Category: In The Office

You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. – Jim Rohn

Wow! Does that hit you like it does me? Every time we talk about this concept at the Making Things Happen Conference, it changes us.

Those five people could be family members, friends, or even people on social media you’ve never met. The people and things we allow into our lives the most have a profound effect on our thoughts—and our future outcomes. This is one of the many reasons I’m grateful to have you, the Cultivate What Matters family, as a collective one of my “five!”

I am passionate about encouraging you, but you encourage me to live out what matters a hundredfold. (Your support last week was a gift!)

You fight alongside me each day to pay attention to what matters—what lasts. You are living this out! I read every comment and message, and I love following your journeys. You inspire me to say no to distractions and keep my eyes focused on truth.

You are encouragers—helping to build women up right where they are. Case in point: how you welcomed our two new team members, Ashlea + Jordan, to the Cultivate family last week!

Get to know each of us—and what we do—here.

You are strong and capable and ready for the second half of the year, even when you feel like you have no idea what you are doing.

And you don’t mess around when it comes to taking action on goals that matter to you!

This month, you have taken first steps on mid-year goals and WOW! What a month this has been! I have loved doing live goal coaching with you, seeing so many lightbulbs go off as you continue to take those first steps.

Our Goal-Getters board and walls (!) are filled with YOUR names. And we’re still going—take a step forward on a goal that matters to you and we will put your name on the board! We want to cheer you on because little-by-little progress is worth celebrating. When one woman steps forward on something that matters to her, do you know what happens? It creates a ripple effect. You are world changers, friends!

I took my own steps forward this month too—specifically on two of my yearly goals that are related:

  1. Love the things above, not the things of the world: cultivating contentment in our children, clearing out the stuff and information overload, and generous and wise stewardship of what we’ve been entrusted with.
  2. Cultivate the fruit of the Spirit in motherhood: growing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, and self-control in their hearts by our family seeking after God Himself above everything else.

To move forward on these goals, I wanted to start “morning time” in our family: gathering the kids together at the table each morning to grow our faith and family bond.

I’ve been wanting to do this all year, but couldn’t figure out how to do it. There were a few logistical roadblocks. First, we didn’t have a table where everyone could sit together, spread out, and make a mess. We had the dining room table, but the chairs were not exactly kid-and-craft-friendly (ha!). When Ari and I moved into our house seven years ago, before we had kids, we bought white upholstered dining chairs. Not ideal for kiddos! We also didn’t have a time that seemed to work. And how could I keep all three kids’ attention for more than a few seconds together?

For months, I did nothing. I thought about it, but I couldn’t figure out how to move forward and make it work long-term. I wanted to make morning time a regular rhythm in our house, but these small logistical things seemed to stand in my way (which feels silly now looking back!). I did nothing—until I saw all of YOU making leaps forward on your goals this month, breaking through obstacles big and small.

You lit a fire under me!

I decided that, since we used our dining room table maybe once a month at most, this would be the place. Kids crafts and books would make a welcome centerpiece! : )

My first action step: I went to find a few boxes that I could use to fill with morning time supplies. I made a box for each kiddo and filled each with Write the Word for Kids journals, craft supplies, and a few books.

I made myself a box, too. Inside: my Write the Word journal, Bible, pens, and some homeschool books.

And… I bought these wipable indestructible chairs to replace the not-so-kid-friendly upholstered ones from IKEA that were falling apart anyway. Bonus: they came fully assembled.

Up next: It was time to give this morning time thing a try for the first time.

Starting new things for the first time can be tricky, right? Whether it’s starting a new routine in your family or starting a magazine, fear can try to stop us at the starting line.

What if it doesn’t work?

What if this fails?

How do you move forward on goals that matter to you when you feel fear?

First things first (and this is the key that most people miss!): break your goal down into itsy-bitsy tiny steps—the smaller, the more likely you are to DO them. Once you break your goal down, you may find that you can’t help but take action—fear has less of a hold on you because smaller steps aren’t as daunting. (For more on breaking goals down into mini goals, read here.)

In the big and small things, you get to choose: fear or faith.

Breaking it down helps you move from fear to I’m doing this!

I gathered all the kiddos at the table with some snacks (a tip I learned from my friend, Sally Clarkson—snacks make new things more appealing!), I prayed for us, and I read them a book while they colored.

That was it.

It lasted for 15 minutes and it. was. awesome.

This may seem so simple, but that’s exactly the point. Our first morning time at the table together, with the sun peeking in, was simple and beautiful and life-giving for all of us. One day led to two, two led to a week, and now we’re three weeks in. This daily rhythm has changed our family!

You know all those things you’ve always wanted to do?

Big or small, you should go DO them.

Starting morning time was important to me because I see how it will have a ripple effect in our family—and hopefully their own families—for years to come. Learning has happened at the table. Conversation has happened here. Togetherness has happened here. And it didn’t take any grand planning. Just a few intentional steps forward.

Cultivating what matters means doing small things that add up to the big things.

Thinking big picture, and taking small intentional steps forward.

I don’t have an agenda each time I sit down with them; I do what is best for that day and each of thier nurturing needs at that moment. Some mornings we read, some mornings we paint, some mornings we color, and on homeschool days, the other kiddos do whatever they like at the table while Grace and I work through reading, handwriting, and other activities. Sometimes the younger two end up playing legos on the floor, and sometimes we have music. We just go with it!

There are often interruptions and tantrums and challenges, too, but the “imperfections” are part of the blessing of this time. Part of the learning is working through big emotions and “I wanted the yellow crayon!” moments together. : )

This time (usually from 7:30-8-ish before I start work) lasts anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes. How long we do it doesn’t matter as much as doing it with the right heart: to seek Him and delight in the creative gifts God has given each of us.

And it all began with one small step forward: I went to find boxes.

Sometimes, the hardest part of starting something is proverbially “putting on your shoes,” right? Once you take the first step, the momentum grows.

Our first day above—I was still waiting on the chairs to arrive, but we dove in anyway! 

Your turn! What one step forward have you taken—or plan to take—on a goal that matters to you? Leave a comment here with your one step and I’ll add your name to our office Goal Getters Board!

I hope my story encourages you to dig in and take the first step. You never know how that one step forward might change everything!

Up next, I’ll be sharing more practical ways I’ve taken action on these goals: 8 Ways to Infuse Scripture into Your Home. Look for that on July 5th!

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I started Southern Weddings magazine late one night with a husband deployed to war and no formal training in journalism or publishing. I didn’t have experience, but I did have more passion than a hen has feathers. I wanted to inspire couples to tell their unique love stories, rich with family history and rooted in the culture of this place we call home—the South. The place where my grandparents had lived out their own love story decades before—a love story that changed me and my family.

I wanted to do something with my life, using the gifts I had been given to help people cultivate what matters. But, that was the extent of my grand vision. I didn’t know where this would lead, exactly. I just knew it needed to exist. I had a tiny seed… and I took a leap of faith and planted it. I thought this would grow into a small publication. Perhaps we’d print it ourselves and put it in neighborhood grocery stores and local churches.

God had a different plan.

Dear friends, I did not expect this would be my path—our path. I sit here writing to you from my home in North Carolina with three little ones, a husband I am so grateful for, and ten issues of Southern Weddings that have brought with them a lifetime of treasured memories.

If you have known us for any length of time—from a day to a decade—you know that our heartbeat is to help women uncover what matters most and intentionally live that out. We heartily embrace the truth that we can’t do it all and do it well, but we can choose to cultivate what matters right where we are.

Many times, cultivating what matters means making hard decisions.

Sometimes, it means letting go of good things to make room for even better things to come.

It is with bittersweet expectation that I share with you what we’ve been praying about and wrestling with for a long while: the time has come for us to turn the page on the Southern Weddings story. The tenth anniversary issue was the final issue for our team. The Southern Weddings site will soon transition to a robust archive, giving our readers and future brides access to the timeless content we’ve worked so hard to create over the last decade together.

This is a bittersweet change for us, and perhaps a surprise to many of you. Southern Weddings has continued to grow: we had our best year ever in 2017, celebrated our tenth anniversary, and yet—we found ourselves at a crossroads. You see, we are a unique company with two brands under one small roof: Southern Weddings and Cultivate What Matters.

As both Southern Weddings and Cultivate have grown over these last years, we have been stretched as a team. Both companies are making an impact on people’s lives and hold so much continued growth potential. But, like I have written about in both Make it Happen and Cultivate, you can only grow so much in one space. If you grow too much—even good things—they start to take nutrients away from each other. At the rate both brands have been growing, supporting two companies would be unsustainable in the long-term.

You might be thinking, “Why not just do it all? Why can’t you hire more people? Why can’t you adjust to the growth? How can you let go of something so good?“

Therein lies the entire mission and heartbeat of what we do. Living on purpose often means making hard decisions for the greater good. We are nine women, most of whom work here in my home office in Chapel Hill. We want to have a profound impact on this world while maintaining the quality of life that is so important to our team and families. That means being all-in wherever we are.

We believe we have completed the work we were given to do with Southern Weddings. We created something that was built to last. Many of our readers have saved their issues for their children and grandchildren. I have done the same. The heart of this magazine is ever-beating. It lives on because meaningful love stories can change the world long after the stories themselves have been lived. We believe our best work is before us and we’ve had to make this hard decision to be able to give our whole selves to it.

This was an incredibly prayer-covered decision. We have met with business leaders, gotten wise counsel, and taken many months to just listen. We listened and we waited for the plan to be revealed. Times of waiting for answers can be times of ripening. In the wait, and in countless conversations, our team grew closer as we wrestled with this decision together. How can we let this go? What would that look like? How can we best serve people? Is there another publisher who could take this over? When God finally gave me clarity on moving forward with closing this chapter for our team, what gave me great peace was that He gave the same clarity to the team, too.

Everyone’s willingness to embrace change has been extraordinary. (Dearest team, I love you.) We have felt sadness in this change, but more than that, we feel gratitude for this decade—and gratitude for the opportunities we have to continue to use our gifts to change the world and help you use yours, too.

As you can imagine, letting go of something I poured my heart and soul and prayers—and over a decade of my life—into isn’t easy. As I sit here about to hit publish on this note to you, there are tears running down my cheeks. I have been overcome with emotion many times over the last months. Southern Weddings changed my life, my family, and my marriage, and thousands of others have experienced the same impact as we’ve helped couples plan meaningful beginnings to married life. We have created something meaningful and beautiful that will, Lord willing, continue to change lives long after I’m gone. I continue to stand in awe that God wrote Southern Weddings into my story. After a decade, it still doesn’t feel real! He can use imperfect people, with imperfect stories, to change the world.

Southern Weddings has changed all of us… and the best is yet to come.

Seeing Southern Weddings on the shelf this past December. After ten years, the thrill of newsstand sightings never faded!

The Cultivate brand has grown exponentially in the last few years, and we have been equipped and tasked with shepherding it well. With this change, we believe we will not only be able to continue to do the work of strengthening meaningful relationships, but we will be able to do it even more effectively, reaching not just brides, but women of varied life stages and seasons.

Our goal is to change a culture, helping women to cultivate what matters right where they are: helping women live purposeful lives. Helping all of us to embrace the power of progress, not perfection. Helping women embrace change and find confidence in their unique paths.

Perhaps you have been considering a change of your own. We hope our story will encourage you to know that…

It’s okay to let go of one dream to make room for something else.
It’s okay to not be able to “do it all.”
It’s okay to embrace change. Change is hard, but it can be life-giving for you and countless others.
You can do hard things. Good things come from hard things, and saying no to one thing means you are saying yes to something else.
You can write a new story. You can grow something that lasts longer than you. It all starts with a tiny seed.
And… endings can be new beginnings.

We believe our team has done the work we were given to do with Southern Weddings, and that is much in thanks to YOU for your passionate, generous, and enthusiastic support.

A favorite memory: laughing in the cornfield with some of the biggest hearts in the South.

The last decade of Southern Weddings has been filled with memories and stories and meaningful relationships grown. From the honor of getting to tell your love stories to magical launch parties at the Carolina Inn, countless emails from readers telling us our work changed their marriages, sending thousands of magazine orders out of my garage, my kids being a part of this amazing adventure, having a partnership with Southern Living, getting to create with incredibly gifted and generous artists, countless hours doing the layout for the magazine myself in the early years, happy dancing over weddings, enjoying the magic of the South together, and celebrating engagements and marriages and babies on our team along the way, what brings us joy in this new chapter is knowing those things have not been lost.

Dear friends—readers, brides, vendors, moms, sisters, friends, and many more—thank you. Thank you for believing in this dream that started with the hope of bringing beauty into a broken world while my husband was deployed to Iraq. I never imagined what the ten years that followed would hold, and I want you to know that your support—no matter how seemingly small or large—has changed the world.

Photo credits from top to bottom: Jose Villa, Ryan Ray, KT Merry, Landon Jacob.

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Spring is here, but maybe you’re not feeling so springy. Spring brings new growth and forward motion, but maybe you just want to put the brakes on and start fresh. (I’ve been feeling it, too!)

Maybe you’ve been feeling overloaded and stuck.

Stuck in the expectations of others.

Stuck under a mountain of to-dos.

Stuck knowing there has to be something more.

Photo by Gina Zeidler

I know this feeling well. And here’s where we cultivators get to flip the script! There’s no need for shame or guilt about being stuck or overwhelmed. It doesn’t mean you are flawed; it means you have an opportunity.

There are inevitable times of overload in our lives that are bound to creep up—times of change or transition or times where there’s simply too much to do and not enough time to do it (are you feeling that?). These are opportunities to shift. Opportunities to say yes to what matters, no to what doesn’t, and to let God do the heavy lifting.

The most powerful way that I get unstuck in these times is to do the complete opposite of what the rest of the world tells us to do (and the opposite of my natural instinct!):

Instead of working harder, I surrender.

Instead of trying to do it all, I do what matters and let go of the rest. 

Instead of relying on my own strength, I rely on His.

Sound impossible? I know how you feel!

Practically speaking, this means I do two things:

1. I pray. I simply ask God, “Will you help me to Your path for me? Help me get unstuck, Lord.” No fancy words or elaborate prayers needed. Just tell God how you are doing and where you need help.

2. I get right into the Word. Now, I know the Bible can feel overwhelming and you might be wanting to check out right now, but getting into the Word is a lot easier than we make it seem.

I prayed one morning for God to give me a simple way to connect with him, right in the thick of it, and He led me to write out the Word. It was hard for me to focus on even a few sentences of the Bible in times of overload, and I needed a way to put the train brakes on and slow down when the last thing I felt like I could do was slow down.

The Write the Word Journal was born out of my own personal need for perspective in the inevitable storms of life–to see them as refreshing showers instead of the downpours they felt like!

You can use your own paper to write the Word if you like too–no journal required. Just grab whatever paper is near you and give this a try!

There’s something that happens in our brains that travels right to our hearts when we write out the living Word of God. Again, use whatever paper you have for this if you want to give it a try.

(You’ll get a great list of scriptures to try in the comments at the end of this post!)

Each day in the Write the Word journal, there’s a selection of key verses to write out (the “write the Word” part!), along with space to write your thoughts, prayers, or anything else God places on your heart.

I’m sharing about the journals today because they have been a powerful tool in the lives of many of my friends and because they are finally all back in stock (SO many people have been waiting for this day!), and because we decided to put them on sale this week to help you get started writing the Word. (Read on for a discount code.)

I have loved seeing how you write the Word–and especially how you use the On My Heart pages. We have seen you use those pages to write out prayers, to journal daily thoughts, to get creative and illustrate your faith or dig deeper into the scripture you wrote out, to write notes to or about your children, and to give all of the distractions in your heart a place to become untangled.

Mostly, like me, you love soaking in the powerful truth of every bit of the Word you write out.

This allows me to slow down (it doesn’t take a vacation or a whole hour away–just a few minutes adds up!) and get unstuck. Every word of the Bible is powerful. Even writing one verse, something shifts in me. It’s like planting a seed. I think about the big picture instead of the day-to-day to-dos. I am reminded that I am not in control; He is. 

To my long-time Write the Word friends, have you ever flipped back through to see what prayers you were praying that have been answered? What things were laid on your heart then that have since come to fruition? I’d love to hear!

The Write the Word journals, and EVERYTHING in the shop, are 25% off from now until April 2nd–no code needed for the 25% off. If you spend $100 or more, use code HAPPYSPRING at checkout for free domestic shipping.

Here’s a peek at each journal and what’s inside:

Write the Word// Cultivate Faith contains a selection of scripture that is fundamental to faith, making this volume a perfect gift for someone who is new to their faith or looking to cultivate a fresh or renewed faith. If you are doing the journals in order, start here! This is by far our most popular journal and sells out quickly.

Write the Word// Cultivate Joy is filled with scriptures specifically selected to help you delight in the goodness of God. Perhaps you’re in a season of craving fresh joy. This volume is full of scriptures to help you celebrate the joy that’s yours in your faith.

Write the Word// Cultivate Gratitude is filled with scriptures specifically selected to help you grow in contentment through God’s promises and assurances to us. Full of scripture on thankfulness, this volume will help you get after grateful.

Write the Word// Cultivate Hope is filled with scriptures specifically selected to help you find God’s peace and assurance in seasons of waiting, challenge, or unknown.

Write the Word// Cultivate Renewal is filled with scriptures specifically selected for those who need a reminder of God’s promise to make all things new. Get still and reflect on His life-giving truth with this volume.

We designed these to be used as a full collection to take you through each season. Order your ALL SEASONS COLLECTION and get 25% off an already discounted full collection (no code needed)!

SHOP THE ENTIRE WRITE THE WORD COLLECTION HERE

The Write the Word journals (and everything else in the shop!) are 25% off from now until April 2nd. Plus, use code HAPPYSPRING at checkout for free domestic shipping on orders over $100.

Write the Word is for everyone. It’s for the busy mom, wife, young professional, business owner, and student. It’s for the seasoned Bible-reader and for those opening their Bibles for the very first time.

Here are some thoughts from long-time Write the Word friends!

Suddenly my mornings involve scripture, reflection, and prayer…without any difficulty! I can fit this into any morning and the longer I keep the streak going of writing the Word, the more excited I get to dive even deeper and work through each different journal in my different seasons of life. – Kay

My family gathers around the table after dinner and we each get out our own Write the Word journal. When we are done we share our verses and talk with our kids about what these verses mean. – Meredith

The Write The Word journals have been such a blessing in my daily life. I can not imagine my day without them! – Rachel

Here’s to letting God turn our challenges into opportunities and to getting unstuck!

Your turn: I’d love to hear! What is your favorite verse in the Bible? Bonus points if you share why. These verses you share might be a great starting point to try writing out yourself!

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The 2018 PowerSheets are HERE and, thanks to you, our launch has been a joy! As a small team, this week, more than ever, your encouragement and support have truly meant the world to us.

This week continues to be a turning point for all of us, and for so many of you as well. You’re getting your 2018 PowerSheets, and setting yourself up for an intentional year ahead. We are all excited and grateful to walk this journey alongside you!

As I shared in my last post, this launch has been hard work but it has also been grounded, rooted and calm at the same time.

Why has it been calm?

Was it the matching T’s?

The balloons and confetti?

While that was all fun (and my office floor never looked so festive after those confetti canons exploded!), I believe it was something else–something that has been growing for many months now.

One of our core values as a team–the heartbeat of why we do what we do–is The Power of One. We believe one of the most powerful ways we can cultivate what matters is by focusing on affecting just one person’s life. One by one, little by little, we know that what we do every day matters in the big and small interactions.

And so, we’ve been paying attention over the last months. Listening to each other and to you. Preparing our soil and helping you prepare yours. Digging into the hard stuff to get to the good stuff. We’ve been focusing on the big picture and taking small steps. We’ve been embracing imperfect progress, knowing imperfect progress is still progress.

We’ve been cultivating.

This has brought a steadfast calm as a team–even when one of us has the occasional moment of panic or fear (speaking for myself here!). This week, I’ve seen our team working harder than ever, with their heads and hearts focused on what lasts longer than us.

Each Friday, we share updates as a team–what we accomplished and what’s ahead. This is what I wrote to everyone last Friday:

Team, this week has been a great one. We have all worked hard, and with joy–even in challenges! We’re in the final stretch where preparation is key. As we move into this launch, here are some things for us all to keep in mind. Our impact potential is very real: if even a small number of people use PowerSheets, imagine the domino affect that has on others. Most people’s goals trickle out to impact family and coworkers and children and friends. If even 100 people use PowerSheets, and just 2 people are affected by each person, that’s 300 people’s lives have been changed for the better. One by one, the PowerSheets experience can change people–and it starts now. I see you all impacting people already–readying them for their PowerSheets journeys! Through email exchanges, social interactions, generous decisions, and meaningful conversations, you are changing lives. We’ve worked so hard to get to this week, and the best part is that this is just the beginning. Next week marks the START for thousands of women. A new path ahead, new hope, new possibilities. We have the privilege of shepherding our community from here on as we kick off a new PowerSheets year for all of us!

Are we perfect in this pursuit of helping people cultivate what matters? No. We aren’t perfect, but I’m grateful for a God who is. I need His grace and guidance in all of this. We are imperfect people, but we believe that progress matters, not perfection. The pursuit of doing this work is worth all the mistakes we might make along the way.

The same is true for all of us and for what we will grow in the year ahead. Peonies grow through the dirt, and so do we. Good things grow not despite our flaws and failures, but right in the middle of them!

Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at some of our favorite moments from launch day and what’s ahead!

We are a really small team of 9 women. This is us on launch day!

Kristin is on maternity leave, four of us work remotely, and the other four of us work from my house here in Chapel Hill, NC, with my kiddos running around under the same roof.

Josh, Sarah, and Gracie thoroughly enjoyed the launch day festivities!

We started Launch Day at 10 am with some excitement, including a free shipping error that caused several hundred emails and phone calls to flood in within the first 7 minutes of going live. I went into go-mode and took over the phones. Our team flew into action, solving the glitch by adding a free shipping code everywhere we could think to add it so our customers could be served well. Nothing like a tech error to start your heart thumping for the day! We’re so grateful for our customer family being so patient with us and encouraging. Many of you got on live chat and sent us emails just to cheer us on–this meant so much!

Kaylee was our conductor for customer delight, telling us how to serve people well and making sure our fulfillment team here in NC was handling the flood of orders well.
Emily started the day on live chat on the shop site and then moved to our email system.
Jess took over social content and a portion of email land.
Catherine took another portion of email land and live chat on the shop.
Amber monitored Facebook and our data across the company, helping us keep an eye on inventory.
Marissa delighted customers in our direct messages.
Nicole was our tech wizard, helping ensure orders were processed correctly.

And this all continues! We’re still here, working hard on helping customers make the right decision for their particular goals, working through customer delight tasks, and helping our fulfillment team get orders out the door.

A few of our favorite things this week:

From me: I am especially grateful for all of our new Cultivate family who will be digging into 2018 goals with us (hi!!). It was a joy to talk to many of you on the phone and in messages this week, and there was even some dancing with some of you on my live broadcast. Get the free replay and see inside the PowerSheets collection LIVE.

Another favorite was a last-minute project that Nicole and I tackled the day before we launched. If you can’t tell from this 2018 PowerSheets video, we had a little fun making this (wait for it… don’t miss the ending)!

The 2018 PowerSheets Intentional Goal Planner from Lara Casey on Vimeo.

From Nicole: Yes! I loved finishing up the PowerSheets product video! It was a last-minute product but ended up being really fun to make and to watch. I hope it helps customers get to know PowerSheets more thoroughly and get a few laughs, too.

From Catherine: My favorite part of the launch day was when Emily was filming an Instagram story talking about the party poppers, and Kaylee popped hers and scared her! 🙂 But I also loved dressing my baby up in her Cultivate onesie to match mama. And of course, hearing from all our lovely customers about how excited they are to get their PowerSheets!!

From Emily: I love how launch days allow us to dive into different parts of the business than we usually do. Instead of my normal behind the scenes team duties and creative director things, I got to talk with YOU on live chat and customer service. And y’all were so excited and encouraging!!! And so many of you are new to PowerSheets! We can’t wait to get to know you better over the next few weeks and months!

From Amber: My favorite part of yesterday was seeing the excitement of so many new customers who are joining the Cultivate family and using PowerSheets for the very first time. Even better — the past users encouraging them and sharing their own stories about how PowerSheets has impacted their lives since they first started using them. It truly is a community here and I’m excited for the year ahead for everyone!

From Marissa: I loved talking with our customers who were buying PowerSheets as gifts for their sisters and friends! What a gift to give! And I loved the behind the scenes laughs we shared, the confetti pops, and cowbell rings with our entire team to continually celebrate such an exciting week!

From Kaylee: My favorite part of Launch Week has been getting to interact with new PowerSheets users! How exciting it is to know the impact the PowerSheets will have on these ladies. A close second was seeing the whole team (and kiddos!) in their Sprout onesies and tees.

From Jess: My favorite part has been seeing how seamlessly our teamed worked together this week to serve our customers and one another! We embraced each thing that could be seen as an obstacle as an opportunity to embrace our motto of “progress, not perfection,” and we had a lot of fun along the way too! It’s a reminder that we’re all on this journey together!

And our two favorite team members of the day…. the Winchester twins.

Friends, thank you! Thank you for your encouragement and support. Your kindness and enthusiasm have meant the world to us this week as we continue to do this work. This is just the beginning for all of us!

We are excited for the happy mail coming soon to all 50 states, Guam, Puerto Rico, many military bases (thank you for your service!) and 22 countries. Our shipping team here in North Carolina is working so hard getting orders out the door. I wish I could hop into every box and give you a hug and a high five and hear all about what you are cultivating in the year ahead!

P.S. We’re hiring (and now open to remote candidates for highly skilled applicants!) 

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Six years ago, feeling totally overwhelmed by the large list of things I wasn’t taking good care of (but really wanted to!), I decided to do something different. I was tired of living in regret: forgetting my priorities, neglecting things and people that needed nurturing, and feeling like my time was totally out of my control.

So, I made a list.

I wrote out all the areas of my life, projects, and people that needed my care. I wrote out the things I wanted to tend to. If I could just remember to care for them little by little over time, I believed that tending would add up. Much like when you tend to a plant, watering it over time, it grows and flourishes.

I called this list of priorities my “Tending List.”

Tending:
– to give one’s attention to
– to lead or be directed in a particular direction

Yes. I needed to do those things.

I was living by accident instead of on purpose. I wasn’t giving my attention to the things that mattered most to me, but rather just trying to keep up. Have you felt that before?

I took the principles and prompts from my goal-setting series and the Making Things Happen Conference, and turned them into interactive worksheets that included the Tending List. I created these powerful (as opposed to lacking purpose and energy–which is what I didn’t want to feel anymore) worksheets to help me and my team set meaningful goals.

I named them exactly what they were: PowerSheets.

And then I started thinking crazy thoughts: What if I shared these with other people? Would they like them? Would this process work for them? And how in the world do I make my own product?? (Zero people were doing this at the time except for larger companies and retailers and my friend Emily, who was a huge help to us as we got started).

We found a local printer, printed the first sets of PowerSheets that we hand-collated ourselves, and started the Lara Casey Shop in 2013. I was so nervous! I wrote a hand-written note to our first customer, telling her how grateful I was and hoping she loved everything.

And you guys.

The stuff we experienced as we tried to figure out how to run an online shop back then (things are so much more turn-key for new shop owners now!):

Days of our lives (literally) spent trying to figure out the Dymo printer to make shipping labels.

Countless phone calls with USPS to figure out box sizes and shipping rates and weights.

Lots of trial and error (a lot of error) learning how to do customer service (which we now call customer delight!).

Lots of laughs as Gracie stickered several dozen orders with farm animal stickers one year.

Many trips to the post office to hand-deliver orders.

The happiest day ever when we realized we could have USPS pick up boxes at my house!

And shipping orders from our little home office here in North Carolina. We were grateful!

The first PowerSheets above, and our first shop manager and dear friend, Emily.

People indeed loved the PowerSheets. Moms, business owners, students, women in corporate roles, teachers, and women in varied seasons of life loved them, and there was a unifying factor that holds true today: a desire to live intentionally. To not forget our priorities. To uncover good goals and do something about them.

That makes me especially grateful.

I have close friends at church who are several decades older than me who tell me about their PowerSheets journeys, as well as high school students that write me letters to tell me of their adventures too. I am grateful to walk this journey alongside so many different women in so many walks of life and seasons!

Our 2014 PowerSheets above with lots of vintage products above. I still have a “Let’s Do This” card on my desk.

The 2015 PowerSheets were changed dramatically in process and I released my first book that year.

And then I got a little messy with paint ; ) And we took a big leap of faith and made a spiral-bound one-year workbook in 2016.

We did all the shipping ourselves. Are you ready for these next photos??

Here’s how it went: a semi would pull up into our quiet residential neighborhood. Nope, no one was moving in, friends. But, LOTS OF BOXES were!

Most businesses have loading docks with several trained loading/unloading professionals (who have forklifts!); we had strength and determination!

We pushed several tons of product into my garage and hoped the neighbors didn’t think we were nuts.

Move over, Charlie’s Angels — meet the Pallet Posse! Ha!

And then, the shipping parties began and we called all of our friends to help (we love you so much, friends!).

One of those friends on the far left below had no idea she would one day work for us. We love you, Jess!

It has been an unexpected and wonderful journey of change:

We did this shipping-out-of-my-house madness until one Thanksgiving when my family sat on shipping boxes for dinner because our dining room was full of PowerSheets orders. That was it.

We moved all the boxes out of my house and garage (we can park a car in there now which is rather miraculous!) and we found a local fulfillment warehouse close to us here in Chapel Hill.

Gracie helping to load our sweet mail carrier, Walter’s, truck.

We changed our name last year from the Lara Casey Shop to our heartbeat: Cultivate What Matters. Read that story here,

But what has changed the most over the years is the PowerSheets process. The PowerSheets have changed and grown aesthetically (from loose binder sheets to bound workbooks, the addition of stickers and color, new features, etc.)…

… but most of all the process has been deeply refined every time we release a new edition.

My September 2017 Goals above.

As women all over the world use them, including us, we listen. And we change and innovate. Our office mottos are:

If you’re not excited about it, no one will be. Which means we make products we love and use ourselves.

and

Make it better. Which means we are always taking things to the next level to help people cultivate what matters.

SAVE THE DATE: The 2018 PowerSheets release on October 25th! If you are on my email list, you’ll get to see our new collection before we release them to the public. I have the first sneak peek email going out on Monday, so be sure to add your name to the list.

I hope you enjoyed this look back at how PowerSheets and our shop have changed over the years. THANK YOU SO MUCH to so many who have supported us and cheered us on over the years. I’d love to know: when did you first begin using PowerSheets for your goals? We are so thankful for our long-time family and new friends too!

P.S. There is one more date to save. Join Emily Ley and me next week to learn How to Create a Cultivated Calendar. Register here for free.

Cultivated Calendar Webinar Lara Casey Emily Ley

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