Sarah Jenks + Live More Weigh Less

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When Sarah Jenks contacted me back in September I was really excited to take on her project. Her project included re-designing her personal blog – a platform for her to share her unique perspective on weight loss and what is means to be a woman AND re-designing everything for her online program: Live More Weigh Less. It was a big project including her website, cookbook, journal, promotional material etc. We worked together for several months getting everything just right and ready for her big launch.

I was excited to work on this project for two reasons. First of all I love the message that Sarah is sending about weight loss. Her program is all about loving the body you have, loving the life you have and letting our obsession with the “perfect weight” take a back seat while we breath and live a little. I’ve never had a huge struggle with my weight or had big insecurities about my body until this season of my life. Having kids has changed my body in ways that I can’t control and it’s been hard to not remember how awesome it is.  I loved that while working on this project I was reminded daily to just love my body. To live. To try to take care of myself the best that I know how and at the end of the day just accept that I have done enough.

I also loved working on this project because it gave me a huge peek into a big trend that is going on right now: the “online course”. So many people are selling and promoting online courses these days and it was so great to get to work with someone who is doing it AND doing it WELL! I tackle all of my projects from a marketing and user experience point of view and I love the psychology of marketing! My biggest priority when working with clients is always to help them SELL! So – working with a client who had a few new ideas to bring to the table was really awesome!

I had such a great time working with Sarah and her team. I highly recommend her program for anyone looking for answers to their weight loss struggles. I also highly recommend checking out her site if you are interested in online marketing – I feel that the site we created together is a fantastic model of how to engage your audience, explain what you have to offer and make it really clear how they can purchase your services.

What kind of person do you REALLY want to be?

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A few weekends ago Conor and I drove out to Rancho Loma. It is a cute little ranch out in west Texas. We have been talking a lot lately about simplifying our lives, homesteading, building a home, getting animals…etc. It’s our dream – one that we are fighting tooth and nail to make a reality someday… and sometimes it really does feel like we are fighting tooth and nail. It was really great to go stay on a ranch in the middle of nowhere for a couple of days and plan out how we are going to make that life a reality. But the truth is the conversations weren’t that easy. Giving up certain things you love now so you can eventually have something better later is hard.

Articulating what it is that you truly want, deep down inside of yourself is not an easy task. Henry tells me what he wants out of life all of the time, “I’m going to go to space. I’m going to take all of the bad guys to jail. I am going to have lot’s of animals and roller skate everyday.” It’s easier for him to spout off a million things in 5 minutes that he dreams of doing than it is for me to say 1 thing in 2 days. As adults we are so out of practice. We wonder if what we are dreaming of is too big… or maybe not big enough? Or maybe too selfish, or maybe too self sacrificing? and then we say things like, “YOLO!” and then we question what YOLO even really means anyway?! Then we start to think about what others will say if we fail. What will they say? What will we say to ourselves? How are we ever going to know what to do?

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Here’s the trick I’ve been using for a while to help myself work through these hard decisions. I often use this when working with clients who are in the middle of making hard decisions about their businesses. Ask yourself this one question; “What kind of person do you really want to be?”  When making big decisions about life, when trying to decide between 2 good things, ask yourself, “What kind of person do I really want to be?” This question makes those hard choices a little easier and those tough conversations about what we want out of life more clear. Do we want to risk it all or do we want to play it safe? Both are good. No one ever said playing it safe wasn’t smart or that risking everything never paid off. Do you want to live in California on the beach or do you want to live in Texas on a ranch? Or do you want a ranch in California? How can you make that happen? What kind of person do you want to be? What kind of person do you need to be in order to get where you want to go? Are they the same? If not, which person wins? Do you need to change? Or do you need to change your dream?

PS We have been asking ourselves this question for the past year. It’s been one long hard conversation after another. But I think it’s worth having over and over again as you slowly work toward your ultimate goal. And here is a link to the TED talk that inspired me to ask this question. If you are having a hard time making a really hard choice WATCH IT!

My Top 9 Books for Creative Entrepreneurs

9booksThere are a lot of things that went into building Jane Reaction. I went to school, I got a lot of advice from friends (Google was my best friend) and years worth of trial and error. I also read a few great books along the way that changed the way I looked at things, broke down my fear, or taught me how to make more money. Here are my top 9 favorite books that helped me get to where I am today as a creative entrepreneur. If you want to try something new, if you have a crazy idea but don’t know what to do with it, if you want to be inspired to go out there and get what you want, read these books.

9. The power of starting something stupid by Richie Norton – Stupid is the new smart. (Shameless plug – I designed the cover for this book and some of the art within it’s pages -so yay for me! haha) This book is great for anyone who has ever had a stupid idea that they thought could make them a lot of money. I love this quote the most – “If someone thinks that your ideas, or the changes you want to make, or the dreams bubbling up inside of you, are stupid, welcome to the Club.” We’re all scared, we’re all being told our ideas are silly… but it’s the people who believe in themselves, push forward and don’t look back that make the magic happen.

8. Jab Jab Jab Right Hook by Gary Vaynerchuk- Because if you are going to start anything today you need to know how to compete with all of the noise. Social media has drastically changed the way we consume, socialize, and LIVE. This book will help you understand the way different social platforms function, the psychology behind likes, shares and comments and how to throw a mean right hook.

7. Essentialism by Greg McKeown – Take a deep breath. Read this book, and get ready to let go. Let go of stuff, things, responsibility that doesn’t serve anyone, guilt, things that waste your time, activities that don’t feed your soul… Read this book – it will help you give yourself the permission to let go of things that don’t make you a better you.

6. “It’s not how good you are, it’s how good you want to be.”  by Paul Arden – Need a quicky? Feeling a little ho hum? Read this book while waiting in line somewhere. It will give you a boost. I promise. It’s a feel good quick read. It makes you think, “Heeeey! I really do want to be good at something, therefore I am good at something. The end.”

5. Re-work by Jason Fried – This is another quick read. I loved this book because it points out where creatives fall in to the trap of thinking they need to have more money, or more followers, or better branding, or a nicer car in order to get going on something. You don’t need half the stuff you think you do in order to start a business. You just need to start.

4. 4 hour work week by Timothy Ferriss – Read the book or listen to some of the TED talk. These ideas are worth getting in your brain. Want to work less and live more? Duh, we all do. This book will help you figure out how you can do more of the living stuff and less of the stuff you don’t really like doing.

3. Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg  – This was a great book for me when I was dealing with guilt over raising kids and pursuing a career at the same time. If you are a woman struggling with being a anything but masculine in the working world read this book. You’re not bitchy, you’re confident. You’re not greedy, you’re just looking out for you’re family’s well being. This book helped me re-think a lot of the negative characteristics our society places on successful women. I’m not a bad mom because I work. I am a better mom for showing my kids that I value hard work, that’s it’s ok to feel good about your accomplishments, and that working hard means you get to play harder!

2. Daring Greatly – by Brené Brown – Brené. You. Are. A. Genius. If you can’t read her book at least listen to her TED talks. They will change your life. I promise. I listened to the TED talks and then I read the book. And then I made my book club read the book so that I could talk about the book even more. If you’re scared, if you’re wrestling with fear, if you have ever felt shame or guilt read this book. It’s not just a good book for creatives, it’s a good book for ANYONE. I think this book specifically helped me with my business by helping me work through some of my own fears and also realizing that a lot of clients I work with have their own fear that they are bringing to the table. It’s now part of my creative process to understand what some of their fears are, what negative thinking might be holding them back from taking big risks and daring greatly – and then helping them overcome that.

1. Breaking the time barrier  by Mike McDerment- ok this isn’t really a book. It’s a PDF that you can find here. It’s a quick read. It’s not over the top inspiring. It’s not going to make you feel like you can conquer the world. BUT this is HANDS DOWN the single most helpful thing I read while learning to operate a creative business. It’s so good and so valuable that I really, truly hesitated sharing it here. But here you go. Read it. After reading this you will value your time and your services twice as much as you do now – which will only make you more successful. More successful = more money. So you’re welcome, I basically just gave you a raise.

Books on my list to read next – Creative Confidence, Nicely Said, Growth Hacker Marketing and Girl Boss. Anyone want to start a book club? We could all read the same book in the same month and then discuss here?

Happy New Year!

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Happy New Year to everyone! I am excited for this year to begin! 2014 wasn’t a bad year, it wasn’t exactly the best year of my life either – looking back on it I would say it was a year that I learned a lot – a lot about myself, being a mom, being a wife, running a business… There was just a whole lot of learning going on for me. These last few months in particular I have struggled with being a mom and running a business at the same time. Some days I seriously considered just quitting… both! I had a few hard days in 2014 dealing with the whole balancing act. I’ve said it before on this here blog but I will say it again; there just isn’t a beautiful balanced equation where everyone and everything is happy and running smoothly all the time. Some weeks go by with out a hitch but there are weeks where we just try to keep all the balls in the air. This year taught me more patience than I honestly wanted to know. I learned how to focus a little more on the present. I also learned how to say NO to a hell of a lot of things that I can’t handle right now (i.e. toxic friendships, unnecessary responsibility, too many projects, guilt). I am excited to move forward in 2015 with a few of these lessons under my belt.

Last year I blogged about wanting to find peace in 2014. I struggled a lot with my faith in 2013 and 2014 was more of the same. I really wrestled with it. It was brutal and it brought me pretty low. But, I am happy to say that in the end I did find peace – a lot of it. I let go of a lot of things that I used to think were certain truths. My faith doesn’t really look anything like what it used to look like – but that doesn’t mean it isn’t strong or that I don’t have any. I don’t claim to be truly certain of anything anymore. I believe. I hope. I strive to have faith in something greater and bigger than myself – but I finally found peace when I completely accepted that no one really KNOWS anything for sure. We are all just struggling to be good and be happy. I have complete faith in love, in service to others, in forgiving yourself and others and in trying to do better the next day. I found peace in that.

This year is going to be a big year for us. We have a lot of change on the horizon – both for our family and for Jane Reaction. I am excited and scared and can’t wait to get going. Other than setting one concrete goal for our family (the amount we want to put away in to savings every month and the one specific thing we are saving for) I decided to leave this year a little more open. I want to feel happy. I want to feel like a good attentive mother. I want to work smarter and provide quality designs for the people I work with. So I am going to set little goals every month that will help me in those areas. I plan on checking back in on those feelings each month and reevaluating what I can do better . So….. here’s to 2015! To change, to happiness and to LOVE!

(Photo taken by my friend Vanessa over Thanksgiving break – I love this little family of mine looking out into our future!)

Holiday Cheese Board

cheese_board_janereactionMy go to party platter this year has been the cheese board. If you have any holiday parties coming up this week or next I strongly suggest throwing together a cheese board. It is so easy and fast – and your friends will love it and go crazy over it – especially when it is the only savory thing in a sea of cookies and candy.

I make my cheese board differently every single time. It’s just a fun little thing I like to throw together but there are a few things that I do the same every time. When shopping for my cheese board creation I always buy three different types of cheese. I grab my two favorites – white stilton with blueberries, and brie. So far they both have been a big hit and are completely gone by the end of the night. Then I rifle through the cheese at the store looking for an interesting or pretty looking cheese and I try something new. It’s fun for everyone to talk about their cheese preferences and try something new.

I always grab plain crackers or bread. I don’t get anything that will over power the flavors of cheese. I also just like to keep things simple- so plain crackers are the best.

I always try to incorporate something salty and something sweet. For the salty I run through the olive bar and collect a few different olives, cornichons, and maybe some garlic – the big green olives stuffed with blue cheese are always a show stopper! I usually grab some cured meats or different type of nuts. For the sweet I always (and this is an ALWAYS) include fig jam. It’s a must. I also highly recommend just slicing up a sweet red apple.

I arrange all of my goodies on one of my cutting boards. I put some of the small items in little bowls to create some visual interest and then I grab a few different knives for spreading and cutting. I stick them in the cheese or sink them into the fig jam and I’m done. I’ve taken a cheese board to three different parties this year so far and it’s been a hit every time. What’s your go to party platter?

 

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