Unapologetically Me

Posted in The Swanky Hen

Survival Strategies for your Small Business

I hope you are doing well. I don’t think any of us are experiencing much of normal life right now, but we are breathing so let’s be thankful. So many are facing job loss, shutdowns, cutbacks, and on top of the financial chaos we are terrified for our lives. COVID-19 has changed everything.

We have never seen anything like this. My constant prayer is for an end to this virus, for health and safety, and that we may show the love of Jesus in the face of hysteria and fear.

There is much to say about the Coronavirus, but that isn’t why I am writing today. Today I am writing to my small business friends! Hello & BIG HUGS your way because I know life is scary right now. I want to talk to you about what you are doing regarding sales and marketing. What is your strategy? Even though times are unprecedented we must keep moving forward. Moving forward cannot look the same as it did last year, last season, or even a few weeks ago. I have talked about evolving your strategies before, but it is more important than ever! Many small businesses won’t make it through this and those that do will adapt to an ever-changing environment.

“It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.” —W. Edwards Deming.

Mr. Deming’s quote it painful, but rings true. What industry are you in? Most people that I talk with and have helped in the past work in Housing, Real Estate, Insurance, Auto, or RV. No matter what you are selling or who you represent your digital presence and strategies are important so let’s talk.

What is relevant today and what should you be focusing on?

Trends have already told us that people don’t want to be sold, they want an experience. People want a relationship. Our face-to-face capabilities are limited more today than ever before so we must use our greatest tool. SOCIAL MEDIA! Create a Digital Relationship. What kind of experience do you provide for your customer? How can you recreate that experience in the digital realm? People aren’t looking for some over produced, canned videos, they are looking for you. Reach out to your customers, be real and connect with them.

Video has long been and still is the best avenue to reach your customers. People are really looking for entertainment right now. Provide excellent content.

Tip: Virtual Tours, Product Info, Check-Ins – BE REAL! Don’t over think it, don’t be “salesy” make a genuine connection and talk to your customers.

How are you communicating?

Communicating via social media is great. Make sure you have a team member attending to all messages and comments that come in. Don’t miss a lead! Answer questions, provide information, and moderate when needed.

If you have an ad that starts generating a lot of comments be sure to engage with your customers. I am all for sending price or specific information via message but use this space to create more interest in other instances. If you are advertising a specific model and someone asks a question about something similar don’t just answer with words, answer with a picture or a link. Not only is that customer more likely to engage, but so are others.

If you haven’t heard yet, people don’t like to talk on the phone. Some do, but not many. People also aren’t into emails. The open rate for your email is about 20% YOWZER … the response rate is only about 6%. So, I would suggest calling if you want to leave a voicemail and never hear back and emailing if you want to send it there to die.

Double NOPE for me. I would focus on answering comments, working messenger leads and have a text option available for your customers. Advertise a number they can text with questions and be available to work this way.

Think about the Greater Situation in all you do.

Look through any scheduled posts you have and make sure they are not going to be insensitive. When you scheduled ads last month you had no idea what would be taking place today. Delete things that might be taken wrong and adjust.

Think about your community and what they are going through. Share relevant articles, share things relevant to your industry and things that will be helpful to customers and potential customers.

Are you doing anything to help? Can anyone on your team help? Ex: sewing masks, donating items, etc. We are all focused on keeping our heads above water but helping one another is how we all win. If someone on the team is helping please share that good news!

It is ok to mix in some cute and funny things! We are all stuck at home and we need to smile. Please don’t be insensitive and don’t make light of the situation. People are dying and this is real. The things you do during this terrible time will be remembered for years to come. We want to be remembered for the good things.

Be Proactive

So many businesses, especially small business are behind. We don’t have to be, but we must change our thinking. We can’t just follow the trends anymore if we want to survive. We need to constantly evolve and be proactive in all that we do. Live in today. We are moving fast, changing fast and you must be willing to outwork and outsmart the competition.

What does this look like? Think about your customers. What do they look like? How has this pandemic touched their lives? Is there more of a need for your product? Is there an aspect of your business that is more attractive now? When we start thinking about our own industries, we can generate so many questions that are exclusive to what we do. When we answer these questions, we can create new strategies for our evolving workspace.

Tip: Housing – Virtual Tours of model homes. I am not talking about manufactured tours; I am talking about personal touches. RV & Automotive – Virtual Showrooms and Home Deliveries

We can get through this, but old thinking will sink our ships. If you have been reluctant in the past it isn’t an option anymore. In the last month many of our realities have completely changed. Business have gone from having record setting months to praying they can hold a team together and keep the lights on. None of the above tips are going to ensure your success or get you back on track, but they might help you stay alive. In all that we do we have to be proactive; we have to evolve with the landscape, and we have to work for our customers. My prayers are with all of you. I am praying for your health and safety. Remember to give grace in your daily interactions. We are all doing our best and we don’t ever know the extent of someone else’s situation. Be kind.

If you have any specific questions you can reach out to me on social. I have additional articles, research and tips that I am happy to share. Find me on Facebook, IG and Twitter.

Posted in The Swanky Hen

6 Tips for Insta Business Page Posts

Who are you targeting? Think about where your audience is. FB is becoming a place for ‘boomers’ and Insta is where ‘millennials’ live. Stop discounting ‘millennials’ because you need them to be successful! This group is made of the generation born between 1981 and 1996. That means that in 2020 the oldest millennial is 39 and the youngest is turning 24 years old. These people are most likely out of college, working, and should be on your radar no matter what industry you are in (unless you are selling walkers or adult diapers … then don’t worry about catching the millennials).

1. Find your audience and target them

  • Don’t just find them, follow them (not in the creepy way just click follow), interact with them and build IG relationships.
  • What do I mean? Search hashtags related to your business/industry/area and follow those pages, comment on their stuff and watch them start following and interacting with you.  

2. #usehashtags

  • Its all about the # on IG – Search hashtags related to your business and location and follow some of them.
  • # your posts with related tags that get a lot of traffic (people search by the # and your post will show up in that tag feed = more views and follows. Ex: #abilenetx #traveltx #mobilehomesoftx #dealsonwheels #countryhome #farmhousestyle
  • Create # for your business that will be ‘catchy’. Ex: #ccrvfamily #clearcreekrvs #a-1isnumber1 #a1homesvictoria #shannonsellshouses #sellwithshannon #theswankyhenhome

3. Make it PRETTY

  • Insta is all about how pretty the pic in that little square is. It must be engaging, relevant, and visually appealing.
  • Use high quality images – find some editing software on your phone and make your photos pretty. You never want to share grainy or dark photos. Make sure they are bright, sleek & beautiful!

4. Write an AWESOME Bio

  • People are going to decide if they like you in a few seconds, this is a short space where you can make a big impact. This is going to be the 1st thing someone sees when they click on your profile, please make it count!
  • You need to say a little bit about who you are, find a way to make it appealing to your audience, and connect with your community (family owned, Texas Proud, etc).

5. Include a Link

  • Understand that the ONLY place you can share a clickable link on IG is in the BIO!! Huge facepalm every time I see someone sharing a link in their description … doesn’t work, folks!
  • You want to drive the traffic to your homepage … right? Duh
  • In the beginning use it to lead them to your website
  • As you develop and get more savvy – use this space to send your audience to a specific piece of content (has to be done regularly)
  • If you are really savvy – use this link to send followers to a landing page where they can find different content to click on

6. Use Your Stories

  • At first you might think that this is useless, but its not. People, especially millennials LOVE IG stories. Yes, they disappear after 24 hours, but they can increase your engagement, visibility, and its another place to share content.
  • You can stay at the top of your customers mind with these regular shares – they don’t have to be super wow! Just be regular, fun, and diverse.
  • Real-Time Y’all – reach your people in the right moment! Live sale, promos, live event, new arrivals – help people that aren’t there feel ‘in the moment’.
  • Have fun here – this doesn’t have to be perfect, experiment!

This information is intended to help you increase your traffic and be more successful in the social realm. These are things that I have learned and studied over the past 8 years. I don’t have a degree in marketing, but I have a few certifications, years of experience and am constantly researching and learning. I am not an expert and I do not have all the answers. This is just free advice. I do have a degree in psychology (I only studied that for 4 years and they gave me a piece of paper for it). I feel a lot better giving you marketing advice than advising you on you psychological well being. Remember that things are always changing, and you must change with the platforms to stay relevant and be successful. Work smarter, not harder. Maximize your following and see how the success of organic posts will lower your dollar cost on paid ads. If you have content that you really want eyes on, spend money. Always keep in mind what you like to see on social platforms, what different generations like to see and how you need to build content to target different age groups and consumers. Good luck!

Posted in The Swanky Hen

4 Tips for Facebook Business Page Posts

Social media is always changing. This is a constantly evolving space that you must learn to conquer to be successful. Study your followers, page traffic and how the entire space is evolving. Facebook is constantly adding more tools to make the business page more friendly for less savvy users. At least once a quarter take the time to research current trends. A quick google search will lead you to a plethora of information. Always read the most up to date articles and follow trends. Even with this you can read 4 studies that will tell you 4 different results about the best time to post. My research and data from the housing, RV, and homestyle industries have led me to the following conclusions. I always suggesting starting your marketing program and studying your own audience to uncover the “best” time to post. (aka: look at the data on page manager) We need to flip the conversation from the ‘best time to post’ to focusing on the best time for YOUR BRAND to post. Study the competition (look at who is killing it on social in your industry – when are there posts scheduled and when do they get the most amount of traffic, what are they posting).

1. When you post is IMPORTANT! Schedule, Schedule, Schedule!!!

  • Consider the FB algorithm and understand that organic interaction drives the success of your page. (but we get less organic everyday … FB puts “meaningful” 1st with their last algorithm update)
  • Wednesday is historically the best day to post, specifically mid-day. (mid-week slump goofing off at work)
  • Sunday is the WORST day to post. It historically has the least engagement. (Sunday-Funday … aka not stuck at work)
  • Peak times = LUNCH Breaks (#1 time for B2C) MORNING Scroll – Right after people get to work (get to work stop playing on FB) END of Day (4-5pm goofing off again) BEFORE BED (think about when you are mindlessly scrolling … other people probably are too)

If you are arbitrarily throwing posts onto FB you are wasting your time (and possibly great content). Your data will tell you when the best time to schedule is, follow the data. The page manager is full of insights (click the insights tab and study) that will help you be successful. FB wants your marketing campaigns to be successful, so they provide the tools to help. If you are more successful = you spend more $ in their space.

2. One, Two, Three … then Sell to Me – AKA: Make this fun!

  • Content is everything! You are here to sell something, but people don’t want to be sold.
  • Try to make only every 4th post sales related
  • Get creative, follow trends, make the experience about the lifestyle of the consumer
  • Every post does not need to be related to your business.

3. Be Relevant – This isn’t scientific, but it will lead to success!

  • Do you want more organic traffic on your 4th post (aka sales post) then gain momentum with relevant shares, posts, videos, etc.
  • What is trending? Cat memes, football, cute kids … I can show you hundreds of posts on business pages I have managed they get hundreds of organic likes, shares, etc. Then I follow this momentum with something beneficial (product info, RIPL of a specific home/model) and watch the organic traffic that builds off of the fun/relevant post ahead. AMAZING to watch!

4. Sell the Lifestyle before the Product

  • People want to see themselves in your product – not just some sleezy sales video (sorry old timers)
  • Create relationships with past customers – have them send you photos of them enjoying the product & share
  • Look for unique shots of your product – share beautiful images with short info blurbs or a fun message
  • Share vlogs from consumers using your products (just make sure they aren’t plugging someone else in the video)
  • Consider your audience and what THEY want to see
  • Age of consumer = interested in different things, schedule posts targeting them at times they are on. Ex: Product demo for a “boomer” feature specific or Walk through with style – lifestyle in mind “millennial” minded
  • When you must get “salesy” keep it light. Price point ads get traffic, but beautiful photos/videos of products might get even more.

This information is intended to help you increase your traffic and be more successful in the social realm. These are things that I have learned and studied over the past 8 years. Remember that things are always changing, and you must change with the platforms to stay relevant and be successful. Work smarter, not harder. Maximize your organic reach and see how the success of organic posts will lower your dollar cost on paid ads. If you have content that you really want eyes on, spend money. Always keep in mind what you like to see on social platforms, what different generations like to see and how you need to build content to target different age groups and consumers. Good luck!

Posted in Livin' la vida loca!

Toot Toot! That’s the sound of my own horn.

What is life if it isn’t a little funny?

I’m not trying to toot my own horn, but … toot toot … ya know?

Years ago we met with an agency that dug through our social platforms (with our permission) in an attempt to put a number behind my work. We were in a different city and in a different industry and I got to be a part of our business. My social savviness and marketing skills were mostly self-taught early on. I was constantly reading, studying trends, learning and doing all I could to develop a skill that would benefit our business. As the social marketing world was starting to develop more I knew that I needed to learn everything I could. I enjoyed working in this space and I was seeing a lot of success. Our traffic and overall sales correlated with my social marketing more than any other place that we spent marketing dollars.

When this agency asked to peek into our platforms they planned to duplicate and market it to some other dealerships that we had connected them with. If I was more business savvy at this point in life I would have said no, created my own business plan and marketed it to those same dealerships … but I wasn’t and I didn’t. None of that mattered anyway because after they looked into my world I got a very unintentional compliment. I will never forget opening an email that said their team had evaluated everything and they couldn’t put a number behind what I was doing and if they did, nobody could afford it. I mean I knew that all along … but to have an ad agency say it meant a lot.

 When you work behind the scenes you don’t get a lot of recognition or praise. I could always review stats, study conversions and know that what I was doing made a huge difference, but it wasn’t something I heard much. I heard a lot of complaints from salespeople that didn’t want to write ads or didn’t believe that social marketing was “worth it”. Knowing that industry experts took a peek and could see just how hard I was working meant so much.

Since then I have taken classes, studied and researched immensely since then and really honed in on what works in this realm. I help where I can, and I love looking at the analytics and seeing exactly what my work produces. When we made this move and planned this change for our family this is what I thought I was moving to do. I started researching and studying this new industry over a year in advance. My work was proven and well … I was working for free … so you can’t beat that. I never got to work at the new dealership, but after only a couple months of it being open, I started getting messages from friends and family asking what was going on with the marketing because it didn’t look like my work. I had a few people send me screenshots and I explained the situation to them. When things really needed to get kicked off, I got to help a little, which turned into a lot. As soon as my work started things lit up! I got messages from people saying they could tell I was working on it and how good it was (love you guys that always love on me). Since then I usually spend half of my week creating content, writing ads, scheduling and I spent over 2 months updating a website and writing all new content. Its all behind the scenes, but I get to see those numbers. I can tell you without a doubt that I completely killed it over the spring and into the summer and fall. TOOT TOOT!! The more I worked the harder it got. To be so successful, know you are good, but still not good enough to be on the team … it weighs on you. I wrote on this in Stinky Socks if you remember.

As the reality of the hurt built with my work, I realized I needed to change something. I found an amazing agency that specializes in this industry and made the appropriate introductions. They were hired and were able to continue to improve and grow on my established work. As much as I want to be involved and work in this realm it isn’t healthy for me. I am sure I have friends and family reading this now that are saying, “we established this last August, why are you still doing this?”. I feel you! I am doing much less than I was before and am working more on my goals, I promise. But … there is something funny that has to be shared. If we can’t find humor in the awkward and painful stuff, then I really don’t know how to get through it.

About a week ago we were weighing a trailer at a truck stop and I scrolled through social media while I waited. I see a sponsored post and scroll on by … wait a minute … back it up … looked familiar. It was my ad that I built the week before. They took my text, my ripple video, copied and produced it for an ad (that they are paid for). What do they say about imitation? Ha! Work I am doing out of kindness & a company working with dealerships at a national level just took my work. I’m not sure if I’m on their payroll now or how that works? Life is weird. I got pretty mad and had a hard time sleeping, but my mindset has evolved. I know in my heart that my work is good. I have seen the numbers behind my Ads and the sales generated. I have also prayed for affirmation outside of numbers on a screen because sometimes we all need that. I am seeing this odd situation as a positive one. My work is good and in this case it’s good enough that a marketing agency didn’t even need to create an ad because they could use mine.

I have been working hard on creating a new path for myself and I am getting closer to the finish line (of classes) and the starting line of something new. I plan to use all these marketing and social media skills that I have worked hard to obtain to grow myself and my own brand. Taking all things into account I am thankful for the years of work I was able to do and the growth that came from it. I am glad to step away from working behind the scenes where I am not wanted or valued and into a new light. I pray that as I grow, I will always value those around me for everything that they bring to the table. Through a lot of hurt I pray that I have learned the value of teamwork and never leaving people aside that you love. If we can do anything to better a hard world, I think we can strive to do better than what we receive. Don’t become hard because you were treated badly, don’t leave others out because you were left out, be a light in a dark place and be the person He created you to be. That is my life plan as I move into a new season of life.

… and if you are looking for some outside marketing help … hit me up … I can freelance all day! Not working for free anymore so we will have to work something out! Lol

Posted in Livin' la vida loca!

Wasted Days and Wasted Nights

How is 2020 treating you so far?

I had a “saying goodbye to 2019” post ready to go for the new year. I wrote it up in early December, edited and never even scheduled it to post. It was real and raw. I had a lot of goals and plans for 2019 last December, but many were never going to happen, and I didn’t even know it. Even though I had a rough winter I was excited for the new year, excited for our new ventures and ready for a positive 2019. My New Years post got into the nitty gritty of what my year was like, how I had no control and all the crap I dealt with.

I decided not to share it because its not going to change anything. Sharing can be cathartic, but it can also scratch the scab on deep hurts that are trying to heal. After I was handed my new reality I got stuck for a long time. I was sad and really freeking mad. Some days I still feel both emotions strongly. I think its ok to hurt and be disappointed, but I try to also use discernment with where my thoughts and emotions are coming from … am I really feeling this or is the devil whispering in my ear?

I saved my letter so I can process my thoughts, but I don’t want to focus on that extreme negativity in the new year. I try to be eternally optimistic and I pray that 2020 will hold much better things. I don’t have a laundry list of resolutions or a huge list of goals, but I have a plan. I resolve to grow in my faith, to continue to raise strong, Godly boys, and to be true to myself. Whatever I achieve this year I will be proud of and happy with. If things don’t go like I envisioned I will trust that Gods plan was bigger.

If I keep it simple, I believe it will lead to more peace. As always, I plan to write more and share more on this platform, but it only happens when I have time and that is rare. I’m studying for a test right now and took a break to re-focus. I’m not much of a sitter so stretching my mind with a short post was a perfect break for me.

2020 has just begun, but if it doesn’t look like you planned, take a step back. You are never alone and all we can do is Trust in Him. If anyone ever needs a listening ear, someone to pray with, talk to, or sit with, I am here. I was blessed during a hard year with friends and family that listened, prayed, and encouraged. Also, never be above seeking help. If you are dealing with hard things there are professionals that can help you work through them. We only get one life and if we get stuck for too long in the yucky stuff we are just wasting it.

Stinky Socks

Where are your socks at? Mine keep sliding off and I’m just walking around pretending to be comfortable. I know that we all go through rough times. Sometimes it’s due to our own mistakes and sometimes we just end up in hard situations. I try to give grace because I know that none of us are perfect and at times, we inflict that hurt and pain on other people. We are human. Sometimes the hurt is intentional and sometimes its not. I choose to think that people are good. People make decisions that can hurt and at times treat people badly. Because of that we are called to give grace. Just as the Lord forgives us, we need to forgive each other. The idea and practice of Grace and Forgiveness are things that I have struggled with. I move past things, but I always hold onto something, that little wrinkle in my sock that is never just right. Every time I walk, I feel it a little bit and I just can’t quite get it out. I stop, adjust my sock, put my shoe back on and start walking again. I might get a few blocks feeling pretty good, but then that wrinkle is there again and its sliding down. I go through the motions and keep trying to get my sock just right and then I am eventually like a 2-year-old, in the floor, throwing a fit because my sock is sliding off and everything is not fine.

Have you been there? Have you ever lived in a season where you just can’t get your socks on right? You start each day new, pray for peace and grace, put those socks on and start your day. Maybe you get through the day or a week … heck, maybe you made it a month! Go, girl! Then here you are, back where you were with your stupid socks scrunched up, sliding off inside your shoe and you are just sitting around mad, sad, and ready to throw a fit.

I have always known that I hold onto things. Anybody else? I have also always known that I am not supposed to. Earlier this year I dealt with some of those times that we all go through. Things were bad. I felt like things were crashing down around me. We moved and it didn’t go at all like I imagined. We took time making our decision, we prayed, we waited, we thought everything was right and it was Gods plan. Everywhere I turned something went wrong. Dealing with health issues, house remodel, all the remodel hiccups, health hiccups, personal struggles, kiddo struggles, and everything that could have been thrown in there. A few weeks into the move it felt like anything but, Gods plan. I knew that my socks were more than bunched up and barely hanging on late this winter. I needed help working through it all, navigating life and trying to give the grace and love that I am called to. I want to be everything that I am called to be. I want to work on me. I want to be a better person. I started reading books, reading my bible, seeking biblical advice, I spent time with a counselor, time talking to friends and family, laying it all out and trying my best. I feel like I have done all the things … so why can’t I just get over that hump. Why won’t my damn socks stay on?

I learned some great methods for dealing with hurt and how to really forgive. I have worked through things that I thought I might hang onto forever and most days I feel fantastic. I think I have really grasped that I cannot control other people, I can only control myself. I must choose love and joy and do the best that I can. At the end of the day I know that no matter how much I try to control or force things, He is the only one that is really in control. Grasping that has helped me so much. I think that focusing on my own journey and choosing love no matter what has allowed me to get most of the scrunched up parts down close to my toes out. I am walking around, even running around comfortable, unbothered, my socks are staying on. My health is so much better, my house is done, my kiddos are getting caught up in school and succeeding. After I finally accepted that sometimes things stink and we must choose how we want to react, I made changes. I have expanded my knowledge and education in two fields that I love. I am moving forward with a new career, loving my husband, and my boys. Things are pretty good.

So here I am, juggling many hats, staying busy, working hard, moving forward and things are good. Then I get dressed one morning and these socks won’t stay up. I’m looking like things are good, things are fine, but I’m hanging up on the why? I don’t want to think about the why, but it sneaks in and attacks. I believe in spiritual warfare and I believe that there are times when the attacks are clear. I have forgiven, I have accepted that there are things out of my control, I have accepted that even though this isn’t what I expected in this move I can choose to make the best of it, make the best of my life. I feel pretty good about all of it most days. Then I get hit with the worst pair of socks in the drawer that you walk out the door in and suffer all day. I am ready to throw a fit and I want to know why? I am good at what I do. I have worked my tail off with my husband over the past 6 years at our previous business. I took every opportunity available to expand my knowledge and grow to help us be as successful as possible. I never have any problem staying out of the spotlight, playing the supportive role. Working hard and not necessarily getting “credit” isn’t really an issue for me. If my husband appreciated it and if we are successful together, that is a win. That is my success. I think there are a lot of women that can relate. Working as a team and winning together, that is our win. Things have changed for me and I can’t play on the same team anymore. I spent a lot of months stuck in the why and frankly I spent a lot of months pissed off. I am past that. Situationally, I know I can’t change it or control it and from that aspect I just started wearing flip flops, so I don’t even have to worry about the damn socks.

Flip flop season is coming to an end and I had to put some socks back on.  I did a lot of walking last week and the socks started creeping down, scrunching, and sliding off. Now my thoughts and questions are for God. I don’t know exactly why this is the plan? I can’t really figure out if I am living out Gods plan or if I am just under attack. Having to watch your new reality, being shown how on the “outside” you are, its just uncomfortable and it hurts. Do those feelings go away? Doing work behind the scenes after you were cut from the team, I do that with honor. I do that to support my husband and his success. Because at the end of the day, his success is still our success because I support him. Having your exclusion shoved in your face when you know that you could be making a positive impact, that this isn’t what you imagined or planned … the socks just slid off as soon as I put them back on. Here I am just trying to look cool and pretending I’m not walking around uncomfortable as all get-out. When do the little things stop coming out to make you feel bad all over again? When do you get to just wear the flip flops all the time? Do you ever stop questioning why this was the plan? I really thought I was done with all that, but here I am with both socks hanging off inside my shoes, just trying to keep them pulled up enough to walk.

I know there are a lot of us that are walking around in the same shoes, with the same crappy socks. Our situations, hurts, and hangups are probably all a little different, but we all hurt the same.  I am going to keep praying and keep looking forward. I am going to keep waking up everyday and try to walk in a flip-flop attitude. During some recent reflection I read an article that said that if we are questioning because we think we know better than God, that is never good. If we are questioning because we truly just want to see the light in our own confusions, that might be appropriate. I wanted to share my thoughts and my questions because I know I’m not the only one. If you have questions, keep seeking Him, He is the answer. 

Posted in Livin' la vida loca!, Mom Life

Dimming Someone Else’s Light Won’t Make Yours Shine Any Brighter

A lot has been going on since my last post. I’m going to be honest about the writing gap. I have still been writing. I have blog posts written about life, décor, and remodel progress. I took a break from posting them because I let someone’s own insecurities and judgmental words get into my head.

I sat at a dinner a few weeks ago and I heard someone talking about blogs from the end of the table. I write about our remodel progress and have dabbled in blogging, so I was interested. What I heard was anything but kind. Aside from senselessly bashing a woman for blogging it was thrown in that people who blog should just stop because nobody cares to read it and they must have nothing better to do. Hmmm … necessary … kind … wholesome? No. It hurt for a myriad of reasons. I’m quite sure they knew that I have a blog, so it was just another blow in what has seemed like months of hurt. I wasn’t just hurt for myself, but it was just so senseless and evil to attack people for writing.

Do not take to heart all the things that people say, lest you hear your servant cursing you. Your heart knows that many times you yourself have cursed others. Ecclesiastes 7:21-22

Soft hearted, too sensitive, and taking all the things to heart … that’s me. Its not what the bible tells me to do and it sure isn’t a fun way to live. I am working on it, but its hard, y’all. Why are people so mean? I seem to have a knack for walking into situations where people are bashing others or bashing me. It happened many times in Victoria. I am apparently as quiet as a mouse because people never knew I was around. Jason always told me that its just what happens in the workplace, but my mind was always baffled by employees criticizing him when he did so much for them … and he was damn good at what he did. Instead of wanting to cry it made me angry. I often wish I was angrier instead of so emotional when it happens to me.

Rather than moving past these experiences I dwell on them. I feel the hurt deeply and it lasts a long time. I remember them vividly. Those are all awful qualities and nothing you want to do, I promise. I have worked a lot on myself in the past year, especially the last 6 months. I am better about forgiving, but I have not mastered forgetting. I know forgetting isn’t something that has to happen, I know forgiveness does not equal trust or relationship, but I really wish I could block out all the memories. The times I walked in on people I care about saying senselessly mean things about me, bashing me or my family, or at the worst, saying things that are false and unnecessary.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29

I know I can’t change what other people do and I sure can’t control them. I can’t snap my fingers and forget the evil words or hateful things that people say and do, but I can try to live everyday by not causing the hurt for others. I have experienced a lot of that senseless hurt over the last few months. Maybe it was intentional and maybe not. Maybe the blog crap was pointed at me and maybe not. Either way it hurts. Being left out, set aside, talked about, made to feel like you aren’t good enough, its all hard. Sometimes I cry and sometimes I get mad. Most of the time I don’t understand. Lately I have been most comforted by scripture, by understanding that there is a plan and a reason, and it won’t always be dark.

There have been times that I wish I wasn’t so soft hearted, that I didn’t care so much, but I do think that is me. I love hard and I care a lot and I know …

The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:17-18

So, here’s to caring less about the words and actions of others and remembering more of His truth. If I want to write a blog about home décor, style, remodel, how I feel or even about a sermon my pastor gave, I’m going to do it. I am going to talk about how I feel and what I like, but I am going to do it with grace and kindness. I am going to continuously work to be the best version of myself and to help others achieve the same.

And its like I always tell my boys, “Dimming someone else’s light won’t make yours shine any brighter”. So lets help other people shine.

Posted in Livin' la vida loca!, Time for a change of scenery


When Chip yells, “DEMO DAY” it looks super fun … right? I think it appears that way because he only does it for a little bit and it is fun … for a little bit. Then the crew comes in and Chip goes onto something else.

I admit, there is something quite therapeutic about busting tile, knocking down sheet rock and making a big old mess. My kids loved it! I only got to take part in the fun for about a week before I had surgery. After that I was sidelined from the whole demo situation. That was a shame because there was still a lot of demo to be done. Once the contractors stepped in to help my husband things went quickly. After the walls are down, the tile is busted, wires are exposed, and it looks like a shell instead of a house it gets a little spooky. That moment of, “what did we do” creeps up on you in a hurry and it gets rather easy to wonder if the process will ever end.

Just like many remodel projects, when you tear into something you often find another problem that needs to be addressed. You also might have great design ideas that create more work in the long run. It was easy to tear things out, but it is not easy to put things back together, especially if you have a picky customer, like me. In all reality, most things went quite smoothly, but the things we thought would be easy created the most frustration.

I was sure that tearing out the wall in the kitchen was going to cause problems. We knew it was ok structurally, but I was worried about electrical, sheet rock, and everything else that could go wrong or cause issues. It went smoothly and my husband completed nearly the entire project on his own. The electrician and the granite installers were the only professionals that helped him tackle the project. We also hired plumbers for the project and I shouldn’t leave them out, it was just bad. I think the guys were new to plumbing because my husband had to tell them how to install the faucet, it was that bad. Everything in the kitchen went as planned and there were no major hiccups.

The guest bathroom was another issue, major case of hiccups. Once the old vanity was removed and the new vanity was installed we discovered that the tile had not been installed in all areas of the bathroom and we had some 1980’s leno shining through in my new design plan. The plumbers I mentioned before also struggled in the bathroom. They left the job with exposed blue pex pipe in my bright white newly remodeled bathroom. It was so bad that I cried. Not only were they very slow and extremely expensive, the work was not good. We paid them and moved on. My husband came up with an idea that fit perfectly in my design and we were also surprised to find some matching tile out in an old storage shed on the property. The issues were resolved and we moved forward.

The never-ending DEMO DAY is still ongoing in our master bathroom. Some issues you don’t see until you pull back the layers. We found out that the drain was done incorrectly when the home was built and we have to have the concrete jack hammered out and new plumbing installed. AKA … this is why you haven’t seen any pictures of the master bathroom. It has a beautiful new door that stays closed and I am praying it is complete soon!

What was the biggest issue what we have dealt with? What do you think? I never would have guessed that the most stressful and maddening issue in the entire remodel would be the ceilings. Seriously … the ceiling? YES!!! THE CEILING! UGH … On my list: remove popcorn, remove florescent lights, add can lights, move a couple of fixtures, remove skylights, sheet rock skylight holes, hole from previous wall, new texture and paint. We hired it all out too, y’all! It wasn’t like we were in here playing construction crew. We hired a crew with references and great photos to come knock it out. It was so rough … more crying. Aside from just generally doing bad work they also sprayed texture all over every window in the house, the antique stove, showers, it was everywhere. There wasn’t a room in the house that looked good. Here is another mistake we made that you can all learn from. I was still not able to get around well and I couldn’t be here to check the work. They finished after hours on a Friday and it was dark with only a few spotlights for Jason to check work with. Insert contractor sob story (love y’all … but all of you a lot of you do it) “It’s Friday and I have to get the cash to pay my guys, we can come back and do touch ups”. Don’t do it, don’t fall for it … poof they are gone. Then you walk into your house in the light the next day and loose your ever-loving mind!! Like … HULK OUT … then remember you are a Christian and you can’t hulk. UGH! After this experience we hired another guy to come in and re-do the ceilings. This next guy was a good kid and he was a jack of many trades, but I don’t know that texture and painting were his strong points. Our bedrooms and bathrooms all look fine, no major issues. The focal point of my house, the living room, dining room, and kitchen are not ok. In certain light it looks alright, but to anyone that knows sheet rock and texture or even to an untrained eye in good lighting, its just REAL BAD! At this point we were really done with the ceiling, done with contractors and we needed a place to live. We moved in knowing that we will have to re-do the texture and pain in the main living space of the house at some point in the future. I’m praying that it is at a point when we are gone on a week long vacation because I just can’t with the dust anymore.

So what do you think? Do you want to tear out some walls and get busy? DEMO DAY!! The demo is fun, but the putting it back together part, not so much. I can firmly conclude that I will gladly take part in demo day on future projects, but reputable contractors will be taking it from there. The best part is that is was another project under our belts and more lessons learned. Previous projects we have tackled have not involved as many design and functionality issues, but I learned from each challenge and every frustration. Here’s to another demo day … hopefully coming soon! (NOT AT MY HOUSE) hahahah!!

Posted in Livin' la vida loca!, Mom Life

Focus on what you love

What are some of your favorite things to do? I might be wrong, but I don’t think many will answer, “stare at my phone”. Even though its not something most of us want to admit, how much time are you spending looking at your phone each day?

I have spent the last few years focused on marketing and a lot of that focus is centered around social media. I was constantly working on posts, creating content, studying competitors, trends and was completely engrossed in social media. Since it was a big focus at work I got my fill of it there. I scrolled occasionally, but it wasn’t something I was doing a lot outside of work. Now that I am out of that world and especially since I spent a few months sick, I found myself spending too much time on social media, particularly Facebook.

I’m not going to hate on social media, I think its great! I love sharing photos and seeing my friends posts! It’s all great! Great until you are constantly pulling out your phone to mindlessly scroll. Sitting in a doctors office, the park, car trips, family time, before bed, when you wake up, when are you scrolling? I decided that I didn’t want to be scrolling anymore, I wanted to look up and focus on what is important to me. If you ask me to make a list of what is important my phone does’t make the cut . I like social media and I’m not getting rid of it, but I’m getting away from it. It’s been a relief, y’all! That right there was proof enough that I needed it. I still have insta and my page manager app, but no mindless scrolling on Facebook at every quiet moment. I check it a couple times a week on the computer and that is perfect for me.

I’m not sharing to tell anyone else they need to get rid of their Facebook app, but I would say that we should evaluate what we are spending our time on. Last week I spent spring break on fun adventures with my boys. Everywhere we went there were people with their heads down, looking at their phones. We aren’t living in the moment. We are so obsessed with reading about other peoples lives that we aren’t living our own.

My oldest noticed that I haven’t been on my phone as much and he sealed the deal that I was spending too much time mindlessly scrolling during downtime. Last week he said, “Mom, you haven’t looked at your phone as much lately”. I agreed and told him that I got rid of the Facebook app on my phone because I didn’t want to be on it as much. He said, “I like that, you are just looking at everything around us now, not at your phone”. They notice, y’all! It might just be on a park bench while they play, or while you are waiting at a doctors office, maybe during a movie night, but they notice! Look up and see what is going on around you, I promise its better than whatever is on your phone!

I challenge you to evaluate how much time you spend on your phone. Could you benefit from a little less? I don’t feel like I’m missing out on a thing just checking my Facebook like we did pre-iPhone … on a computer … dark ages, right? I see the highlights, but my highlight reel is my own life. What do you want to focus on?

I decided I wanted to spend my time living in the moment with my family. In the down time I want to read my bible, read books, grow and challenge myself. I’ll still be checking in occasionally on my private FB account, but don’t use that as a way to communicate with me! You might end up feeling ignored and it will be by complete accident! Watch for cute pictures of my kids and other adventures on Instagram. (side note: handy little button on insta shares those photos with you guys in Facebook land too)