Making Things Happen

Rachel's Happy Plan

Anyone else around here feeling the winter blues? Feeling stressed or like you're working so hard and "nothing is happening"? This winter I have been dealing with a lot of that, and while it's tough to be candid about it sometimes I think it's good to be honest. Recently I was also told by my doctor after extensive blood work that I have a sluggish thyroid, low vitamin D levels, low iron, and too much stress. It was a reality check to hear from my doctor that if I didn't manage my stress level on a daily basis, no nutrition based solutions would help my tiredness and anxiety. The current Rx is a blend of micronutrients, rest, and things that make me happy. 

I've been doing my best to "activate my parasympathetic" as she calls it. :) To me this means boundaries with work, time to laugh with Rowan hands free, dates with my handsome husband, deep breaths and flowers. Lots and lots of flowers. :) It will be a process to figure out my balance between working hard (because I love it so much), and taking breaks to breathe and unplug a bit. Here are some things I've been doing so far, if you're interested! I think that no matter your situation, we all need to spend more time focusing on self care. Self care is not selfish, as so many of my closest tell me. :) You can follow along on Instagram at #rachelshappyplan to see the things I'm (trying) to do each day. 

1. Rising early. I purchased the e-book, Early to Rise to help me with this goal! I think a major roadblock I was having was feeling pressure to exercise first thing in the morning, when I really do much better exercising in the afternoon. I've been rising around 6:30 (a far cry from 8:30) and giving Rowan his morning bottle, then heading back to bed with my coffee and a book. No work, just play. 

2. Letting go of goals. It's hard for me to do, as you know I'm a big goal setter. Recently I let go of my goal to run a half marathon in June, and just let others fall away. It's okay to let go of goals when they no longer serve you. 

3. Expressing Gratitude. As part of my rising early habit, I fill out my gratitude journal! I use an app (The 5 Minute Journal). It's a transformative practice to write out what you're grateful for and what will make this day go well before anything is in my way. Before bed, I write what good things happened with a photo. It's great for a visual person like me. 

4. Powering down. I am slowly reading Hands Free Mama and experiencing the power of being more unplugged when playing with Rowan, cooking, or working. Less scrolling on my phone and more stacking blocks with my little one. Less Netflix, more talks with my husband. Sign me up.

5. Exercising only for fun. Part of the reason I gave up my goal to run a half marathon in June was because I was feeling so much pressure to run long distances that I wouldn't exercise at all! How silly is that. On Saturday we went on a family fun run and I've been enjoying daily yoga. 

6. Asking for help. SO hard for me. But when I know there are things that I have to do and I'm just straight up overwhelmed, I'm getting better at asking for help. On Saturday I had a trillion meetings and I asked my friend to watch Rowan for a few hours, she happily did, just like I would have! My in-laws are always willing to help if we ask and know we wouldn't take advantage of that. Rowan's starting daycare and it was uncomfortable for me to admit to Isaiah that it was something I needed.

7. Planning a vacation. I won't be able to do this all the time, but right now we are excited about our trip out East! Isaiah and I are planning surprise activities for our mini trip to Boston. 

8. Not pushing my limits. Giving clients realistic deadlines is helpful in so many ways. I would stay up all night designing floor plans and reorganizing spreadsheets, but I don't have to. They don't expect that and it's not a balanced way to work. 

9. Prioritizing and writing it down. Most nights I tend my to-do list by migrating unfinished tasks to the next day and prioritizing. I sleep better knowing exactly what I have to do the next day. 

10. Spending time with friends. Simple and easy, yet so easy not to do. Yesterday I called up my best mama friends for a spur of the minute brunch and they said YES! I was so pumped. We're all so busy that it's easy to forget how nice it is to have some girl time. Grateful. 

Maintaining happiness is a work in progress but it's the most rewarding work. Guess what? Since I've set more boundaries and let go a bit, my business hasn't started to fail, I haven't gained 10 pounds, I'm not spending thousands of dollars. I've noticed in a short time my clients starting to respect me even more, my family rising to the occasion, my spirit more open and generous, and my metabolism getting back to normal. I've been working on a routine that works instead of holding myself to old expectations of "perfect".

It's Sunday night and I've organized my week in my planner, drafted 40 e-mails, written out my to-do list, and blogged this post. It took me about an hour (or the time we would've spent watching Netflix and eating gelato a month ago). When I reflect on the harder weeks, they were the weeks that I wasted time feeling overwhelmed instead of doing something proactive. 

Hope you all have the happiest week ever! Fill it with things you love, and nothing else. 


The Power of Habit, Part 3: Defining Habits for Entrepreneurial Success

Last week was so much fun for me, I've been discovering more and more how passionate I am about personal and business development. On Monday, I talked about defining your personal philosophy, Tuesday I jumped the gun and wrote a lengthy post on my daily habits and how I track those. Today I wanted to go a little deeper into the reasons behind those habits, and what you can do as a creative entrepreneur to push yourself out of "survival mode" and into success. I'm going to approach this topic from my own perspective: a 25 year old wife, mom, wedding planner, coffee drinker. 

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Be consistent. The most basic contribution you can make to your life, and business, is consistency. Show up everyday and DO the hard work, plain and simple. I'm definitely not saying that I am 100% on target with this goal (far from it, actually), but I strive to stick to the schedule I've created for myself and my family. While I was pregnant, I was really concerned about how to do this, and for a long time, just didn't. But even over the past month and a half of working towards a streamlined family schedule has transformed my business. 

Practice integrity. One chapter of The Slight Edge that really rocked me was the part about Slight Edge Integrity. It's doing the small habits, that nobody would care if you skipped just this once, when you are the only one in the room. "Serving as your own boss, day in and day out, takes an uncommon degree of Slight Edge Integrity, and frankly, many business owners just don't have it. They become intoxicated by the freedom of being their own boss and fail to maintain the structure it takes to become successful". Yes. Consistency & integrity go hand in hand. I've found this to be 100% spot on. You have to show and and do the work, day after day. 

Write out a to do list every morning. For me, I practice this habit under my "simplified" habit on Lift, I write out my little to-do list in my Simplified Planner. This has everything to do with what Olson calls The Power of Completion. "Each and every incomplete thing in your life or work exerts a draining force on you, sucking the energy of accomplishment and success out of you as surely as a vampire stealing your blood. Every incomplete promise, commitment, or agreement saps your strength because it blocks your momentum and chokes off your ability to move forward, progress, or improve. Incomplete things keep calling you hack to the past to take care of them." Who else feels like this? For me, the only way to zap this feeling is to just take ACTION. I start with writing a to-do list in my planner every morning. The next day, I "migrate" things not yet done to my current list. 

Use social media with a positive attitude and tone. Olson cited a study in The Slight Edge that displayed the correlation of positive language, higher happiness, and reduced risk of heart attacks. The words that were most charted as positive? "morning, fabulous, helpful, share, running, forward, great, interesting, lunch, discussion, seems". Isn't that interested? Example tweet: (What a fabulous morning reading TSE- so helpful and shared such interesting, forward thinking content. Discussion over lunch, anyone? #running) Okay so that's kind of a joke, but you can see the point. Positive language increases your happiness. People gravitate towards happy people. And happy people just don't shoot their husbands. One spot that it's so easy to be positive is online, especially through social media. I aim to use Instagram, Facebook and this blog as a platform to share uplifting and interesting content, express gratitude, document life & work, and support others. What's your social media philosophy? As business owners, social media is a part of the gig. Why not infuse every area of your life with goodness?

Take care of your basic needs. As a new mom and business owner, if I don't eat well, sleep enough, and exercise, I am a mess. Don't know where to start? I suggest talking to Laken for a personalized approach, or here, for a life changing program. Honestly, just do it. When your energy is higher, you are more productive and positive. It's as simple as that. As habits, these can range from exercising for 30 minutes to cooking everyday, to just 10 pushups. Make small steps for your health, you are worth it. 

Find an accountability partner. This can be another small business owner, friend, family member, I don't care (just not a pet). Connect with someone who sees the best parts of you and wants to make those even better. You'll need someone to check in with, to text and say "I'm sooo tired I don't want to go to the gym! :(" and they will say, "I'll come with you!" or... "But you LOVE the gym!! :)" Support is key, in life, and in business. If nothing else, join Lift and you'll be joined by a fun group of like-minded humans who enjoy habit forming and personal development. Check in daily. 

Alright, how are you feeling? What steps are you going to take today to be in charge of your business and life? Show up, everyday and take action. Think positive, take care of your physical self. Do the things that are hard when nobody is watching, and when it's hard (and it will be), call a friend that will get you back on track. 



The Power of Habit, Part 2: Defining & Tracking Habits for Success

On Monday, I started talking about the powerful transformation that can happen when you commit to a particular habit. The first step is defining your personal philosophy or mantra- the feeling and motivation behind your small daily actions. Personally, I've always craved routine and habit. Growing up, I was committed to my dance schedule and practiced several times a week. Although we had tons of fun, I didn't always want to go to class. At the end of the season, we started winning. A lot. It was a direct result of the hours we had committed to our art. You might have experienced this with saving money, practicing an instrument, or committing to your career. The beauty of the slight edge is that time is on your side if you use it wisely. 

Nothing to do with this post, but isn't is beautiful? From Here. 

Nothing to do with this post, but isn't is beautiful? From Here. 

The next logical step after you create your personal philosophy is to actually cultivate the habits that matter. Olson recommends starting to implement positive habits in seven areas: health, happiness, relationships, personal development, finances, career, and your positive impact on the world. Since I had already been using Lift, I had some habits in place already but decided to build on them after finishing The Slight Edge. I also went through my Year Designer to identify any goals that could benefit from daily action and added those. 

I use the Lift App to track my daily habits. It's a brilliantly designed app that is simple, clean, and effective. You could also just write your habits as a checklist, journal daily, or have an accountability partner. With Lift, you can have "friends" to support and encourage your goals. Isaiah and I both use it and daily ask each other how we're doing. 

Currently, I have 16 habits that serve me and my family. They are all extremely simple. Easy to do, and easy not to do. I know that doing these small daily disciplines is what will help push me out of survival mode and into success. My habits below are listed in order of my day, how I would typically structure my day. 

  • WAKE: rise at 7am, before Rowan and Isaiah. 
  • SIP: drink a glass of h20 first thing upon rising, bonus points for adding lemon & sea salt
  • BRUSH: brush and floss, morning and night 
  • SIMPLIFY: start my work day by sitting down at my office desk, opening my Simplified Planner to look over my schedule for the day and write a to-do list. 
  • BREATHE For me, this can mean either a guided meditation, a pause for a few deep breaths or anything in between. The focus is on centering myself and focusing on the present moment. 
  • CLEAR: Getting my inbox to zero by offering responses that are quick, marking longer replies as to-do, and categorizing e-mails from clients that don't need a response. 
  • THANK: At this point in my day (around 10 or 11), I like to send an e-mail with a thanks, make a phone call, or just express gratitude.
  • COOK: one of my goals this year is to cook something every day. Doesn't matter which meal, but I've been cooking around dinner. 
  • MINT: we use mint for our budgeting and personal finance. I've found that it's easiest to keep up with categorizing spending if I login to the account everyday on my phone or iPad. 
  • PLAY: Now before all of you who aren't parents jump on my case, read this article. It's a goal of mine to spend an hour a day playing and reading with Rowan. No phone, TV, or secondary activities. I'll talk more about this when I go over my daily schedule next month. 
  • TIDY: if our kitchen is 100% clean at least once a day, it's always manageable. I also like to do a quick clean of my office and living room daily. 
  • SWEAT: this habit is strictly for vigorous exercise like running, a For the Glow workout at home, or Pilates. 
  • TRACK: I've been tracking my daily intake and exercise with My Fitness Pal since before Christmas. It's so easy for me to justify just one more glass of wine, so this app helps keep my portions in check. At the end of the day I check this habit if I've accurately logged my intake.
  • KISS This habit helps me to remember to pay attention to my marriage, think about what Isaiah needs, and how to nurture our relationship. Kissing always helps. :) 
  • STRETCH: we have been doing a 15 minute relaxation yoga and found that our sleep is more restful and muscles more loose (surprise, surprise!)
  • READ: any book, at least 5 minutes. It's not much but I've already finished three books this year. Blogs and magazines don't count. 

Easy to do, easier not to do. You don't need 16 habits to start, or any magic number. Identify your goals and the habits will almost jump out at you! Habit creates momentum, remember that time is on your side even when your habits feel draining or mundane. Since I've been tracking my habits, I've quickly noticed the ones that are the hardest for me (waking up at 7? seems impossible). Plus, I try to remember this and that helps. ;) 

I hope this mini series is helping you think about the seemingly insignificant actions that make up your day to day life. On Friday I will be posting the final segment on this series on the power of habit, this time from the perspective of an entrepreneur and work at home mama. Make your day count! 

The Power of Habit, Part 1: Creating your Personal Philosophy

Over the past year my husband and I have both been interested in the power of habits. For health, taking care of our home, making it through the day to day monotony of a "day job", eating well, you name it. We both have read the blog Zen Habits for a while now. I find Leo's posts so inspiring and motivating. Last year I started using the Lift App and went back and forth determining which habits I wanted to track and stick with. One of my strengths is being a "strategist". I love tracking, seeing progress, and being efficient with my time and energy. Sometimes I think I could create my whole day out of small habits. 

Last week I read The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson, which I can't recommend highly enough. Goal setting, dreaming big, and personal development are some of my biggest passions (hence this blog), so I've been working my way through some of Jess Lively's book suggestions for the top 10 resolutions. The Slight Edge focuses on daily practices that, compounded over time, will drive you directly to your own definition of success. Olson says that "People who live with huge, vivid, clearly articulated dreams are pulled along toward those dreams with such force they come practically unstoppable". The author brings up the incredible point that you don't have to be a genius to be happy, successful, healthy, or anything. All you have to do is be consistent about the things you already know how to do. 

The first step, according to Olson, is to create your personal philosophy. I had been thinking about this for a while now, even before I read the slight edge. Thanks to my inspiring words board, I had a good place to start. Have you ever thought about your personal philosophy or mantra? Olson says, "by your philosophy, all I mean is changing the way you think about simple everyday things. Once you do, then you will take the steps you need to take, to lead you to the how-to's you need". He says it's the attitude behind your habits that have the power to create lasting change. Sounds easy enough! 

Some quotes, philosophies, if you will, I've been thinking about are... "She designed a life she loved", "Do what matters, forget the rest", and, "How you spend your days is, of course, how you spend your life", among others. As I continued reading through the philosophy chapter, a few sentences jumped out at me immediately. "Success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal. Successful people do what unsuccessful people are not willing to do. There is a natural progression to everything in life: plant, cultivate, harvest."  Once I read those few lines, my personal philosophy was self evident. 

"If it matters to you, cultivate it"

Cultivate has many definitions, one that says, "to foster the growth of, to raise or grow something under conditions you can control". This is a philosophy that can stay in the back of my mind when laziness or fatigue set in. When I don't feel like waking up at 7, even though I know it''ll start my day off right. I can think of this philosophy when I'm watching TV instead of playing with Rowan, even know I know I value quality time with him. When I'm tempted to order a pizza instead of cook, start my workday late, let too many days slide without flossing. These things are important to me! They are so easy do do, but just as easy not to do. On Wednesday I'll be back with a post on my 16 daily habits for success & how I track them. On Friday I plan to post about how you can incorporate simple daily disciplines to drive your success as a creative entrepreneur. Have you read The Slight Edge? Are you intrigued? 

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

2013 in Review

Oh, my! If I had to describe 2013 in words, in a blog post, I just couldn't. Thankfully, there are photos! Probably too many of them, but I am so grateful for each and every one. 

In January, my main focus was work and pregnancy. Actually, that was the theme of the first few months of the year! Isaiah was working late evenings (usually until 11pm or later) and we only had one car. This meant that I spent a lot of time at home alone after work, or dropping him off and picking him up! I started going to pre-natal yoga on Monday nights which was relaxing. I took plenty of naps. We had just found out the gender of our babe, so I also spent lots of  time day dreaming about our little man! I started blogging more regularly, and worked hard at building my business and preparing for Amy & Jon's wedding day

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February was a lot of the same! Continued to drink too much coffee for a pregnant lady, dredging through the snow to a job I didn't love (at all), but saw the value in. My in-laws were in Mexico, so we were missing them. Overall it was a lonely month to be honest! I slept a lot. But we did work on my office, go out for Valentine's Day, and I spent time working on my floral design

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In March and April, I was SO pregnant! At least it felt that way. :) I took a childbirth education class and devoted a lot of time to preparing for motherhood. I enjoyed a few baby showers and visits from family! It was quiet... I knew that the next few months would be bringing radical change so I did my best to slow down and live in the moment. Nesting kicked in majorly- I was an organizing and list making machine! I loved feeling Rowan kick and move. We took baths a lot. 

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May was a month devoted to Amy & Jon's Wedding, my last month of work at the bank (!!!), and just living with that huge belly! I remember being so stressed about my pregnancy during this month. I tend to focus my energy on things I can't control (working on it) so this doesn't even surprise me. Rowan was always happy and healthy throughout my whole pregnancy and for that I am so grateful! This month, my in-laws visited and we finished my office and had a huge cooking weekend to freeze meals for after baby. It was the best. 

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After Amy's incredibly fun and beautiful wedding, I found out that my dear friend Nicole was getting married... in JULY, and she wanted my help. Well, being the way I am- I said why not! Her and Tyler came up north over Memorial day to essentially plan their whole wedding. We walked, I prayed that  labor would start early, and was counting down my last minutes of work at the bank.

Eventually, I was done with work! It was two weeks of impatiently waiting, but when Rowan arrived a week late, it was worth every single second. His birth was incredible and without a doubt the most amazing moment of my life. You can read more about Rowan's birth here

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Isaiah and I celebrated our wedding anniversary! It was our first time leaving Rowan and I was anxious, but entirely glad that my in-laws were the ones to babysit. We tried to ground ourselves a bit, it was hard to believe everything that was actually happening! We ate, drank, and even went on the ferris wheel. :) 

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In July, Rowan's newborn photos came back and I was obsessed! I think they are everywhere on the internet now. I don't care. We went on lots of walks downtown, met up with friends, and enjoyed summer in Northern Michigan! We worked at our community farm, too. It was fun to take Rowan to the beach for the first time at Good Harbor Bay! 

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Before I knew it, It was the end of the month and time for Nicole's wedding. Rowan and I packed up and headed down to Flushing, Michigan where we spent days arranging flowers and coordinating the whole weekend. 

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and it was perfect. 

After the wedding, we spent lots of time enjoying summer. We started hiking, I got some alone time (aka drinking coffee and browsing Pinterest at Oryana), and took too many (but still not enough) photos of Rowan. We met up with Krista and Elizabeth a lot and walked downtown. It was the best ever to have friends with babies! We went to our local Breastfeeding group on Mondays, too. It was so much fun when Madison and Gwendolyn were born! 

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In August, Isaiah turned 29 and the next day we took off for a week long trip to Minnesota. We spent precious time with my family, especially visiting with my Grandpa at the lake. Ro got to meet some new faces and it was the perfect week for us all to just relax. We ate burritos, shopped, swam in the lake and looked at old photos.

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We took Rowan to his first baseball game with my parents! I nursed at Target field and ate too much ice cream. :) 

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After that trip, I got very tired and anxious. I was worried about finding a part time job, probably not sleeping enough, and missing Isaiah since he worked so much. As you can see- I was very tired. But I still made time for this photoshoot, played with flowers, went to church, and ate brunch with my family on Sundays. It was a trying few weeks but when answers came and prayers were answered... even more amazing things started to happen. 

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My Northern Michigan Styled shoot was featured over here, and I officially launched my website! I got back into blogging and started working harder for my brides. In one month, I booked six incredible weddings and feel so blessed to be a "Work at home mom". It's been challenging to find a balance, but is something I'm working on every day. 

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Through the fall we continued to get produce from our magic CSA box that we pick up every Monday. We had fun cooking and trying our best to eat all the tomatoes! We transitioned Rowan into his crib and I started exercising more regularly. 

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Rowan loves the Moby wrap and his stroller. His favorite thing was meeting up with Madi & Gwen to go for walks and coffee! I started the Postnatal Project with For the Glow and worked out daily and started up my green smoothies. Rowan was still nursing strong and learning new things every day!

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In November, I turned 25, visited my family in Minnesota again and hosted Thanksgiving. It was a really busy month but full of love and the things that matter. Rowan and I flew solo (he was great), we shopped at Trader Joes, visited with my extended family, ate at Panera with my mom and sis, and just hung out. It was nice to have a week with my parents! 

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When we got home, Isaiah and I hosted Thanksgiving at our house. Rowan started eating simple puree and enjoyed an apple, parsnip and pumpkin smoothie for Thanksgiving! My mother in law and I had fun decorating for Thanksgiving and setting the table. 

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And before we knew it, it was Christmas. Last night and this morning have made my heart so full. Just the three of us this year, cooking coq au vin, watching Home Alone and playing with Rowan's new toys. If I could sum up the year in just one word- it has been a year of faith. Faith in God, in the future, each other, and ourselves. We have gone through seasons of life that we just didn't know how in the world it would be okay, or work out. Somehow, under God's overflowing grace, we are happy and blessed beyond measure. I can't wait to see what 2014 holds! On new year's eve, I will be posting the next letter to my future self. I get goosebumps just thinking about it! Merry Christmas, all! Hugs from us! 

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Let's Celebrate!

Twenty-five years ago, my mom and dad went out for spicy Mexican food, and only hours later she went into labor (which I now have a true understanding of), and I was born. Today, November 20th, on my birthday, I feel different than I have other years. I'm a mom myself now, and as most new mama's will tell you, I have so much more appreciation for my own parents. I'm so grateful for this gift of life, motherhood, love. I'm endlessly thankful for my family (both old and new), and I have such a clear sense of purpose and excitement moving into the next twenty-five years.

Thanks for the photo, SMP! Just add candles, perfect birthday cake? :)

Thanks for the photo, SMP! Just add candles, perfect birthday cake? :)

Today I'm celebrating another year of working towards a better me. It was yet another beautiful year of ups and downs and countless moments of self-discovery. Last year on my birthday, I was around 8 weeks pregnant, and I spent the majority of last year enjoying that journey. For the past 5 months, motherhood has enveloped my life the the most joyful and overwhelming way. Last year I was able to serve brides and their families and share my gifts. I learned more about my family history. I designed more flowers and took better care of my body. My husband and I dreamed bigger than we ever have in our relationship, and are learning how to love each other more purposefully every day. I've learned more about how I want to structure my time, and therefore, my life. We traveled and visited with our families more. The message that love does has been sinking further into my heart. (Thanks, Bob!) I know now that love does things, that action is important, that I don't want to be a person that just says this or that, I want to show people how deeply they are loved with my actions. 

I'm declaring my 25th year to be the most intentional, action filled, love driven year yet. More celebrating, more making what matters happen. More time with Rowan, less time in front of the TV. More traveling and hugging my family. More yoga and green smoothies. More coffee with friends, stronger relationships. More kissing. More books, more restful Sundays. I want to squeeze more life into my 168 hours. (Have you read this book? Do it.) So today I'm celebrating that. Next month, I'll be sharing the my next letter to my future self, and I can't wait. When I read last year's letter, I just about burst into happy tears. God is GOOD. Isn't is amazing what love can do? Celebrate with me, will you? 

Life is too short!

It's been a year since Making Things Happen Chicago, and I've been revisiting some of my notes from the day. At that point, I was 6 weeks pregnant, scared out of my mind, discouraged about my business, wanting to badly to leave my job at the bank, and still in the very early stages of figuring out how to be a good wife. I'm not saying I've figured everything out, but I wanted to share this list with you.  

 

LIFE is too short not to... 

Tell my family & friends that I love them, visit my family on a whim, hug and kiss my husband just because, take care of my body, be an amazing wedding planner, do what matters with my time, take risks, eat well, smile and laugh everyday. 

 I absolutely love where my head was that day. I love where my heart was! This year, I'm keeping the same goals. Life is too short! But I'm going to add a big one... spend as much time with my sweet little Rowan as possible. To give him love and grace in every moment.  

Photo by Bevin Deak of  Eliza Jean Photography

Photo by Bevin Deak of Eliza Jean Photography

 Life is TOO SHORT to.... 

Be afraid, spend money recklessly, play small, hate my body, compare myself to others, sleep all day (had to laugh at that one...), lie to myself .

 Can I get a heck yea? I ended the session with... "My life is too short not to live the exact life I want for me and my family. It's too short not to do all the things we want to do." 2014 is going to be a great year. 

Sweet Sunday

I think I'm going to make Sunday night blogging a tradition. Last night my little family had the whole day off together (a Saturday!!) and it was so lovely. We didn't do much, took a family nap, watched movies, ordered in Chinese, just plain hung out. I didn't check my e-mail, fold any laundry or even get dressed. Well I changed from jammies into glorified yoga pants (thanks Lululemon for making me feel like a real human even though I have no clothes). The point is, it's was so relaxing. These are my people. My husband and my little Rowan, my club. 

My hubs is really learning my love language! :) 

My hubs is really learning my love language! :) 

This morning at church our pastor spoke about acceptance, and being a part of the "group". I don't want to completely butcher the beauty of his message, but it boils down to this. God wants us to succeed. He is on our team, rooting for us and encouraging us. You cannot be "weeded out" or left behind, you will always be a member of Jesus' club. 

I wish I would've taken notes this morning, because it resonated so deeply for me. It was such a simple message but one I really needed to hear. I struggle with always feeling like an outsider even when I'm doing everything I need to do to be an insider. But the truth is, I am on the inside. When I'm making what matters most happen, when I'm dreaming my biggest dreams, when I am focused and intentional about fulfilling my calling, I am in the "club" in the most perfect sense of the word. God wants to see my success and he will bring the right community into my life and fill that missing piece. 

Tonight I am pursuing that mission with my whole heart. I Face-timed with my grandpa, I bought a plane ticket home to Minnesota to visit my family, I arranged some gorgeous farm fresh blooms, I took Rowan on a drive around Old Mission Peninsula, I prayed for God to pierce my heart and help me realize what matters most. I hoped and prayed that He would be on my team this week. What did you do today to make your Sunday sweet? I would love to pray for you this week. 

 

Sparkle & Shine for What Matters

It's been a little while since I've been "real" on the blog. Last year at Making Things Happen (wow it's been a year!), I learned so much from Lara, Emily & Gina about facing your fears, saying yes to what matters, and doing more of what fires you up. I wish so badly I could return for this years conference! Since last October, when I was newly pregnant, I've welcomed the most perfect little boy into the world, celebrated my first wedding anniversary, quit my full time job, launched SGW full time, and have learned (and am always re-learning) how to truly focus on what matters most.  

Does this sound familiar? Probably. This year I discovered out what my authentic path was. And honestly, the whole "stay at home mom/wedding designer/ budding floral designer/ just trying to do my thang" role can sound a little... I don't know, tired? But here's the thing. It is my thing. And just because you're not the only one doing it, doesn't mean it's not unique. It's unique to you. Every step you take forward, every risk you take, means another jump for making what matters happen. 

I get e-mails all the time from women who want to be mothers, they want to plan weddings or start their own business. They want to know how I'm doing it. Here's a straight up answer... I'm busting my ass. I am taking big risks, I'm trying to figure out a balance, I'm facing obstacles head on and figuring out a way to make it work. My husband is not making a bazillion dollars, we aren't going on vacation 4x per year, and I'm definitely not keeping my house clean. But what I am doing is being a mom that is present and loving. I am a good mom. I am setting goals for my business that are big and scary. I'm asking for what I want, I'm putting myself out there (so scary). And still, things aren't perfect! But I am trying to stay consistent. So my advice is this... just do what you can with what you have. You will come across obstacles and people who aren't on your team. That's okay, remember who your people are and what you believe in. Keep asking yourself why you're doing what you're doing. And, are you doing things or just thinking about doing things. As Lara would say... action. I love that. 

Life with a baby.... Hello!

Hello friends! Greetings from babyland. As I type this, Rowan is sound asleep next to me, as sweet as ever. I cannot believe that tomorrow he will be 4 weeks old! It's amazing how fast they grow. Today I wanted to pop and and let you all know how things are going. The short answer is that everything is going great. He is a doll. Nursing is going well, he sleeps in 4-5 hour blocks overnight and the rest of the time he's just stealing our hearts with his vibrant little personality. He loves taking walks and seeing new things, he gets bored easily so I try to do lots of activity with him while he's up. I love being Rowan's mom. 

 

The first month was madness. We had lots of family and friends visiting who wanted to meet Rowan which was so much fun. It was also exhausting. I gave birth on Friday evening, and literally on Sunday night we went out to dinner for Father's Day with our families. Madness, I tell you, madness. Looking back, I can't honestly believe that even happened. Rowan loves being out and about. He sleeps through long dinners out and really loves his stroller. We take a walk almost everyday. That also helped with my healing in the first couple weeks postpartum.  

From our newborn shoot with  Sweet Pea Photography

From our newborn shoot with Sweet Pea Photography

Isaiah is totally a natural at this fatherhood thing, which I knew he would be but it's a lot of fun to watch. He's been awesome at waking up to feed him at 4 am, changing diapers like crazy and never complaining when I say "Honey, will you bring me my (phone, water, boppy, etc)". I hope he knows how much I appreciate him right now. I've been pretty worn out and needing lots of rest to heal.

Yesterday I went to the gym for the first time since I was 12 weeks pregnant. It was a serious wake up call. Time to get in shape! Thanks to my postpartum meal plan, we've been eating healthy and clean but there are definitely more things I could be doing to get back to a comfortable fitness level. Planning to cut back on ice cream (and sugar in general...), and push through this period of time where I can't run more than 5 minutes at a time. 

July 1st has passed, which means that we are more than halfway through 2013. WHAT. I re-read my letter just now. Somethings are going super well but I can see myself slipping on some of the goals I had set out for this year. We all know that action is the best way to fight that sluggish, depressed feeling so I'm going to reevaluate my priorities and get some stuff done this week. Making things happen, right? 

Obviously I didn't get to posting our love story in June, so maybe next year? Who knows. I might save it for a winter project. I'm writing our birth story after this so that will be up shortly.  

I don't know all of you who read my little blog, but I would love to. Thank  you so much for sharing this space with me. Please always feel free to e-mail and say hello! 

Best,  

Rachel  

A little love note to 20-something girls in the USA.

I hope this never happens to you, but I wanted to talk a little bit about passive bullying tonight. It's happened to me before and I'm sure it'll happen to me again. It's like on Mean Girls when Regina tells Cady that she likes her bracelet. She's acting nice but you know she's out to get you. Or maybe you don't know at the time but when you look back on it you see the way you were bullied behind your back. I've never been pushed or gotten in a "girl fight". I've always been a sensitive person and very in tune to how other people perceive me. So while others might not notice the fake smiles, I always know when you don't actually intend to ever get coffee with me. And it hurts my feelings. Sometimes it's a bigger thing, or even smaller. Like today... something little happened and I felt bullied, like a victim. I get anxiety when people don't like me, so a small thing can escalate quickly in my mind and I try hard to figure out what I did wrong and probably assume wrongly most of the time.  So as I was thinking about this situation and trying to diagnose what I did wrong in this particular situation, this is the conclusion I came to about why we (professional, married women in our twenties) don't like each other and act like bullies sometimes.

We are all part of a culture of "sameness", we like organic food, instagramming peonies and going on coffee dates with our friends. We gravitate towards the same trends and designers and way of life. We love Kate Spade, having our hair professionally blow-dried and when our husbands do nice things for us. We are girls in our twenties who really do have our sh*t together. We all know that "comparison is the thief of joy" and have pinned the saying to the appropriate board on Pinterest, but we don't live that way. Especially me. Especially today when something completely stupid happened and I looked at myself and asked "what is wrong with me?".

The answer (as scary as it is to admit), is that nothing is wrong with me. I'm figuring myself out, just like we all are. I'm figuring out what it means to be a part of a culture where everyone is the same, or at least that's the way it appears. I'm figuring out how to love the things I love and still do my own thing. Because the things I love are trendy, and everyone else loves them too. It's a paradox because we all like the same things and we all want to be unique so in our quest for uniqueness we all look like clones of one another and start to resent each other. It's a little pathetic and it makes me feel like a copycat for genuinely loving the things I love, and it makes me feel like a mean girl. Does that make any sense to anyone out there? Grool. (I hope you get the reference).

 

I couldn't get to the bottom of where this came from, but I saw the image on Pinterest. If anyone knows the source, please let me know! 

I couldn't get to the bottom of where this came from, but I saw the image on Pinterest. If anyone knows the source, please let me know! 

But the truth is, I'm not a mean girl and either are you. I won't apologize and either should you. I won't back down from what I love. It's true that I love shellac manicures, peachy pinks, white furniture, my iPhone, Starbucks, flowers and dates with my husband. I love inspiring quotes, reading blogs, going on vacation and having my breakfast in bed. I value my college education, upper-middle class upbringing, and precious time with my family. I dream of luxurious European vacations, a golden-doodle puppy and picture perfect Christmas mornings. Do you? Probably. Because those things are awesome and fun. And I am so glad we have those things (and hopefully more) in common. I'm excited when I make friends who are into similar things. It fires me up to collaborate on projects with other creative professionals and support each others' dreams. I get pumped with I make friends with someone who also loves designing flowers, is entering motherhood or pursuing entrepreneurship. So instead of feeling threatened when I find out how similar I am to someone, I'm going to get psyched and be her friend, and learn as much about what makes her unique as I can so I can support her dreams. I'm going to let more people in, and I'm not going to take it personally when others don't do the same. And I promise to let more of me shine, even the geeky and embarrassing parts. (I love the BeeGees and I usually head straight for the hotel pool on vacation, plus I still love the Disney Channel... so whatevs). 
 

Thanks for reading this scrambled little love letter. I hope we can still be friends. I am going to tell more of my story soon, starting first with our love story, which I actually can't wait to share. 

xoxo,

Rachel

 

p.s. I'm a little hormonal as my due date is tomorrow, so just take everything I say with a grain (or 2) of salt.  :)

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?

Designing Your Day & Setting Yourself Up for Success

We all have a workflow, even if we don't realize it. Whether we stay at home and work, clock-in somewhere or are constantly on the go. Most of you know that come September, or more realistically June, my "workflow" is going to make a drastic shift as I make the transition from a full time office employee to mama & full time wedding planner. While I'm going through these changes, a recurring theme in my thought process is setting myself up for success. I have to give a big shout out to Lara Emily (Making Brands Happen) these two women really helped me shape how I think about my ideal day, and a lot of these principles were inspired by their teaching. I encourage to you sign up for one of their webinars! Amazing.

In a bigger way, I want to set myself up for the first months of motherhood by having an organized home and nursery, a freezer full of post-partum meals and logistics figured out. I have a diaper delivery service lined up, I know I will be breastfeeding and have all of the helpful tools ready to go, and we are in the process of looking for a co-sleeping option. There are so many unknowns about parenting- specifically those first weeks of life. It's so important to me to get these things nailed down before he arrives, so when I hold my baby for the first time I don't have to worry about anything but loving him.

In the present moment I don't have a ton of control over the flow of my day. But I can tweak small things to make it more pleasurable and to ensure I'm working at my fullest potention. Here are some little steps that I've thought through that make my day better. Using these tips below, I'm hoping to design my ideal day, or at least think it through. Knowing that some things work for me and some won't will be helpful in those trial months of getting things going. Eventually I'll have a flow for this whole motherhood & working from home business, but as of right now it's a mystery. I'm planning to take it day by day, and hold myself to a standard of grace, not perfection.

via

Understand Your Creative Flow

Wedding planning isn't all about color swatches & floral designs. There are lots of timelines and budgets to nail down, and vendors to get a hold of. But some things are creative, and it's important to be in the right mindset for those things. Think about when you do your best creative work. For me, it's first thing in the morning, when I'm sitting down with my coffee. Maybe I'm the least inhibited at that point (not fully awake), but I write the most clearly and have more authentic ideas. In setting up my ideal day, I make sure to schedule blog posts first thing, and not at 3 in the afternoon when I'm feeling exhausted.

StreamlineYour Workflow

I love finding ways to make my life easier. A new app, filing system or pre-filled form makes my heart sing. Thinking through my entire process of planning and designing for a client clears my head so I can do the best creative work. I have several helpful tools that I've put in place that I can now never live without. Some of my favorites? Freshbooks, my Simplified Planner, and obviously my iPhone. Simplifiy and streamline.

Set Your Intention

Once you're ready for action, you understand your creative and work flow, and are ready to hit the pavement, set your intention. In any job I've ever had, and even in college I would use this practice. Sometimes all it takes is for me to say, "Today is going to be a lovely and productive day", to myself. Other days I silently pray for my work and for the people I will encounter. Just like my yoga pratice, this is a habit that I've really grown to love. I like to pose it as a question to myself, "what is your intention for this day?". Try it out!

Organize Your Space

Similar to streamlining, I like to have an organized space when I begin my workday, and this truly stems from the evening before. A clean desk, paperwork filed, e-mails all in their places. Removing external clutter has proven to be the number one thing to clear my mind. As a lifetime leaver of messes, I'm trying to change my ways because I know how beneficial an organized space is for my productivity. The next thing I do is organize my planner. I leave a space in my AM section for an action list, or the things I must do that morning. Usually it consists of e-mailing certain people, one big project and a few odds and ends. I love lists.

Connect With Someone

One of my biggest fears about motherhood and working from home is loneliness. Growing up, I had siblings and parents around from the moment I woke up, and would go to school and immediately hang by the lockers and chat with my friends. This didn't change in college, waking up with roomates and going to class together. Even now, Isaiah and I ride to work together in the morning and at the very least listen to NPR side by side, and say I love you before we go to work. While I was working at SPU, my friend and supervisor Megan always greeted us with a peppy "Welcome to work!" and a huge smile. She may think it's funny, but she's honestly one of the most genuinly positive and upbeat people I've ever met, all while still being real and sensitive. I'm worried about working alone and missing that connection with people. My plan is to check social media, or leave someone an uplifting note before I do much else.

So there you have it! These are just a few things that help me get organized and feel productive. Like I said, there is going to be radical change in my daily structure soon and I'm not entirely sure how I'm going to handle it. Soon, I want to figure out a flow. Even though now it seems impossible to do the same amount of work while breasfeeding, changing diapers, and everything in between, I know we'll somehow make it happen. I'm hoping that I will spend two or three days at the flower shop, and the rest at home with my baby. He won't be seeing much daycare, but luckily my husband and my schedules are nicely blended so one of us can be fully present with him most of the time. I'll post an update on how this is working sometime down the road. What helps you in your day? I would love to hear how you make the most of your time!

The Case for Creating a Beautiful Life

I've been using this shampoo for the past month that I used for an entire summer when I lived in Connecticut. It's nothing special, just an Herbal Essences brand moisturizing shampoo. When I bought it I had forgotten it was the one I used while I was living out east. Surely enough, the moment those suds started forming the smell of the shampoo brought be back to my 20 year old self, living in a little cabin by the ocean. The fragrance was an instant reminder of what life felt like during those months.

Do you have experiences like that? I seem to have them quite often. Certain songs, foods, smells or actions make me feel so nostalgic. It's like magic. In high school I was a devout follower of the band Brand New... I always feel like a 10th grader again when I hear those songs. It's little things like the soundtrack to a favorite movie or your grandma's famous rhubarb pie that make memories. For me at least, I rarely think back to a big project I was working on or anything like that as the timestamp to a certain period of life. It's the little things.

flowers from here.

Upon realizing this in a deeper way, and understanding it rather than just experiencing it, I've decided to be more intentional about the little things in my life. As a wedding planner & designer, my job is to make things beautiful, and to give a sense of peace, belonging and encouragement to my clients. It's a goal of mine to inspire the couples I work with to love better. What an amazing calling. It's an important job to do. Of course there are the parts that aren't so glamorous (I spend a lot of time with my 3-hole puncher and excel spreadsheets), but styling flowers, being thoughtful about the tiniest details like what kind of champagne to serve for the toast and what music to play... those things are important. It's what they'll remember when the think of their wedding day.

I'm going to start sending a "sensory" anniversary gift to my clients. You might think I'm totally weird by this point. But how amazing would it be to be gifted a candle that smells just like your wedding night or cupcakes in the same exact flavor. It's the little things guys. Sincerely, Ginger is all about an experience. I want my clients to know how truly unique and special they are, and it starts from the moment we start our journey together and lasts long after their first anniversary. I'm so pumped about this new development!

An easy way to do this for your wedding day is to choose a special new perfume. You can even keep using it on your honeymoon and in your first few weeks of marriage. I guarantee if you stop using it and revisit the scent months later it'll bring back so many feelings of your big day. Like magic.

Personally, I want to be more intentional about the small things in my life. A phrase I always come back to is "if something matters to you, cultivate it". I think I'll work on weekly lilacs in my office this spring. :)

 This post turned into something different that I originally thought it would, it's a little more scattered. But what it really boils down to is this. Cultivate small, sensory habits. Cultivate a beautiful life filled with things that give your life meaning. Not only will you be working towards your ideal day, but looking back you'll see that you've been living your ideal life.

Saying Yes to What Matters.

via

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.

via Lara Casey

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.

via

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

Team Rachel... Part Two!

Like I mentioned in the first post on Team Rachel, I am surrounded by amazing people in my life. Really it seems greedy to be looking for any other type of support. I want to emphasize that it goes both ways! I have certain skills and talents that I know can help people, I just need to be connected to them first.

cake.jpg

my team gets cake. :)

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I would love a mentor. Throughout school I had various mentors through the business school which I found tremendously helpful. At this stage in my life it would be amazing to connect with an older women who has experience with entrepreneurship. Anything I can learn I am open to. I am a sponge for knowledge! An added bonus would be a women who is also a mother and is comfortable talking about personal life and navigating through it's challenges, not just business. I'm looking for someone who can see the big picture and talk through it with me. Do any of you have mentors that you love? How did you connect with them? I recently signed up with our local SCORE organization to meet with a business mentor. I figured this would be a good place to start.

A best friend! This might seem horribly sad to some of you, but I promise it's not. I have lots of friends! What I'm really searching for is a person who understands me, who really

gets it

. The girls I'm closest to live so far away. I want someone with a creative drive who wants to work on projects together, who will inspire me, and who lives locally. I've been hoping that this person comes into my life. How amazing will that be!

A strong team of vendors. I mentioned on my action plan for Sincerely, Ginger this year that I want to build a network of vendors. This is crucial to my business as a wedding planner. I strive for healthy, respectful relationships with those in the industry and I can't wait to see where those relationships go!

A community of bloggers. One of the main reasons I started blogging was to connect with other bloggers! I've seen friends cultivate great relationships with other women online. I crave that sort of connection! Many of my friends are like "You do

what

? You started

blogging

?" They're just generally confused. :)

The thing is, these relationships are mostly in my control! If I put forth the energy to make these connections they will happen. It's just a matter of time. Trying to remain confidant and optimistic, reminding myself that my future is bright! My mother in law reminded me of something so important this weekend. Her mom always said

have

faith

like God is in control of everything and

act

like you are

. Thank goodness for Grandma Mary. :)

xoxo

Rachel