Happenings ‘Round These Parts

by Whitney on September 4, 2014

I know I’ve been quiet lately, but the silence on this blog stems from a pile of amazing people and projects I’ve been able to work on. I’d love to be better about documenting these adventures as they occur, but in the grind of daily minutia, the details don’t seem to matter. The tiny steps of progress every day are things that I’ve learned to celebrate, but I fear making a bigger deal out of them than they actually are, if I pay homage to them on the blog.

Maybe they are a big deal. Food for thought.

At any rate, here’s a quick summary of things I’ve been working on, in case you’re curious.

  • Go Inspire Love – Cathy Olson from Love Inspired contacted me a few months ago to ask if I wanted to collaborate on something. We brainstormed and defined an audience: creative entrepreneurs with a desire to share God’s love with the world. Then we came up with a concept, that, to our knowledge, has never been done before, or at least in the way we are doing it. The basic concept is what I like to call “nuggets and network”. It’s a community concept (we’re working on exactly what that will look like), and a place for us (and members) to share feedback and experiences on problems other entrepreneurs might be experiencing. We’re very transparent about the fact that it will evolve based on feedback from members. Registration opened yesterday for 50 founding member seats. Check out GoInspireLove.com if you’re interested!
  • Day Designer – The old duck analogy applies here. Calm on the surface, paddling like crazy underneath. We debuted 9 new cover designs on August 15th! This was the highlight of my month. I loved hearing the feedback from folks as they picked their favorite and placed their order. I can’t wait to get these in ya’lls hands, hence the paddling like crazy underneath! Here’s a pic of the cover designs we debuted:

 

2015 Planner Day Designer Limited Edition Coves

Left to right in the image above we have:

  • Spotty Dots – Definitely the new favorite! Quantities are on this one are dwindling, and we expect to sell out quickly when the shop opens again on September 15th at 8:00 am CST!
  • Black Stripes – Aren’t they classic and timeless? Still a favorite among Day Designer users.
  • Aqua Shell – Elegant and refined, light and airy!
  • Navy Rugby – Preppy and bold with a twist! The “grosgrain ribbon” on the center adds an element of detail that charms my socks off!
  • Gold Stripes – You all love your gold! This one will also be a quick sell-out, so if you have your eye on it, set your clock for that September 15th shop opening (8:00 am CST). Retailers also have stock of both the Gold Stripe and the Black Stripe, so if you miss out on one of these, check the retailer list. Most of our retailers ship nationwide!
  • Grosgrain Stripe – You all like this one a lot more than I thought you would! It’s preppy, bright, fun and whimsical. What’s not to love?
  • Green Gingham – My friend Natalie Chang commented that she drooled on her phone when she saw this. Isn’t it darling? Several of my close personal friends have picked this as their favorite. I think they all live in the South, too.
  • Navy Gingham – Maybe this is the gingham for the girl in the northeast. She’s a preppy and nautical-loving gal, right? I think it make me want to take a trip to Nantucket.
  • Mint Rugby – When I asked you all what color you most wanted to see, you said mint! Here it is, with a dash of coral and blush. It’s the perfect color combination for the gal who wants to be on top of the latest trend!
  • Carrie Floral – This one might be my personal favorite. Named for Carrie Bradshaw, it’s bold and fiesty, feminine and crisp. It oozes confidence.

I might need to find a reason to carry two Day Designers!

Other projects that have my wheels turning:

  • I’m working on getting some new community features in place for Day Designer users. It’s kind of a big project, and trying to figure out all the details, how to roll it out, get all the kinks worked out–well, it takes time.
  • Over the past two years, I’ve received a few requests from folks who are non-planner people, but want access to the Define Your Core worksheets in that have come with our flagship Day Designer product. I’m excited to announce that these worksheets are now available as an e-workbook download! Check them out in my new Authenticate Etsy shop. I’m definitely rolling with these requests as they come, so if you are interested in purchasing other types of downloads, let me know!

On that note, a little bit of information about Authenticate, and my consulting business. I’ve dabbled in consulting over the past two years, but never really felt like I found my footing. I love helping folks, but trying to figure out HOW to help them, and put a process in place, has been a big challenge for me. In fact, if you’ve been a reader for any length of time, you may have noticed that I announced earlier this year that I wasn’t accepting any more graphic design or branding clients. After trying on those services for size, I discovered that what a client expects and wants isn’t really anything I’m able to offer right now, with kids and a whole lotta crazy happening at our house at any given moment. And if you can’t do it right, don’t do it at all.

That realization definitely left me floundering in the consulting department for a while, but I’m finding my footing. I’ll be rolling out a new service in the coming weeks, and I’m also opening a new class for Authenticate later on this fall. The first online class/course/mastermind has evolved over the course of this year, and I’m taking everything I’ve learned and everything I’ve taught am retooling that into an all-new Authenticate 2.0. To sign up to be notified when this opportunity opens, you can add your email address at AuthenticateExperience.com. And stay tuned for details!

I’m signing off now, because that’s a LOT of information in one “quick” blog post! Leave any questions you have in the comments, and I’ll try to answer them ASAP!

 

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Terri Roberts told her story from the platform at the small church where I grew up. She told the story of how her son had become a perpetrator. Perpetrator—the word for a man or woman who commits a horrific crime against another person. The crime her son had committed was shooting ten Amish school girls. Five had been killed. Four recovered, but one of the younger ones remains wheelchair bound, unable to speak, and has to be fed through a feeding tube.

Terri’s son, Charlie, turned the gun on himself in the final moments, leaving Terri, her husband, her other three sons, and Charlie’s wife and three small children, left to deal with the rippling effect of his tragic actions.

Terri told us how she and her husband wept, buckets and buckets of tears. I can only imagine how the tears would worsen, as feelings of shame and guilt crept in.

Days after the shooting, the Roberts family gathered for Charlie’s funeral. It was a small turnout, I’m sure, given the circumstances. It’s hard for us, as humans, to understand how anyone would mourn the life of someone cab able of committing such a travesty.

But, as many of you know, if anyone mourns, it’s a mama.

Here’s where the story starts to transcend my understanding.

It was the Amish mamas who mourned with Terri Roberts. Almost half the people in attendance at the funeral were Amish. As the news crews from all over the world gathered, shining a spotlight of shame and pointed fingers on this family, the Amish circled the family to shield them from the media.

The Amish—the people who had lost five daughters at the hand of Terri Robert’s son—the people who had all the right to show up at that funeral with pitchforks and picket signs—showed up and FORGAVE.

And not only did they forgive, they shielded. They protected. Talk about ACTIVE forgiveness. Passive forgiveness would have been sitting at home, saying, “we forgive”, and then silently, or maybe not-so-silently, muttering something about how the media would give them what they deserved, for whatever reason the media wants to cite that they deserve it.

Mercy—not getting what we do deserve—is ACTIVE FORGIVENESS.

I don’t know if I have that in me, friends. I want to have it in me. I want to be like the Amish were to Terri. But I’m flawed and I’m human, and yes those are excuses, but if someone did something to my family—I fear I’d be the one with the pitchfork and the picket sign. Loud and angry. And I’d want to defend my actions in the name of righteous anger.

It’s a tough subject, for sure. What would you do? Can you share any thoughts about how we could all more actively forgive?

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How To Nurture Your Creativity

by Whitney on July 18, 2014

Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night, restless and unsettled? Have you ever felt called to action, but you’re just not sure in what direction? Have you ever seen injustice, and wished your pointer finger was a magic wand, because you know you’re supposed to do SOMETHING?

I think we all feel this. It’s a feeling I struggle to define, though.

It’s part urge, part drive, part gut instinct and intuition, part love.

It’s a dissatisfaction with the way the present is.

It’s the knowledge that things can be different, and the confidence that different is better.

It’s not arrogant. It’s quiet.
It’s not foolish. It’s careful.
It’s not content, but for the best reasons.

The best way I can think to describe this emotion is simply this: you stumbled on to the seed of an idea. This emotion is creativity, in embryonic form.

The next time you can’t sleep, the next time you want to fight injustice, the next time you feel called, nurture the idea. Find some quiet, journal the feelings, mind-map the bunny trails your mind will take you.

Don’t try to organize, or structure it.
Don’t limit it.
Don’t shrug it off as insomnia, or say you can’t possibly be the one who is supposed to be doing something about it.

Whatever you do, don’t judge it. If you do, you’ve stifled and killed your creativity.

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The One Thing You CAN Get Done Every Day

by Whitney on July 3, 2014

Big progress.
Little progress.
Old progress.
New progress.
Short progress.
Long progress.
High progress.
Low progress.
Bad progress, good progress.
Fat progress, skinny progress.
Pretty progress, ugly progress.
Perfect progress, flawed progress.

It doesn’t matter what kind of progress you’re making. The amazing thing about progress is that it all counts.

What doesn’t count:

Stationary. Standing still. Stagnation. Inaction. Avoidance.

There is never a new view from the stationary position. Stagnant is never going to wake up one day, all of a sudden refreshed and renewed. Inaction will never lead to desired results.

Even if it’s bad progress, it’s progress, as long as we’re learning something and then moving on.

As long as you’re moving, you get the award for making headway, the cheers for keeping on when the keeping-on gets tough, the check mark for progress.

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Welcome, ye who hail from Huffington Post Small Business. I wish I was writing with exuberance, but I’m a little deflated at the moment, I’ll admit. We’re kindred spirits, though, you and I, so I can admit that. Small business owners gotta stick together, right?

I just returned from my monthly “Posse” meeting. It’s a group of small business owners who gather monthly, and in the strictest of confidence, hash out whatever issues we’re battling at the moment. In fact, as one of my colleagues put it this evening: if each brain at that table was worth $5,000 an hour, it would be about $120,000 worth of consulting. Pretty powerful stuff.

Posse meetings are not always easy, though. Sometimes we have to hear things we don’t want to hear. Just last month, I received feedback from someone in the group that I didn’t want to hear. I didn’t respond well. In fact, I could almost feel my fists come to my face, ready to respond in unadulterated defensive fashion.

I know nothing about boxing, or defensive sport of any kind, so that’s probably not a smart move.

It’s also not typically the kind of move I’d make.

I believe that defensive communication breeds defensive communication. Defense escalates the heat, the fight. It makes things worse, not better. No one wins. Lose/lose, as Stephen Covey would have said.

If we don’t learn how to take it, if we don’t train ourselves to respond positively to critique, we’ll never improve. We’ll never grow.

If you’re here from the Huffington Post, you probably realize I’ve committed the worst blogging mistake a company can make–a poorly written blog headline.

But here’s the thing: I don’t want to be a company. I want to be a human. Companies have to be perfect. Humans are allowed to be flawed.

There’s no forgiveness if you’re a company that’s committed a cardinal business sin. It’s harder to apologize when you’re a “we”, and an apology means more when it’s an “I”.

I’m not writing this to make apologies for poorly written headlines. I’m writing this to let you know, that one of the most powerful things you can do on your blog, as a company, is to give it a human voice. Be yourself.

Perfection isn’t attainable. The alternative is wholly fulfilling: trying to be the best version of myself I was created to be.

Now, in the spirit of receiving constructive criticism, I’m off to write a better headline.

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On Motherhood & Storytelling

by Whitney on June 26, 2014

Either I don’t really feel like I have a lot of great stories to tell, or I don’t know how to tell them well.

Figuring that I need to get better at this story thing, if I’m ever going to write a book, last week I picked up a copy of A Million Miles In A Thousand Years by Donald Miller. Great book. In it, Don proposes something quite beyond learning how to write a better story. He challenges: what if we could live a better story?

I finished A Million Miles, enjoying every minute of it, and then decided for my next read to dive back into Love Does. The author of Love Does, Bob Goff, is friends with Don, so I figured another read through Love Does would be inspiring, and maybe it would give me more insight into this whole story concept.

It was, and it did. Halfway through the book, Bob is talking about how he took his kids around the world to meet world leaders. His kids gave each world leader a key, and invited them to come over to their house and hang out sometime. Sitting on an airplane, I put the book down and stared out the airplane window.

Could I do something half as adventurous as that with my kids, I wondered? I felt my nose scrunch up in response to my own proposal. Seriously, Whitney, you wonder if your house smells like diapers the way a high-school quarterback wonders if his arm pits smell. That’s hardly the confidence it’s going to take to invite world dignitaries to dine in your home.

But then I remembered that in A Million Miles, Don says that maybe we should try to live a better story. To me, he’s saying, “If you don’t like where you’re going, you better change directions.”

I have some pretty crazy dreams. I’d like to sail around the world with my kids. I’d like to live in the south of France for a year. I’d like my kids to experience some of the educational systems outside of the US. I’d like to buy a plane ticket to Tokyo, write half of a book on the way over there, have a few espressos at the airport, and get back on a plane and write the last half on the way back, like I once read an executive did to meet his deadline.

I understand story a lot better because of Don. If this was fiction, he would probably say that this would be a good spot in this blog post to include an exciting incident, something that would force me to action, and perhaps, inspire a happy ending.

I’m not sure what inciting incident will propel me forward from here. I got a paper cut this morning, but that’s not exacting working in terms of excitement or motivation.

But in an effort to wrap up this post with a happy ending, I’m delighted to tell you when I walked in the door from the airport last night, my house didn’t smell like diapers.

Baby steps, right?

p.s. If you’re as into books as I am, join me over on GoodReads.

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The Voices of Fear

June 25, 2014

Sometimes he’s annoying and loud, booming out across the room, “Ha-ha! You can’t do this! Remember that you stink at the whole accounting/communication/focus thing?” To which Courage, and a few good friends, whisper in reply: “Why not you?” Sometimes Fear is less loud, but still just as tickled. “Hoo-hoo! This’ll be fun! Can’t wait to […]

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How Do You Find Purpose When The Big Picture Seems Bleak?

June 8, 2014

A friend left a comment on one of my Instagram pictures the other day: “I love all the joy I’m seeing in your recent pictures!” I took it as a compliment, and was grateful someone had noticed. Life, lately, has demanded a lot of focus from me. I’m feeling pulled in so many directions, have […]

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Your Best Summer Giveaway

June 2, 2014

Happy Monday Friends! I’m so excited about this giveaway with some of my favorite people! We’ve all teamed up to bring some of our favorite things for summer. One super lucky winner will receive the following items: $500 CASH! 2015 Day Designer by Whitney English Mommy and Me beach towels (The Bishop Towel and The […]

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Choices & New Video!

May 29, 2014

If there’s any one thing I’ve felt in full force this past month, it’s that choosing is HARD. I’ve had more opportunities come my way lately than I know what to do with, and while that’s amazing, and I’m so grateful, I KNOW that I can’t do everything. And choosing to do everything results in […]

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Dear Kiddo, Bubba, and Charley,

April 2, 2014

I just got finished washing the boys hair and trimming it. Today is picture day at school, and if I’m honest, it’s only the second one I’ve remembered. In months past, life has been just that crazy. Also, you both needed haircuts. Badly. And fortunately, I’m getting much better at the haircut thing. One day […]

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The Beautiful Art of Balance Workshop by Shannon Ho

March 16, 2014

Next month, I’m so excited to be participating in Shannon Ho‘s first ever workshop for photographers (and, I’ll go ahead and just invite you: creatives)! I’ve been in on some behind-the-scenes conversations with Shannon about this workshop for a couple of years now. She’s one of the most talented photographers I know, and I’m so […]

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Ellington & Rose

February 22, 2014

Last year, when Kate Baird and I accepted a handful of full branding clients, I was thrilled to see the names of Lynn and Allison, the brains behind Ellington & Rose, land in my inbox. At the time, their business wasn’t actually called Ellington & Rose, so I challenged them to do some digging, and […]

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Why I’m Letting Day Designer® Go

February 22, 2014

First of all, announcement! Day Designer® is officially a registered trademark! Trademarking something is a lengthy process, and it’s never guaranteed that you’ll actually get a trademark when you start the process, so I’m delighted that it’s done! Wahoo! When I started designing the Day Designer®, I knew one thing: that there wasn’t a planner […]

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