rest, relationships) in the name of productivity and adult responsibilities. 

But now I'm able to see that we can take control of our time. We can prioritize the things that we value most. We can work a little less. We can start saying "no" to some (often good) things so we can say "yes" to the best things. We can create more space for relationships. 

All it takes is declaring what your priorities are and taking steps to put them first-- with your calendar, your energy, and your finances.

 

2. START SAYING "NO"

If your schedule is anything like mine, there are seasons that are so jam-packed full of activities that you wonder how you're going to get any sleep or fit in a shower.

We move so quickly through our lives, running from work to our doctor appointment to the grocery store, hurrying home to make dinner before we head out to our small group gathering. I kid you not; I used to have days like that. But they were absolutely exhausting. And when it only happens once in a while, it's not a big deal. We adapt. We make it work. It's fine.

But when we live our lives in hyperdrive, we wear ourselves out. We weren't designed to move so fast. And when we're rushing through life, we miss some of the best things it has to offer.

The only way to slow down so we can savor each season and all it has to offer is to start saying "no" to things. I know that's much easier said than done. I know. But I also know how rewarding and relaxing it can be.

When we give ourselves permission to not do all the things, we all of a sudden find the freedom to choose what we're going to invest in. We give ourselves the opportunity then to invest in community, to embrace rest, to walk a little slower, to build some empty space into our schedules in case we want to go out for coffee with a friend or sleep a little later or read a few chapters of a good book. 

And do you know what happens when we let ourselves live a little slower? We relax. We know we don't have to rush from one thing to the next, so we can rest more. We get to prioritize the things we value most. We're more present with our people. 

I have been working on observing Sabbath for a while, telling myself Sundays are for rest and worship, not for work. But even so, I was moving at a pretty quick clip, even on Sundays. We occasionally have all-church lunches after our gatherings, and I would volunteer to help, but wouldn't typically stay too long because I always had at least five things to do before Monday came along.

We had one of these lunches recently, and I didn't leave until 3:30, which is possibly a new record for me. I met with my pastor a few days later, and he expressed genuine surprise at having seen me stay so late. You see, he's known me for years and seen my propensity for rushing and hustling and staying busy. He knows it's hard for me to put people above productivity. He actually commended me for carving out so much space for community. I told him I've been working on creating space for rest and relationships, and that I had decided to be flexible and focus on spending time with people that day (and others, too, but especially that day). It didn't go unnoticed. That wasn't my goal, of course, but it was reassuring to know that my intentional decision to be present was noted and important. All because I decided what I was going to say "yes" and "no" to.

 

 

3. STOP COMPARING

We can't do it all, but we often think we can and feel pressure to try. We see so many others who appear to be able to do everything-- work full-time in an impressive and fulfilling career, go on date nights and vacations, dress fashionably without effort, cook drool-worthy meals that look indulgent but are secretly healthy, keep an impeccably clean and beautifully decorated home, go for ten-mile runs every day, and fill their journaling Bible with perfect handlettering and illustrations.

Who needs that kind of pressure? None of us are perfect, even if some people appear to be from their social media feeds. I promise you they're also getting frustrated about how often they have to clean their bathrooms and what to have for dinner tonight when they realize there's no food in the house.

Let's just stop the rat race, okay? Let's press pause on the comparison loop that just leaves us feeling like we're less than. 

Choosing to stop comparing is amazingly, breathtakingly, freeing. It gives us permission to be ourselves in a way that little else does. And it frees up so much mental energy that was being used comparing, criticizing, and worrying-- energy that can now fuel our creativity, relationships, and productivity.

 

4. TAKE A TECHNOLOGY BREAK

I can't even begin to tell you how much I needed a break from technology a couple weeks ago. It had pretty much taken over my life, between working on the computer all the live-long day, listening to music, watching TV shows, scrolling through social media, watching workout videos, checking email, and receiving text messages, I was being inundated with messages and spending more time staring at screens than I'd ever want to admit.

It was time for a break.

I decided to take a couple days off over the weekend, and it was so rejuvenating. I didn't even miss anything important. And I got to be much more present with my people, which was really what I was going for. 

I disengaged from technology (social media in particular) so I could engage with the real world and real people around me. 

We spend so much time looking at what others are doing-- watching the news, scrolling through Instagram, checking out people's updates on Facebook. What if we stepped away for a bit and focused on what we're doing instead? What if we turned off the screens and looked at the people and the world around us for a minute?

 

5. FOCUS ON RELATIONSHIPS

People matter more than things. Relationships matter more than productivity.

I know these things to be true, but I also know how hard it is to live like they're true. It's all too easy to bury ourselves in our work and busyness, neglecting time with our people because we think they'll always be more opportunities to spend time with them.

But the truth is there might not be. We only have today, and I suspect that if we all thought about it, we'd rather have spent more of it engaging in relationships than putting in another two hours at the office at the end of the day.

People and relationships are the only things that last, the only things we can hope to take with us. Everything else will fade or be lost entirely. So let's choose to invest in the most important blessings we've been given-- our people. When we do, we'll realize that project we were going to finish and that elaborate dinner we were going to make don't really need our attention right now. They can wait. Our friends and family can't. They need us more than our to-do list does. 

Living more slowly means we get to engage more with the world and the people around us. It means being flexible with our schedules and our plans. It means choosing relationships over our to-do lists. And I can't think of a better way to live!

 

Do you feel empowered to live a slower life now? I hope you do! My dream for you is that you can create a life, home, and/or business you LOVE by designing it with joy, simplicity, and intention, and embracing slower living is a step in that direction! If you want to chat more about living and working with greater joy, simplicity, and intention, I'd love to set up a call with you!

Later, lovely!Jessie (1).png

 

 

Simple Meal Planning in 5 Steps {Sanity Savers Part 2}

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Why is it that we have to make so much food?! It's like the next meal comes 2.5 seconds after we cleaned up from the last one, and sometimes we're just too exhausted to even think about what to make to feed ourselves and our people.

In the summer, it's even harder. The house is too hot to run the oven for hours on end. We have plans to go to the neighbors' barbecue or our sister's grill out or that church picnic. There are so many things to do that we can hardly fix a sandwich for lunch around them.

How do we take care of ourselves and our families, make enough food in such limited time, and contribute to the food-centered get-togethers we have every weekend without going crazy?

We simplify. We pare down. We slow down. 

 

1. PICK SOME EASY RECIPES

You don't have to get fancy or complicated. In fact, summer is the perfect time to stick to easy recipes because they allow the amazing, fresh summer foods to shine through. 

There are so many ways to let summer produce shine through and get away without adding tons of other ingredients or having to use fancy, time-consuming methods to spice things up. Chop some fresh veggies and mix together a quick vinaigrette for an amazing salad. Cut up a bunch of seasonal fruit for a tasty fruit salad. Grill some veggie skewers when you're already firing up the grill for your chicken or burgers. 

Some simple summer recipes I have my eyes on are:

BREAKFAST:

Blueberry Muffin Overnight Oats from Fit Foodie Finds

Breakfast Oatmeal Cupcakes To Go by Chocolate Covered Katie

One Bowl Carrot Apple Muffins by Minimalist Baker

Flourless Chocolate Blender Muffins by Chocolate Covered Katie

Gluten-Free Vegan Breakfast Cookies by Minimalist Baker

 

LUNCH/DINNER:

5 Minute Veggie Sandwich with Hummus and Feta by Back to the Book Nutrition

Slow-Cooker Apple Cider Pulled Chicken Sandwiches for #WeekdaySupper from Cupcakes and Kale Chips

Simple Cucumber Salad with Lime Vinaigrette from Live Simply

Mixed Baby Greens with Strawberries, Gorgonzola and Poppy Seed Dressing from Skinnytaste

Heirloom Tomato & Avocado Salad by Love and Lemons

Crockpot Garlic Herb Whole Chicken by The Frugal Girls

Grilled Mango Chicken with Strawberry Mango Salsa by Lexi's Clean Kitchen

Easy Roasted Lemon-Garlic Shrimp from Skinnytaste

 

SNACKS/DESSERTS:

Creamy Pineapple Cucumber Smoothie by Minimalist Baker

Tropical Acai Bowl by Cookie and Kate

Blackberry Lemon Ice Cream by Vegukate

Oatmeal Raisin Breakfast Cookies by Chocolate Covered Katie

The Best Paleo Chocolate Chunk Cookies from Ambitious Kitchen

Clean Blueberry Almond Crumble by Amy's Healthy Baking

 

2. STICK WITH WHAT YOU KNOW

One great way to simplify your meal planning and cooking this summer is to stick with what you know. It eliminates the stress associated with trying to figure out the nuances of a new recipe-- rereading the instructions for the umpteenth time, forgetting to buy an essential ingredient, tweaking the process to suit your taste, realizing your oven cooks slower than theirs.

It's just easier to stick with tried-and-true recipes or slight variations of known dishes. You'll feel more confident. You'll be able to put things together faster. You'll stress less.

Got a perfect pasta salad to bring to picnics? Nobody will notice or mind if you bring it to all of them. Do you have a signature dessert? I'm sure everyone will actually love it if they get to taste it more than once this season. It's like an encore presentation!

I'm a big fan of repetition, whether it's exactly the same every time or just a little bit different. I personally like trying new recipes, but when I'm pressed for time or trying to simplify like I am in this season, I stick to what I know and slight variations on the theme. I might swap one herb for another or one seasonal veggie for another to mix things up, but the general recipe is the same. 

Whether you're bringing food to a get-together, cooking for yourself, or making food for your family, you can rotate through a list of tried-and-true recipes. You can select your favorites (or crowd-pleasers or family-approved dishes) and create a few different weekly menus (more about that in step 3) to rotate through every so often. It's up to you if you want to have four menus or six or eight, but then you'd have a solid collection of not only recipes but weekly plans that include meals you already know how to make and know everyone will love! It takes the guessing out of it and relieves so much stress!

 

3. MAKE A PLAN FOR THE WEEK

Failing to plan is planning to fail, right? I grew up without much meal planning experience. We would try to come up with ideas for dinners for the week, but we still wove our way through every aisle of the grocery store asking each other, "What do you want this week? What sounds good?" I kid you not, it took us two hours to grocery shop. And we still felt like there was no food in the house when it came time to make dinner because we didn't shop with meals planned in mind.

Now that I'm cooking for myself and shopping for myself, I've changed the routine to one that works better for me. I meal plan every week, deciding what I want to make so I can eliminate that guesswork and stress. I get excited about cooking and trying new recipes, so I look forward to prepping those chia seed parfaits on Sundays and chicken fajita bowls on Tuesday.

And it feels like a big weight off my shoulders when I know I have all my meals accounted for because I know I won't have to worry about what to make for dinner (and whether I need to thaw chicken or soak chickpeas or cashews for hours before I can even start cooking). It saves me so much time and mental energy, which are then freed up for other things, like walks outside and time with friends and family!

Like I mentioned in step 2, you can create a few weekly meal plans you like and know, and then rotate through them to fill the month with recipe plans. Then you have more than a week planned, and you know the recipes are winners! It streamlines the process even further.

Want to start your own meal plan? I have a free printable you can use! It even has a page for your grocery list!

 

4. MAKE A GROCERY LIST

The easiest way to get frustrated and go overbudget with your grocery shopping is to not make a list in the first place.

Going shopping without a list is like trying to put IKEA furniture together without the instructions. Or like trying to buy an outfit for an unknown guest. You might get close, but you're not going to get it completely right, and it's going to take far longer and cause far more stress than is necessary.

If you do a quick inventory of what you have at home, you'll be able to put together a list of items you need in order to make the recipes you've earmarked for the week without the guesswork that happens when you're standing in the bread aisle and can't remember if you have hamburger buns at home or not, only to pick up another package and then find out you already have three bags of them at home.

Putting a list together ensures that you get all the things you need, and in the correct varieties and quantities. It also helps curb impulse buys because you have a list you can stick to and stay focused on. For that reason, it also helps save you time! You can zip around the store to get the things on your list without having to go down every single aisle and decide what you want for the week; you already know!

 

5. CONDENSE YOUR SHOPPING

I know people who go to the store whenever they need just two things. They'll just swing in on their way home from work and grab what they need. Inevitably, they end up picking up five more things (wouldn't we all?), and sometimes they still manage to forget the things they went to the store to get! Okay, so I've been this person. But I've adapted my shopping habits because it wasn't working for me. It took too much of my time, mental energy, and money because I was shopping so haphazardly.

Now I batch my errands. I look at my grocery list (see step 4), and based on what I need, I make the call about what store(s) I'm going to go to. I don't know what's available in your area or where you prefer to go, but Aldi is my #1 choice. They don't have everything because they're a rather small store, so sometimes I have to go to another store to get what I can't find at Aldi. And if I know that the vast majority of the items on my list for the week aren't going to be found at Aldi, I might elect to skip it and go directly to my second-choice store to save the time. But if I do go to more than one store, I plan it out so that I can go in one run, on just one day. 

Batching my errands like this means I don't have to spend time running around to store after store every day of the week. It means I'm not tempted to buy impulse items day after day. It means I have more time on Thursday because I did all my shopping on Wednesday, and I can rest knowing I won't have to go again until next Wednesday.

 

Those are my best tips for simplifying your meal planning to save your sanity this summer (or in any season, really). Let me know which one resonated with you the most!

And if you're looking for more help simplifying your life, home, and/or business, let's chat! I'd love to hear from you!

 

Later, lovely!Jessie (1).png

Coloring Therapy for a Slower Summer

coloring therapy.png

In the craziness of life, I often find myself not feeling like doing adult things. I have no choice when it comes to the really important things like work and paying my bills. But I occasionally put off things like dishes or vacuuming or balancing my budget in favor of doing something more childlike-- coloring, reading, or playing a game.

I love how much adult coloring books have been gaining popularity! I've seen them at a few different stores, and it makes me feel like I no longer have to hide the fact that I'm secretly a fan of coloring even though I'm no longer six years old.

 

catharsis OF COLORING

If you haven't personally tried coloring since you were a kid, you're missing out on its cathartic properties! I promise it's relaxing, unless you're super particular about having the end result be fridge-worthy. If you color with the intention of just having a good time, it will be!

Sitting down with a coloring sheet and some colored pencils gives me an escape from everyday stresses and messes. It forces me to step away from my computer, my to-do list, and the inner dialogue that's tripping me up with an unending litany of tasks, minor frustrations, and rushing to and fro.

Taking a coloring break forces me to slow down and focus on the task at hand instead of stewing over the past or worrying about the future. All I need in that moment is to look at what's right in front of me. It recharges me and reenergizes me!

I have a friend who doodles during lectures and sermons because it gives her hands something to do while she's listening. If she doesn't have a pen and paper, her mind wanders, but if she can distract herself with a beautiful mandala drawing in her notebook, she can pay attention better. 

I've found the same to be true with my own wandering mind. If I have something for my hands or body to do, I can listen better and think more clearly. When I need to recharge my creative juices, I'll go for a walk. When I want to listen to some music or a podcast or just chat with a friend without having my eyes (and brain) wander all over the place, I'll go for a walk, or now pick up a coloring book!

 

COLORING COMMUNITY

Not only can coloring be a stress-relieving activity, but I've discovered how it can also be a social activity. I've gone to a few girls' get-togethers over the years to spend time both with people I know and other friends of theirs that I have never met.

Having coloring pages and colored pencils out gave us a place to start, something to do with our hands, and something to focus on besides the pressure to make small talk. Even around my good friends, it was nice to have something to do while enjoying comfortable silence when conversations trailed off.

Some people might be hesitant at first (maybe you are, too!), but as soon as one person picks up a sheet and the perfect shade of blue, everyone else feels like they've been given permission to start, too. And it's like a breath of fresh air because everyone already wanted to; they just needed someone else to go first. So let's be the ones who go first! And maybe also the ones who are okay with coloring outside the lines a little!

 

CULTIVATING SLOWNESS

Coloring is a slow activity, unless you're a frantic three-year-old. It's meditative, contemplative, and relaxing. 

Having a relatively mindless activity can be a welcome break in a world and life that moves along at warp-speed. I know that when I'm stressed and feeling overwhelmed, what I want most is to not have to do anything. I want to go for a walk, watch television, or color. I don't want to have to think. But I generally don't feel so great about how I've spent my time if I just binge-watch my latest obsession on Netflix, so coloring is a better choice!

I love the complex adult coloring pages that have detailed mandalas and patterns that take a while to complete. The kid inside of me gets restless with them, feeling rushed because I want to finish. But then I realize I don't have to finish it all in one sitting, and that's liberating. It's nice to have a little (very easy and comparatively tidy) project going in the background that I can return to whenever I have time or need to unwind.

As we slow down for summer to fully savor the best the season has to offer, may we choose to pull out a coloring sheet and some colored pencils instead of turning Netflix on out of habit. May we invite some friends over for a coloring and appetizer party, complete with some twinkly lights and a playlist of relaxing music. I think that sounds lovely, don't you?

 

NEXT STEPS

Looking for a coloring book for yourself or a friend? Check these out!

A Giving Heart: A Coloring Book Celebrating Motherhood

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Adult Coloring Book : Stress Relieving Designs Animals, Mandalas, Flowers, Paisley Patterns And So Much More

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And if you're like me and don't know what you'd do with the finished sheets (which you could frame as art, give as gifts, or turn into cards, by the way), you can check out coloring apps! I have Colorfy on my Kindle, and I love it so much!

Later, lovely!Jessie (1).png

 

More:

Health Benefits of Adult Coloring Books by Katie at Wellness Mama

Coloring your way to a healthy mind by Sara Dignan for USA Today College

Photo by Foto Garage AG on Unsplash

 

 

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