Life

person holding coins
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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

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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

 

Life

Coming from Atmore, Alabama, I was accustomed to women hurting women more than helping. When I started teaching middle school, I only had two girlfriends who were open and honest with me. The other twenty or so women that I worked with were pretty much out for themselves or competitive. For instance, we were encouraged to take initiative and participate in activities like pep rallies and other assemblies. When I offered to participate, I was quickly told that I was not needed. Once I moved on to community college, I was asked to attend a training for a new program. I was introduced to an exciting and innovative program that the state was funding through grants to help adult education students. When I returned enthusiastically hoping that this program could be considered for our school, I was quickly turned down by the female dean who explained simply, “It is not done here.” Here we are three years later, finally catching up and implementing the program. Even my friends were not really helpful. I watched them drop like flies when I went through a divorce. When I started different business ventures, no friends supported them. I couldn’t even get friends to come to a party/fundraiser that I held. Sometimes these experiences made me try harder to be a good friend and make sure that I didn’t treat people this way. Unfortunately, more often than not, women have not helped me.

In my new business ventures, I’ve started looking for a new tribe. Luckily, Pensacola actually has a different mindset. Last Thursday, I attended the annual Powerful Women of the Gulf Coast conference. My wife encouraged me to go, and although I expected division, I went. From the second I walked in the door, I was glad that I did. I fought back tears of joy to see so many genuine women helping each other. The group was founded by a group of friends after Hurricane Ivan devastated the area. They got together and helped each other rebuild their businesses, and this lead them to build the group.

As I found my way to the ballroom, I was greeted by vendors and realized that the group had given them the opportunity to present their businesses to the attendees. I found a spot at a table near the front and was soon joined by others who shared their stories. One lady was in a similar place as me–finding a new place in business. Another was looking for ways to recruit clients to her counseling. Another woman joined us as a rep for her sales group. An accountant joined the table who was just there for the inspiration. All of the women were nice and forthcoming in their stories and enthusiasm for the group.

The day progressed in empowering speeches and presentations. I didn’t even realize it was nearing the end because I was so impressed with ALL of the presenters. At the end of the day, we participated in a networking exercise where we exchanged our business cards and pledged to stay in touch.

That night I cried as I explained all of this to Alisa. I cried tears of joy in finding a group of women who genuinely want to help other women in business and in life. I also cried tears of anger that I was just finding this group at 35.

What happens when we help others? Only good things. I vow to be even more conscious of helping others, especially women because we need it. It is not easy to be a woman in business or society. We need each other.

Life

I pulled into the parking lot and waited on him to arrive. He was old enough to buy beer, so I’d asked him to meet me and get me some. I was upset. My boyfriend had broken up with me, and at 17, I thought that that merited a drunk night.

“Why don’t you ride with me?” he asked as I went to grab the beer. “I’ll drive while you drink.”

I didn’t want to get a DUI, so I agreed. He was a friend of my boyfriend, so I thought that it would be fine. I hopped in his truck, grabbed a can, and popped it open. He was listening to some sad country music, so I turned the dial to find something more upbeat.

As the alcohol started kicking in, I loosened up and started dancing to the music. I remember glimpses of his Pepsi can fading in and out, and I remember offering him a beer. He refused and said that he needed to drive.

I was passed out when we pulled up to his house. He grabbed my hand and pulled me out of the truck. I mumbled something about what we were doing, but I just remember him pulling me into darkness. Flashes of his sand-paper skin thrashing against me. Waking up to the smell of cigarette smoke.

The next day I got a call from the ex-boyfriend. “You fucking whore. You fucked my best friend?”

I didn’t know what to say. I had.

Afterwords, when he came around, I was still polite. The boyfriend had taken me back, made me pay for my whorish behavior. They were still friends. He came to our house.

Years later, I read a similar story, but the woman was accusing the man of rape. I did not know that this was a possibility. I thought it was my fault. I got into his truck. I drank the beer. I didn’t say no.

Then I replaced myself with someone else in the scenario. What if it had been my daughter? Would I have still felt like it was her fault? No. If she was not in her right mind, she could not consent. Why did I feel so differently when it came to myself? Was it because my boyfriend told me that it was my fault? Was it because no one talked about rape in my town? Was it because women are held responsible for what men do to their bodies?

What if I had gotten pregnant? Did I have the ability to ask him to wear protection? No.

What if I had gotten a disease? Did I have the ability to make sure he wore protection? No.

I physically survived unscathed thankfully. Unfortunately, the mental and emotional scars are deep. I hated myself. I probably made decisions based on this hate. I still feel responsible. I have lost many nights of sleep wishing that I could go back to that night and not get into that truck. I cannot even express the damage that this does to a person. I probably missed opportunities to improve my life because I did not feel that I was worthy. I still battle with my confidence. I also have issues with my body. I want to look nice, but I don’t want to attract the wrong attention. I am not strong in my skin. I have been weakened. It takes a lot to fight. It takes a lot to speak. I could not even name his name in this story because I am still ashamed.

Life

Divorce Sucks but the Results Are Great

I stayed in a marriage for too long because of the frightening process of divorce. I had kids, so I was scared to hurt them. I was a woman, so I was scared to be financially screwed. However, as I was writing my book this morning, I realized that I focused a lot on the process and not the product. Most of the time, the process is more important than the product, but not in divorce. The product of divorce is freedom! Nearly nothing is better than freedom. I wish that the many times I had attempted to end my marriage I could have seen the freedom. I would have pushed through all the bullshit sooner so I could quit wasting my time.

I talk a lot about divorce in my book because it was a major turning point in my life. I was a different person before I got a divorce because I was trapped in a bad situation. Being free has allowed me to change in so many ways for the better. My health has improved, my financial situation has actually improved, and my confidence has improved. I am following my dreams (cheesy, yes, but true!) because I am no longer held back by a negative view of life. Divorce sucked. People got hurt; money was blown; things changed. But, at the end of the day, these struggles were invaluable learning experiences. And, the light at the end of the tunnel is amazing. It was truly worth it.

I am in the editing process of writing, so, fingers crossed, the book will be out soon. I’m self publishing for the first time and am super nervous and excited about it. I will be writing about the process as well. The book is going to be called, Evolving Through Bullshit. Maybe you’ll try it out.

Life

Struggle Meme

I was forced out of bed this morning by thoughts of writing. It’s amazing how passion can make us do things. As I was proofreading the second chapter, I decided to share my thoughts on struggle. I have struggled for years, no, decades, with wanting to write, but I have never followed through. I actually finished a book last year, but have not touched it sense. This struggle is one of self-doubt. However, as you’ll find in my book, I do not believe that we struggle for no reason. Our bodies physically try to protect us, so they get confused by our fears. When we fear something, the body turns away from it as a means of protection. Unfortunately, these fears are often irrational and reinforced by a false sense of security. My fear of writing is that I won’t be good enough. It is that someone will read it and think I’m stupid. Or, no one will read it. Why do we fear these things? Because we have struggled with something similar. Someone somewhere has put these thoughts in our heads, whether it is social media, television, friends, enemies, family…But, a cool thing can happen when you realize that this struggle was just meant to be a lesson, not a debilitating reality. This struggle was meant to prepare you for the possibility of rejection. But, this struggle is not permanent. No struggle is. That’s why it’s a struggle. It’s hard, you push through it, and you’re better on the other side. You can appreciate it more. With me, I’ve learned that I don’t care if I’m rejected. I have been there. I don’t care if someone thinks I’m stupid; I know plenty of stupid people. What I care about is finding my voice and letting it out. It’s been screaming at me for decades inside my head. It needs out. SO, if you are struggling with something, take a good step back and try to see what the lesson is within the struggle. Then, push past it. Get on the other side and remember it for future struggles may come, but they too can be lessons rather than realities. Happy Wednesday!