Goals

Business Goals... An Update!

Last night I was at a family friend's house, Mary, with her and my mother in law. Cultivating relationships with women in other generations is so important to me, and these ladies make it so easy with their openness. I am always amazed at their generosity and how easily they give heartfelt advice. Over my third glass of red wine, I started to talk about the reality of my day to day life, the stress, my business, being a mom, and just how challenging the balancing act was. Diane (my mother in law, who is honestly the most supportive woman I've ever been blessed to have in my life), reminded me, for not the first time, to recognize the gravity and the intensity of everything I'm doing right now. Caring for Rowan, running a blossoming business from home, balancing self care, friendships, and a household. It's true. It's intense, but it's everything I've hoped for. 

Image from our Garden Shoot with  Eliza Jean Photography

Image from our Garden Shoot with Eliza Jean Photography

Last year I wrote out my business goals for 2013. Reading those back today I was really excited and surprised at the transformation this little venture has gone through in the past year. My father in law said to me that he was skeptical about the viability of this business at first, and I'm sure he wasn't alone. He then followed up with such a nice compliment about how he can't believe how much progress I've made in a year. I don't say any of this to toot my own horn, please know that! I do believe in recognizing a job well done and boosting my confidence when things feel hard. It's easy to forget all the good things happening. 

So, let's review the goals, shall we?

1. Create an amazing wedding experience for Amy & Jonathon in May. On the water, incredible florals and some of the nicest people I've met to this day. I can't wait for their celebration. Yes! This wedding was amazing. I was super pregnant, but it was such a great accomplishment. I can't believe we're coming up to their anniversary already! Did you see the post?

2. Write my business plan. I've been working on it for a while because I want it to work for me, and not be homework. It'll be very detailed and outline every aspect of the business ranging from finances to client experiences and marketing. I want to outline my packages once and for all and write meaningful and thorough content for the website. Hooray! I don't exactly have a business plan, but I have streamlined things SO MUCH and have a clear understanding of my brand and finances. I outlined my offerings clearly, designed a website and it's all full of content. :) 

3. Book two more weddings for this fall. There are a few leads I've been working with and trying to figure if they'll be the right fit. If it's meant to be, it will be! This is an amazing testament to setting goals and knocking them out of the park. When I set this goal I was so scared. So so so scared. I did work another wedding in 2013 and am fully booked for 2014 (12 weddings). The best part is, I feel deeply connected to all of my couples and truly like we are a good fit. So blessed by this. 

4. Quit my day job, once and for all. This is a big one because my time is so valuable. The more time I can put into my work the better quality it is. Without the 9-5, I won't be as mentally exhausted to work hard when I'm home. I am open to working at a part time job that is more fulfilling. This might be the most amazing of all. Quit my job at the bank May 31st, and never looked back. All sorts of craziness happened with a PT job, but I am so happy to say that I'm working from home full time. Spending Rowan's first 9 months with him was so meaningful to me.

5. Host two editorial/ inspirational shoots. This is multi-purpose. I envision these events as a way to connect with other vendors in my area and also to showcase my work and build my portfolio so that I have some solid content on my website. I want to show future clients that I am good at what I do! Check! These were crucial to getting my website up. You can see the first one here (featured on Wedding Chicks), from August, and the next over here, which was recently featured on Style Me Pretty! Hosted a third early this year and am planning a spring shoot that will make you fall on the floor for this May. Yay! 

6. Build a website. I don't know at all how this will play out without a web designer, because I'm not one at all. But I did invest in a logo designed by Chelsea (oh my deer), and will hopefully have some good content by the time this transpires. With my business name change, I got a new logo designed which I adore, by Juliet Lapham! I spend this fall designing my website with Squarepace and am so very pleased with it. 

7. Practice floral design so I am comfortable offering full service florals by the time of my official launch. I've partnered with a local farm and florist who is amazing to work with. So excited about this! Oh goodness yes. I've become more and more in love with flowers as time has passed. I am currently only offering floral design to my clients who are also planning/coordination clients. Flowers are so life-giving. More of this please. 

8. Connect with local vendors. Making it a goal to sit down and meet with the primary vendors in the area and put together a resource guide for myself and future clients. Luckily we have some of the nicest people around, so this hopefully won't be too tough if I get over my fear of putting myself out there. Cue the happy tears. I was so scared about this. I was hanging on to so much fear about putting myself out there but I am so glad I set this goal. The relationships I've made in this industry are some of my most cherished. 

9. Finish my office. On our tight budget this will be tough, but I live with a handy husband who's pretty good with his tool box. This space is so important to me. Our house is small and we are sacrificing a guest room and a TV room for a nursery and an office, which I am grateful for. I want to make this space functional and beautiful! I love my office!! Isaiah built me some amazing furniture, I bought a new computer and this space is so me. Planning to shoot the space soon as a little time capsule. :) Here's a little peak, if you're curious! 

10. Launch Occasions Event Design... officially! Can't contain my excitement on this one. December 1st, 2013 is my launch date. It's a really long ways a way, but good things take time and patience. I'm giving myself lots of time to finish goals 1-9 (and have a baby too) so I don't get too stressed. More details to follow, but it will be amazing. Hooray! As you know, I changed my business name to Sincerely, Ginger Weddings, in my grandmother's namesake and it feels so right. I launched in September and never looked back. Praises. 

This was a good reminder for me that goals are helpful, they give me a vision for the future! I am planning to do a "part 2" post on my business goals for the rest of 2014. I am so proud of this businesses! Are you a goal setter? Leave your link below! xoxo

February Goals

What a wonderful month January was, the perfect 31 days to welcome the new year. Like I do every year, I cannot believe how fast time goes. Only 4.5 months until Rowan's first birthday, less than that to my first wedding of the season, and even less until our east coast trip this spring. January was so lovely. The first half of the month was spent in Mexico with Rowan and my in-laws. It was relaxing and so needed. When we got back from Mexico I jumped head first into planning and designing our upcoming 2014 weddings. 12 weddings in 4 months. We went to tastings, visits with floral designers, plenty of coffee dates, design proposals and so much more. The last day of the month was spent prepping flowers with my girl Shelby for our Fishtown editorial shoot (can't wait to tell you more about this!). For a few sneak peaks, follow the hashtag #fellinloveinfishtown on Instagram. (!!)

On Saturday the 1st, Shelby and I joined forces with the girls from ElizaJean Photography, Thistle & Bur, Gatherings Vintage Rentals, Floral & Frayed, BHLDN, and Traverse City Wedding Cakes to make beautiful things happen at the Leland Lodge. My oh my was it fun (and cold!). I hope the rest of February is just as sweet as Saturday. :) 

I was catching up on blog reading this afternoon after church, and I just had to share what Nancy posted about February Goals... "If January is the month of change, February is the month of lasting change. January is for dreamers... February is for doers -" [Marc Parent / Runner's World Mag] Isn't that amazing? So true, and just what I had on my mind, after all, habit has been on the brain, and habits aren't just for January. 

February Goals

  • Figure out my tiredness issue by having blood work done, to at least rule out thyroid and vitamin deficiencies. 
  • Celebrate Valentine's Day with flowers and a baby-free date
  • Take Rowan to the library for baby time. 
  • Post on the blog about my breastfeeding journey 
  • Take 8 month photos of Rowan with my "real" camera 
  • Continue tracking habits daily on Lift
  • Send long overdue thank you notes (so embarrassing)

Do you set monthly goals? I would love to hear! 

Letter to my Future Self: 2014 Inspiration & Goals

Dear Rachel, 

 

Welcome! It's January 1st, 2015. Can you believe what a crazy beautiful year it was? Rowan is a year and a half old now, he's running all over the place, keeping you so busy. He is so smart, curious and playful. You were able to balance working from home with caring for Rowan, and felt balanced by using your time wisely and sticking to your family schedule. Aren't you glad you created that last year? 

2014 Inspiration. Sources on Pinterest (click through).

2014 Inspiration. Sources on Pinterest (click through).

Balance and streamlining home & work was extremely important this year. I used my Simplified Planner daily to prioritize for the day and plan for the future. I am using tools that are at my disposal to track, record, and form habits for the things that are important- of note: I use Lift, My Fitness Pal & Runkeeper daily. As a result, I have stayed on track with my habits and goals. On Sundays, I prepped smartly for the week by cleaning the house, grocery shopping & meal planning. We went to church as a family most weeks and feel even more deeply connected to our community at Watershed. 

We took two amazing trips this year! In January, Rowan and I visited Grammy Di Di & Grandpa G in Mexico and had the sweetest time! I recharged, spent time in the son, and relaxed for a whole 12 days. When I returned from the trip I was rejuvenated and excited to work smartly for my brides. I jumped right into our family schedule and felt productive and energized as a result. That feeling stayed throughout the year. In May we visited our family in Connecticut for 10 days! It was wonderful to spend time with family, and Isaiah and I even got away for a night or two to celebrate our wedding anniversary early. 

Every morning, Isaiah and I wake up at 7 am. He cleans the kitchen & preps breakfast while I go to the gym on weekdays. The first half of the year was spent training for the half marathon I completed in June and finishing the Postnatal Project. I love going to the gym in the morning! When the YMCA opened and Isaiah switched to the day shift, I got a new membership. We all leave the house at the same time- Ro & I drop Isaiah at work and go to the Y where he has childcare provided.

We eat at least 1 meal together, as a family, at home, every day. I usually cook dinner for us while Isaiah plays with Rowan. I am very focused on clean eating and feeding our family nutritious and yummy food. For other meals, I try to follow Jen's Superfood Diet because it leaves me feeling energized and fueled. For breakfast we usually have a smoothie or eggs & veggies. Lunch is leftovers, salad, or a wrap, and dinner is our time to experiment or eat lean and green. I was so happy in November when I reached my "happy weight"! Consistency with healthy food, exercise (especially running), and daily tracking was beneficial and left me feeling empowered. I never felt like slave to food, overly hungry, or like I had to exercise. 

Sincerely, Ginger is growing and changing to even more strongly align with my core. I feel like I am serving the clients who I can help the most, my brides are my friends! I love the work I do daily, feel appreciated, respected, and paid appropriately. I executed 10 amazing celebrations of love, and am currently working on 8-10 more for 2015! I put together 4 editorial shoots with different wedding professionals, resulting in quality relationships, elevation in each of our craft, and recognition within the industry. I also wrote my business plan with the hard numbers and had a meeting with my mentors to review it. I hired a bookkeeper who is the best. I am endlessly grateful for the opportunity to run a successful, purpose driven business from home. Entirely blessed. 

When the wedding season was really busy, I felt calm and peaceful. Thanks to a supportive husband, my in-laws, two fabulous interns, and a full time nanny for Rowan, I was ahead of the game all season! Our house stayed manageably clean, I continued to eat real food, exercise, and had plenty of quality time with Rowan. Isaiah and I maintained our monthly dates, and I surprised him with something awesome for his 30th birthday! We celebrated birthdays in style this year. :)   I also was better about sending Thank You notes... embarrassingly, I finally got the hang of this. 

I worked smarter at managing our household. We have peace of mind and transparency with our finances, with a huge thanks to Mint! We worked at eliminating the remaining portion of our debt, and also started to save more money. We purchased a second car when the time was right, and are so glad we waited for the right opportunity. I streamlined as much as I could and continually cleared the clutter. We simplified majorly at home. I cut distractions like crazy. I use social media more purposefully and blog often. I have fresh flowers in the house every day. Yep, every single day. 

Above all, I showed Isaiah how much I love him, and I put family first. Together we lead a household with a foundation of love. Our marriage serves to show our son what's really important, because we focus on living out those intentions daily. We supported each others goals wholeheartedly and went after what we wanted fiercely. We are learning to dream even bigger.


Happy New Year's Eve, friends! Can you believe another year has passed (well, almost)? Tomorrow I will be posting my January goals, and the review of last year's letter. xo

December... goals and other happenings.

You may have seen this post on Instagram the other night. How is is even possible that it's already December 8th? Complete madness I tell you. Rowan's 6 month birthday is on the 14th, Christmas is coming, vacations, birthdays... so much to celebrate. Before I know it it will be wedding season again. I've been challenging myself this month to think strategically about how I spend my time. What are my goals, what do I need to do (or not do) in order to knock 'em outta the park? 

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November was a fabulously FULL month. I celebrated my 25th birthday, visited family and friends in Minnesota, hosted Thanksgiving, and continued working hard for my 2014 brides. In fact, I've only blogged once since I posted my goals for November... woops! I'm not going to go through the rundown and check the things I did and pout about the things I didn't do. I decided a few days into the month that I was not going to post a public "31 days of gratitude", for a number of reasons. I'm planning to blog a little bit more about that later this month, actually I'm pretty excited about it. 

In December, all I want is to see the big picture more clearly, and work harder to translate that vision into my day to day life. My priorities this month are to spend more time with Isaiah and Rowan, recharge and set goals for 2014, streamline my client binders and workflow, not overbook myself, and take a nap (just one...). I'm also working with my girl Laken on taking steps to love my postpartum body more. Can I just say for a minute how amazing that girl is? Spend .2 seconds on her blog and you will also have a mega girl crush. 

Just because it isn't "wedding season" doesn't mean that we haven't been busting out amazingly beautiful work! Just this week, my styled shoot from August (which I will be doing a full blog post about this week), was posted on Wedding Chicks! My first styled shoot ever was published on a major wedding blog. All I can say is that I am so proud of my sweet friends Bevin, Holly, Terry, Allida, and so many other amazing friends who helped me put together this little labor of love. Check it out, will you? :) 

On Wednesday I spent the whole day marching through the snow and making beautiful things happen with Cory at Snow Moon Ranch. You guys, I cannot wait for the scans to come back from this shoot! Definitely my most involved editorial ever. So many amazing Northern Michigan vendors came together and made it happen (and by make it happen... I mean pulling my car out of the snow). More to come on this in January! 

Bevin Deak of Eliza Jean Photography

Bevin Deak of Eliza Jean Photography

And as if that weren't enough, my amazing friend Shelby and her sweet little girl came up north to spend a couple days with me and Rowan, and dream up some details for our collaborative shoot this winter. See what I mean about winter not being a slow time? :) 

I am entirely aware of what a word dump this post was, but I just have to much more to share! Check back this month for lots of posts about 2013. (Realizing just now how many posts I promised within the last 10 minutes). 

xoxo

November Goals

November is here! Not only is November my birthday month, but it's also the start of the Holiday season (Christmas starts November 1 in my opinion), and hosts one of my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving! I try to cultivate a habit of gratefulness on a daily basis, but this month I'm going to intentionally focus on naming the things I'm thankful for. My primary goal is to relax with my family, work hard for my brides, and prioritize my health. 

 October was a great month, filled to the brim with visits with family and lots of fun projects. Here's a rundown.

1. Blog more! Like I just said, I love writing (and it takes time) but I have a strong desire to blog this month. My goal is 3x per week. Check! Okay, so I didn't blog 3x per week, but I did blog more, that has to count, right? 

2. Organize and have a meeting with my husband about personal finance. I won't lie, this has been a tough period regarding money. After my part time job offer "fell through" I have been left without a job (aka steady income). I have been so fearful of looking at the hard numbers but it's time to step up and make a plan. It's never as bad as I imagine. (Deep breath) Check! I feel like we are at such a peaceful place with finances, I still would like to sit down and print statements, categorize spending, etc, but I don't feel a sense or urgency and fear like I did last month. 

3. Find a job! Related to goal #3, it's really really time for me to find a way to make money. The catch is, I don't want to let my education, experience and skills go to waste at a minimum wage job. Please pray that the right PT opportunity comes along and that we are a good fit!  Praise God! This goal was not met, but for the best reasons. I booked 6 fabulous weddings this month (a record!), and my yearly goal for bookings is intentionally small at 8-12. Each one of these brides are so special and I already feel a connection to each. I can't wait for this summer. So thrilled. And, I will not be finding a part-time job at this time. 

4. Submit my brand inspiration shoot to a wedding blog for publication! Quite honestly, I have no idea if anyone will pick it up. But I am willing to take a risk and ask, what's the worst that will happen?  Check! It was submitted, and accepted! I won't share with who quite yet, but I will say that it is one of my favorite wedding inspiration blogs, and was my top choice. Couldn't even believe. 

5. Stick to my goals of achieving a healthier me: mind, body & soul. I want to continue attending the church we've started planting ourselves in, eat to fuel my body, and exercise because it feels good! If you're interested in following my journey on Instagram... (@rachel_fortheglow).  Check! We've been attending church and loving it, and I've been very dedicated to my physical fitness this month. Planning to continue with the Postnatal Project through the new year. Feeling stronger every day. 

via Glitter Guide

via Glitter Guide

November is going to be busy, no doubt. I have two weekends of venue scouting with new SGW brides, a week long trip to Minnesota to visit my family, and Thanksgiving to celebrate! Amidst the chaos, my over arching goal is to cultivate joy and gratitude, and be present in the moment.  

 1. 31 Days of Gratitude. To keep myself on track, every day I will be posting something I'm thankful for on Instagram, tagged with #sincerelythankful. I think this will be a fun way to speak the words that run through my mind each day.  

2. Celebrate my birthday! Okay, admittedly this is a strange goal, but when you're a new mama (or a veteran), it's hard to find time to yourself. I'm hoping to sneak away for a birthday coffee, mani-pedi, and shoe shopping mission.  

3. Date my husband. Sometime this month I'm going to take up all those babysitting offers and ask Isaiah to plan us a real date. Maybe a movie, dinner, walk? Doesn't have to be too complex. Just time to be together.  

4. Take 5 month photos of Rowan. Okay, I'm so not that mom who can be disciplined enough to pose my baby with a cute little number showcasing how many months old he is and all that. I'm just not "pinteresting" enough. I love puns. But, I do want to take some nice photos on my camera and not just my phone.  

5. Host Thanksgiving! We are having a fairly large family gathering here at my house. I'm responsible for flowers (obviously), and pie (also... obviously). I can't wait to cook and spend time with Isaiah's side of the family.  

What are your goals this month? Leave the link below so I can check them out! Wishing you all the loveliest November.  

October Goals

It's time for me to get back to blogging, back to the core of why I started this journey in the first place. I blog because I love it and I fully intend to be honest and forthcoming in this space. I see this blog as a home for my big dreams, business aspirations and a place where I can talk about a variety of things happening in my personal life (pregnancy, etc). So this month I am getting back to blogging. It's been a struggle this summer to keep up with the blog with a new babe. Of course nothing is more important than this sweet time with Rowan, but I love being able to write and share here. 

So without hesitation or embarrassment (this is a safe space!) here are my goals for October. 

I love this shot of Stephanie Sterjovski's desk, featured on Glitter Guide! How fun are those colors? 

I love this shot of Stephanie Sterjovski's desk, featured on Glitter Guide! How fun are those colors? 

1. Blog more! Like I just said, I love writing (and it takes time) but I have a strong desire to blog this month. My goal is 3x per week.

2. Organize and have a meeting with my husband about personal finance. I won't lie, this has been a tough period regarding money. After my part time job offer "fell through" I have been left without a job (aka steady income). I have been so fearful of looking at the hard numbers but it's time to step up and make a plan. It's never as bad as I imagine. (Deep breath) 

3. Find a job! Related to goal #3, it's really really time for me to find a way to make money. The catch is, I don't want to let my education, experience and skills go to waste at a minimum wage job. Please pray that the right PT opportunity comes along and that we are a good fit!  

4. Submit my brand inspiration shoot to a wedding blog for publication! Quite honestly, I have no idea if anyone will pick it up. But I am willing to take a risk and ask, what's the worst that will happen?  

5. Stick to my goals of acheiving a healthier me: mind, body & soul. I want to continue attending the church we've started planting ourselves in, eat to fuel my body, and exercise because it feels good! If you're interested in following my journey on Instagram... (@rachel_fortheglow).  

I hope that amidst all this chaos and change that I can be still/confident/faithful enough to soak up every bit of sweetness that Rowan holds at this precious age of 3 months. I am hoping and praying that I can be calm.  

What are your goals this month? If you have a blog, link to it in the comments below. I would love to check them out and encourage you!  

 

 

 

April Goals & Checking in on 2013

It's the first of April. Spring is in the air (well, not really in Traverse City). The first quarter 2013 is behind us and life is moving us so quickly towards summer. As cliche as it is, life moves pretty fast. I wanted to pause today and not only hold myself accountable for my monthly goals but revisit the

letter I wrote to my future

self back in January.

via

Just reading the letter makes me feel so happy. These days haven't been easy, in fact I'm struggling a lot with the transition into a new job and an entirely new way of living in anticipation of a baby. But I do know that keeping focus on what truly matters, having faith that things will come through and working hard pay off. I can't wait to see what the rest of the year brings.

Here were my goals for the month of March. It's been a good month overall.

  1. Finish outlining business plan & client experienceThis isn't fully done, but I got a huge jump on it and the outline is almost finished. Client experience is "finished" but I know as I use the outline I will want to change things.
  2. Finish logo & collateral design! (!!!)Working with my designer on this. I made some final decisions and now I'm just waiting for the final proofs. Counting it! Next up, translating the logo and illustration to print materials. Yay!
  3. File paperwork (LLC, bank stuff, Maternity leave, etc)Boring stuff, but it's done!
  4. Check 3 more things off the baby list.All set for cord blood donation, placenta encapsulation, and I've started taking my natural childbirth education class. Oh, also found a pediatrician & am researching childcare this week! Getting so excited the arrival of baby Mo.
  5. Read 7 Habits of Highly Effective People for the book club! Well... I have to say that my reading time has been encompassed by baby books this month. I read some here & there, but in April I want to make more of a priority of participating in the discussions.
  6. Re-organize our pantryAs a last-ditch effort Isaiah and I did this yesterday. It was exhausting, but we deep cleaned and organized our whole pantry, and also cleaned out our fridge & freezer. Happy Easter?
  7. Finish designing website structure & wordingI have to say that I love my website. It's simple, not overdone, and you can probably definitely tell that I made it myself. But it does look professional. Now I'm just waiting to place portfolio images. :)
  8. Contact vendors for my brand inspiration shoot! This didn't happen. I think I'm procrastinating because I already have a handful of vendors who want to participate, but I'm afraid of asking more people to get involved. The worst they can say is no. That's what I have to remember. Next month!

In April, I'm going to continue to focus on preparation for the next season. Lots of house cleaning & organizing, reading, and general nesting. Only 2 months left before life changes radically! I was so inspired by Emily and her daily habits list. I recently started using Lara's powersheets and am still figuring out the best way to use them. I can already tell I will love the tending list. There's something about goal setting and tracking that makes me feel awesome. Continually setting goals is so important to me. It helps me feel on track and like I'm living with purpose. I'm going to be doing a separate post about daily goals and habit forming soon! If you haven't, check out Zen Habits. I really like his tips on habit forming and sustainability.

patiently preparing for this.

April Goals

  1. Implement daily habit system & tending list
  2. Finish building and installing office furniture
  3. Read 3 books (I'm thinking Finding Greatness by Brene Brown, Strengths Finder 2.0 & Happiest Baby on the Block)
  4. Continue working on business plan with a focus on work flow & client experience
  5. Exercise 2-3x per week (yoga, walking or swimming)
  6. Interview potential childcare options
  7. Start preparing post-partum meals to freeze
  8. Organize post-partum exercise & meal plan in a new binder.
  9. Start sprouting seeds for our herb garden. This is a long shot!

Spring brings it's own kind of freshness. I've always been a fan of spring cleaning. I love opening the windows and going for my first bike ride of the season. Easter is a time to celebrate renewal and grace. How amazing to give ourselves that gift this Easter.

What are your goals this month?

March Goals

It's March! Hello, March! I mentioned on Instagram on Saturday that this is usually my least favorite month of the year. I'm not in school (no spring break), the weather is awful and there's usually not much going on except the anticipation of spring. However I've been loving March so far! The past four days have been productive and exciting. I've started my third trimester (woah!), really nailed down some things in my business plan and have had a couple exciting opportunities thrown my way. I also had my first day at the flower shop.

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Looking back at February, I did so-so on my actually goal list. Midway through the month I wrote this post here. I've been trying to hard to focus and re-focus on grace not perfection. It takes a lot of effort.

  1. Take photos!Even though I didn't use my camera, I did get on Instagram some! Counting it.
  2. Host my 3rd Annual Valentine's Day BrunchOpted out this year. Read the post here.
  3. Apply for my new Driver's License Okay, this is BAD. I have a date with the DMV on Wednesday...
  4. Have a real date night with IsaiahWe went to Siren Hall for Valentine's Day and it was perfect.
  5. Clean out my officeNot finished yet, but we made some serious progress!!!
  6. Send letters to my BFF's Not real letters, but I did make some phone calls. Letters this month!
  7. Go to the gym (even once) Didn't happen. I actually even put my membership on hold for 3 months. It's one less thing to worry about!
  8. Check off 3 things on the baby list.Did it! I'll be posting an update on this soon.

In February a huge prayer was answered in the form of my dream job. As of June 1st, I will be a full time mama and full time wedding & floral designer. The way that these things were woven together is nothing short of a miracle. I wish I could explain in words the weight that was lifted, and the anticipation that follows. This is a dream I've been working towards for a long time and I couldn't be more thankful. If you missed those posts, check them here and here. :)

Okay, so March goals!

  1. Finish outlining business plan & client experience
  2. Finish logo & collateral design! (!!!)
  3. File paperwork (LLC, bank stuff, Maternity leave, etc)
  4. Check 3 more things off the baby list.
  5. Read 7 Habits of Highly Effective People for the book club!
  6. Re-organize our pantry
  7. Finish designing website structure & wording
  8. Contact vendors for my brand inspiration shoot!

This month is going to be all about preparation. Truly I think it's perfect considering that Easter is just around the corner. This season has the ability to be beautiful, which I'm now realizing. Instead of putting my head down to the do hard work, I'm going to forge ahead with my chin held high in confidence, ready to take on the days ahead and soak up the beauty in that.

What are your March goals? I would love to hear and cheer you on!

xoxo

Rachel

Saying Yes to What Matters.

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Today I wanted to share a little bit about a fear of mine. Although I'm not in the place yet with my business where a branding experience is necessary or even financially feasible, I have invested a little money, time and effort into a few branding webinars hosted by the Making Brands Happen ladies, Emily & Lara. To say they struck a cord with me is a vast understatement. They've taught me to be my authentic self, to examine what fires me up and then to translate that to business. Choosing my business name was a big step for me. Sincerely, Ginger Weddings represents my story authentically and I hope it shines a light on the type of service I provide.

One step in the process of designing my own brand, encouraged by MBH is to list your biggest fears in business. Well let me be the first to say that I have a lot of fears. I'm afraid of letting down clients, of not serving them to my best ability, of missing the mark somewhere. I'm fearful of being unhappy, of not making enough money to support my family or of dissapointing myself. I'm scared of putting myself out there in my community. While I was writing down these fears last night I wrote something down that didn't surprise me at all.

I'm afraid of starting before everything is perfectI've written about this before but it still scares me because it's such a paralyzing fear. It actually stops be from making things happen and doing what I need to do to more forward. So I decided to get over it and do the hard work.

Obstacles are a natural part of life, and definitely expected in business. It's clear to see what's working against you and so difficult to focus on your abilities and strengths. To get over my obstacle and fear of perfectionism, here are a few things I'm going to do.

I'm saying NO to focusing on what I don't have. I don't have a brand new iMac, an office, photoshop, a gazzilion airline miles, 5 years of experience, 60 hours a week, a finished website, newly designed logo, business cards, collateral, vendor relationships, legality.

Most of these are a work in process, and I am saying YES to optimism and positive thinking. I do have a great attitude, brides who love and respect my work, a strong business education, a laptop that functions, a new opportunity to design florals starting this month, the ability to priorotize, ideas up the wazoo and passion. Boy do I have passion. Instead of staying home and pouting about my office not being finished I'm choosing to head to the local coffeeshop and set up camp for 4 hours and dream big for my clients. That's what matters.

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So that's a lesson I've learned and I know I'll have to learn it again. Choose to focus on what you do have, and not what you don't. Say yes to your future and it'll unfold right before your eyes.

And a note to myself... nothing will ever be perfect. There will always be new technology to buy, trips to lust after and people doing bigger and seemingly better things. It doesn't matter. Keep dreaming big and putting on your big girl pants every day. Work hard and authentic, true, lasting success will follow. Don't let your fears paralyze you.

With a sigh of relief,

Rachel

p.s. How amazing is Lara Casey? When I saw these downloads I immediately pimped out my phone, iPad and desktop with this inspiring image. What a positive message to look at several times a day. Thank you, Lara! You encourage so many of us with your wisdom and ability to sense what we're going through as creative entrepeneurs, moms, and women with hearts for dreaming big. xoxo

Honesty & Grace

Here are some words and goals and things I've been thinking about. I've really let myself down in terms of my

February goal list

so far. A few things are in the works... we're making progress on my office and I've checked somethings off the baby list. But I haven't taken my camera out once, I choose not to host my annual Valentine's Day Brunch, amoungst other small failures. Sure there is still time, but I'm really tired. I'm trying not to feel guilty.

I'm realizing that tiredness is sort of the theme of my pregnancy. Even if I can be super inspired mentally, it takes a lot to actually make things happen. Even small things. So I'm going to make a list of things I've done this month that I'm proud of. I've been realizing more and more that I need to hold myself to a standard of grace, not perfection. Thanks,

Emily

. Your words sink deeper even still.

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1. Isaiah and I went on a real date. For Valentine's Day he surprised me with a fancy night out at Siren Hall, even though it was a blizzard. I even wore a dress. We ate 3 courses (actually 4 because we had two desserts) and I ate a lot of bread and butter. I am so thankful for my husband. He loves me and he loves our family. His heart for our son and our future is so comforting and inspiring. I loved our date. As soon as we got home we

rushed

into bed and... iced our lower backs. He iced with my in solidarity, it was sexy.

2. I cleaned our house. In a manic fit one night I cleaned our entire house from top to bottom. If you know me, and especially if you've lived with me you know this is unnatural behavior. I literally washed every dish, cleaned the bathrooms, reorganized our pantry, ran two loads of laundry, vacuumed, swept, swiftered and mopped my way to a clean house. In only 2 hours. It was like stopped for me. The best thing about it was surprising Isaiah. It got him on a clean kick for the rest of the week.

3. Talked to Callie and Brittany on the phone. It sounds like a small thing, but even those 30 minute chats make my heart to happy. I'm glad they took the time to call. I miss my friends.

4. I am the new proud owner of sincerelyginger.com! I've chosen to design my own site through Squarespace. I'm just getting a handle on how things work, but I think it's going to be a great fit for what I'm looking for.

5. I let go of the pressure of hosting my Annual Valentine's Day Brunch in favor of giving myself time to rest. Even though this is usually so much fun for me, it felt like a lot of work this year. So I decided not to do it. I didn't even hang up my heart banner.

6. I worked hard at my "day job". Even though this sounds silly, it made me feel good to give it my all. I got a few projects and meetings under my belt and it's made me feel more invested in my current position. I'm working on appreciating the experience and connections I've made here before rushing off to the next thing.

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All in all, I'm just taking it day by day. Some of my goals this week are to get some exercise, take more Instagram photos and keep my house clean and prepared for the new office and nursery. next week I have lots of appointments (doctor, dentist, chiropractor) so I want to take it easy while I can. :)

By the way, how pretty are these shades of purple, pink & grey for late winter? Just the beginning hints of spring. I feel an inspiration board coming on!  

Keep it real,

Rachel

On Dreaming Big... & Seeing Results!

As I was saying, miracles started happening. :)

Isaiah got a promotion at the hospital that will raise our income significantly, not enough that I don't have to work but it will at least give me some more freedom in what I'm looking for part time as far as pay. This new job, along with being a boost to our finances is something that he really wants to do long term. It will be easier for him to go back to work after we have the baby. Wow,

amazing

. He worked hard and I am so proud of him. He starts his new position on April 1st, about two months before baby mo is born.

A week ago today a friend came and saw me at the bank and shared an opportunity for a part-time job that I might be interested in. I am endlessly thankful for the people in my life and how they look after me. Stacy, thank you from the bottom of my heart. The position was for a part-time floral designer at a local shop here in Traverse City that specializes in weddings and special events. Clearly I called immediately! I went through a series of interviews and eventually landed the job.

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It's the perfect position for me. I mean perfect in ways that I can't even describe all of the ways. I had prayed for a job that would pay enough for me to work part time so I could spend more time with my son and wedding clients. That's it.

Instead, I was blessed with an opportunity that's better than anything I could have imagined myself. Not only is it logistically perfect (enough pay, flexible scheduling, downtown TC), but the women themselves are amazing. I can't wait to start working with them. They understand that a job is important to support your life, and not the other way around. They appreciate my skills and love the fact that I plan weddings so the connection will truly be mutually beneficial. But even crazier is that I'm pregnant, and due right at the beginning of wedding season. They are working with my schedule until I'm available because we are a good fit. Can you believe that? A true miracle.

In this new season of motherhood I am also going to be able to grow my business with this new found freedom and connection in the wedding industry. I'll be able to offer my floral design services through the shop here in town and connect with so many new faces in the industry. The position will strengthen and refine my floral design skills and allow me to work around my clients schedules. The owners know how important it is to stay home with a sick baby and be there for the things that matter. Meanwhile the "work" will be pure bliss for me. Have you ever noticed that I post photos of pink roses in 85% of my posts? Yep, I do. It's because I love them unapologetically. Arranging flowers all day will be the biggest dream come true ever.

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You know the craziest thing? I'm not a professional floral designer. I'm self taught, but they were really impressed with my work. For my interview I was asked to through together an arrangement and apparently I did a spectacular job. I am so proud of myself and thankful for those wedding clients that helped my pursue my dreams and led me to this reality. Without their confidence I wouldn't be where I'm headed.

I am amazed at the work God is doing in our lives. He hears our prayers and I am humbled to receive such an enormous blessing. I'm ready for this next phase of life, to work and love even harder.

On Dreaming Big!

Starting to write this series of posts is giving me butterflies. It's a huge deal to me. As you know, it's my intention to be 100% real and authentic here on this blog, sharing my true life experiences (the good and the bad!). You may have read my tweets earlier this week that hinted at something big happening this week and I am so excited and ready to share the news with you all!

A lot of life had been packed into the past few years. Since 2010 I've figured out what to do with my life (kind of), completed an internship with an event planner, graduated business school, gotten engaged, moved across the country, stepped into massive student loan debt, married my best friend, had most of the debt paid off (a miracle), launched a businessgotten pregnant, and I am still dreaming bigger than ever before. I've had my fair share of obstacles in life and there are always things that stand in my way of pursuing my dream of planning weddings and designing florals full time. This is real life, people. We don't have unlimited money and we get really stressed out. 

We are on a mission to pay off the rest of our debt by January 2016 using Dave Ramsey's snowball method so we can save for our forever house. Financially, I need to be working at the same income level that I am now at the bank for that to happen. The time I spend at work completely diminishes the potential I know I have for my business. I was just about to the point where I was generating enough business that we could afford for me to leave my full time job and pursue weddings with all of my time when we found out we were expecting. Obviously with the added costs of a baby it just didn't feel right to leave my job at that point. Not to mention I need the full coverage medical insurance.

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I was scared that I would be in banking forever just to get by. Even after the amazing gift that my grandpa gave us last summer, our bills were too high and our income too low for me not to work. We are both really smart, multi talented and have applicable higher education degrees but the fact is that we live in a small town and the economy is not in a good place. Traverse City is a prime location for weddings and I knew if I had the time I could be making a livable income once I got started.

I don't want to send my baby to daycare five days a week. It really works for some women but I know myself, and I know it would break my heart to leave him every morning for a job I hate. Isaiah, who is my number one cheerleader has always encouraged my dreams. We made the decision that I wouldn't go back to the bank no matter what the circumstances were. We would make something work. I prayed for an answer, for the perfect part time job that would allow me more time to be a mama and more time for Sincerely, Ginger. It seemed impossible that anyone would hire a pregnant girl who couldn't start a part time job for nine months.

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My fear was that I'd spend my maternity leave worrying about what I was going to do for work, applying for jobs endlessly with no results and eventually going back to my job as a personal banker. All I wanted was something secure for September, that wasn't at the bank. I prayed and prayed, I meditated on my dreams and I worked my you know what off to make something happen. And then, almost out of nowhere, miracles started happening.

The second half of the story will be up Monday! I'm excited to share where we are headed as a family. It's truly amazing to see your dreams coming true. I am so thankful!

To dreaming big and never looking back,

Rachel

February Goals

So if you can believe it, January is already over. I felt like it was a really great month! My belly is slowly but surely growing and I'm feeling good most days. Looking back on January list, I did so-so. Here was my list...

  1. Input spending into my new iPad app, Budget Book, & have our first monthly budget meeting.
  2. Use my simplified planner daily, or at least bring it with me and keep it open.
  3. Practice yoga regularly, and make it to the pool at least 3 times.
  4. Finish our "Throw out 100 things" challenge.
  5. Keep up with regular posting on the blog.
  6. Learn how to blow dry my hair like a professional.
  7. Cook more meals at home, more vegetables!

Really happy about the budget for the month! Slowly working on paying off our debt for good. Thanks Dave Ramsey! Used my Simplified Planner pretty consistently. I'd like to use it more for meal planning, but I did start working on my year at a glance and birthday sheet. I've been going to prenatal yoga weekly, which I LOVE. I'll write more about that in my pregnancy post. Totally didn't finish the challenge. When I clean my office this month I hope to do that with vigor.

I did post regularly, and I am proud of myself! I want blogging to be a fun, natural part of my life and I've been really enjoying it. Really excited to keep up with this for the year. Yea- the blow drying thing is such a bust. First of all there's no time for that and also it's just hard. I should have taken a photo. I did eat more meals at home, but I can't say there were more veggies. Fruits for sure, but veggies are tough. I do recall throwing together a salad or two, and Isaiah cooking some kale. Whoops!

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So here are my February goals! Seems manageable enough. I love my Valentine's Day Brunch so that's a gimme, but it's going to take effort on my part to take photos and go to the gym. The point is that achieving these goals will serve me long-term.

  1. Take photos!
  2. Host my 3rd Annual Valentine's Day Brunch
  3. Apply for my new Driver's License
  4. Have a real date night with Isaiah
  5. Clean out my office
  6. Send letters to my BFF's
  7. Go to the gym (even once)
  8. Check off 3 things on the baby list.

Wish me Luck!

Rachel

Wow... Thank You!

Can I just say how good it feels to really put yourself out there? Posting my huge news, being authentic, and working from my core really does what they say it will do. It attracts the right people. It felt amazing to hear your support of Sincerely, Ginger.

I can't wait to learn more about her throughout this process. Currently I'm working on having a new logo designed and getting some housekeeping work done. Changing e-mail, URL and all that is a lot of work! I would love to design my own logo but am having trouble figuring out how to digitize my calligraphy. (If you have insight in this area, please enlighten me!)

Keeping on pace with my 2013 Business Goals, I am planning a brand inspiration shoot for early spring. The goal is to collaborate with other vendors and create something to showcase my work for my website. This will provide a good framework for the other weddings I have to showcase. So excited about this!

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Like I said in my previous post, I want to share some memories of Ginger and talk about how they inspire my work. She and my grandpa had always lived on lakes in Northern Minnesota. My sister and I (even before my other brother and sister were born) looked forward to going up north to grandma and grandpa's to swim in the lake and sleep in big beds with fluffy down comfortors. Every summer we looked forward to a real vacation, an escape from our day to day. Ginger always encouraged our creativity. There were mornings spent jumping in the lake and searching for shells, afternoons picking strawberries from their garden and evenings painting and helping her cook dinner. Whatever we did was lovely, because we were together. We also spent a lot of time outside.

The landscape of Nothern Minnesota is a lot like it is here in Traverse City. Beautiful lakes, lots of trees and amazing sunsets. At Ginger's we were encouraged to pick wildflowers and create arrangements for the dinner table. We didn't fight. We focused on loving eachother and creating things together. Summers with grandma and grandpa were my absolute favorite. Of course this is just a peek into some the experiences that shaped who I am and eventually what I envisioned our wedding day to represent. Our tradition is closeness, love, and relaxation. We value fresh flowers and local food. It's the way we lived and what better way to celebrate a lifetime ahead of us than doing those things with our closest family and friends.

Weddings are about stories. They are about tradition and love, and bringing memories to life in a whole new beautiful way. When I meet a couple for the first time, my first question is always tell me your love story. That's the only place I know where to start. I'm so excited about this new future. Thank you for being a part of it!

Sincerely,

Rachel

Business Goals: 2013

I already wrote my personal goals in the form of my letter to my future self and by putting monthly goals up on the blog. However, I have some more specific business goals for the year that I'd like to write down and hash out.

It's going to be an undoubtedly busy and full year with the baby coming in June, and financially strained as we're choosing to make our money work harder for us. This won't only mean sacrifices for my personal life (coffee, new purses, lunch out with friends, etc) but sacrifices for my business too. For instance, I'm not going to be able to afford a new computer until 2016. That's a long ways away. I also am going to have a really small budget for editorial shoots and collateral items.

What I plan to do is use what I already have to make the business work for me. I already have a lot of business knowledge, my creative insights aren't going anywhere and I bet I can throw together a temporary website that looks decent. I'm just being honest. Continuing with my moment for Occasions is vital to it's success- and to our financial success as a family. I will be happier, work more flexible hours and be more available to my son if I can work from home and do what I love. This is what drives me.

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1. Create an amazing wedding experience for Amy & Jonathon in May. On the water, incredible florals and some of the nicest people I've met to this day. I can't wait for their celebration.

2. Write my business plan. I've been working on it for a while because I want it to work for me, and not be homework. It'll be very detailed and outline every aspect of the business ranging from finances to client experiences and marketing. I want to outline my packages once and for all and write meaningful and thorough content for the website.

3. Book two more weddings for this fall. There are a few leads I've been working with and trying to figure if they'll be the right fit. If it's meant to be, it will be!

4. Quit my day job, once and for all. This is a big one because my time is so valuable. The more time I can put into my work the better quality it is. Without the 9-5, I won't be as mentally exhausted to work hard when I'm home. I am open to working at a part time job that is more fulfilling.

5. Host two editorial/ inspirational shoots. This is multi-purpose. I envision these events as a way to connect with other vendors in my area and also to showcase my work and build my portfolio so that I have some solid content on my website. I want to show future clients that I am good at what I do!

6. Build a website. I don't know at all how this will play out without a web designer, because I'm not one at all. But I did invest in a logo designed by Chelsea (oh my deer), and will hopefully have some good content by the time this transpires.

7. Practice floral design so I am comfortable offering full service florals by the time of my official launch. I've partnered with a local farm and florist who is amazing to work with. So excited about this!

8. Connect with local vendors. Making it a goal to sit down and meet with the primary vendors in the area and put together a resource guide for myself and future clients. Luckily we have some of the nicest people around, so this hopefully won't be too tough if I get over my fear of putting myself out there.

9. Finish my office. On our tight budget this will be tough, but I live with a handy husband who's pretty good with his tool box. This space is so important to me. Our house is small and we are sacrificing a guest room and a TV room for a nursery and an office, which I am grateful for. I want to make this space functional and beautiful!

10. Launch Occasions Event Design... officially! Can't contain my excitement on this one. December 1st, 2013 is my launch date. It's a really long ways a way, but good things take time and patience. I'm giving myself lots of time to finish goals 1-9 (and have a baby too) so I don't get too stressed. More details to follow, but it will be amazing.

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What do you think? Can I do it? If you have any input or think you can help on any of these please speak up! I'm so excited about this year and launching Occasions is a big part of my 2013 dream coming true.

With Passion,

Rachel

Financial Freedom: January 2016

Feeling very vulnerable even while I type the title to this post. It's been heavy on my heart that Isaiah and I need to work smarter, not harder with regards to our finances (in other areas too, but that's for another post). This summer we were given an amazing, life-changing gift. My grandfather blessed us with financial freedom by releasing a burden of $75,000 worth of student loans. Since June I've thought about it every day.

So why am I telling you this? It's definitely not to put down others that are still in the situation we were faced with a year ago. The debt was a part of my life. It came with the package. It was the size of a mortgage. I won't fool you into believing that the debt problem didn't seep into other areas of my life- it affected my attitude towards my education, my relationships, how I felt about my future. I understand where you're at.

I'm not telling you this story to show off or boast- it wasn't our doing. Though my grandpa is one of the most generous, loving people you'd ever meet, I think he even surprised himself with the decision. What a blessing, an answered prayer. (I never prayed that someone would take the burden from us. I prayed incessantly that God would give us the wisdom to handle the long term debt appropriately.) We had breakfast the morning of our rehearsal dinner with my grandpa and Karen. He let us know that he wanted to give us our gift in person. (Truthfully I thought we were getting to visit him in Hawaii this winter!) We talked and he explained thoroughly why he decided to do what he did. I cried for hours. A life changing moment. The weekend of our wedding was indescribable. We had never felt so much love and support in so many ways, from every single person we care about. Amazing.

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The choice to share this with you stems from my belief of authenticity. I am grateful everyday that I wake up and know that we can pay our bills, that we are employed, that we don't have massive monthly loan payments but instead can give more away and change the future of our children's lives. Although we were freed from a huge debt, we still have some left to pay. Some student loans and a small credit card balance.

I had heard of Dave Ramsey before and we were even gifted a few of these books by Isaiah's aunt several months ago. Yesterday I read

Nancy's story

and I was so inspired. I had been feeling convicted about this area of my life. I felt like since we were released from such a big debt, it was our duty to use our money wisely. For the past six months we've gone through job changes and now we're getting ready to have this baby. It's time for us to get serious about our finances and release the final debt from our lives. It will take 3 years of living on very little, and a lot of sacrifice in the first years of our son's life. I can live on very little money, but I need time with my husband and I know I'll need time with my baby boy. If you saw the budget I drew up today you'd probably cringe at how little money we're going to spend.

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I highly suggest you read Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover to get you started up. We are ready to do the hard work and diminish our debt for good. It's a good feeling to take control, focus on the real numbers and see truth. We made a vow never to borrow again (except for the house, once we finish this step).

If you live like no one else, you can live like no one else. We are looking forward to January 1st, 2016 as the day we will be free from debt. Three years of sacrifice will pay off over and over in our lifetime together, I can't wait to see where we end up.

To Dreams!

Rachel

When I Knew I Wanted to be a Wedding Planner

For the past few years, I've been blessed to really find out what my passion is. I knew I was destined to be a wedding planner on a spring day in my third year of college. At that point I hadn't really had any experience with weddings. Isaiah and I were just moving in together, it was a really sweet time in our relationship. I went to Seattle Pacific University to study in the School of Business & Economics, I majored in Business Administration with an emphasis on entrepeneurship. At this point in my college career I was fed up with all the numbers and nonsense and was feeling really burnt out. The creative side of my brain was not being stimulated (at least in the classroom). I felt so confused about what to do but was generally just drifting on, expecting to work for a bigger company in Seattle after I graduated doing something in the field.

Anyway, back to the spring day. We were at Greenlake to get some Starbucks and walk around the lake. It's one of my favorite spots in the city. Isaiah and I always felt so inspired and have great talks while we're walking or hiking. I was day-dreaming about our future wedding (with no ring on my finger, might I add) and thinking about what we should do with our lives after I graduated when it hit me.

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Why couldn't I use my degree to start a business that employs my creative and organizational skills? The answer was that I completely could, and it made sense. I've always loved designing gatherings for my friends, entertaining and helping events get planned and organized. Leadership is one of my top strengths but I've got a natural eye for design and color. I thrive on long term projects where I can create meaningful relationships with people, but like to get things done day to day. Honestly I'm pretty good at managing my own time when something is important to me. I love creating something out of nothing and pulling together an event that will leave a memory. Weddings. It was like a huge "duh".

After this all ran through my mind in about 10 seconds outside of Starbucks at Greenlake, I blurted out,"I'm a wedding planner!" and immediately I took ownership of that title. Isaiah essentially just looked at me like I was crazy. His first assumption was that I was going to continue on to another several years of expensive schooling. Once I assured him that that wasn't the case, he was still confused. Haha! It could have been that he thought I was getting wedding crazed myself or who knows what. The important thing is that he has always backed me up 100%.

The next day I went after an internship with one of the top event planners in the city, and joined the team shortly after. I learned a lot really fast about design boards, client meetings, all the phone calls and e-mails it takes, and just how many satin ribbons must be tied into bows. It was three months of bliss for me. What an amazing learning experience. Once my internship ended my mentor helped a lot with shaping my long term goals. She believed that I was entrepreneurial and should start my own wedding planning business. Of course, so did I.

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Long story short, we moved to Traverse City, Michigan, I started planning weddings (including my own) and now I'm hooked. I've also had the chance recently to start dabbling in floral design, and had my first full service floral design client booked in September. Wow, life changing. Those flowers rocked my world.

So why am I telling you this story? For one, it helps me process my journey and see how I've always been moving in the direction of my dreams, even when I get side-tracked. This summer I have an amazing wedding booked for May, and I'm not sure what the rest of the season will bring. For one, a baby. After that, not quite sure. All that to say- even if I have one intentionally slow year for the sake of our son it does not mean that I've slowed down momentum toward my ultimate goal of giving my clients a wedding day that will bring the sweetest memories for life. It also doesn't mean I've given up my intention to live a happy, fulfilling life so that I can give happiness to others in my own way. This just makes me so excited.

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On a related topic, my next business post will be about my 2013 business goals. I've got some pretty amazing stuff lined up, even for a slow year. Stay tuned!

To Your Dreams,

Rachel

P.S. Two of my very favorite people to look up to in the wedding industry are hosting a THREE PART Webinar this month! I attended the last one in November and the content was so valuable. More information is on the blog. They really inspired my Making Things Happen movement at the end of last year. I have so much to learn from them! Thanks for sharing your wisdom, Emily & Lara!

January Goals

I meant to put these up yesterday, but it was a holiday so I guess I'll forgive myself. In an effort to achieve my "dream year" that I wrote about here, I will be setting smaller, more manageable monthly goals to keep myself on track. Will you keep me accountable?

  1. Input spending into my new iPad app, Budget Book, & have our first monthly budget meeting.
  2. Use my simplified planner daily, or at least bring it with me and keep it open.
  3. Practice yoga regularly, and make it to the pool at least 3 times.
  4. Finish our "Throw out 100 things" challenge.
  5. Keep up with regular posting on the blog.
  6. Learn how to blow dry my hair like a professional.
  7. Cook more meals at home, more vegetables!

Most of these goals are in place to set a habit for the year. Our new budgeting system is looking really great, I can't wait to see how the program will serve us and our larger intention of becoming debt-free, purchasing a house and just being comfortable with our money. Using my simplified planner won't be difficult, because I love it, but I need to remember to use it daily in order for it to work. I plan to write everything in our schedule that we already input into our Calendar app down so I have it in two places.

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Health wise, I want to be sure I'm making the most out of my first pregnancy. I downloaded several pre-natal yoga video podcasts on my iPad and am hoping to practice more often now that my energy is up. Also, I have a maternity swimsuit now, so there's no excuse not to get my cardio! :) I also want to cook a lot more at home. We've gotten pretty lazy about it for the past few months and I need to get my routine back. Meal planning, anyone? Bring on the smoothies!

I want to finish the challenge inspired by Jess Lively. We set it up so that we each need to find 100 things to get rid of. Either sell, donate or recycle/ throw away. It's been really good for us to simplify a little bit more to get ready for the nursery to be set up. I'm really excited about this!

Lastly, I want to keep posting on the blog. Even though I have literally 0 readers, including my husband- it's been great to write and figure out where I want to head with the blog. We'll see where it takes us! (and by us I mean me.) Oh, and the blow-drying thing is just a little vain, but it makes me feel good so I'm going to give it a go. That round brush seems so foreign! Any tips are welcome. :)

To a great month ahead!

Rachel

Letter to my Future Self

As I mentioned in his post, I know only how to write 100% authentically. I got this idea from Jess Lively's blog, to write a letter to my future self as a way of writing your intentions for the next year. It's really helped me clarify what the core of my heart looks like and if all the small things fall short, what I want life to look like. This is not all easy stuff. It's the real issues and struggles that I deal with everyday. Throughout the year I'm planning to write monthly goals to support all of these larger intentions. I would love if any of you would check in with me every once in a while and see how I'm doing. If you're a goal-setter, I am passionate about doing the same! Without further ado, here it is!

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Dear Rachel,

It is January 1st, 2014. Life is more wonderful than I could have imagined. I thought that 2012 was a blessed year, with a new husband, financial freedom and the conception of a perfect baby boy, but 2013 exceeded my expectations. Absolutely astounding. I was able to focus on what matters, and forget the rest.

Relationships, God, Creating, Health.

We brought our beautiful son into the world in June who Isaiah and I cherish and love above almost all else. We make bonding and family time a top priority. We were able to visit my parents and grandfather, and took time in the summer to visit family in Connecticut.

After I gave the natural, med-free birth that I trained and prepared for, I never returned to the bank full time. We are wise with our money and as a team developed a budget and found a way to support our family the most efficiently.

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Each month we review out budget and statements. We do not use our credit cards and are working on diminishing our debt. I feel comfortable and secure financially and Isaiah and I are constantly on the same page.

We established a workspace for Occasion that is the perfect place to build my business. It is clean and allows me to think and create freely, without clutter (mental or physical). I feel peaceful in my office.

My blog is picking up with regular posting and gaining meaningful readership each month. I write about my business, family, inspirations and intentions as I approach and experience motherhood.

I have found a way to generate income while working from home in some capacity. This could be through calligraphy, floral design, or another extension of Occasions. Working creatively with my hands has been rewarding and helped me define where I want my business to go in the future. I've developed a business plan and am so satisfied with where I'm at. I went above and beyond the expectations of my clients and this only deepened my sense of gratitude for amazing clients. This was an intentionally "slow" year for me, but I was still able to produce a photo shoot that I'm proud of and grow Occasions behind the scenes. I am ready for 2014!

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During pregnancy, I made the best use of my time. I gained a "normal" amount of weight and ate healthily and exercised throughout. We eat a balanced diet and a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. After I gave birth I continued to focus on my health and wellness as I easily achieved my pre-pregnancy weight.

I designed baby's nursery on a budget and we love the way it looks! It is organized and simple, perfect for nursing, changing, and letting baby sleep. We took tons of photos this year! We printed them out and even framed some.

During my maternity leave, I learned to maintain the house and clean regularly. We have "systems" and organization in each area of our home. It makes cleaning and finding things a breeze! Isaiah and I feel like our responsibilities are divided equitably and fairly.

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I strengthened my relationships with Brittany, Callie, Natalie and Bk this year. I made an effort to remember birthdays and call more often. Friendship took a new role in my life. I was able to balance relationships with my oldest, greatest friends with some new ones too. I'm working on building up "my team" of supporters, and in turn I am more fully present with others.

This year I read more and watched less television. It was a good example for baby and great for my brain. I read a mixture of fiction and non-fiction that included baby books, business development and cookbooks- some fiction too. We also read to our little babe almost every night.

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I felt beautiful this year. Pregnancy was healthy and I took care of myself. During pregnancy I practiced yoga and walked outside regularly. Afterwards I hit the gym harder and got back into running at a comfortable pace. Even through early motherhood, I made myself feel great by taking relaxing baths, and made "getting ready" in the morning a priority.

We were very picky about how we spent our time. When given the chance to travel, we focused on visiting family and friends. During that time it was relaxing and stress-free. Lots of time outdoors, at the beach, eating together. It was lovely.

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Above all, I showed Isaiah how much I love him, and I put family first. Together we lead a household with a foundation of love. Our marriage serves to show our son what's really important, because we focus on living out those intentions daily. We supported each others goals wholeheartedly and went after what we wanted fiercely. We are learning to dream bigger.

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Best wishes for your amazing 2013,

Rachel

Blogging Intention

I'm honestly not sure who out there even reads this blog, especially because I'm not at a place where I feel it's ready to be shared with the world. You see, the only way I know how to write is from the heart. My truest feelings and most authentic self. Although I'm generally very open with my emotions and communication has always been a strong point for me, this blog seems very personal somehow. Coming to terms with it being "out there" is something I'm slowly working on.

This is a very honest space where I want to be able to talk about anything that's going on. You can expect to read about my business and it's blossoming to my full time career, my journey into motherhood, snapshots of my life that I simply don't want to forget, and my journey to making the right things happen. This is truly my core.

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That being said, I will make no apologies for the things I write about in this space. I've come to terms with putting myself out there and I'm not planning on turning back. On this blog, you can expect me to be real. To write from my soul and to be truthful about my journey. You're going to be getting a pretty heavy dose of this in the next few posts where I write about what 2012 looked like and where I hope to be at the end of 2013. It's a big deal.