Party Planning

The Modern Bridesmaid: How to Be the BEST! 3 Simple Points to Remember

Are you a bridesmaid? Are you a bride?

Photo by Maria Lindsey on Pexels.com

In this post, I share some important things about these roles. If you’re a bridesmaid, you’ll want to pay attention! If you’re a bride, you may consider sharing this with your bridesmaids!

Weddings have changed tremendously. People are (thankfully) making their special days unique. Does this mean that tradition is out the window? Not necessarily. What does it mean for bridesmaids? It means that they need to keep these three simple points in mind when they accept the position.

Because I’m a lesbian with a mom who disowned me and a dad who acts like my relationship doesn’t exist, we had to plan our wedding on a tight budget. This was actually good for my bridesmaids because they weren’t expected to buy a crazy-expensive dress. We wanted a stock the bar party and a lingerie party, so they didn’t have to shed out cash for a major bachelorette party either.

However, some of our party still had their own ideas for how they wanted things to go (more info in video).

I’ve talked to brides who said that they were ready to throw their hands in the air and elope because their wedding party were driving them crazy.

As a DJ and wedding planner, unfortunately, I have seen weddings tear people apart. This is usually because brides and bridesmaids have different expectations.

In this video, I discuss how to (hopefully) prevent this from happening:

If you don’t want to risk your friendship, but you still want to celebrate the big day with your friends, be sure to do these three things:

  1. Communicate: Be more scared to lose your friend than to speak up or ask questions.
  2. Empathize: Put yourself in your friend’s shoes and do what you’d want her to do.
  3. Act Accordingly: Be there for your friend and have fun celebrating love!

Also, if you’re a bridesmaid, please practice empathy and realize that no matter how much you’re asked to do, the bride is doing much more. Plus, it’s her day!

Finally, be sure to do what the bride wants (within reason, of course). Wear the dress she picks, throw the party she wants, and support her. This is the key to being the best bridesmaid ever!!!

I love celebrations, especially when they are full of love, laughter, and joy! If you’d like my help making your wedding one for the books, check out my website here: https://www.pictureiteventspcola.com.

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I have the best wife in the world, but she is one of the hardest people to buy gifts for. Plus, she is super competitive, and she gives the most thoughtful, romantic and unique gifts ever. For instance, the Christmas after we got married, she had a scarf made (I love scarves) with our wedding vows printed on it! It’s hard to compete with stuff like that because she does not have many things that she loves, and she is well, a dyke.

I have found myself on numerous occasions Googling “Unique Gifts for Lesbians or Dykes or Girlfriends or Wives,” only to get the disappointing results of coffee mugs or girly jewelry. Her identity means that she does not wear girly jewelry. Also, she does not drink coffee, so no mugs. She is super picky about clothes, and she loves to shop, which takes clothes out of the equation.

Also, I am on a budget! I am starting two businesses, so a lot of my funds go back into the businesses leaving me little room for extra stuff.

So, as we are going on three years of marriage, I have decided to start putting my creativity to work in gift giving. If you share my struggles, you have come to the right place!

I have found that creating a gift that is based around a theme allows me to be romantic, thoughtful, and frugal at the same time. When I pick the theme, I am being romantic and thoughtful because I’m considering what she really likes and putting that into the gift. Because it is thoughtful, I can also play around with the budget.

Basically, themed gifts also become experience gifts. As you’ll see, presenting a themed gift is more than just shoving a box at someone.

Of course, these are specific to my wife, but you can take the concept and apply it to anyone. For instance, instead of using a Christmas song, you could take the music gift and create it from your couple’s song. Maybe it’s the song that you first kissed to, or maybe it’s the song that you danced at your wedding to–whatever song you choose, you can create a gift from it. With the “Channel What She Loves” theme, this could be applied to basically anything. The key is to think about what she loves, and create a bundle instead of just one thing. So, if she loves coffee, you could get her a mug, some gourmet coffee, and inside a ticket to some place that has unique coffee experiences (not Starbucks). I love a good foodie trip: it marries my love of travel and food together nicely.

THEME 1: Music

If you want to get creative, think of her favorite song or a song that has meaning, and theme the gift around that! There are lots of ways to do this, but here’s how I did it for Christmas:

This year for Christmas, I demanded that we steer clear of generic gifts (clothes, socks, books, etc.). Basically, I said that we could not buy each other anything that we would buy for ourselves. To be fair, I thought this was a good idea because Alisa’s clothes are expensive. Then, about mid-November, I started panicking because I realized that I had to come up with something meaningful and romantic for Christmas while also planning a masquerade ball and buying for my two teenagers. I had basically pitched a two-year-old fit about not wanting generic gifts, and I couldn’t come up with anything!

One night, we were riding around, and Alisa’s favorite Christmas song came on, “Feliz Navidad,” and I realized that she gets super happy whenever it comes on. That was the key. I decided to throw her a Feliz Navidad themed Christmas gift. Yes, throw. I wanted it to be an experience that she would remember even if it didn’t cost that much. Also, I am an #eventplanner, so that’s my specialty.

Decorations and food for “Feliz Navidad” Christmas gift

She has been wanting to grow fruit trees, so I thought, why not get an avocado tree as part of this gift? It kind of goes with the Puerto Rican origin of the song. That was her big gift.

Then, I did a little research and found that Puerto Ricans wear straw hats and love music. I went and bought a straw hat and some maracas to incorporate into the second gift, which was a boudoir photo shoot. Now I know that sounds a little conceited to think that she would want pictures of me as a gift, but I’m telling you, she was super excited about them!

Straw hat wreath for “Feliz Navidad” Christmas

Finally, I decorated the house and made a Puerto Rican dinner, blasted Feliz Navidad, and met her at the door dancing when she came home from work (Christmas Eve). It was so much fun, and it was a hit because she looks at her pictures all the time and is excited for her avocado tree to bloom.

A Little Decor for the “Feliz Navidad” Themed Christmas Gift
Food for the “Feliz Navidad” Themed Christmas Gift

THEME 2: Channel What She Loves

Alisa does not have little obsessions like I do. I like all things tiny. I collect vinyl. I love cheap earrings. I like scarves. All of these can turn into meaningful gifts. She, on the other hand, like Alabama football, but she doesn’t like gifts related to Alabama football. She likes her dog, but she doesn’t like gifts related to her dog. She likes sea turtles, but I’ve exhausted that gift. I’ve even adopted her a sea turtle. It’s time to move on.

Valentine’s Day is another hard one because most of the regular gifts are very specific to men and women. We do not do roses and candy. That’s just not our style. This year, I really stepped up my game.

We love to #travel, but we’ve never left the states. As our last child is nearing adulthood, we want to go overseas and explore the world. There is one major barrier to this: WE KEEP FORGETTING TO GET OUR PASSPORTS! Well, hello cupid!

Of course, you might think that I should just take her on a trip, so let me give a little disclaimer: my wife is a hotel snob. I cannot book travel. I am too frugal. I always pick cheap hotels, which ends up in disaster. She is the one who reads reviews, researches, and determines what is best. Plus, I’ve taken her on all the short/weekend trips that I can afford on my own at the moment (like NOLA). I wanted to think bigger this year.

Of course, I’m not able to just hand her a passport. I’m actually going to get the paperwork all together with the payment and put it together with the rest of her gifts.

Remember this post is all about themes, and this one is travel (what she loves).

I got her this “Crossed Paths” bracelet, and wrote this note, “I’m so glad that you crossed my path, and I can’t wait to cross many more together!” Cheesy, yes! Romantic, yes!

https://wandererbracelets.com/products/crossed-paths-bracelet?variant=37020043596

I also bought a small cork board, and painted the world on it using a stencil.

These combinations have been a great hit! Alisa cares for her avocado tree daily. She started planning adventures the day after Valentine’s Day. I have to admit that I’ve never felt so good about gifts. As a matter of fact, I usually spend a lot of money on gifts and then fret over whether she’ll actually like them or not. For these, I put a little more effort into the thought, but I knew that she would love them!

I hope that you find value in this post, and I would love to hear if you use the ideas to create your own themed gifts!

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I stepped away from corporate training for one major reason: It’s boring. Business people often take things wayyyy too seriously, and that is not me. I like to have fun, and I truly believe that most people do too at least before they get drowned in debt or so miserable in their lives that they feel they have to make everyone around them miserable too.

Fun Meetings from the Party Addict

However, I have been fortunate to meet some business people who actually are fun and want their employees to enjoy their jobs.

I recently conducted a training for one such person. I was hired for this job because of my background in corporate training, but also because the director wanted the retreat to be effective. She knows that in order to reach her employees, training should be fun and memorable rather than dry and boring.

When we were working on the planning stages, I suggested my one simple strategy for making events memorable: the element of surprise. Because of the way our brains are wired and our attention spans are shortened, if you want something to be memorable, it has to be surprising.

“So, how do we make a strategic planning session contain the element of surprise,” she asked.

I could see the strain I was causing on her brain, so I immediately calmed her by saying, “It doesn’t have to be extravagant.”

People are hard-wired to freak out when faced with change.

However, incorporating the element of surprise does not have to be extravagant. It can be rather simple.

I asked the director what she thought the employees would be expecting when they came into the meeting.

“Strategic planning,” she said.

I took this a little further for her, “They will be expecting to come in and have someone ask them questions and apply those questions to the planning, right?”

“What are they not expecting?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” she said, “fun?”

“Exactly. They are expecting a normal, boring meeting. They are not expecting it to be fun. That’s the element of surprise.”

It’s that simple. Think about what is expected and do something unexpected.

We wanted the meeting to be productive, so I suggested that we them the entire meeting around things that are fun while also having a strong focus on the purpose.

We used colorful markers. We provided colorful candy to snack on during the meeting. We provided street food for lunch. We got up and took selfie breaks. The group had to go outside and find the perfect spot to take a selfie during their scheduled breaks. Whenever we had made progress, we all stood up and gave ourselves applause with hooping and hollering.

All of these elements took the meeting to another level, and the group was very productive. Later, the director thanked me and expressed how surprised she was that the meeting was so successful just because of these simple things. I reminded her that that’s my job to think outside the box and make sure people have fun and that her job is to do the boring stuff! She said that the employees talked about the meeting for days.

The next time you are in need of an effective training, think about incorporating the element of surprise. It doesn’t have to be difficult. It is actually rather simple. Just remember to think about what people are expecting and try to do the opposite.

If you’d like to hire me to bring some fun to your event, check out my website: https://www.juliestillrolin.com

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Disclaimer: Please excuse my pics! I was rushed by the short notice of my inspiration to create this post and did not “stage” them like the Muggles do.

Because I’m a lesbian and half of my family disowned me for such, I have to spend time with my remaining family members at different times for holidays. I have two adorable nieces that remain, so I try to plan things for them that are fun and memorable. (Mostly because I love them, but partly because I know they’ll go back and talk about it to my evil mother and it will drive her mad!)

When my daughter turned 16, she asked for a Harry Potter party, so I decided to put together a feast that included a house sorting ceremony and a visit to Ollivander’s Wand Shoppe. I wanted to be able to give her a great party while still having money in the budget for gifts after buying her a car, so I hit up Pinterest posts for inspiration.

There are so many different posts, which is why I decided to combine mine for the feast here.

Also, it was such a great success that I did it again this year for my niece’s who have just gotten into the series. This one was very last minute and thrown together, but they still loved it! My sister informed me a week later that it’s all they’ve been talking about.

  1. First, I constructed an invitation. I used some card stock paper and a calligraphy pen. Then, I burned the edges on the stove for a little extra authenticity. Be careful not to actually burn the paper. (Don’t be a Weasley!) Just singe it a little for the black edges. For my daughter’s party I actually printed invitations with downloaded authentic fonts, but for this one, I didn’t have time for all that! I even simply drew a crest-mark on the back rather than melting hot wax. When they received the letter in the mail, they excitedly reported to their mom that they had been invited to Hogwarts and inquired at what age she received her letter!

2. Next, I made the wands for the visit to Ollivander’s. I bought these Wilton Bamboo Dowel Rods because I didn’t have time to go eat sushi and ask for extra chopsticks! Plus, I plan to use the extras for other projects.

I took hot glue and made the designs. This was a little tricky at first, but once I got the hang of it, it was easy.

TIP: Go thick on the end with the glue and let it dry on each side before adding more. This will help form actual shapes rather than giant blobs on one side.

After the glue dried, I painted the wands with acrylic paint. I made a sign and put the wands in a jar with a battery operated light. (Like I said, please excuse the pic!)

The girls really enjoyed this part!

They immediately went around casting spells and charms.

3. I also made floating candles using toilet paper rolls and tea light candles. These add a little ambiance and a nice touch to the atmosphere.

Feast with floating candles
LED Tealight Candles

To make these, I used Celebrate! Tealight Candles from Wal-mart, hot glue, and white paint. I glued the candles into the toilet paper roll and then made “drippings” down the sides of the rolls.

I hung them using thumbtacks and fishing pole string.

4. Of course you have to have sweets from Honeydukes!

Chocolate Frogs & Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans

I picked up these chocolate frogs & Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans at Party City, but for my daughter’s party, I ordered a mold on Amazon.

5. And, a Platform 9 3/4! I used a sponge, a Dollar Tree table cloth, and brick red colored acrylic paint ($.50). I also used a round piece of cardboard to make the sign. This got torn down before I could take a picture.

6. For the Sorting Ceremony, I found a YouTube video that asked questions and sorted the girls into their proper houses. I did it too and ended up in Slithering!

7. Finally, the feast!

This cost me around $25 altogether. I picked up a whole roasted chicken at Wal-Mart, egg noodles, a jar of Alfredo sauce, cheese, canned croissant rolls, & brussels sprouts. I knew the egg noodles would be a hit with the young ones. They didn’t touch the green stuff!

Although it was thrown together and last minute, I think it turned out rather nice!

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Are you sick of making new year’s resolutions that you struggle with? I know that I am. I have gotten better, but most of my resolutions are forgotten by Valentine’s Day.

I recently orchestrated a strategic planning session for a nonprofit, and it was such a great session that I decided to apply the techniques to my own life and my own business. This got me so pumped up and excited for the new year that I wanted to share.

Although I did this before the new year, I have actually think that it will be a great way to ensure that resolutions are lasting. Luckily, because I did this a few weeks ago, this is proving to be true. So far, I feel more focused and more successful with the changes that I made for my life and my business.

Here are the steps that I followed:

  1. Brainstorming
  2. SWOT Analysis
  3. Creating Resolutions

I applied these steps to my business. First, I looked at how much I have learned over the past year and the ideas that I have in the brainstorming phase. In the SWOT analysis, I started with what I am good at, which is creating events. I have coordinated the food procurement for a conference serving 200 people this year. I have also thrown a huge birthday bash for 100 guests. I enjoyed doing these things, and I am good at it. This made me decide to take my business in a new direction, well kind of. I was an event coordinator back in 2012, and I have coordinated a lot of events on the side. This SWOT analysis made me realize that I needed to bring that experience into focus and make event planning my main hustle. I was also able to recognize my weaknesses, which are marketing and asking for payment for my services. I considered these things in the analysis of opportunities and threats as well. An opportunity that I recognized is to create a marketing plan that I can accomplish. A major threat that I face is money, so I knew that I needed to really amp up my opportunities to make money. All of these and much more came out of the SWOT analysis, and it was actually a fun way to get to a better plan for my business.


After doing these steps, I put them to application. I created goals for 2019 for my business, including a weekly challenge, a social media marketing plan, and a timeline for events. I created a strong financial plan. This fueled me to updating my websites and social media platforms, and so far, so good! I am over a month in and still working towards my goals.

Here’s how you can do the same:

First, you want to do some brainstorming. There is no right or wrong in brainstorming, but I reflected on what I was happy with, what I was not happy with, and what I had accomplished in 2018. #resolutions are about growth, and I wanted to recognize the growth that I had already created in my life and take it even further.

Next, you should do a SWOT analysis. Don’t be scared, this is a good way to recognize Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats! #swotanalysis is all about improving by analyzing the big picture as well as the small stuff. I know that these are usually reserved for business, but SWOT can be applied to your life too. Here’s a sample:

https://www.liveplan.com/blog/what-is-a-swot-analysis-and-how-to-do-it-right-with-examples/
Retrieved from: https://www.liveplan.com/blog/what-is-a-swot-analysis-and-how-to-do-it-right-with-examples/

Finally, you will review these and create your new year’s resolutions.

Let’s say that one of your goals is to lose weight. I think this is one of the most common resolutions that gets thrown aside by mid-January. You would start by looking at your weight loss journey from the past year. Did you take steps to improve? If so, what steps (i.e. I started taking vertical pole fitness classes)? How did that work? Did you develop any bad habits (i.e. I started drinking soda more than usual)? After this, you would conduct a SWOT analysis. What are your strengths when it comes to weight loss? (i.e. what type of exercise/healthy foods do you like? what are you good at?) What are your weaknesses? (Do you hate to run, etc.?) What are some opportunities for improvement? Perhaps you may find it easier to exercise if you find something that you enjoy. Maybe you would eat more healthy if you buy things that you like. Taking these small but mighty steps will be longer lasting, and they can be revealed through the SWOT analysis. Finally, you still need to examine the threats. What threatens your success? Time, money, etc. If these things threaten your success, then you need to develop a strategy to overcome them. If time is an issue that prevents you from exercising, maybe you should take time away from something that is not important and replace that activity with exercise. For instance, if you spend thirty minutes in the morning on Facebook, instead go for a brisk walk. If money is an issue, then take money away from something (like your daily cup of coffee at Starbucks) and but that into an exercise class or some healthier food choices.

It’s one thing to make a resolution, but it’s another to make it last. If you truly want to make resolutions that you can see all the way through, start with an analysis that shows you the entire picture of where you are, how you can improve, why you struggle, and how you can overcome those struggles.

I hope that you are able to apply these three easy steps and create real resolutions that you can reach in this new year! As always, keep evolving & thriving, and if you would like to discuss, feel free to email me: juliestillrolin@gmail.com.

Party Planning

Julie’s 13 Must-Haves for an Unforgettable & Fabulous Event
As an event planner, I put extreme focus on details because details are what people will remember. I do not remember exactly what I did after I got up this morning and started getting dressed, but I do remember the centerpiece at my friend’s wedding. Adults especially need aesthetics to trigger memory. This is why when you are planning an event, you cannot skimp on the details. Does this mean that you have to go spend a ton of money on vases? No. You can still have fantastic, eye-catching details on a budget. These are definitely not in order of importance because they are ALL important.
 
1. Fantastic Centerpieces

DSCN0057.JPG
 
This was a centerpiece for a wedding that had two main themes: Literature because one bride is an English major, writer, and teacher, and Lovebirds because the other bride is a huge animal enthusiast. These details got lots of compliments. The books were borrowed, the baby’s breath was bought at Winn Dixie in a bundle for about $3.50. The ribbons were bought at Dollar Tree, and the little wooden shapes were bought in a big bag at Michael’s for around $10, and they were used in multiple places.
 
Gerber Daisy Centerpiece
 
_MG_2788This centerpiece was for a birthday party that was all about color and fun! The paper and pens were for a trivia that was put together for the birthday boy! Everything came from Dollar Tree. This centerpiece cost $4.75 to make, and all of the guests gave rave reviews!

 

 

2. Lighting

_MG_2812
Backlighting for Party Table
 
 
 
Many venues come equipped with lighting, but something that should be considered is back-lighting. Look for my post on creating back-lighting coming soon!
 
It’s important to pay attention to lighting even if you don’t have a venue with good lighting. You can always use candles and other smaller lights to create ambiance in the place of fluorescent lighting, which should NEVER be used unless it’s in a hospital.
 
If your venue does not have good lighting, think outside the box and create some simple light fixtures using string lights and materials that are easy to hang or drape.
 
3. Music
It goes without saying that music is a must at any event. Remember when planning your music, you get what you pay for. If you plan to simply hook up a bluetooth speaker and let it go, you may find yourself in a pickle! Make sure that you download a long enough playlist that you’re not rushing over to change songs continuously. Also, make sure that the music is appropriate for the event and the audience. I personally like 90s Grunge like Nirvana and Bush, but not everyone enjoys these! You want your event to be a great experience, so consider your crowd!

If you are hiring someone to play music, take it from a DJ (yes, I DJ!) that we want to know what you want. Don’t say, “I trust you,” and then try to micromanage the music during the event. Be clear. Send a playlist. And, remember: YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR.

4. Themed Food

YESSS, please…remember that details matter, and PEOPLE REMEMBER FOOD!!! Theming your food does not have to be extravagant, and it can actually help you make decisions about it easier.

_MG_2822
Themed Food: Finger Food Fun
 
 
 
Since this party was all about being colorful and having fun, the menu items were chosen to be colorful finger foods! It was that simple!

 

Desserts as DecorDesserts as Decor
 
 
 

Another way to add pizzazz is to let your desserts add to the decor! Painting serving trays the color of the theme, having themed toppings, all of these small details make a HUGE difference!

5. Signature Cocktails

 

alcoholic beverages bar beverage cocktail

Photo by ahmad syahrir on Pexels.com

Signature Cocktail
 
 
 
If you really want to WOW your guests, add a fun signature drink to the menu. Again, this does not have to be extravagant. You can add a splash of lime to cranberry and vodka and call it “Tipsy Twang” or something that goes with the theme of the event!

 

6. Entertainment

_MG_3473
Drag Shows are Always Fun!
 
 
 
Events are all about experience…big or small! If you can, utilize some of your local talent. They will often come out for an hour for a reasonable cost! I recently procured some drag queens to come to an event, and it was totally worth it! They were definitely crowd pleasers!

 

_MG_3821
 
Local artists are also often looking for ways to showcase their talents! Some other entertainment options include having someone dress up for a photo opp, having someone sing/dance, etc. Be creative and bring the fun!

7. Photo Opportunities


Photo Booths are all the rage!
 
 
 

two woman taking photo in photobooth holding black and pink masquerade mask

 

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

In the day of the selfie, everyone wants an opportunity to take a fun picture! Be sure to have a photobooth at your party. It doesn’t have to be a hired one (unless you have the budget), but they are fantastic! You can find fun props at Dollar Tree and create your own backdrop. I’m going to be posting how to create a backdrop soon!

Be sure to add extra recognition to your event by creating a Hashtag and encouraging everyone to use it when they’re posting on Instagram, etc. This will give you easy access to all the great photos that are candidly shot at the event.

8. An Emcee

People need direction! If you want to ensure that your party is a success, you need someone to make sure that everything that you want your guests to know and do is announced. Designate a friend or relative who likes to speak in public, or have your DJ or Coordinator handle it.

9. Activity Station

This is something fairly new for adult parties, but why not? They’ve made adult arcades a thing! At a recent party that I planned, a small painting station was available for guests to paint a small canvas. It was fun and it allowed guests to have something to do if the cocktail line got too long!

10. Guestbook

If you truly want your guests to remember your party, you’ll need to know who they were so that you can send them a thank-you! This can be electronic (tagged post, private message), but it is a must!

11. Something Unique


_MG_2833
Something Unique
 
 
 
I know, I know, you’re probably thinking that this is a lot! But, trust me. I’m the expert. The above photo is a table that contained bows for each guest to wear. They had a clothespin glued to the back, and there was a message from the host that said something like, “Because you are all gifts to me, I’d like you to wear a bow.” It was thoughtful and unique, and the guests loved it so much they wore their bows proudly through the night! Doing something unique that you think of makes the event unforgettable!

12. Decor


_MG_2802
Balloons and Large Centerpieces
 
 
 
Balloons are great decor! They are inexpensive and add great color to any event.

 

Utilize EVERYTHINGUtilize EVERYTHING
 
 
 
Remember, just like food can be a part of decor, so can tableware and glasses! Details matter!

13. Party Favors

 

Watch Love Grow Flower Seed FavorsWatch Love Grow Flower Seed Favors
 
 
 
Give guests a reason to be glad that they came and add an inexpensive party favor that goes along with the theme of the event!
Putting all of these together will guarantee a fun and memorable experience. 

Deewatch Wedding Watches and Bracelets

Here’s a PDF Infographic that breaks these down:

Life

person holding coins
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

I recently released a course on how to improve your personal finances, and no one bought it. I personally think this is because my marketing skills are horrible. I assume that this is the way people buy things: they see it, they want it, they buy it. However, studies have proven that there is way more to marketing than that. I know that I am very stubborn, so I hired a coach. Yes, coaches hire coaches. That’s a testament to what we do: we know that coaching works. Whenever I am struggling with a process, I know that I need to bring in the expert. It’s okay to ask for help. It’s not okay to repeat the same mistakes over and over.

This reminds me of why I created the course in the first place. It’s based on my second book, Evolving through Bullshit. There is a chapter in there titled “Bankruptcy” that addresses how I improved my personal finances. Well, it actually just grazes the surface of the mindset, and this is why I created the course. I wanted to share with others the MAGIC of changing your mind about money.

When I sat down to speak with my coach, I had no idea where we would end up–me crying because I am standing in my own way because I am scared to make too much money. Yep, you read that correctly. I am scared of making too much money. I know that sounds crazy, and I didn’t even expect it. And, this is why I needed a coach. I needed an expert to draw the truth from me about why I stand in my way when it comes to asking for and receiving the money that I earn and deserve.

Here are some of the things I learned that align with and go beyond the course:

  • Our Relationships with Money ARE Psychological

What the hell does this mean? They are similar to the relationships that we have with people. If you have had a bad experience with money, i.e. it caused fights when you were young, it let you down, etc., that stays with you just like when you have a bad experience with a person.

  • If We Associate Negative Outcomes with Money, It Will Scare Us Away

I have watched money tear people apart. When my grandparents died, my family became an ugly mess. People said nasty things about each other. A big moment that stuck with me was holding my grandmother’s hand while she was very sick and her saying, “They’re only here for my money.”

  • Society May Teach Us the Wrong Way to Think about Money

This was huge in my book. When I started making changes in my life, I examined the way that I thought about money and the things that I was buying, and I realized that these things did not align with my values. They were not important to me. They did not bring me joy. Most of the things were just things that I thought I should have because they were what other people had. For example, I bought a pretty big house when I was 26. I thought this house would fix my marriage. Instead, it became a big money-sucking pit that only made me feel more trapped in a bad relationship.

Understanding these things really helped me, but that was just the first step. Here are some ways that I overcame these issues:

  • Change Your Thoughts with Affirmations/Mantras
    • If something has been ingrained in your mind, you have to make a conscious effort to change it. For me and money, this was the negative thoughts I had. I had to write this down and say it over and over until I believed it:
      • Money is good. Money can help me achieve my goals. Money can help me do good in the world. Money can help me help others.
  • Fill the Negative Space with Positive
    • I also had to start having better memories replace those horrible ones that I associated with money.
      • Remember the feeling of getting money as a reward for hard work. Focus on the positive memories.
      • Remember the feeling of giving money to someone in need.
  • Examine Your Habits and Values
    • Determining what you really value can help you improve your spending habits because you can align them with each other.
      • I sold my big house and moved to one less than half the size, and I love it. It’s easy to clean, more affordable, and easy to maintain.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by finances and keep making the same decisions over and over, maybe it’s time for you to hire an expert. I am not an accountant or a financial adviser, but I am an expert in improving personal finances. You can try my course online here: Julie’s Finance Course. I also offer one-on-one coaching as well.

If you’re interested in my dirty laundry, you should snag a copy of my book here: Evolving through Bullshit

Art and Craft Stuff to Sell, Life

How to Make an Alabama Door Hanger to Sell

Roll Tide
Alabama Football Door Hanger

People look at me like I’m crazy when I tell them all the things that I do professionally, but they simply don’t understand that being a solopreneur takes HUSTLE! Here’s why broken down by my jobs:

Freelance Writer: I may be busy as hell for three months, and then no one needs me for a month. I still have to pay my bills, so….

Author: Some months my books are selling, and I’ve got great gigs. Other months, nothing.

Speaker/Training: Speaking and training gigs need to be planned well in advance. I have often booked a speaking opportunity six months out, and I have also said to myself, I have a gig coming up and not booked anything else. After that gig, I realize that I should have planned better.

DJ: This is an occasional job as well.

As you can see, I do many things. Some people say that if you do a lot, you’re not doing enough. They say, “do one thing well.” Blah blah blah. I say, I do what works for me, and I enjoy doing many things and doing each one well.

One of my favorite “jobs” is making things to sell. This is a quick buck. However, sometimes I have made things that people simply wouldn’t buy, so I’ve had to learn my audience (just like with everything else I do). Most of the people who buy “art” at festivals and places like our local gallery night are those who like to decorate their porch for holidays and occasions, like football.

Here in the South, football is an occasion, especially for Alabama fans. That’s why I’ve created this Alabama hanger:

How to Make an Alabama Door Hanger to Sell

Materials

  1. Pencil (to draw outline)
  2. Utility Plywood (I use 4’x8’ because it’s $9.99 per sheet at Home Depot, and I can make about 10 of these with one sheet, so it costs me a little over $1.00 per sign for the wood)IMG-2187
  3. Drill Master Jigsaw (I think I paid around $30 for mine, and I prefer the corded one because I have bad luck with rechargeable batteries, but it’s well worth the expense! Also, I’m not including this in the cost of making the sign since it can be used for so much.)IMG-2185
  4. Sander/Sand Paper (I use this cheap $10 rotary tool with the sanding piece.) $1IMG-2186.JPG
  5. Heavy Duty Staple Gun & Staples (Not including in cost except for staples) $.50IMG-2189.JPG
  6. Paint (I use the $.50 acrylic paint from Wal-mart.) $.50IMG-2183.JPG
  7. Paint brushes $1.00
  8. Ribbon $2.00IMG-2199.JPG
  9. Twist ties (I use the pipe cleaners from Dollar Tree) $.10

Cost: Approximately $7.00 to make

Suggested Price: $35-50

Shipping Cost: $5.00

Possible Profit Per Sign: $23-38

Instructions

  1. Cut out the shape: Draw an outline with a pencil, and use the jigsaw to cut it out. I can just eyeball this, but some people may need to use measurements. I’ve seen some that are not as proportioned, so I think as long as the general shape is obtained, it should be good. A good lesson that I learned is that once you get a good shape, use it as a pattern. Go ahead and trace out the amount that you are planning to make. IMG-2182.JPG
  2. Sand the edges–I use my rotary tool, which is the cheaper version of a Dremmel. It has a little sanding paper attachment. I just go around the edges with it at medium speed and make sure there are no splinters. 
  3. Paint–I didn’t have enough gray, so I mixed black and white. IMG-2194.JPGI like to make mine a little artsy with the highlighting. I started with the white background for the A and then I used Tuscan Red to fill it in. IMG-2195.JPGI had to go back with the white after and fix the edges. 
  4. Make the bow: With bows, I just loop them around until I get the shape I want. Then I use as many twist ties as necessary to keep them in place. It’s definitely not fancy, but once you attach it, no one sees the mess!IMG-2197.JPG
  5. Attach the bow: I use the stapler for this and start at the center making sure the bow is lined up where I want it. Then, I staple it to the board. I use a couple of staples near the center and outside to hold the bow in place. Then, I shape the bow. 
  6. Attach a hanger: I like to use the pipe cleaners from the dollar tree for this as well because you can twist them around the staple for extra security. You can also use a ribbon. I just make a loop and staple it, and then twist it up to secure it. 
  7. IMG-2200.JPG

And viola! You have an Alabama door hanger:

Roll Tide
Alabama Football Door Hanger

 

Eating, Uncategorized

My Favorite Vegetarian Lunch

Although my kids HATE the fact that we do not have a microwave, I am relentless on the issue. We have a small kitchen, and a microwave is just not a necessity to me. I’m the one who cooks, so it’s my choice. Plus, I like to live by the motto: “If it’s convenient, it’s probably not good for you.” Microwaves are all about convenience. End of story.

However, there are some great microwavable meals that are soooo convenient that I have had to find a way around not having one, especialEvol Goat Cheese and Portabello Raviolily since I’m working from home a lot these days and do not have the money to go out for lunch.

Evol is one of my favorite brands of vegetarian and healthy meals. Their philosophy is simple: Our Mission is to inspire people to care about where food comes from and how it is produced, by making REAL FOOD that tastes delicious. So, when I saw their Goat Cheese and Portabello Raviolis in a single frozen meal, I was like, gimme! gimme! gimme!

So, to overcome the no microwave issue, I put a little olive oil in a pan and dumped the frozen raviolis in there, let the ingredients warm, and viola! A warm, delicious (and somewhat nutritious) vegetarian meal in minutes at home for only $3.50 from Target.

 

self-publishing

Learning about Social Media Marketing

 

Have I already talked abpexels-photo-273691.jpegout how much work #self-publishers have to do to market their stuff? If so, I cannot say it enough. If not, I probably dreamed that I did.

Today I attended a meeting (thanks to my friend, Mia Bolden who owns Beautiful You Studio here in Pensacola, is a life coach, and is my pole fitness instructor AWESOME lady!) about #SocialMediaMarketing. On the way up the elevator, we talked about how there is so much information about this that it is overwhelming. Here are some things that I found valuable from today’s meeting:

  1. It does matter how many people you follow versus how many people follow you. I know that you youngsters are probably thinking DUH, old lady, but I did not actually know that this was a thing. So, I looked at my Instagram and Twitter accounts to find that the ratios were drastically disparate. I had a wopping 600 something followers on Instagram, and I was following over 2,000. This is a BIG NO-NO! I guess it makes you look desperate or something. REMEDY: There’s an app for that! It’s called Unfollow. Go figure. It allows you to mass unfollow people who are not following you back. BOOM!
  2. 80/20 Rule: I had heard this before, but I needed it to be reemphasized I guess. Basically, you want to share 80% content-related stuff that is not sales, and 20% sales. So, for my sexual harassment stuff, I should be sharing 80% information about what’s going on with sexual harassment and 20% of what I offer. Another tip was to use the outside information (like statistics) and then create a personalized infographic that addresses that information. So, I could use information from a news article about sexual harassment and create an Infographic using Canva that demonstrates what I would do to address it.
  3. 7 Times: We are hit with so much marketing that it doesn’t sink in as quickly as you’d think. In fact, the statistics show that it takes about 7 times to be exposed to something before you notice it or understand it. So, this is why commercials are repeated over and over. Have you ever sang a song but not listened to the lyrics? I do this all the time. I’ll realize it when I decide to sing karaoke. I’m like, “Oh, I did not know that’s what she was saying!” I guess it’s the same concept. We have become so neutralized by all the ads that it takes repetition to get the message through. So, for those of us trying to push our message out, remember 7 is the lucky number.

These were my big takeaways for the day. I hope they help. If you have any questions, feel free to email me (juliestillrolin@gmail.com) or comment 🙂