“Openness is being honest, clear and sincere, sharing who we are and what we feel without pretense. It is the willingness to consider new ideas and listen to others with an open mind. We reveal our thoughts candidly without attempting to manage the response of others. We hold no hidden agendas. We are more interested in connecting than controlling. We listen to others’ feelings with compassionate curiosity. When we are open, we are receptive to the blessings and surprises of life.”
These are the words I read when I pulled from Abby Moe’s Virtue Reflections Card stash at the end of my workout. Maybe it was the fact that I had more oxygen pumping into my blood, but I immediately felt enlightened by it.
I hadn’t chosen a word for 2018, but in hindsight it’d be Adapt, hands down.
In August of 2017, I was in a bit of a rut. I liked the job that I had at the time, but I was not completely fulfilled by it. I was developing graphics and marketing collateral for a commercial real estate company. My boss was and still is one of my favorite people on the planet, but my heart could never really be pulled into real estate. (I’ve signed up for the class twice and tabled it, twice.) I love economic development and market trends, but it was just never my calling.
That real estate office happened to be in the Brent Building where I had heard of the Cowork Annex buildout for months. It was in September that my old friend Ramsey Coates took me on a tour of the finished product where I immediately fell in love with it.
I didn’t just become a member, I became apart of a family.
I left my job in real estate and threw myself back into the grind full-time with the support of my husband, family and friends.
Around October my friend, Calvin, connected me to Eddie “Truck” Gordon. Eddie is a Jamaican mixed martial artist who competed in the Ultimate Fighting Championship in 2011. (Plot Twist!) Although he was fit, accomplished and driven, he had not always been that way. Eddie was full of spirit, determination, drive and “in your face confidence.” He was just what I needed for that time of my life.
He wrote a book about his life, titled, “Forever Truckin’: Mastering the Will to Win.” Once upon a time Eddie was overweight, unhappy in his marriage, worked in the financial world in New York and was generally disappointed with his life and where it was. He attended a UFC match and as he sat ringside, when he decided he was going to fight too. His friends laughed at him.
Not only did he go onto fight, he is the middleweight winner of The Ultimate Fighter: Team Edgar vs. Team Penn. His whole view on mindset was fascinating to me. I read the whole thing in 2 hours in the bathtub.
The bath was cold, but I was on fire. It was probably 11:00 p.m. and I decided to stay up all night and redesign my logo and build a first draft of a website for Social ICON. Who was there to say that I couldn’t?
Since the New Year was coming, it was then I decided to plan the event which changed my business completely. Social ICON’s Rebrand Launch Party.
A fun fact about me is that when I am inspired and driven to accomplish something, there are no brakes, there are no rules, there’s me and my mission and no one can stop me.
The party was scheduled for January 19, 2018 at the Cowork Annex. I planned everything. There would be fancy invitations, huge foam chess pieces, there would be a step & repeat, there would be professional headshots taken, there would be custom cocktails, there would be tables where you could play chess, food, music, THE WORKS.
The icing on the cake would be the branding video I would reveal. I spent weeks working with the incredibly talented Andy Gwynn, directing video testimonials. It took a solid 4 shooting days to create the 5 minute masterpiece in which it is today.
During the climax of the party, I would project the branding video on the entire back wall of the Cowork Annex and then I would step up to speak with a cocktail in my hand and I would thank all of those who attended, supported me, lifted me up.
The whole vision was burned in my mind.
On January 3, 2018, I found out I was pregnant. (Plot Twist!)
I had been feeling a little nauseous for about 2 days and I had one pregnancy test that was stashed away in the back of my bathroom cabinet. I mean, what’s the harm in taking it right? You’re probably just catching what everyone else has this winter, because there’s not really any way that is what’s happening to me right now…
WRONG. I was definitely, most certainly “two-blue lines” pregnant. I sat with my mouth open on the floor for at least 30 minutes. Trent and I had always wanted a second baby, but the timing was, well, a little inconvenient considering my whole business hinged on a party that was in 16 days.
I called my best friend, Ashley, I was in disbelief, shocked and a nervous wreck. I told Trent that evening by having Maddie give him a note that read, “I’m going to be a Big Sister.” He was in disbelief too, but was immediately excited.
So what did I do? I carried out my vision exactly as planned… minus the part where I was holding a cocktail. It was perfect. Symbolic. It was all of my visions coming true and I had put in the work to get there.
After that, business began to pour in.
I was on a cloud, but there was also rain coming. I had always done everything myself. I liked it that way. If I did it, I knew it would get done and it would be done the right way. However, you can’t grow in that mindset and I thought it was time to try hiring. With the combination of first trimester hormones and the inability to let go of control, I had a hard time finding a good fit.
Then came Sarah. Sarah was working (and still is) with Goosehead Insurance. She is very good at what she does and she loves her job, but like me, the creative marketing spirit calls her. She reached out and asked if she could work with me part time.
I had been jaded by future hires and I was not getting any less pregnant. I asked her to meet with me and we decided to go to UWF where she was studying for finals. I sat her down in a side room in the library and I gave her the detailed story of my journey and what my plans were for Social ICON. I was transparent with her and where I was with business. I laid out all my cards, my strengths and my weaknesses.
I asked her, “If you are still serious with working with me, I want you to commit to working with me until after this baby is born. That is the only commitment I need. It’s going to be a blast and I will support you in whatever you want to do next in life and teach you everything I know along the way.”
She obliged and I thank my lucky stars that she has been with me ever since. Sarah is special. Sarah has visions of where she wants to go. She takes initiative and is very detail-oriented. I needed Sarah for this time in my life. Plus, Jordan Reyes was supportive of her splitting time for the both of us and now we kid that we have “split custody” of her.
More projects came in and there was one in particular that I was gunning for, for weeks. The Propeller Club was looking for a local agency to develop an awareness campaign for the Port of Pensacola. I’m a lover of economic development and even more so when I get to play in the director’s chair.
I had invested time into landing this project. I was invested. I had attended City Council meetings, board meetings, member meetings, met with economic development movers and shakers and I had a picture in my head of what I wanted the campaign to look like. There was talk of an “end of July” board meeting where decisions would be made about my proposal but the date of the meeting was not yet set in stone.
This next timeline is a little daunting, but hang in there with me…
July 23rd, Sarah and I taught our first Instagram class for realtors.
July 26th, my blood pressure numbers were high, so I visited the labor and delivery ER. I expected to get medication and go on my merry way but my OBGYN wanted me to be kept overnight.
July 27th, I got the news that I was pre-eclamptic and my son was having dips in his oxygen levels which classified me as high risk, and that I would be staying the hospital for the remaining duration of my pregnancy. (PLOT TWIST.)
July 29th my family moved my entire baby shower to Sacred Heart Hospital in a tiny training room where I sweat profusely and was swollen enough to be a Shrek character.
August 3rd, Sarah streamed me into one of the Cowork Annex conference rooms where I hosted a video conference with the entire board of the Propeller Club while I was at the hospital.
August 5th, I gave birth to my son.
August 6th, my son was place in the NICU for 8, long, painstaking days.
August 14th, we were released from the hospital and got to go home with our baby!
On that day, and every day after that for nearly 5 months, I took my son to work with me, wherever I went, he went. I breastfed, carried, changed and bonded with him as I worked. Not because I had to, but because I wanted to.
When I had Maddie 3 years ago, I knew I was never meant to be a “stay-at-home-mom.” I am an extrovert and being apart of something that could change the course of entrepreneur history drives me. Alleged social norms and gender roles fueled me and my family is my WHY.
Let’s revisit my 2019 Virtue Card:
“To open deeply, as genuine spiritual life requires, we need tremendous courage and strength, a kind of warrior spirit.” - Jack Kornfield, A Path With Heart
Recently, I started working with life coach, Erin Kirk, who owns Girl Catch Fire. The main issue I have with my planning and growth is my fear of failure. “I didn’t do enough, it’s not exactly what I had pictured, you’re not going to succeed, everyone knows you’re a fraud, you’re not capable of juggling so much, no one really cares, your team is going to know you’re an amateur, you’re never going to be enough to support your family long-term, you should go back to a 9 to 5…”
These are legitimate voices that I fight regularly. If I’m begin open, honest and sincere… I was scared to death every step of the way. There were moments where I took on the world, showed up as a mom badass, but on some days I curled myself into bed and avoided all responsibility because I was just crippled with fear.
The Practice Of Openness
I am honest and transparent
I am direct and candid in sharing my perspective
I appreciate new ideas and possibilities
I sincerely want to communicate
I have no hidden motives
I care about the views and feelings of others
I am willing to receive life’s bounties
Life has a funny way of telling you when to saddle up and ride on. Since beginning my sessions with Erin, she’s encouraged me to dream bigger, think bigger and put written plans in place to execute my vision.
I’ve reflected on 2018 in so many ways. Although it was my busiest and lucrative year in business, I made time for family and friends. I made time for my husband and children and I have my found myself in a place where I am proud of where I am.
Has my year come and gone without mistakes? Of course not. Are there things I can improve upon, you bet. However, living in a constant state of transparency is what has allowed me to breathe.
I started posting moments, real moments of me working with my son. It’s something I am so proud of because I want other moms to know that they can do it too. We all have fear, especially as a parent. Life becomes so complex but rewarding. It’s so important to me that my social media means something to someone.
As we move into 2019, I have been challenged to write down the valuable things about myself. It’s not something I’ve ever done, but Erin insists it replaces the “voices.” That it takes practice to train your brain not to see the worst in what’s to come. One of the things I wrote down is that I have an innate gift of messaging. I want to share this gift with all of you and plan to reveal a project our team is working on in the near future.
With heart, courage, drive and purpose, I want to be open with you all. I want to encourage you to go after what you love. Seek the projects that give you fulfillment. Spend the extra time doing your research. Envision who you are in a year from now, three years, five years. Reach deep within yourself and do what’s uncomfortable. Live on the edge.
Most of all, move forward with openness.
I am thankful for the gift of Openness. It frees me to be myself.