We believe the arts can strengthen and enrich our faith. Therefore we chose to include works from 7 current fine artists and 6 classical artists as a way to help support and promote their vocations. The artists include Kristyn Brown (of the Saints Project; also featured at the World Meeting of Families in 2015), Brian Jekel, Gwyneth Thompson-Briggs (Artist-in-Residence at Thomas More College), Jeremy Matick, Ali Cavanaugh (Marietta Cobb Museum of Art), Bernadette Carstensen, and Michelle Arnold Paine.Each calendar also includes short biographies and websites for each artist so that you may see more of their work.
The day after the Business Boutique conference ended last weekend, I faced a messy house, piles of dirty laundry, and the reality that my life is just not conducive to well-designed, curated Instagram posts.
Attending conferences can be inspiring and motivating, but they can also make you keenly aware of areas of improvement. I think we’ve all found ourselves at times comparing our lives to friends’ and influencers’ highlight reels. I almost started to feel like I needed to start leading a different life just so my posts could look fancier on my Instagram feed.
This is the reality that I faced this past Sunday:
My weekday mornings are spent hurriedly getting myself and my girls ready for school. I am out of the house Monday through Friday from 7 AM to 6 PM battling traffic and working at a behavioral health agency. I spend my days under fluorescent lights in an office with no windows surrounded by an uninspiring, dull shade of yellow gold paint. When I get home, it’s already time to start preparing my girls for bedtime. I’m lucky to start working on all things Bold Red Creative by 7:30. This usually means that cereal is a complete possibility for dinner if leftovers aren’t in the refrigerator from the weekend.
I don’t have time for crafting pretty flat-lays, and sharing a page from my planner would be a complete disgrace to bullet journalers everywhere! And although I admire it, I don’t do hand-lettering nor do I have the time to make every letter look fancy.
I don’t have a nice white, clean desk with a little potted succulent in the corner. At this point, I don’t even have a desk. My office is a comfortable spot in the corner of my slip-covered living room couch or at the kitchen table.
I haven’t seen the ocean in nine years. I haven’t been on vacation outside of the state of Tennessee for, well, nine years. Who knows if I’ll ever get a chance to go to Greece one day? Right now, I’ll take summers at my parents’ pool!
My car is coated in a nice layer of dirt and sap. The yellow mums on the front porch are turning brown from a lack of consistent watering. I haven’t worn my cute workout clothes lately, because exercise is last on my list right now…
The funny thing is, as I started to take pictures to document the state of my totally real and non-glamorous day-in-the-life, I realized how blessed I am despite all of the areas that I feel that I’m failing in. I may not cook a lot these days (thank you, slow cookers!), but I made chocolate chip pancakes and green smoothies after Mass. In between loads of laundry, I cuddled up with my girls and listened to them practice Christmas songs on the piano. My husband did ALL of the dishes. At the end of the day, we gathered around our fire pit in the backyard and made s’mores.
It doesn’t make sense for me to try to reflect a life of a rich twenty or thirty-something female entrepreneur with no kids and no mortgage.
That’s. not. my. life.
My life is a crazy, daily juggling act. When I lay my head on the pillow each night, I fall asleep fast because I’m working hard for my family and giving it my all. And my husband is, too. I may work too much some days and not enough other days, but that’s what it’s like to be a working mother.
It’s about the day-to-day journey.
It’s about putting love where it needs to be in that moment.
It’s about being intentional and knowing what things to let go.
It’s being okay with not being perfect.
It’s being thankful each day… dirty laundry and all.
Follow my imperfect life, business adventures, and inspirational quotes on Instagram: @stefanieshick. See you over there!
Everyday on the way to work I pass two large cemeteries on either side of the road. Around this time of year the morning sunlight softly glows through old tree branches as if trying to chase away the shadows still lingering from the early dawn. Sometimes fog creates a misty, eye-catching scene like out of a movie.
As I drove by on one recent fall morning, I suddenly became overwhelmed with the number of tombstones surrounding me. I wondered about the hopes and dreams and hardships that all of these deceased individuals faced. I thought about how tragic it would be to die with the regret of not living in the present and soaking up all of the little gifts and blessings that come with each day.
I’m guilty of secretly longing for this idyllic moment when I have accomplished all I have set out to do. I can finally say that I have “arrived.” The truth is that I will NEVER get to a place where my work is finished. I will always be growing, learning, and evolving. It’s easy to get caught up in planning for the future and imagining how great everything will be when…
All that does, though, is rob me of enjoying the lovely little moments in the present.
If I’m not careful, I’ll miss the sound of spontaneous laughter bursting out of my five-year-old as she giggles over a joke she shares with her older sister. I’ll miss snuggling under a big blanket watching a movie we’ve seen ten times. I’ll miss the comfort of a warm mug of coffee. I’ll miss the beautiful red cardinal flying around my backyard. I’ll miss seeing my husband for all he is, does, and strives to be.
Everything in life is a journey. Whether we are starting a business, forming new relationships, or growing in our faith, there is always work to be done. We will never feel like we are able to rest.
But we need to.
We need to take time to pay attention to what is going on around us. We need to pause and focus. We need to be mindful and enjoy the journey that we are on. This life isn’t a quick race to some finish line. If we work like mad to try to achieve some goal only to look back and discover our kids are older and our relationships have suffered, what have we achieved?
I know personally that I feel more stressed when I’m stuck too far in the future trying to create the life I think I should be living. I try to control, more than trust. I try to do, more than be.
No day is guaranteed. There may not be tomorrow. Each day is truly a gift. If today was your last day on earth, what would you say? What would you do? Who would you be?
If you’re like me, you feel a little isolated while working on your big idea and growing your mission. And there are probably only a few people, if any, who really understand your vision and what you’re trying to achieve. Maybe you’re even still trying to figure that out for yourself. I’m with you!
Attending the Tribe Conference let me be around my kind of people- others who are stepping out in faith and using their gifts to make a difference in the world. It was definitely a soul-filling weekend. I’m still processing all the amazing advice and words of wisdom from the mouths of the speakers and other attendees!
Here are five of my favorite takeaways from the conference (and there were many):
1. Life is about moments.
Carlos Whittaker said in his talk, “Movement leads to moments. Moments lead to movements.” We need to take action and live on purpose. This includes, most importantly, being present for our families, or as Carrie Wilkerson referred to them, “shareholders.” They are likely the reason behind why we are pursuing whatever goals we have in the first place, so we have to value them while we’re building our dreams. Opportunities will come simply from “living our lives out loud,” Carlos encouraged.
2. Discover your “why.”
This was one of the biggest themes of the conference. Before starting anything, it is so important to identify what’s motivating us and what is the frustration that is driving us to action. Shawn Coyne had this to say:
When you run away from your questions, you’re running away from what you’re destined to do.
Yeah, pretty powerful! And so true. When we explore what truly bothers us, we can begin to focus on solving that problem. Emily Freeman labeled the combination of Frustration (fuel) + Passion (fire) + Hope (oxygen) as the “Fire Triangle.” This is where she says the “sweet spot” of uncovering our voice and making a difference is found!
3. Consistency is vital.
This was the another hot topic of conversation among speakers. I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but consistency builds trust. Consistency leads to creating better content. Trust me, it was drilled into my head!
Be present. Keep showing up. -Jeff Goins
4. Creativity isn’t comfortable.
For all of you Steven Pressfield fans, you’ve heard of the term “resistance.” Shawn Coyne further explained this as, “The thing that you are avoiding the most, is the thing that you need to pay attention to the most.” This tension is something that every creative person faces and it’s probably one of the top reasons it can be so hard to be consistent at times and, also, why it’s so important to be consistent. Tim Grahl and Shawn both shared some priceless insights about this topic during their deeply authentic on-stage interview. It was one of the highlights of the entire conference, in my opinion.
When you’re learning and trying new things, you are always “at the end of your current knowledge,” as Tim put it. He goes on to say, “If you’re feeling good all the time about your creativity, you’re doing it wrong.” Shawn added, “Creation comes out of a difficult struggle.”
So, in summary, if you’re frustrated and avoiding something, it’s normal! Keep choosing to face it and move forward.
5. Relationships are key to success.
Whether you are nurturing a relationship with a child, helping a customer, or networking with an influencer, it’s how you interact with people that matters. Are you being helpful? Are you valuing the other person’s time? Are you being loving and trying to make a difference so that others may live better? Be generous! (I’m talking to myself here!)
Thanks, Jeff Goins and team, for a great conference! I’ve already purchased my ticket for next year!
If this sounds like your kind of thing, I promise that you won’t be disappointed! Let me know if you plan to go, and hopefully next time there won’t be a gas shortage because Tennessee is in a state of emergency!
If you went to Tribe Conference, what was your most valuable takeaway?
Who else has gone to any amazing conferences this year? Where did you go?
If you’re starting a business, launching a blog or ministry, or pursuing any other sort of entrepreneurial endeavor, chances are that you’re trying to reach a lot of people with your message/product/service. You likely have dreams of making a big difference in the world! This is wonderful, because we need people who are using their gifts and talents to positively impact those around them.
However, turning our big idea into reality can quickly become overwhelming. How can we affect the people who want and need what we have to offer?
The answer is this: Help one person.
It almost seems counter-intuitive to focus on just one individual, but that’s where the most meaningful impact happens.
St. Teresa of Calcutta states this perfectly:
Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time, and always start with the person nearest you.
Christian recording artist, Matthew West, illustrates this message well. Several years ago he reached out to fans and asked them to submit letters telling their own personal stories. He turned these heart-breaking experiences into personal songs about what God’s response would be to offer hope and healing to that specific person. Instead of trying to write songs with the idea of reaching thousands and millions of people, he chose to focus on addressing one person’s pain. These songs have been collected into albums and have affected so many because of intentionally acknowledging one person at a time.
And just this week (because that’s how God works), I ran across an absolutely amazing article by Chris Marlow who is the founder of Help One Now and author of the new book, Doing Good is Simple. In it he writes:
Yes, the problems we face are big, but it’s far better to focus on the small. Here’s what I mean: You might not be able to fix all the problems in the world, but what if you focused on just a few?
For example, there’s a story in my book that shows how small can be really big.
In 2012, Help One Now gave a $300 microloan to a family in Zimbabwe who used it to start a chicken farm. I had a chance to visit the family the following year, and I asked the father what he liked best about having his own business. I was expecting him to mention the greater financial security the family had, or the fact that his kids were regularly in school, or their future potential.
Instead, he answered, “What I love the most is that every Thursday, I’m able to take my son to get an ice cream cone.”
Sometimes, doing good and making a difference is simply helping a dad buy an ice cream cone for his son. When all of the world’s problems seem so big, so out of our reach, just remember this: $300 literally transformed an entire family’s future.
Maybe we can’t help everyone, but we can help ONE family. And if we all did that, imagine the possibilities, the beauty, the impact!
Please do yourself a favor and read the entire inspiring article here.
When we take the time to really listen to a person and help them solve a problem, we build trust and cultivate hope. Individuals are who matter. And it takes inspired individuals to come together to make a thriving community.
Still struggling with where to begin? Take a piece of advice from Michael Hyatt and “do the next right thing.” Our path will become more clear as we take action towards what we think we are called to do.
How are you using your gifts to help someone else? What dreams do you have for the world?