Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Biz Gold Linkup Intro

Have you heard of the personality test that matches people with the animal that best represents them? There are four specific animals to cover all the people in the world (a dog, a beaver, a lion and an otter, in case you're curious), but I feel like the blogger and online creative could be represented by a totally different one! Can you guess which? Not a lion, tiger or other vicious feline, not a smart and savvy fox or a bold, energetic monkey. I think the animal that best represents all online business people is...a duck.

Friend, consider the duck. It gracefully and calmly glides across the water's surface with nary a care. Everything's peaceful, pretty and smooth. But, stick your head under the water and you'll see the duck's little webbed feet paddling furiously away. So, it is for the online creative. There's so much fury and frenzy in trying to reach a goal or merely stay afloat in the online marketplace, but the job more or less requires everything to look calm on the surface.

It can be hard to live like that, especially when it keeps you from recognizing that you're not alone. That's why it's been so great for me to find community with other people working towards the same things online, and that's why I'd like to have you join me next week for a brand new linkup I'm hosting called Biz Gold.

Some of you are creative entrepreneurs, some of you run a moneymaking blog, some of you are seasoned and some of you are just starting out, but you ALL have business knowledge and experience! Pop some of it into a blog post and link up with me and other business gals next week. Share what you learned in a recent project, your social media expertise, a victorious moment, "how-to's," a fateful story, a behind-the-scenes look, whatever you'd like to cover on the topic of how you do what you do! :)

Biz Gold is set for the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of each month and begins next week on March 10th. If you can't join then, I'd love for you to join another week, but make sure you come check out the wisdom and stories of the participants next week. :) We're all paddling away furiously, we might as well share what we're learning and be in community with each other!

 See you back here next Tuesday!


Friday, February 20, 2015

Where Is Banana Grove Designs Going?

For the last few weeks I have been writing about "new things," "changes coming" and "exciting stuff in the works" for Banana Grove Designs. Vague, vague, vague! To be honest, I don't feel comfortable sharing some of the details until they're nailed down a bit more. But, today I want to give you a peek at where I'm going:
  • I am "rebranding" my jewelry business. What do I mean by rebrand? New logo, new website, new everything. The aesthetic and pieces will be the same, but I'm setting up an online shop sans Etsy (which, is kind of freaking me out!). Etsy will still be around for a while, at least, but this new step should solidify my presence as a business. I'll be relaunching everything at the end of April!
  • The blog and jewelry shop are breaking up, so to speak. They'll be under separate names, which will allow me to pursue writing in a different way. I'm very excited about this!
  • In March I'm launching a new business-related link up. If you have a blog or a business, stay tuned!
  • And starting next week, I'm sending out a fun batch of links, inspirational messages and other goodies in my new weekly E-NEWSLETTER. You can sign up for it here!

The biggest change in all of this is a refocus on PURPOSE and wanting everything I'm doing to reflect His glory into the world. Thanks for walking this road with me! There's more on the way!

Proverbs 16:1-3


Friday, February 13, 2015

The Most Important Lesson I Will Ever Learn About Business

That title sounds pretty epic, yes? THE MOST IMPORTANT. EVER. Pregnant words. But, I mean them because the lesson I learned at the beginning of the year was life changing for me as a business owner and a person and will, I believe, be the key to my success.

For Christmas, my parents gave me a membership to the Influence Network (something that might need its own blog post later), and when looking at the free classes that new members can choose from, I picked one called "Cast Vision for Your Best Year Yet" taught by Haley Morgan (co-founder of the network). I was hopeful that it would give me some great ideas for setting business goals in 2015. Haley began the class by breaking down the process of goal setting into steps, but to my surprise, before she got to the actual "goal setting" step, she emphasized that the first thing we should do is submit our plans to God.

I was sitting there watching the class recording thinking, "Oh, right, yes of course, that's what we should do, absolutely, mmhmmm, let's make sure we submit first," nodding along, but knowing full well that that's the last thing I was thinking of doing. After all, it's my business. If I submit it to God, who knows what He'll do with it...

As if she read my mind, Haley went on to say that those of us who struggle with submitting should examine our hearts and ask for healing from the Lord before we make goals. "Cause if you can't believe that God wants good for you" Haley said, "than the rest of this is probably an exercise in futility. Otherwise I think you'll find yourself working all of it out in striving, and you won't be able to rest in God's strength because you won't be trusting Him."

There were tears after she said that. Talk about conviction.

For the next month, I examined my heart. I set no real actionable goals for my business because I wanted to focus on getting myself right with God. And in the midst of that heart examination, He taught me so much.

He taught me that my fear of Him somehow "sabotaging" my business was unfounded in any kind of truth. He gave me this work. He called me to be productive with these skills. Why would he "sabotage" it?

He taught me that I am merely a steward of any and all of my gifts and projects. I'm not sure how I've been walking around for the last two years "running a business" as a believer without sincerely acknowledging that it's HIS business!

He taught me that He is the best CEO I could ever have. I changed my view of God from "lofty Father in Heaven," to active and interested leader. He is just as invested in my life and career as I am. And He knows EVERYTHING about business. He'll lead me down an unbelievable path of success as defined by Him.

He taught me prayer is powerful. I have been praying over my business regularly for the last 2 months now, bringing decisions large and small to Him and asking for clarity, and He's giving it to me. I have never felt so calm and purposeful and en route to good things.

He taught me that He wants my good. Ultimately, this mindset of handing over my heart's desires to God comes down to whether or not I trust Him, and it applies to all areas of my life. But, my education, my relationships, my career, my health...none of it compares to the good He has already done in giving me my salvation. Christ's death should be enough proof that He wants good for all of us.

That is the most important lesson I will ever learn about business: Trust God. Then, pray over the work, acknowledge Him, use Biblical principles when making decisions, submit it all, and don't skip that important first step.

At the beginning of this week, I sat down and followed the rest of the steps Hayley talked about in goal setting. There are some big changes coming for this little business, and I can't wait to share them with you! My hope in the midst of it is to bring glory to my incredible leader by committing my work to Him and seeing His work unfold.

I would love it if you followed along this year to see it, too. :)


photo credit

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Throwing Kindness Around Like Confetti...The Real Life Struggle

 At the start of the year, I mentioned that one of my goals for 2015 was to be more intentional in practicing kindness and I used the oft-quoted "Throw Kindness Around Like Confetti" (I wish I came up with that) to express what I meant.

Well, while pondering this fun, colorful, easy sounding analogy a little more recently, I came to the realization that there are moments when being kind is actually hard. In fact, to be very real with you, there are moments when I purposefully withhold kindness. I know we all do this at one point or another, but for me, it's usually for one of the following reasons:

1. To demonstrate displeasure with someone
    2. To discourage friendship with a person I don't really like
    3. To honor my ill-founded fear of offending or embarrassing 
    4. To avoid drawing attention to myself

    I am in no way saying that any of these "reasons" are acceptable, they're all pretty stupid. And yet I know I'm not the only one who finds herself switching kindness on and off like an electric light whenever it suits her. How do we make changes? What do we need to guard against in order to live life like a "thrower of kindness"?

    To address the first one listed, withholding kindness as a means of demonstrating displeasure with someone... I feel that we most often do this with the people we're closest to. When we aren't getting what we want or we're waiting for an apology, we shut off kindness so that the object of our disapproval will read us LOUD AND CLEAR.

    Not only is this tactic unproductive and manipulative, it's hypocritical. The fact that we receive kindness from a holy God who has every right to turn His back on sinners like us, makes it impossible for us to do anything but pass it on to others. In the moments when we're screaming or fuming, the only godly response is to throw handfuls of kindness in the face of negative feelings, allowing it to calm harmful emotions so that good communication can heal our relationships.


    The other three things listed are focused on withholding kindness from people we're probably not close to for two primary reasons: arrogance or insecurity.

    This may be a good time for me to describe what "throwing kindness like confetti" looks like to me. I don't picture someone running through a public place blowing kisses and screaming compliments (avoid a person doing that). When we talk about throwing something it sounds very active, but throwing confetti usually just means allowing all the hundreds of little colored papers you've tossed in the air to land anywhere and everywhere. The people that are difficult to like, the people we forget to notice, the people we're too insecure to interact with...they all require kindness, and it should flow from us in such a concentrated abundance that it lands on them all, without discrimination.

    We all want to ignore needy, awkward or inappropriate humans, but they're still humans and we're still called to love them. We all want to keep from embarrassing ourselves in front of admirable, impressive and likeable humans, and yet they're still people who need kindness regardless of our fears and insecurities. We should swallow our own selfish concerns either way. If we trust and obey God, we'll follow through with his command to be kind and allow whatever will come of those relationships to come.

    Personal Example: 
    This is a pretty tame example, but it's stuck with me, nonetheless...Years ago, I participated in a local production of the Nutcracker. I had not taken ballet for years, so I auditioned for and got the role of one of the "party moms" in the opening scene (I can at least waltz). The ballet studio was a pretty worldly place to be and I was mostly working alongside older adults, including one gentleman who was nice but a little uncomfortable to be around. After one inappropriate joke too many, I responded to him with an eye roll, a sneer and a pretty condescending facial expression. I can still remember his response because no one had ever seriously called me a snob before. I look back on that now with regret because while I didn't have to laugh at inappropriate jokes, I doubt that man felt the love and grace I am tasked to cover sins with as a Christ representative. Missed kindnesses are also missed opportunities to witness and represent Him.

     There are probably people out there who see the "Throw Kindness Around Like Confetti" mantra and think, "this is for those extroverted people who always know what to say and when to say it" or "I'm just not good at doing anything involving the word 'confetti.'" I read an article last summer on a study done by John and Julie Gottman, marital stability experts in New York City, who studied how lack of kindness is one of the biggest reasons why couples break apart. (Read the article, it goes into great depth on the different ways we ask for kindness and respond to one another, and it really made an impact on me.) In it Gottman says, "There are two ways to think about kindness. You can think about it as a fixed trait: either you have it or you don't. Or you could think of kindness as a muscle. In some people that muscle is naturally stronger than in others, but it can grow stronger in everyone with exercise." Those words give us all hope that the incorrect responses in our hearts can be turned around with commitment. And with practice, ALL OF US can consistently offer kind words, small gifts, smiles of encouragement, generous attitudes, and peacemaking ideas to the people around us.

    The bottom line for this little phrase "Throw Kindness Around Like Confetti" is that kindness should be the cheapest thing in the world. It should be as easy to come by as paper. For 2015 I'm going to be busy trying to spread and reflect His kindness and generosity to every human that comes across my path. 

    Do you have any thoughts on this topic? Are you also striving to make this a part of your thought process? Tell me. :)

    What God says about Kindness:

    Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. -Ephesians 4:32

    Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up. - Proverbs 12:25

    But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. - Luke 6:35

    Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.” -Acts 14:17

    Though the Lord is exalted, he looks kindly on the lowly; though lofty, he sees them from afar. - Psalm 138:6


    pic cred

    Wednesday, January 14, 2015

    Biz Inspiration: Joanna Gaines - The Power of Brand

    On the last day of my family's Christmas vacation, my dad made our traditional holiday breakfast (eggs, grits, sausage and Pilsbury orange rolls) to cap off the season. As usual when Dad cooks breakfast, he gets to choose what's on TV in the kitchen, which almost always means HGTV. We wound up watching a show called Fixer Upper that I had never seen but immediately fell in love with! Have you seen it?? I have a feeling I'm pretty late to the party, so ignore this next paragraph if you already know what it's about... 

    Fixer Upper is about Chip and Joanna Gaines, a couple in Waco, Texas who own a home renovation business. HGTV is now following them around with cameras while they renovate the worst homes in the best neighborhoods for their clients. The interesting thing to me, is not necessarily the homes, even though they're absolutely gorgeous by the end of each episode, but the couple themselves. They have four children, great chemistry and what seems to be a wonderful working relationship. I could not stop watching them! 

    I wound up Googling the Gaines family, and found out that Joanna has a blog and an online shop where she sells jewelry and home accessories. She also owns a boutique in Waco and, in addition to their home renovation business, she and Chip have a real estate company, a gated community of small homes, and a farm loaded with animals.

    My head started spinning just thinking about the numerous projects this woman is working on all at once. She's a shop owner, realtor, interior designer, blogger, TV show star, farmer and mother of four? How does she do it?!

    Somebody asked her that very question on her blog and this is what she said: "I don’t. Do I fail and make mistakes? Every day. I have an amazing husband, a wonderful support system and a strong faith that God would not have brought me this opportunity without giving me the strength and grace to fulfill it."

    Aha! I should have known. This woman is consciously dependent on the strength of the Almighty. That's the only way she could accomplish it all and remain sane!

    But, after observing Joanna and her family for a little while, I could tell that there is a business secret that allows her to be successful with so many things. Her life is screaming a message that any small business owner would be wise to heed, and that message is: Branding is Powerful.

    Business owner and speaker Whitney English says that a brand is based on 3 things:
    • Passions
    • Strengths
    • Values

    Branding is the marriage of who you are with the visual and relational qualities of your service. It allows you to have cohesiveness across all areas of your business. I've been so focused on hunting for it myself recently that I recognized it immediately when I saw it in Joanna. Everything she's doing corresponds with who she and her husband are as people.

    For any small business, your brand has to be YOU, and you function at your best when you're incorporating your passions, strengths and values. Just by watching Fixer Upper and reading Joanna's blog it is clear that she and Chip are passionate about Texas, Home, Farming and History. I would guess that just a few of their strengths are: Vision, Classic Taste, People Skills and Design. And, they've made it obvious that they value Quality, Honesty, Hospitality, and Family. These things come out in their lifestyle, their interactions with their clients, and even the way they dress.

    If you were to check out Joanna and Chip's website or TV show you would find that all of their businesses fall under one title. They are all Magnolia... Magnolia Farms, Magnolia Villas, Magnolia Homes, Magnolia Market, etc. All of the qualities I listed in the paragraph above come out in the visual elements of their business (logo, designs, products), as well as how they do business. They've created a name for themselves that people associate with the specific qualities of the Gaines family. If it was easy enough for me, a person who has never met either of them, to get a sense of who they are just by observing their work, then they have effectively branded.

    THAT is the secret that makes life easier for the business owner. When you can gather all of your projects and products under the heading of one brand that simply flows out of who you are, you've found your sweet spot, and it becomes easy to wear all the different hats that already fit you perfectly.

    So, how does that apply to you? What can you take away?

    For business owners, I'd say it's important to periodically reevaluate the message being sent to customers and clients through your brand to make sure it gives them a sense of the person behind the business. Focusing on using the things you know and love to do business will make work easier and more enjoyable and will create a common thread that runs through all your projects.

    If you are interested in starting a business, ask yourself questions about your passions, your strengths and your values and think of ways to incorporate them into your brand. Make who you are a visual experience as well with your logo and other design elements.

    Even if you don't have a business or a blog, you still attach your name to a life. Everything you do flows out of who you are and what you believe. Being aware of the things that make you YOU and choosing tasks accordingly can only help you succeed in everything you undertake. Across all jobs and all interaction with others utilize your passions, strengths and values.

    If you aren't interested in checking out Fixer Upper on HGTV by now, just watch the teaser video below. They're so cute. I know you'll enjoy experiencing Chip & Joanna's brand. :)


    *this post is in no way sponsored by or affiliated with the Gaines family or HGTV and is based on my opinions alone. All photos in this post are from

    Friday, January 9, 2015

    Weekly Gold 1.9.15

    Hey Sweet Readers, I hope your day is going well! I'm headed to a friend's cabin for the weekend. There will be animals and snow and peace and quiet. Can't wait! Today I'm sharing some of the links I accumulated this past week. :)

    -I liked this quote, it's 100% correct: You'll be fine!

    -15 Things to Start Doing By the Time You're 30 ( Personally, I think some of these should be accomplished before you're 20)

    -I cried in a happy way. SO sweet...Son Pays Off Parents House for Christmas (Video)

    -This is was very funny and very awkward.

    -I'm probably going to wind up buying this skirt from Kendi Skeen's shop, West and Lou. I probably own one too many black skirts at this point, but this one's quilted...

    -This short post from my pal Jenny on C.S. Lewis' wise words was very thought provoking. Heaven knows I waste a lot of time on things I don't really like doing because it's easier... never a good idea.

    -8 Signs You May Be an Outgoing Introvert (That's what I am.)

    -Has anyone else seen this trailer? It looks interesting to me!

    Also, during my absence, I signed up for Instagram and feel as though I've finally met my social media soul mate. Let's follow each other...Follow Me HERE. A link is also under "Keep In Touch" in the sidebar.
    Y'all have a great weekend!

    Monday, January 5, 2015

    My 2015 Resolutions for Growth

    For 2015, I kept my resolutions pretty simple. They weren't only about what I wanted to do, but how I wanted to feel this year. The goals are the specific "states of being" I hope to achieve and the actions are just the steps to getting there...

    -Be thankful...daily connection with the Lord through his Word and prayer

    -Be active...exercise 3-5 days/week

    -Be gracious...small goals over time = big goals, baby steps

    -Be REAL food

    -Be on God and the work He's given me to do in all aspects of my life

    -Be present...things will eventually change, enjoy THIS moment

    -Be hydrated...drink 6 BKRs or 8 glasses/day

    -Be respectful...give family & authority figures their due

    -Be rested...bedtime's at 10:30

    -Be loving...throw kindness around like confetti, don't be a miser with love

    -Be refreshed...take time to enjoy beautiful, FUN and relaxing things

    What were your resolutions this year? How are you approaching your goals for 2015?