I AM NOT SPECIAL

i-am-not-special I am not special. Yes of course, my mom, my family and my husband (I hope) think so. But really, I'm not. I'm just like you. I have fears, dream, goals, aspirations, victories, failures, good days and bad days.

When I read other people's stories - on how they got started and what got them to where they are today - I get inspired and feel like it's truly possible to achieve that same greatness. So today, I thought I share with you my story on how I got to where I am today. And that you too can achieve the same success.

Growing up, art was always what I favored - well, that and music. I remember getting a pair of large headphones and locking myself in my room to bliss out to music and draw or paint. This was my happy place.

When it came time to decide what I wanted to do before graduating high school I considered arts. Maybe graphic design or communication arts (whatever that means) - but really those jobs sounded terrible back then. The idea of sitting in front of a computer all day was not glamorous or dreamy at all. I also considered becoming an art teacher. But the idea of so many years of school killed me - I hated school (for reals guys, the only class I liked in school was art).

Because I couldn't decide what I wanted to do and the idea of going into debt to study something I didn't even know I liked, was not an option.

So I chose Cosmetology school. A left field decision, yes. But I great decision for sure. I grew up with two aunts that were both self-employed hairstylists. The idea of being able to make people feel beautiful and working for myself sounded very desirable. That's when I really knew I wanted to work for myself.

For thirteen years I worked as a hairstylist and for ten of those years I was extremely happy doing it. Then I started pursuing art in my free time, moved to a more cultural, art-supportive town and found myself exhibiting art at local restaurants, shops and galleries. I was always drawing, sketching or painting in my free time and finally did something about it. I was creating because I knew I wanted a change, I knew I didn't want to do hair forever. 

After a few exhibits and opening my first Etsy shop, I began to experience what it felt like to make money doing what I loved. It was pennies but a huge boost and confirmation that I could do this.

A few months later I got engaged and decided to design my own wedding invitations. I picked up a set of nibs and calligraphy tools I had from years ago and created our wedding announcements and stamps. I posted them on my Etsy shop just for fun and immediately I was being emailed by many for custom work.

I went with it. I started creating more calligraphy designs, receiving custom orders and posting more products. After my first month I was making more than just pennies.

After our wedding in August of 2011, I opened my second Etsy shop Hazel Wonderland. By April 2012 I was interviewed for the Etsy Featured Seller (for those of you who don't know, being asked to be an Etsy Featured Seller is a huge deal. The interview is opted on the Etsy homepage and viewed by millions).

A few months later, I quit my day job. 

Things were great. Better than great, I was on cloud nine. I was scheming ideas, daydreaming of what the future could look like, I was unstoppable.

Then a few months into designing wedding invitations and working with a couple that challenged me, I realized I was not doing what I was called to do. Yes, I was creating art and yes I was extremely grateful to have clients, to be making money and to be self-employed. But I was not passionate about working with wedding clients. Working with couples was fun and always beautiful to see how each project unfolded, but I was not happy, I was stressed. I still felt like there was more and this was not it.

I spent some time soul-searching and digging deep. Listening to the heart and imaging those moments when I felt the most alive, the most true to myself. I discovered I felt the most alive and heartfelt during conversations with other creatives, artists or friends. Conversations about how unhappy they were at their current job or position, how they dreamed of being more, accomplishing more but had no idea how to get there. They had a passion, a calling, a God-given talent, but no clue how to monetize it.

And that's when I knew what I really wanted to do, what I was called to do. I wanted to help others discover and grow their talents, personality and skills so they could make money and bring value to the world doing what they love, helping us find ultimate fulfillment. 

That meant working with people like me. Artists, musicians, woodworkers, designers, illustrators, photographers, printers, instructors, teachers... that wanted to leave their day job to make money doing what they really love.

When I realized I had to make the switch to start working with creatives and stop working with weddings, I came up with a plan. A plan to slowly phase out of weddings and into business coaching, branding and designing. This process took about eight months.

On October 15, 2013, I launched this blog (yep, the one your reading right now) and started talking more about what I was doing, why I was doing it and who I wanted to work with.

Fast forward to present day and here I am living my dream. I'm working with my dream clients, creating work I love and influencing others like I hoped I could. I create brands that tell others stories, I plan out strategies to help people get to where they want to go, I coach to help others find clarity and brainstorm new ideas, and most recently I teach to help inspire others to imagine, start and grow their business, expertise and craft.

I was put on this earth to help creatives like you. To help you imagine, create, find happiness and find ultimate fulfillment. What do you feel you were put on this earth to do?

("I am not special" was inspired by the talented illustrator Molly Jaques and her Instagram post here

CAREER VS CALLING

career-vs-calling Do you have a career or do you have a calling? When you're asked what do you do - do you respond with shameless or defeated I-wish-I-was-doing-what-I-love tone or do you respond with a proud I'm-so-glad-you-asked tone?

I can't count how many times the response I get is the former rather than the latter. Whether you're the leading marketing consultant at a bigwig firm and believe it's too late to follow your dreams or you're an overworked waitress that feels helpless on making a living as a musician - the feeling is the same. Fear of failure, feeling unequipped, negativity and the unknown control you.     

Today you can change that. Just a shift in thinking and focus can help you start living a life bigger than yourself.

Here are 3 tips to make that shift today:

1. Positive Thinking - "Believe you can move mountains and you will" was a quote a read years ago and thought - yeah right, move mountains? I was missing the point - if you believe you can do something and that anything is possible then you have half of the game figured out. If you don't believe you can ever make money as an illustrator, designer, consultant, business owner or singer, than you never will. But once you start believing, something begins to happen. The universe hears you, it hears you're ready. Things begin to shift, mountains move, the path becomes clear and everything begins to fall in place.

2. Goal-Setting - Dreams are goals with a deadline. Do you dream of starting a business that allows you to work from home so you can be closer to your children? Do you wish you could make money creating watercolor paintings all day long? The only way dreams will over become a reality is if you get it out of the head and onto paper. Just writing your ideas down is a huge start, but following through is another. Easy-to-do tips on how to successfully goal-set here and here.

3. Grow - If you're not growing you're dying. Are you dragging your feet, wishing for more but don't know how to make it happen? The most successful people I know are constantly growing, learning and moving forward. Take a class, read a book, attend a conference - anything to keep you growing, expanding, learning and inspired.

So would you rather live a life full of impressive titles, promotions, long hours and salaries. Or live a life doing what you love, that professionally fulfills you, that's intrinsically rewarding so you feel like you're contributing to a higher purpose?

MY GOALS FOR 2014

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Do you follow me on Instagram yet? If you do, you would have noticed a peek into my yearly goal-setting ritual and an announcement of one of my 2014 goals - to teach calligraphy and cursive.

As I've mentioned here, a huge piece of successfully accomplishing your goals is sharing them with others. So I am taking my own advice and sharing with you my goals. From now on, I will be sprinkling in my 2014 goals on Instagram, from business goals like teaching calligraphy and cursive, to personal goals like saving money to travel overseas.

Have you written out your goals for 2014 yet? Check our these dream catching and resolution accomplishing tips here and here to help you get started.

So lets' hear them, what are a few of your 2014 goals (remember - sharing them will help you hold yourself accountable)?

( PHOTO OF ME )

4 WAYS TO ACCOMPLISH YOUR NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION

4-ways-to-accomplish-your-new-years-resolution Writing a resolution is like a contract to myself that I will live my dream and accomplish everything I set my heart to. So when the end of the year approaches I get all giddy about writing my next year of goals.

Sometimes the hardest part of writing a resolution is actually identifying your goals and writing them out. But to me the hardest part is following through with them.

So to prep for the New Year here are 4 tips on how to write a killer resolution for 2014 so you can reach your goals, grow, make more money, find balance and live your dream.

1. WRITE IT DOWN

Probably the most important step of all is to write your goals down. If you don't write it down, it'll never get done. It will swim around in your head with all of the other ideas you have until you inevitably forget about it. For the past 5 or so years, I have a dedicated journal where I write out my resolutions, That way every year I can look back and see what I've accomplished. Get some more tips and download a goal-setting worksheet here. 

2. SET S.M.A.R.T. GOALS

Set Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound goals.

Specific: Be as detailed and precise as possible. If you're looking to grow your expertise, how do you plan to do that? Sign up for a ecourse or read for 30" a day? Whatever the goal, be specific.

Measurable: If you can't measure it, you'll never know if you've reached it. For example, when you set a goal to write a book, include the amount of pages you want to write, how long you want to write per day and so on.

Attainable: Our goals come from our daydreams, brainstorms and ideas and sometimes they can be lofty. In order to reach your goals, they must be attainable. For example, if you want to blog 4 times per week, but really only have time for 3 days a week, set a goal that's more realistic for you.  You can always over achieve your goal.

Relevant: Always make sure your goals are aligned with your vision. If you're accepting new wedding clients, but your goals is to work with creative entrepreneurs then you find yourself off course, bitter and burnt out because you're doing work irrelevant to your vision.

Time-bound: I religiously use google calendar, iCal, my iPhone and my notebook to track all of my goals with their specific dates. Over and over again, if I add a goal to my list without a deadline, it never gets done. So when you write a goal down, give it a date of completion and try to stick with it.

3. PLAN IT OUT

Starting with your last goal of 2014, work your way backward. Imagine you have accomplished all of your goals for 2014, ask yourself how did I get here? Begin by writing down your last goal of 2014, then asking what did I do just before this, and what did I do just before that and so on. Continue to work your way backward all the way to the present. Here's an example:

5. Become a best-selling author (last goal for 2014)

4. Tour the US promoting my book

3. Publish my book

2. Write my book

1. Create outline and gather ideas for my book

Once you have those steps in place, you can fill in even more steps in between each one, like:

3. Publish my book

  • submit draft to editor
  • identify my readers
  • research how to publish a book

2. Write my book

4. SHARE IT WITH OTHERS

Being held accountable by others is powerful. Several studies like this one proves that when you share your goals with others, you're more likely to follow through with them. So talk about what you want to do in 2014, share it with you friends and family, on your blog, email, newsletter or social media. Maybe once a month or every other month you want to share your goals and how you've accomplished them. Whatever makes sense to you, share wherever you can. That way when you're feeling doubtful, fearful, unsure or uninspired you have your tribe to hold you accountable.

I have just a few slots left for the 4 week Creative Coaching Package for $275, normal price is $550. Treat yourself to this 4 week plan that helps you get organized and plan out your resolutions, create a strategy for success and hold you accountable so you can make more money and start reaching your goals. Learn more about the package here  and email me for more information and to reserve your spot. Price is good till January 1, 2014.

What do you want to accomplish in 2014? Writing a book (if you couldn't tell) is one of my goals.

( PHOTO )

MY 10 SECRETS

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A few months back when I was planning to launch my blog, I realized one of the key steps to updating my brand was to get some updated head shots/photos of myself. Because I have a nice camera and my husband has a good eye, I asked him to take them for me. While we were at it, I took some of him too for his new blog and brand we worked together on.

Naturally, I spent a few minutes posing in front of the mirror attempting to find the best angle/pose/smile/stand to make before the shoot. I was prepared to look a certain way, the way I thought would look nice and professional. I looked at several other creatives head shots and kept those in mind for the shoot.

All of that posing and practice went out the window when my husband started to take the photos. He made me laugh, loosen up and relax. But most of all, he allowed me to show my true self, the side of me that sometimes you don't hear about or see. The side of me that I am sometimes afraid to share. 

Recently I participated in a "share your secrets" Facebook post. Some of you may have heard of it, or even saw my "secrets" on my Facebook page. The way the challenge goes is if you read someones "secrets" on Facebook and comment on their post asking for a number, the person who posted the secrets would roll the dice and give you a random number. That number determines the amount of secrets you share.

So, I did exactly that (but unknowingly). I read one of my friends posts - her secrets. It was so touching and beautiful that I commented on it. She then replied with a number and said if I wanted to participate, I could. I immediately thought, no way. I am not going to share my secrets with Facebook. I am too private for that.

Then a few days later, her husband, another friend of mine, bared his secrets too. Just like his wives, they were moving and inspiring me to share mine.

I have secrets. Secrets I have been afraid to share with you because I thought I might lose your respect, I might offend you or that I might even lose potential business. 

I shared my 10 secrets on Facebook and had some incredibly supportive, loving and heartfelt responses. The entire day I checked my Facebook at least a hundred times. I received messages from old friends, woman, and family who applauded me and thanked me for my bravery, honesty and for sharing my true self. I was overwhelmed with love, joy and gratitude and felt a weight lift off of me.

Sharing my secrets helped heal me a little more. 

With the hope that you'll still be here after you know my secrets and with the faith that if I be myself and share even the hard stuff that good thing will come. So here are my 10 secrets:

  1.  After 8 months of RCIA I was baptized in 2011, only a few months before I married my darling Nicholas Bullock. Getting baptized was a moment that I was so afraid of and hated the idea of getting water poured on top of me in front of the entire Easter Mass. When the day came to get baptized, I was surprised at how lucky and grateful I felt to be the only one at the church that day to receive such an amazing honor.
  2. My dad passed away when I was too little to remember him. Most days I wear a locket around my neck with a photo of him and my deceased grandpa's (his father) within it. Sometimes I wonder what it would've felt like to have him here.
  3. This spring I was pregnant for 12 weeks. At my first exam (at 12 weeks), I learned the baby stopped developing (at 6 weeks) and I, in fact, had what they called a "missed miscarriage". A missed miscarriage is when the baby no longer is alive, but you still continue to grow and experience symptoms of a normal pregnancy. I was giving a choice to surgically remove the baby, wait for it to naturally expel, or take drugs to force out of my body. I chose to have the baby removed surgically. It's been several months since that day and I never really knew how to share it with everyone till now. There is so much to say about it and I plan to share more about it in someway. Nick and I believe our baby was a boy, so we've named him Julien, whom I pray to often.
  4. I'm one of four siblings (3rd one down). My family calls me by a nickname my [step] dad proclaimed, Dippy. FYI Ive always called my step dad "dad". I've included the step to maintain clarity of who I'm speaking of.
  5. When I was a teen, I was the last one out of my families home when it caught on fire after our furnace blew up. My bedroom was the closest to the furnace, but I had my headphones on and my door locked. My [step] dad somehow got my attention and got me out of the house before I could get hurt. Thanks Brian Keefer!
  6. I've been playing softball for nearly 20 years. When I was a teen, I was warming up to bat and was caught in the face with our home run hitters bat. Only a minor fracture under the eye was a result.
  7. As my friend Tom mentioned in his "secrets", I too was uncertain I'd ever get married. Then I met Nick and he changed everything.
  8. I've always wanted to sing and play music in a band and had the opportunity to do a little of that with some pretty talented ladies PurpleHenry IshMarie ButcherAmanda Marie and Erin. I have some ideas and plan to write and perform my music someday and share my recordings too (produced and engineered by Nick of course).
  9. I believe that every one of my dreams and goals will come true.
  10. I was a hairstylist for 13 years until I finally made the leap to entrepreneurship. Both my mom and dad were business owners, so I had some great role models.