52 Weeks Forward
Artistic Adventures

Happiness is taking a cold wax art class by an artist you’ve admired for some time.

Cindy Walton and Tami Ross in Cindy's Studio in Asheville NC

I first met Cindy Walton during a trip to Asheville with my ever lovin’. Cindy’s studio is perfectly located in the River Arts District just above The Wedge (Brewing Company). I love working galleries where you have the chance to not only appreciate art, but to meet and chat with the artists. And a brewing company… what more could a gal from Canada ask for?

As a lover of Mark Rothko, I found myself immediately drawn to Cindy’s work.  The push and pull of colors and the use of wax seems to create magic on the wooden surfaces.

Cold Wax Art Class at BINDERS Art

I love trying new things.

I love getting out of my comfort zone. And oil is completely out of my comfort zone. I’ve never used it. And I can’t believe I’ve been missing out on the delicious creamy texture of this paint. Just the process of creating a palette is rewarding.

Cindy Walton Cold Wax class at Binders Art Supplies and FramesThere is a certain freedom that comes with having no idea what you’re doing. I embraced that today. So often I’m working on a project professionally – completing something that has a certain level of expectation attached to it. Not today. Today I played, I pushed, I made mud, and I learned so much.

Techniques and theories can be studied and learned. There is a right and wrong to understanding color theory. But creating art is a journey. There is no right or wrong. There is only the layering of ideas. The mixing of truth and personal myths. The understanding that knowing is only 1/2 the battle. Trying. Trying makes all the difference.

This is how I left my table on the first day. Excited to see what would happen next.

Cold Wax Art Class at Binders ArtThese pieces are so interesting because at some point they seem to take on a life of their own. As I pushed and pulled layers of paint and cold wax over the panels I discovered that for the most part I had to give up the need to control what happened. I had to let go as I built the layers up. It was an active mediation and I can’t wait to start it all over again.

Here is where I left off on the last day.

day two cold wax class


Sharing inspirational tips on productivity, marketing, and a positive mindset – Join us!

Discussing Marketing FUNdamentals is a passion of mine. I can get downright giddy sharing a story that ties together all the elements of a great marketing plan.

Marketing is an art and a science. We just don’t feel our way through the market place with instincts. We develop theories, based on data and then create opportunities to test and tweak for the best outcome based on our desired result.

These are the Basic Principles of Marketing that help us package our brands and share our visions.

Principles of Marketing

Principles of Marketing

Download the PDF

Customer Value – our customers need to feel that they have received some kind of value. That doesn’t necessarily mean with price. It may be valuable for them to align with companies that support their personal values. In the case of TOMS, it may be valuable to the customer to feel that their purchase is making a difference for someone else. Maybe they make a purchase based on the need of a specific product and getting it at a good price is just a bonus. Knowing what is valuable to your customer will help you communicate to them based on their needs.

Differentiation – This means that you are not only providing your customer with what they want, but you’re doing it better than anyone else. It’s necessary to develop and communicate a brand that stands out from the competition. How will your brand lead in the marketplace?

There are three main areas customers tend to organize their value needs when researching a purchase.

  • Operation – How well do you complete the exchange? Are best practices in place? Can you provide the best price for the value?
  • Product – Are you selling what your customer wants? Is it the most up to date? The right color?
  • Service – Do you have a relationship with your customer?

Segmentation, Targeting and Positioning – It can be overwhelming and expensive to offer everyone, everything they want and need. To help deliver exceptional value we need to organize customers into segments and develop targeted message that meet and exceed the needs of that segment.

We use these principles to develop the guidelines of our marketing strategy. The goal of the strategy is to help create an exchange between the seller and buyer. This is important because it helps us craft a message toward a specific result. A measurable one!


Sharing inspirational tips on productivity, marketing, and a positive mindset – Join us!

I can not believe that we are already deep into the first quarter of 2014!

2013 was busy. Half way through the year we relocated to the big peach. I still miss the ocean but Atlanta is teeming with energy and possibilities. Within a few weeks of arriving in town I found myself stretching my marketing muscles. Spending my days developing and executing marketing initiatives is not a bad gig – especially given the fact that I still get giddy when I talk about marketing. What can I say. I love it and true love lasts forever.

So what’s on tap for 2014? has always focused on Marketing and Motivation. This year I’m getting clear on why I love sharing these tips. I’ve discovered a desire to empower positive change and I believe knowing how to market yourself, your product, and your idea is an excellent foundation for change.

To that end I’ve set up a Facebook page called Living the Dream. Sometimes I look through my news feed and all I see is negativity and I wanted a space I could go and find inspiration and motivation. Would love for you to “like it”.

I’ve also added a Living the Dream board to my Pinterest page – a curated space of inspiring quotes and images.

This month I’ve been digging into what livin the dream means to me. I use the phrase all the time, it’s my state of being. Away of reminding myself that we live in a time of endless opportunity.  The trick is to find the right balance of discipline and fun and make something happen!

You are Limitless


Sharing inspirational tips on productivity, marketing, and a positive mindset.

Blog posts are the life blood of your website.  Regular posts increase your relevance in search engines, help you keep a focus for your site and generally creates more opportunities for you to share your voice.

Some post everyday, some every week and others a couple of times of month.  The important thing is to be sharing (marketing) your posts, engaging with the comments and building your community.

But how do you manage it all?

The New York Times newsroom, 1942. Photo by Marjory Collins, Farm Security Administration. Public domain.

The New York Times newsroom, 1942. Photo by Marjory Collins, Farm Security Administration. Public domain.

The magazine and newspaper worlds have used editorial calendars since the beginning of time and so can you.

Such a calendar will allow you to track the monthly activities of your blog – not only the posts but the progress of it as well.

I prefer to manage my blog posts through a weekly scheduling system set up on an Excel spreadsheet.  Each blog has it’s own template and each month it’s own tab.

My aim is to be working on posts 3 months in advance.  Here are a few tips on how I do that.

→ Develop blog posts and Titles around the Topic the post is filed under and the Keywords I’m tracking.  This is more about creating a search friendly site while you’re visiting than being found in Google.

→ Source Photos for the post.  It saves a lot of time to spend an hour or so every few months sourcing the photos I’ll need over the course of the next few posts than to do it one post at a time.  I also keep an image folder on my desktop where I place interesting photos I come across on my journeys through the web.

Schedule the post and schedule the email to share it with your subscribers.  My friend RyLee shared Mail Chimp with me a few years back and I’ve been a fan ever since.  You’ll see the opportunity to subscribe to my ‘Kitchen Table Business’ community to the right of this post.  Once I schedule a blog post, I schedule the newsletter to my subscribers.

→ Track the number of Comments, Page Views and Subscribers - I prefer to do this a month after the post goes live.  This helps monitor the progress of the blog as a whole as well as help craft future content.  I usually like to peek in on the stats of a few of the more active pages, after a year, to see how well they are still bringing in viewers and if the content is something I should revisit.

My blog calendar template is available for download here.

There are many examples of blog editorial templates on the web.

If you do a lot of guest blogging that you’d like to track and have blog sponsors you need to share I would recommend taking a look at Prerna’s template available from The Mom Writes.  This editorial template is incredibly comprehensive and geared toward the business blogger.

Do you have a blog content management trick you’d like to share?  Please tell us in the comment section below.


If you are seated next to a small child or someone needing assistance, secure your own mask first…
Flight Attendant Speech

Whether you work from home or not taking care of YOU is paramount to a work life balance.

I was recently reminded of this.

A few weeks ago I planned an artist date with myself.  The Savannah Book Festival was in full swing and for me there is nothing more inspiring than listening to storytellers.  BUT… my husband was leaving town for a gig and I felt like I needed to turn this into a family outing.

Hoda Kotb at Savannah Book Festival

Hoda Kotb at Savannah Book Festival

So there I was sitting in the back pew of a packed church listening to Hoda Kotb tell us stories from her book Ten Years Later.  I’m trying to be engaged.  P-Funk is doing her best to be cool, but she doesn’t seem to be feeling well (she’ll complain of an ear ache in about 8 hours).  There wasn’t actually a seat available for Jeff, so he’s walking around outside.  We’re texting back and forth because Peyton can’t decide if she wants to be with me or him.

It was the exact opposite of what I had in mind.  Normally I would have been hyper alert and overflowing with ideas… but instead I was slightly defeated.  AND I had done it to myself.

I shouldn’t have let guilt take away a perfectly good opportunity to recharge.

I’m not saying we don’t know this, or that we sometimes forget.  What I’m not so subtly hinting at is that we often make choices that put our needs and our well being behind EVERYTHING else.

This is self limiting behavior.  It reinforces thoughts that your needs are not as important as others in your life.

This is why Flight Attendants remind us before every flight to take care of ourselves first and then help those traveling with us.  It’s instinct to help, but sometimes reaching out before we’ve reached in doesn’t allow us to help at all.

In our busy multi-tasking lives we need to make time to recharge.  We can’t give everything to everyone, continue to put ourselves last and expect success and balance.

And one more thing.  It’s not selfish to think this way.

Working from home allows me to manage and own my schedule.  But it’s easy to get tied to a million projects.  My work day runs from 8am to roughly 6pm.  Inspiration to write usually hits me about 10pm.  Which can make for some long nights and early mornings.

I remember reading Julie Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way, years ago where she talks about this very thing.  She called it artist dates.  Purposeful dates you make with yourself to recharge and experience inspiration.

And there in lies the key.  Do it on purpose.  I fill my days (and sometimes nights) with things I like to do.  Personal development and training – part of my work day, lunch dates and networking – part of my work day, testing new ideas and development – part of my work day.  All of these things inspire and pull me forward.

I’m not a flaming extrovert.  I don’t need to stand out in a crowd but I’m often energized by it.  So my recharge time doesn’t usually reflect solitude activities.  In fact there is nothing that fills my reserves more than a deep, inspiring, and funny conversation.

So I’m curious.  Do you make recharge dates with yourself?  Have you ever let guilt or fear sabotage a date with yourself?

I would love to hear about your journey.  Please share in the comment section below.


I’d have so much more time to (fill in the blank) if I worked from home“… said the person NOT working from home.

design-work-from-home-scheduleWith only 24 hours in the modern day, managing our time and creating a work life balance has become a bit of a constant struggle.

And for many, the idea of working from home seems to be the answer to their prayers.

I’m not here to burst any bubbles… but… as a work from home professional and multi-tasking mom I can tell you that IF you’re not managing your time it will manage you.

Effective time management truly comes down to mindset.

It is scary how much time we can waste watching TV, checking emails, searching the web and facing the day in a general state of poor focus.

Designing an effective work from home schedule is key to owning your lifestyle choice and living a little more stress free.

My days are chalk full of activities designed to meet short and long term goals.  Although flexible within reason, my schedule, laid out a week in advance, is at it’s core, nonnegotiable.

Oh, but I wanted to work from home so I could do what ever I want, when I wanted.”

Sure, I get that philosophy but it’s just not going to get you closer to accomplishing your goals.

In fact that mindset can actually hurt your progress.

I feel that a lot of work from homers find themselves easily overwhelmed and stressed out because of either working way too many hours (lets face it, we’re always in the office)  OR not spending enough hours on activities that produce results.

We all want to do more of what we love – this is one of my primary motivators but it needs to be tempered with the right activities.  I want to finish my book, but sometimes sitting down to write is the last thing I want to do.  A few days ago I took the day off from writing, and you what, I’m one day further away from my goal.  If I don’t write as my schedule has planned than I’m not going to finish my book on time.  However, if I stay true to my daily activities, the book will be finished late spring in plenty of time for the planned back to school launch.

It’s not enough just to commit to the goal, we must also commit to the daily management of that goal, and by extension effectively manage our time and schedule.

So my trick to managing my day is knowing how much time it takes me to do certain activities and planning my week accordingly.

When I plan my to do list I make a note beside each activity of how much time I will give that action.  I work my lunch dates and negotiable activities around my clearly defined objectives for the week.  My schedule not only ensures progress, it instills a sense of accomplishment on a daily and weekly basis.

Today I scheduled a lunch date with my 6 year old.  I met her at the class room door and she and her friends all joined us in the school cafeteria.  It thrills me to no end to be able to do this.  This is not just a product of me working from home, but an example of how time management makes me a hero to one special little girl.  She after all is the reason I started working from home in the first place.

Of course not every day runs like butter down a hot knife but more often than not I’m crossing everything off my to do list and making time for me.

Designing your schedule comes down to personal choice, awareness of the customer’s need of your time and understanding your ability to focus.  Good time management is a good habit and having an effective schedule can make all the difference.  More times than not, this means changing behavior and admitting to some time wasting activities.

Click here for a SWEET TWEET: I’m not sure who said this, but I love it… “Not having enough time is a bad habit.” @tlross_75

Sometimes it takes a good smack down to right the time management ship… and this one is brought to you courtesy of Marie TV.

Marie Forleo is an amazing resource for anyone looking to get the most out of their business and life!

What are your thoughts on the video?

Do you find yourself looking back over a wasted day feeling overwhelmed about tomorrow?

Or have you kicked a time wasting habit and have a best practice share?

Please let us know in the comment section below.