This post was originally published by Jolie Joie Designs.

Making Things Happen MArch 2016
(Image of MTH March 2016 group courtesy of Robyn Van Dyke Photography)

For the first 21 years of my life, I thought setting goals was for people who weren’t doing life right. I had it all together, so why on earth would I need to constrain my amazing accomplishments with goals?

2015 was a year of a lot of humbling realizations. I came to terms with so many truths about myself that I had shoved aside for all of my increasingly prideful undergraduate career. As I dove headfirst into the creative industry, I became even more aware of just how many things I DON’T know. I was in way over my head, desperate to push forward in this business despite my cluelessness, when I came across a book that creatives were raving about, “Make It Happen.”

Rewind to ca. 2010, when Riley Brandon loaned me her Southern Weddings collection, insistent that I pore over each page and fall as much in love with the content as she had. Riley is just a lover of joyful things, simple things, and, in this case, Southern things (Cali-born girl that she is). And she was right! Those pages were magical.

As I did some research, 5 years after flipping through those magazines, on the other side of college and at the cusp of a brand new business, I realized that Lara Casey was both the author of “Make It Happen” and the editor-in-chief of Southern Weddings. I ordered the book just before Christmas, and about 10 pages in realized that maybe goal setting isn’t just for losers. I spent NYE working through Lara’s goal-setting series with one of my oldest and dearest friends and walked into 2016 feeling purposeful and at peace with the fact that perfection is simply not attainable.

Somewhere in the midst of my developing LC fan girl status, my calligraphy crush, Maghon Taylor from (All She Wrote Notes), posted about the Making Things Happen conference coming in March. Let me just say that I was scarred at age 12 by my horrible parents FORCING me to attend Revolve, a Christian conference for girls, with absolutely none of my friends, and I had not willingly attended a conference since. But something about this one struck me–the opportunity to learn from women whose words I already so deeply admired, the idea of coming together with women who thought like at least half of my weird brain. So I pushed “register” and I booked a ticket from DAL to RDU.

I’m independent, but I’m also a woman, and that means that by nature I cringe at the mere thought of walking into a room filled with a bunch of other women where I don’t know a single one of them. All of those silly insecurities hit on Monday morning as I walked into the first day of Making Things Happen at the beautiful Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill, NC. But by the time sweet Lara Casey arrived to start the day I had already struck up a conversation with two total strangers–something pretty far out of my comfort zone.

Friends, if you have reached this point in this post and you have not yet Googled Lara Casey, let me help you out. Here is a direct link to her goal-setting blog posts: Lara Casey || 2016 Goal Setting

Along with Lara, Emily Ley, creator of the Simplified PlannerGina ZeidlerKatelyn James, and Nancy Ray, photographers extraordinaire; event planner Rhiannon Bosse from Hey Gorg events; and Amber Housley, a member of the Southern Weddings team made up the team of women responsible for leading this event. They began the morning by telling their stories–“Stories change stories,” they told us.

Throughout the course of the next two days, we spent time breaking through the dirt (read 2 paragraphs of Lara’s blog and you’ll see how much she LOVES garden analogies!). The work I had put into planning my 2016 goals was maximized and broken down even further to bring to light questions and decisions I didn’t even know I was facing. We spent time writing out our fears–y’all, it is HARD to physically write down what you’re afraid of when you really love giving people the impression that you have it all together! We talked about the people in our lives who help us cultivate the good stuff, the stuff that matters. We talked about purpose and distractions, what we’re saying “no” to so that we can say “yes” to purpose. We looked at where we want to be when we’re 80–you don’t wake up on the last day of your 79th year and suddenly embody all those things. We defined our core, what fires us up as creatives and as women. We talked about finances (and the one other CPA in the room and I were fired up about that, let me tell ya) and we set goals with real action steps.

If I have not yet convinced you that Making Things Happen is life-changing, here’s exactly what I took away from these 2 days:

1. Conviction. Not wanting to do hard things for the sole reason that they’re hard is not a thing. Good things are rarely easy things. That’s code for: I’m going to FINISH my CPA testing and I am going to obediently stay in Waco indefinitely. I don’t know how the Lord is going to use those 3 silly little letters or this tiny little town that’s generally known for either a scary cult or a major TV hit, but He has used far stranger circumstances to further His Kingdom, so bring it on.

2. Mission. I’ve gone through 5 years of business classes, and yet I started this business without a mission statement. At the end of these 2 days I can gratefully say that Jolie Joie has a clear and concrete mission. What purpose is at my core? Spreading the JOY found from life in Christ, and sharing that joy with people all over the place, whether across international borders or gathered around my dining room table. The mission of Jolie Joie is to send unfathomable joy into lives and homes through joy-inspired words. From a business perspective, this purpose will flow into every post and every product. But beyond that it’s a life purpose. The mission of spreading joy will govern my actions from the time and way that I wake up to the moment I get back in bed at night. Less important than my “how” is my “why,” and that’s what I walked away with from MTH.

3. Dreams. For 22 years I’ve been a realist, and this week I learned that dreams aren’t silly. I believe, whole-heartedly, that the Lord plants deep and true passions in us and develops them for His glory. I have this dream of owning a joyful paperie someday, and for the first time since I dreamed that almost a year ago, I don’t feel like that’s a silly daydream. I have a dream of being part of a creative community close to home, having women who think like me who can encourage me and give me a good ol’ kick in the pants when I lose sight of the vision and passion the Lord has placed on my heart.

It’s incredible what 2 days without your phone surrounded by big dreamers can do to your perspective. I’m writing this back at my study spot in Waco and today has been a good day. I have messed up at least 100 times today, but as my sweet friend Claire Allen says, “There’s grace for that.” Grace, friends. That’s what it’s all about.

Time in North Carolina meant that beyond the walls of the (darling) Carolina Inn, I got to spend 6 days with my best friend. It was like a fun game of pretending we were roommates again and I will not hesitate to tell you I absolutely loved that. Watching movies and drinking wine are just more fun with your best friend, but deeper than that she’s a voice of truth even when truth is really ugly. Part of making things happen is surrounding yourself with people who cultivate what matters, and I’m so thankful for a friend who can call me on my crap and speak the Gospel to me when I am so tall on my high horse that I have completely lost sight of that truth I’ve claimed to believe. I’m not livin’ it, folks, and I am so grateful that the Lord placed a friend in my life to humbly and graciously snap me to that reality. These visions and dreams of spreading joy are going to require some serious heart work first. I am not equipped to bring about that change, and I am done pretending that I can, but I can commit to learning the Gospel, falling in love with it, and striving to live it out in every moment, allowing plenty of room for grace.

Jolie Joie
I loved getting to hear Maghon Taylor share her story–she is the whole reason I ended up at MTH and I am so thankful! Click the picture to follow her on Instagram @allshewrotenotes and be blessed by her sweet spirit of celebration!

The Carolina Inn
Lots of hard work and good digging took place at The Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill! I cannot tell you how darling it was–you walked in and the whole place just smells like cala lilies, and we sat in the most precious Carolina blue ball room all week. Cannot wait to come back here!