Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Inspired to be...Courageous: Katie from Life Is...

Hey Everyone! It's Inspired Wednesday again! :) Today's guest is lovely Katie from Life Is..., a blog I always enjoy visiting for encouragement, inspiration and excellent writing. When I first found Katie, I sat and read the story of her sister's battle with cancer and was incredibly touched by their relationship (and reminded of my own "sister-ship"). It made an impact. It would appear that Katie has many courageous people in her life, and I'm so happy she decided to share one of them with us this morning! Here are Katie's words:

I believe the most courageous people aren’t those we always suspect. We have all seen our favorite superheroes on the big screen: fighting evil, standing tall, being courageous in the face of danger. But real superheroes don’t wear capes or masks, they don’t have a special nickname, or defeat darkness every single time.

Real superheroes face darkness every time and even if they don’t defeat it, they rise each day to face it again. The courage comes from fighting to live a life you love, despite the things that make it difficult.


My aunt has faced more dark nights than most people. Sometimes I feel like the hardships are lined up for her one after the next. Hurdles she just barely manages to jump over each time. But the point is, each time, she jumps.

When I was younger, my aunt would fly from New York to our home in Las Vegas a few times a year, and each time I would think to myself “I have the strongest, most beautiful aunt in the world.” She did the things she wanted to do and she always took care of those she loved. As I grew older, my aunt still lives fearlessly. She finds beauty in the messy parts of life, and loves and cares for others endlessly. 

My aunt’s life has been about being brave. Courage is weaved into her bones, making her stronger than anyone I know.

Me, my sister and my aunt (left to right)

My aunt was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis several years ago. Her body has done things she cannot control. MS affects the central nervous system, and disrupts the information the brain tries to send to the body. No matter the limitations my aunt’s brain and body has, her heart remains courageous, her love remains steadfast.

My aunt has donated her kidney to a cousin in need, she’s stood by both her parents through old age and illness, and she always finds some way to help others.

My aunt and uncle’s five-year-old daughter recently got sick after her appendix ruptured and a slew of stomach complications followed, and I watched as my aunt put on a brave face and stood up for her daughter. Through tears and shaking hands, she remained fearless.

The thing is, there are always going to be things that scare us. Things that frighten us to our core, and events in our life that make us question everything. My aunt has taught me the way to face these things it is to have to courage to live anyway.

Despite the fear, despite the hardships, despite the dark nights, she has taught me to seek the light and bask in the good days.

She has taught me we are all so much braver than we think.

Wow, thanks so much for being here, Katie! Your aunt sounds like a person who inspires everyone she meets.

Y'all check out Life Is... and have a wonderful Wednesday!


Tuesday, October 21, 2014


My friend, Abby, sent this video my way last week. I thought it deserved its own post. It's a very well done short film on the importance of smiling and the power of positive words. (There's a familiar face from Bones, if you're a fan.) :)

Enjoy! You look great today, by the way!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Salon Chair Conversations: Blogging Burnout

Last week, I had a hair appointment. No drastic changes here, just a trim. But y'all, I happen to have one of the sweetest hairstylists ever! She's so easy to talk to (no awkward salon pauses in the conversation), and we have lots of fun. Thankfully, she's also talented! At one point in my life when I had a different hairstylist, I would sometimes walk out of the salon feeling like this:

But now, oh happy day, I always feel like this:

I would encourage you to find the hairstylist that makes you feel like Audrey. Don't settle for being a mad little girl with a brush.

Anyway, on to the main topic... One of the many conversations we had while I got my hair trimmed was around blogging. My stylist once blogged regularly, too, and we were discussing how so many bloggers just seem to be getting burned out these days. I myself have been seeing tons of blogs, large and small, going on indefinite hiatus because writing became too stressful and time consuming. Life online is only a small part of everyone's world, after all. This is even more true for those of us who can't claim blogging as a full-time job or as a source of any income.

But, as we were talking, I voiced my feeling that "blogging burn out" has to be preventable. If we truly enjoy this means of sharing and communicating online, there have to be boundaries we put in place that keep the online world in its place, so we don't become overwhelmed and drop out of the fun. What are they?

I honestly, don't know that I can answer my own question. I'd love to know your thoughts. I'm sure the answer will be different for each person, but I think it's important that we all try to answer it for ourselves because, quite frankly, this should be a no-pressure environment. Whatever else blogging is nowadays, it's always been about writing and sharing and making friends and having "you too?" moments and enjoying our worlds in a public way, not stress and competition. If you can only blog two times a week while managing the rest of your life, do that! If you don't have the time to make all your own graphics or do DIYs or write a life confession that's football fields long, that's fine! "Do your best and forget the rest" as Tony Horton says. But, don't get overwhelmed. Don't feel stress over something that's supposed to be enjoyable. And, if this really is your source of income, and you're drowning in blog-related work, think of maybe finding someone to help you out! The abundance of work is probably a sign you're doing a great job with your online world, just don't sacrifice the physical one for it.

Am I the only one who's been thinking about this? Please do share your thoughts for "blogging burn out prevention," and have a great, stress-free Monday! :)


Friday, October 17, 2014

Box of Chocolates Friday 10.17.14

Happy weekend, y'all! I spent a little too much of the week having fun, so I've got some work to catch up on before Monday. But, that's okay cause I love my job. More work! :) One of the fun things I did this week was going rock wall climbing again! It was awesome! Here's a pic of me bouldering. Note the absence of a rope, but also note I'm only 2 feet off the ground.

And here are the goodies:

-I enjoyed reading this: Joanna Goddard's beauty uniform

-Allow Yourself to Be a Beginner

-Pumpkin Pie Pudding

-Affirmations for Every Blogger & Entrepreneur

-Perspective: I Just Got Engaged & Immediately Doubted My Decision

-30 Excellent Bookstore Windows from Around the World

-This cell phone case:

Oh, and:

-This video is from last week, but if you ever saw Carlton dance on Fresh Prince, you'll probably find it cute like I did (sorry i couldn't find one without the judges comments :)).

-HAHA! Guy torments girlfriend with LOTR quotes:

I hope you have a beautiful weekend! At some point, do this, would you please?


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Inspired to be...Courageous: Kiki of In Its Time

Today, I am honored to introduce my next guest in the Inspired series, Kiki of In Its Time (a blog that I frequent.) Kiki is a school teacher with a passion for photography, community and the Lord, as well as just a very sweet, authentic, and sincere blogger. I have been encouraged by posts of hers multiple times, including today! I hope you are encouraged, as well, when you read Kiki's words of inspiration on courage...

Hi Banana Grove Readers! I'm Kiki and you'll normally find me over at In Its Time, a blog dedicated to life, Jesus, photography, and everything in between. When Anna first asked me to be part of her Inspired series, I was a little unsure. I mean, talking about courage? That's definitely not a natural strength of mine. More often than not, I err on the side of caution. I'm an introvert by nature, always have been and likely always will be. Granted, I have opened up and do not describe myself as "shy" as people once did when I was a child. But I still like to weigh the pros and cons before I start something new.

 So what do I know about courage, you ask? Well, to be honest, not much. But it's a trait that I've thought a lot about my entire life. Something I've prayed for, something I've longed for, something I know I have deep down, even if it doesn't necessarily show. When Anna told me that this post was 2/3 storytelling, it took me a moment to think of a time, a person, a story where someone reminded me about being courageous. But after a moment, I remembered my mentor and fellow teacher who reminded me that courage comes from within. It's something that's there within all of us, but is something we need to find, we need to pray for, we need to bravely use in order to feel and see it in action. She not only inspired me with her words, but with her actions as well. She had always accepted my sensitive, introverted self but also taught me how to use it to my advantage. To take my once-thought "bad" attributes and turn them into strengths. She both urged me to speak up, gave me the words to say, and the time to say it.


And it was after that short but sweet conversation that I knew I would be okay. That I could make it through class and thrive. That I wouldn't just make it through that class, but through life in general. That despite what others had to say, or what they thought, I was me and that was enough. I didn't (and don't!) have to change who I am because who I am now is who I'm supposed to be. So while that's not a story of someone who's summited a mountain or rescued someone from fire, what we typically see as being brave and courageous, it's an everyday little moment that reminds me that I can do all things. All things through Christ who ultimately strengthens me. Courage, to me, is being brave enough to accept yourself and live the life God created for you. And it's something I'm learning to do each and every single day. So what does courage mean to you? I'd love to hear your stories, just as Anna encouraged me to share mine.

This was very inspiring for me, personally, Kiki! Thanks so much for sharing with us!

Be sure to check out In Its Time, you guys and leave a comment below! :)


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

8 Tips on Prepping Your Biz for the Holidays

As a creative entrepreneur with a product that people love to gift to others, the holidays are the biggest time for my shop. Last year, I was so small and so clueless that I didn't really do any prep work. While I had a good first year, I knew that I needed to step things up this year and really try to sell my jewelry during the holiday season. "Stepping things up" in my mind meant prepping in a more professional way and having a plan to meet customers who are looking for what I have to sell them. So, today I'm sharing the things on my prep list that could apply to any online handmade business. I hope they're helpful for you!

-Etsy holiday prep worksheet.
This very helpful little worksheet forces you to ask yourself what exactly you want to accomplish over the holiday season. It causes you to narrow your focus so that you can be more productive during this busy time.

-Money matters. 
Check, double check and triple check your finances and have a meeting with an accountant to make sure you're ready to go!

-Prepare everything photography related!
Online sales rely heavily on your images. Make sure you have clean, pretty backgrounds in your photos, master whatever editing software you're using and retake any pictures that need updated.

-Order materials.
It's better to have too much than too little, but don't go overboard on elements that you don't use very much in case something doesn't sell as well as you had expected. But, again, it's better to err on the side of overpreparedness.

-Make sure you have an abundance of packing materials. 
Envelopes, packing tape, labels, boxes, ribbon, these are all things that you'll use into the new year and beyond. If something freakish happens, and you're shipping orders as fast as you can make them (that's what we're all hoping for, right?), you wanna be prepared!

-Offer popular shipping options. 
If you don't already, provide options for people who need things shipped in a few days or overnight. There are specific packages you have to use to meet requests like these and you'll need to order them in advance.

-Create holiday-specific items
This doesn't mean everything suddenly has to have reindeer and elves dancing on it, but making a new item that you're releasing especially for the holiday season catches the customer's interest.

-Share yourself!
Even if you have a hard time with this one during the rest of the year, it's usually a good idea to spend some extra time on promotion and marketing leading up to the holidays! Focus on promoting the items that make great gifts, in particular.

Do you have any tips for holiday prep as a small business owner or creative entrepreneur? Share in the comments!

Have a good one!


Monday, October 13, 2014

Highs and Lows

Hey Guys! The week is off to a pretty good start! I got up this morning! :)

Today, I'm participating in Jenna's "coffee date" linkup on the highs and lows of last week. Because I'd rather think about the happy stuff last, I'll begin with the lows:

-Realizing I'm behind on my monthly goals.

-Late nights and tiredness all week long.

-Stress from the news, taking on too much, etc.

-Feeling cold...happens every year.

THE HIGHS (thank the Lord for the highs):

-Had my first experience rock wall climbing with some good friends and kind of fell in love with it! I think I'm going back this week. :)

-Was reminded to trust God in the midst of confusion and chaos...Proverbs 3:5-6

-Picked up my smart phone upgrade. I also got wise and set Pandora as my morning alarm clock so I wake up to happy music instead of the annoying ringtone that kills my mood.

-Worked on the design for a new pair of earrings that I'm planning to show you soon! I love them, personally, so I hope you do too!

-Spent some sweet time with friends and family. They all mean so much to me! :)

I hope your week had more highs than lows! What were they?