PS: I am continuously humbled how God uses my words for good and for His Glory. For that reason, I will be leaving my blog up for the benefit of brides and professionals just like you. So please, peruse the archives and be sure to purchase your copy of the BE MY OWN WEDDING PLANNER WORKBOOK. I pray it speaks to you where and how you need it most!
Posted in BUSINESS, Personal | Comments Off on Farewell Friends | Closing this Chapter
Pre-note: It’s a long one, friend, but stay with me! I think there’s something in this you need to read….
This time of year if undoubtably my favourite and my guess is it may just be yours too!
All the twinkling lights, the crooners carols and hot cocoa by the fire with those I love. The time to be still, linger a little longer and reflect on the gifts of the past year.
For years past, I have made the tradition of working through Lara Casey’s Powersheets and setting intentional goals for the coming year. If there’s anything I’ve learnt in the process, it’s that goal setting doesn’t just need to be about achievement and advancement in business. It can be a gateway to making the things that will matter when you’re 80 happen, starting now.
One of my greatest fears is to get to the end of my life and realize I spent it chasing the wrong things!
The power sheets help me reflect on the things that I was blessed with that year, what did and didn’t work and create a plan of action for moving forward in the new year with focus and intentionally. I set not only business goals, but personal goals that involve my faith, my marriage, my family, my friendships, my mothering and even my “me” time.
But I truly believe we cannot live life well or plan for the future with a right heart, without first giving thanks for where we’re at.
If we don’t stop to appreciate where we’ve been, we may just arrive to where we’re going and realize we’ve missed it!
Did you hear me, friend?
You may just be where you’re supposed to be right now.
You may just have everything your hearts desired this vary moment.
Through practice and the discipline of keeping a gratitude journal- a journal of ordinary everyday thanks- I’ve learnt that Gratitude turns what we have into enough.
So, as we draw near to the close of the year and before I put pen to paper, I wanted to share with you just a glimpse into my gratitude journal….
The things I’m most grateful for in 2015
Letting go of striving
… and people pleasing and comparison.
If I’m honest, one of my biggest concerns in having a child was how I was going to keep up with my business. I feared falling off peoples radars, watching as others passed me in success and achievement and ultimately, loosing business and never being able to regain it. And then I had my daughter.
Everything in my world changed and my heart shifted. Suddenly, my priorities aligned with what matters most in this season of life (read that again: “this season of life.” Different chapters of our lives require different focus. Nothing is permanent.) and the things I feared didn’t matter anymore.
I chose (and continue) to trust that God is in control. If I seek him and his will, my life (and work) will be exactly as they should be.
With my eyes focused on my life and what I have right now in front of me, rather than on others and what they’re doing, my heart has been overwhelmed with contentment, joy and gratitude. The striving suddenly ceased and I have learnt to just be and thrive in the moment.
Practical Tip: Unfollow on Instagram, Hide on Facebook and Unsubscribe from newsletters that make you feel like you’re not enough. The ones you’re tricking yourself into thinking are “research,” “inspiration” or “keeping up with competition.”
Even better, stop scrolling all together, simply using social media to post and respond to notifications directed at you specifically.
Living in the moment
For the first three weeks of motherhood, I felt like a gerbil on a wheel. Every moment of every day was a task list item that felt defeating and never ending. Finally, in the midst of a puddle of tears with my body heaped over the kitchen sink, my mom gave me advice that would change my entire year (and ultimately my life going forward).
While the advice was specific to motherhood, what it taught me was to block out the noise of others’ opinions, expectations and experiences; to be still long enough to ask myself what I want, what I would do and to experience what was going on around me with open eyes.
I began to love “the moment” and became addicted to “the now.” I began to see, so clearly, the fleeting nature of life and how we’ll never get this moment back. We only get one chance to live it: now.
From humble firsts, like eden discovering her toes, to the intricacies of people, like the way a smile brightens peoples eyes, I saw it all. And I can truly say my heart has been flood with gratitude.
By living in the moment, my life (while looking very foreign, still and slow compared to any other year) has felt abundantly beautiful… almost sacred.
Practical Tip: If you’ve never taken a break from social media, try fasting it for a time. Perhaps a week or better yet, one month; even business related activity. Nothing will fall to pieces and the world will be waiting there when you return.
If you’ve done this before, try implementing social media free weekends, so during your downtime you can truly savour your life and those you love.
A love like no other
As most of you know, 2015 was dominated by the arrival of our daughter in early February. After a short 6 week hiatus, I returned to work to make magic for a few special clients. At the close of my wedding season, I returned to maternity leave and will remain on leave until late 2016.
For most of my life, my greatest love (aside from my husband and Jesus) has been my passions; my business being one of them. But when Eden-Elle arrived on the scene, a part of my heart I never knew existed burst open. And I have discovereed “the greatest legacy we leave may not be something we do but someone we raise.” – Lara Casey
I have discovered that loving others well – be it my daughter, my husband, my family, my friends or even perfect strangers- is the greatest gift we can give. And loving well doesn’t always mean our blog is up to date, our inbox is zero, our social platforms are maintained and our business is advancing. I’ve discovered an even greater joy than succeeding in my work and gaining a larger social platform – and that is loving and connecting deeply with those right in front of me.
Practical Tip: Make it a goal to bless someone in your life every single day. It could be a small gesture, like a text of encouragement or stopping to chat with your elderly neighbour. Or a grander one, like choose not to attend an event you really want to in favour of spending time with family or a friend.
Many times, loving well requires sacrifice, like a messy house or less to do’s accomplished. But saying NO to one thing, means saying YES to the things that matter most.
A Year of Healing
For years, I carried around hurt that I refused to touch, let alone work through. I preferred to pretend like everything was fine and mask the pain with addictions like anxiety, achievement, disordered eating and people pleasing.
You have no idea what if feels like to type those words but if you too are honest with yourself, wouldn’t if feel amazing to say the same?
Practical Tip: Get quiet, grab a piece of paper and start writing out all the things that have hurt you most in life. Little and big. Be real honest! It only takes 10 seconds of insane courage. Look over that list and ask yourself if any of those things are holding you back in life. Are they affecting you in any way? Your work, your relationships, how you look/think/speak about yourself?
….and in conjunction with this one: Family and Friends.
I cannot even begin to express my gratitude for the help I have received this year. From the messy beginnings of motherhood, to the challenges of new seasons, I have had no choice but to accept (reluctantly many times) help from those around me; sometimes from perfect strangers!
It’s been a humbling year on countless levels, but what I have learnt is that accepting help not only blesses the receiver, but the giver. By denying someone the opportunity to help, you steal from them an opportunity to experience joy and purpose.
Seriously. Ask someone today how helping someone leaves them feeling. My guess is pretty good. Perhaps that why Christmas is many times referred to as the most wonderful time of year?! It’s the season of giving.
I now know that asking for help when I need it and accepting it graciously when it’s offered is a gift that just keeps giving.
Practical Tip: The next time someone offers to help, say yes! No matter what it is. Then try it again. On the flip side, seek out an opportunity today to help someone else and see how it makes you feel.
A solid Marriage
This isn’t an easy one to type but it’s with abundant gratitude that I do. This year has been one of the most challenging years in our marriage to date. There’s been nothing like it before and on many days, we’ve had to fight to stay connected, to love each other well and to keep our marriage strong.
Having a child will turn not only your life but your marriage upside down. And nothing anyone said could have prepared us for this chapter. So, I won’t waste your time giving advice. What I will say instead is this:
Before we got married, even after, Dave and I put in the hard work of “working” on us. We took the time to build a solid foundation so that when things got rocky, we leaned in rather than running away.
To often, we see marriage as a contract- a negotiation that meets our needs- rather than a covenant- a lifelong promise to be what the other needs. Thinking of it as a contract rather than a covenant leaves both parties feeling less than secure, loved conditionally rather than unconditionally and keeps two from true intimacy. Things like secrecy, personal ambition and expectations get in the way of refining us into what the other individuals needs to flourish. Because whether we like it or not, marriage is not meant to make us happy, but holy.
It’s this mindset and commitment that has carried Dave and I through this hard season. Now on the upside of the valley, I can say we’re coming out of it more connected, more appreciative of each other and dare I say it, more in love.
Practical Tip: Take the time to read some of these articles and consider investing in your marriage, starting today.
So that’s it my friend. There are countless more where those came from but they are certainly amongst the most important. I hope you take time before the new year to reflect on the blessings of 2015 in your own life.
I’ve stopped and started this post on many occasions, because the truth is, it’s far more honest and vulnerable than I’d like to be… at least for right now.
You see, as much as God has given me the gift of openness, I admit to few that it’s only after I’ve walked through the hard stuff- only after I’ve come out the other side or at least seen the light at the end of the tunnel- that I dare to open up and welcome people in.
I retreat to wrestle in private; to process on my own, in quiet places where only those who have seen me at my worst will witness my deepest struggles – the places where Im still broken, unsure and weak.
I dare not broadcast the unravelling before I can give hope to my hurting and reason to my struggle. Why? Because I want to feel strong not weak. Empowered not Dishevelled. And while I “pride” myself on being vulnerable and honest with people, its still masked in layers of an exhausting pursuit for perfection.
I can relate to far too much of this and that needs to change. But not in my own strength; by the power of the only one who can truly love us unconditionally, heal us and make ALL THINGS NEW.
So how does this relate to goal setting and my hesitancy in sharing my own goals for 2015?
I’m right in the thick of it friends. Nothings wrapped up pretty yet or conquered and I sit, humbled on my knees, knowing that these goals are deeply personal and not necessarily “business focused or approved.” They’re messy, unfinished and raw.
But I’m ready to fight… to kick the pursuit of perfection right where it hurts and it starts right now, by letting you in.
“Vulnerability is showing up and having the courage to be seen.” – Brene Brown
If I’ve learnt anything in my walk with the Lord, it’s that each time my walls go up, when I’m adverse to doing something yet continually forced to go back, I know it’s for a reason.
There is someone, maybe YOU, that needs to read my words and hear my heart.
I’m trusting him to speak into the deepest recesses of your spirit- to the places that you’ve brushed aside, ignored and dare not shine a light on- and asking that he’d give you courage to ask the hard questions and take action to make what matters happen this year….
The Legacy We Leave
While it can be tempting to dive in and start writing out our dreams and the secret desires of our heart, I don’t believe we can start there when it comes to setting intentional goals. And by intentional, I mean goals that have roots and are grounded in the things that will matter when all is said in done.
Before we cast visions of our next victory and fancy our desired accomplishments for the year, we need to start right back at the vary beginning… actually in this case, THE END!
We need to ask ourselves who is it we want to become, what legacy we want to leave and how we want to be remembered when we’re gone.
It’s in working backwards that we see clearly whether the things we are choosing to invest our time into now, are truly the best things.
While done is better than perfect, I believe Good can be the enemy of Best, when it comes to God’s plans and will for our lives.
We can spend our entire lives chasing what we think we want or desire, only to discover that what we achieved was meaningless in the grand scheme of things.
‘I used to be afraid of failing at something that really mattered to me, but now I’m more afraid of succeeding at things that don’t matter.’ – Bob Geoff | Love Does
So let me ask you:
If you could envision your most purposeful year yet what would it look like?
Why do these things matter to you?
Where do you want to be when you’re eighty?
For me, it boils down to this.
I want my business to work for me, not the other way around! I want it to provide for my family financially and operate on the same cash based system that has allowed Dave and I to find financial freedom and live debt free.
I want to release my expectations of myself for life this year, embrace the unknowns as we enter a new season as parents and give myself grace as we discover our new “normal”
I want to live with more margin in our schedules, less demands/ “have to’s” and more open weekends
I want to know my identity in Christ alone, fully accept his love for me just as I am, and find freedom in the areas I still need healing
I want to share and live vulnerability, allowing God to continue using my experiences, my mistakes, my brokenness and my past to bring others to him
I want to continue deepening our marriage bond and serving/loving my husband the way he needs
Why do these things matter? So I can experience all that God has planned for me, live in the peace, contentment and joy he offers me and continue discovering that truly all I need is more of Jesus and less of me.
When I’m 80, I want to be ready and excited to meet my saviour, hearing the words, “well done, my child. You chose what was best!”
…I want to know in the deepest recesses of my heart that I used this one life to make a difference; to have loved unconditionally, served selflessly, lived passionately and was gratefully full of joy!
My 2015 Goals
So with these things in mind, I share with you my intentional and purposeful 2015 goals; the ones I’ve wrestled with, prayed through and nervously etched on paper, knowing they are God’s will for me even more than my own.
This year, I’m taking the leap and living radically … radically free from my own control and surrendering to all that HE has planned for me.
1. Pursue Peace – with myself, God, others and life
Action Steps: Study the bible in the areas that steal peace from me, simplify my life, and implement the strategies and teachings God reveals through books and teachings such as, “Simplify.”
2.Find freedom and healing – from the parts of my past I’ve stuffed down deep and in the areas I have yet to experience victory from their control
Action Steps: Uproot the lies I’ve believed about myself (negative self talk) and replace it with truth (verbally speak it out loud over myself), believe God for healing, listen to my body for what it needs (exercise, food and rest) rather than do things out of guilt or fear and spend time alone with God sharing my heart each day. Oh what freedom! I can taste it…
3. Cease Striving – and the Pursuit of Perfection
Action Steps: Take life day by day by praying each morning for what God wants me to do and focus on THAT DAY (not tomorrow, next week or next year), flexible work schedule, taking a maternity leave, stopping when I become frustrated rather than pushing through, walking away when I become paralyzed in worry rather than trying to figure things out, releasing my expectations and embracing what is, even pain
4. Serve my Family – making them my priority over business goals/growth/achievement and pleasing others
Action Steps: Taking care of our home (cleaning), weekly date nights, taking maternity leave, taking planned longer vacations throughout the year, more “unplugged” social-media free weekends, not doing things out of guilt, less scheduled commitments (even social)
5. My business working for me – rather than me being slave to my business
Action Steps: Drawing a salary, moving business to cash based system, sticking to a business budget, creating new goals and projections for THIS season of life, limiting distractions (social media/ taking on new and extra projects)
6. Make much of Jesus, not me – using my experience, giftings and influence for his glory alone
Action Steps: Use my words to share his message (in person, social media, blogging, books etc), only post what points to him, share my story vulnerably, write/ post only when God puts something on my heart
7. Focus every business effort on helping people discover and fight for what matters most – marriage, relationships and faith
Action Steps: Being intentional and brave in my blog posts, releasing my workbook, Be My Own Wedding Planner, aligning everything I post and share with this message, investing in other entrepreneurs who share or desire to share this mission
8. Make more room for community – and face-to-face time with people
Action Steps: Continue leading and attending small groups, connect with other entrepreneurs in person (or via Skype when not possible), visit family and friends, invite neighbours over
What is it that you want to make happen this year? What would your life look like if you set intentional goals that paved the way, starting TODAY, to a life that truly means something? Start now. Start anywhere. Grab a pen and paper and begin with those 3 questions I wrote in the beginning.
My desire for weeks has been to sit down and share my heart with ya’ll – my gratitude for all that 2014 gifted me and the vision I’m casting for 2015.
For those of you who don’t know or are new to the KME community, goal setting has always been a serious business in my life, both personally and professionally.
Each year we visit our family cabin in the Okanagan between Christmas and New Years, where you’ll find me cozied up for hours journal in hand, reflecting, praying and setting goals for the upcoming year.
It takes time to create the life you want- a life lived on purpose and with intent – celebrated and focused on the things and people that matter most.
And sometimes that process is slow, messy, vulnerable and some what uncomfortable. It requires digging deep, being honest about where you’re at and what season of life you’re in and evaluating things through the lens of the legacy you want to leave.
What will matter when I’m 80?
How do I want to be remembered when I’m gone?
What footprints do I want to leave on this earth?
What will I regret not doing when time is no longer on my side?
It means taking your eyes off what everyone else is doing, looking beyond your current circumstance and dreaming fearlessly into the future, meeting your dreams head on with courage.
For me, that courage has looked so much different this year. It’s looked nothing like the big, brave, and ambitious courage I’ve known in the past; more akin to quiet, prayerful longings that have begged me to look deep into the eyes of my fears, the lies I’ve believed and the expectations I’m ready to bid farewell.
I know for certain this: I’m tired of striving. For more. For Better. For Perfect.
For me, 2015 is a year of letting go and surrendering to the now and to the unknown, especially as we welcome a bundle of joy into our world this March.
And above all else, I will pursue peace.
Peace with myself, peace with my business, peace with others and most importantly, peace with God.
I’m still praying through my goals and tangible action steps, which I plan to blog later, but for now, I thought I would share a few milestones and highlights of 2014, along with one very important lesson I learned in taking a giant leap of faith last year. May it encourage and spur you on as you pursue your calling and your passion…
Blessings of 2014
Hearts and not bookings. Marriages and not Parties. Friends and not Clients.
First and foremost, my business wouldn’t be what it is without the incredible hearts that trust me with one of life’s most precious milestones. They welcome me into not only their wedding planning, but their lives, most times, for nearly 12 months or longer.
… I become a trusted friend and the voice of reason when the road became rough and the planning got overwhelming, a listening ear through family disputes, a reminder to focus on each other and not the show of it all, a helping hand when stress was all consuming, a wine buddy when they needed a break, shoulder to cry on when family became ill, even a way out in the wake of financial disaster.
I do not take such experiences lightly and it is a gift to be trusted into these moments alongside my clients, as not only their planner, but as their friend. It’s moulded by heart and shaped my passion more than anything else I’ve experienced in business.
Unity is strength
Then there’s Amy – my incredible assistant and greatest gift from above! I seriously could not have made it through this season with as much joy and as little stress as I did without her. She knows me like the back of her hand and her heart for making people feel looked after and important, brought a personal touch to my business that I’ve yet to experience.
Even more than me, my clients were blessed to have her there to ensure every tender heart felt heard and every need [no matter how seemingly small or insignificant] was given the upmost attention.
She treated them as I would; more than clients, more than friends, but like family.
Finding your tribe
And I couldn’t forget the professionals who I had the incredible privilege of working along side this past season [and I say privilege but I truly consider it a gift to work along side these folks!].
I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: no man is an island and it takes community to build not only a business, but a life of passion and purpose.
When you support an entrepreneur, you’re not helping a CEO buy a third vacation home. You’re helping a little girl take dance lessons, a mom put food on the table, a husband support his family, a student pay off their college debt, a dreamer reach for the stars and a couple go on date nights to celebrate the love that brought them together.
It is such a blessings to be able to invest in my fellow colleagues, as they invest in me.
Looking Fear in the face and saying “Watch me!”
Finally, this list would be incomplete if I didn’t acknowledge the very powerful and faith building way God moved in my business this year.
I challenged myself at the commence of 2014 to take a leap of faith that required deep trust for me; something I’ve dabbled with but never whole heartedly committed to that went against every fibre of my “marketing brain” and education. It laughed in the face of what I’d come to know as success…
I pulled back from self- promotion [aside from social media] and relied on God to spread the message of my heart and mission with KME. I prayed for God’s will rather than my own and trusted him to bring my way whatever opportunities He desired for my business, be it publication, features, networking opportunities, PR, marketing or advertising.
I was terrified nothing would come, that I’d fall off the map or that the years of effort I put into branding would simply crumble if I didn’t “maintain” it. And boy was I wrong.
What He brought was even better than I could ever have imagined and mustered on my own. More than the opportunities themselves, he brought me relationship and local community like I’ve never known.
While I could reel off a long list, just A FEW of the opportunities I’m most grateful for were:
The community of people who share their heart with me on instagram and embrace my own
The countless coffees and honest heart-to-hearts I savoured with new friends and industry colleagues who took a chance on me and reached out. You know who you are and I love you for it!
Gratitude changes EVERYTHIING!
These things and many many more [1547 to be exact] can be found in the scribblings of my gratitude journal which I write in daily. My heart is full as I continue to pause in purposeful reflection and pray through creating goals for 2015 than honour the desires God has placed on my heart and the mission he’s called me to.
This past summer I was honoured to be asked to speak at Weddingful’s Industry Night on their experts panel.
The focus was on sharing our approach to customer care and business/ marketing advice for other professionals seeking success in the World of Weddings.
There’s no greater place to learn than from those who have been in the trenches beside you, right?!
While the quality of the video sucks, [unfortunately the event was not professionally recorded. Thanks hubby for trying!] I truly believe there are some valuable takeaways for those who are blessed to work in the business of weddings.
And for those who’d prefer the Coles Notes version…..
3 Habits for Finding Success in Business
Photo courtesy of Matt Kennedy Photos
1. Authentically Share Your Story
Story telling is an important part of communicating who you are and what you can offer your clients. The key however, is sharing openly and honestly your own journey and the heart for what you do and why. Don’t just share the sparkly moments, but the hard and challenging seasons also. That’s how clients relate to you on a deeper level and know that the things that matter to them, genuinely matter to you.
2. Find Success with Google
Blog consistently and not just about the behind- the-scenes of your business, but on content that people actively seek out and search for, such as free resources, guides and tools. Every once in while, produce content that reaches a wider audience than just your direct target market.
3. It’s What you Don’t say, not What you Do!
When meeting with potential clients, listen more than you speak and when you do, speak confidently, but without arrogance or pride in your tone or manner. Be sure not to demean others or speak ill of any professionals in the industry, be it gossip, for “innocent” comparisons sake or by name dropping. Rather than impressing them, it breaks the clients trust and earned respect.
Are you a creative professional or entrepreneur in the wedding industry?
I’d love to hear how you’ve found success in business. Share by commenting below!