Workcation 2017

Oh I'm so sad to see Workcation 2017 behind me. Do you ever spend so long counting down to something exciting, and then it feels like it's here and gone before you know it? And then you have that "crap, what do I look forward to now" feeling? Yeah? Ok good, then I'm not alone.

We did this last year and I felt like all the stars aligned to make it happen, but I had my doubts that we'd be able to make it happen again. If you think about it, it's nearly impossible to coordinate the schedules of 11 people. Especially when you take into account the fact that we're all small business owners, more than half of us are mothers, and a handful of us also work full-time jobs. Well, by some miracle, we worked it out...and it was incredible.

We rented the same adorable beach house in Oceanview as last year and once again brought far too much food and wine to get us through two nights and three days. We took full advantage of the natural light in the house and styled some fun flat lays and headshots for each other before parading down to the beach for more in the sunshine. We lucked out with some seriously gorgeous weather and all wished we could have stayed longer to keep enjoying it.

We even got reallllly fancy this year and booked a private chef to come cook us dinner our last night in the house. It was SUCH A TREAT and definitely something I think we'll all agree to do every year moving forward. It was awesome to not have to interrupt our workflow to cook {or do the dishes}, but not have to depend on pizza for dinner either! Brian KILLED it in the kitchen!

We played some really fun games this year that had us all in total giggle fits. Heads Up, Code Names, and LCR may be my new favorite games to play. Did I mention I WON the first game of LCR?! 

There were two big moments that really hammered it home how much I love these ladies and how thankful I am to have each of them in my life. While we were taking headshots on the beach, we each ended up jumping into a few quick snaps with "our people". This group of wonderful women consists of quite a few smaller groups that just love each other to the core. It was because of all these small groups that we all came together to be friends in the first place. So it was super special to see us each take a minute to honor those friendships as well. I think it was Erin who kept saying that watching each of us love on our people made her want to cry. And she was so right.

 Another moment was during our round table discussion. Every time someone presented something to the group, they had the eyes, ears, and hearts of 10 other people focused solely on them and what they had to say. We had the best time talking through our struggles together, offering sound advice, wiping each other's tears, and laughing wholeheartedly at each other. You just don't get that kind of commitment from people every day. It was heartwarming and powerful to watch my people be so invested in each other.

The whole weekend was just so genuine. I think that's probably the best word I can think of to describe these friendships I've been blessed with. I really don't know what I did to deserve having them in my life. But every day I thank my lucky stars for their friendships, their wisdom, and the constant belly laughs they give me.

Until next year ladies! xo

Thanks to all the photogs of the group for the awesome/entertaining pictures. Feel free to check out all my ladies and give them all some love!

Elizabeth Henson Photos //  Christina Barnum Photography  //  Alison McPherson, Real Estate Professional  //  Ro & Co Designs  //  Waters Edge Design  //  Heidi Calma Photography  //  Erin Ammons Photography  //  Crystal Belcher Photography  //  Angie McPherson Photography  //  elovephotos

Motivation for the Small Business Owner

So every now and then, I get a little overwhelmed by this whole small business ownership thing.  It can be exhausting and terrifying and absolutely downright wonderful, all at the same time.  I’m lucky enough to have the most incredible friends in my life that cheer me on and help talk me down when I let the pressure get to me.  But sometimes I need to hear a few encouraging words from someone I don’t know.  Don’t ask me why….it just helps me to feel a little better.

So, sometimes I turn to Pinterest to find some inspiration and motivation.  To help turn my way of thinking around and make myself feel better when things get crazy and overwhelming.  Seriously what did we do before Pinterest?  I figured I’d share a few of my favorite quotes I’ve found recently to help cheer on any of you small business owners that might be feeling the same way.

“Don’t let small minds convince you that your dreams are too big.”
As small business owners, we’ve taken a leap of faith to conquer our fears and achieve our big, wild, scary dreams.  And some people in our lives may not understand.  Whether they mean well and are concerned for our well-being or are just plain jealous of our successes….they just don’t get it.  And instead of supporting us, they tell us that we’re crazy for pursuing our dreams.  They list all the reasons we’re going to fail.  They try to convince us to give up and take the safe route.  When that happens to me, I do my best to remember this quote.  I thank the person for their concern, and then I move on….with a bigger motivation to prove that person wrong.  Because nothing feels sweeter than surprising a doubter.

“Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won’t so you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t.”
It’s a feeling all small business owners know too well.  The days spent balancing a full time job and your dream job.  The evenings that turn into early mornings at your computer.  Having to turn down Friday night plans so that you can conquer your every growing to-do list.  Right now, you’re hustling your little butt off to make your dreams a reality.  Some days it’s next to impossible to remember why you’re trying so hard.  Some days it might not seem like you’re making any sort of progress and you just want to give up.  But the reality of the situation is that all of the hustling is worth it because you’re on your way to living the life you’ve dreamed of.  It’s hard work that takes a special kind of person to accomplish.  You’re going to be your own boss, and you’ll have yourself to thank for that.  What an amazing feeling that’s going to be.  Keep chugging friend.

“Small business isn’t for the faint of heart.  It’s for the brave, the patient, & the persistent.  It’s for the overcomer.”
Not only does being a small business owner mean that you have to work hard.  It literally takes so much bravery to make a dream into a career.  It means constantly wearing your heart on your sleeve and taking every “no” as a little push to try harder.  It’s downright terrifying.  And at the same time, so gratifying.  It’s a constant feeling of knowing you’ve put all your cards on the table and you’re willing to take whatever comes at you to make your dream a success.  Small business ownership isn’t for everyone….but it’s for you.

“Entrepreneurs are willing to work 80 hours a week to avoid working 40 hours a week.”
Oh this one hits so close to home.  I currently work 40 hours a week at a job where I’m not my own boss….where my schedule is not my own and my projects & priorities are decided for me.  To say I don’t love that job would be a huge understatement.  If given the option today, I would quit that job and work twice as hard & twice as many hours on my dream job.  There would be no question.  When you love what you do, it doesn’t feel so much like work.  It feels like a labor of love.  And you would spend as many hours necessary to make it a success.

“It does not matter how slowly you go, as long as you do not stop.”
Growth takes time.  Nothing worthwhile is easy or quick.  Sometimes I get really frustrated with how long it’s taken me to build JDE into what it is today.  Did you know that next month marks 5 whole years that I’ve been growing my little hobby into the business that I dream of?  I see other people in the industry go full time in their first year all the time.  And while I’m so happy for them and love cheering them on, sometimes it’s a tough pill to swallow.  But along the way I’ve realized that if JDE is going to be everything I want it to be, it’s going to take careful planning, hard work, and lots of time.  And as long as I’m moving forward, I’m happy to keep chugging along to build a strong foundation for this dream of mine.

It's Possible

As some of you may know, I‘ve been running Just Dandy Events part time for the past 5 years.  Like so many other small business owners, I also work a full time job.  From 8am to 5pm, Monday through Friday, I sit in front of a computer in a corporate office, wishing I was 100% my own boss.  I’m working as hard as I can right now to get to the point of being able to make my own schedule, answer only to myself and my couples, and put my family first as much as possible.  I’ll get there eventually.  But for now, my reality is a delicate balance between my day job and my dream job….and everything in between.  A few weeks ago, this balance was seriously tested.

I was told I had to travel to Maryland for about 36 hours to attend a summit for my day job.  To say I was unhappy about this would be an understatement.  First of all, I cherish my evenings with my little family.  Especially this time of year, when we’re coming out of summer where Wes & I very rarely get any time together.  Up to this point, I hadn’t even spent a night away from #ourboywyatt yet since we brought him home in February {yes I’m that dog mom}.  And honestly, I'm just very much a homebody.  So being away for "so long" was not a happy thought for me.

Second, my evenings are often used to work on JDE things {whatever I can’t get done during my lunch breaks}.  I tend to blog in the evenings while Wes and I watch football.  I answer emails while I cook dinner and work on projects right before bed while Wes showers.  Again, balance.  To add a little more urgency to my workload, I had a really big and important styled shoot for the Aisle Society quickly approaching {I can't wait to share more about this!} and I felt like I needed to spend every bit of my down time working on that.

Sadly, my bosses did not agree.  And so I flew to Baltimore around 5am on a Tuesday.  I spent my time before dawn sitting at the gate working on wedding day timelines on my tablet.  When I landed and took the hour long ride to the office, I was on my phone answering emails from my brides.  I sat through 8 hours of meetings and then spent 45 minutes working from my hotel bed...on conference calls, working out details for the AS styled shoot, and handling a hundred other things that needed to be done….all before going out for a company outing to a Baltimore Orioles game.

When I got home the next evening, surprisingly, I didn’t feel that behind.  I didn’t feel like I’d been “out of office” for close to two straight days.  I felt like I still had a pretty good handle on everything that I had coming up.

 When I was packing for my time away, I made sure to bring any and everything that I thought I might need to get some serious JDE work done while I was “out of office”.  I packed my planner {let’s be real, I am never without my planner}, my notebook, my tablet, and notes from all the projects I had going on.  I was 100% prepared to run my business, regardless of not being at a desk and in front of my computer.  I made it happen.

Those 36 hours were not my any stretch.  But you know, I was almost as productive then as I was when I was home in Virginia.  And for that, I was so proud of myself.
My point in recapping all of this, is that it’s possible.  No matter how much you have on your plate.  No matter what big projects and impending deadlines you have approaching.  No matter how much extra “stuff” you have being thrown your way.  It’s possible.  You can get everything accomplished that you want to and need to and dream of, as long as you put in the work.  You have to prioritize and plan and prepare.  But it’s possible.