Moon Shadow

“Oh, I’m bein’ followed by a moon shadow, 
moon shadow, moon shadow . . .

Leapin and hoppin’ on a moon shadow, 
moon shadow, moon shadow . . .”

~ Cat Stevens (AKA: Yusef Islam)

Those of you who have followed my weekly writings may recognize this photo from Summer 2016 when I was able to capture a full moon AND lightning with my cell phone camera. I was in heaven, and OH SO EXCITED to capture this shot!
I’ve always been fascinated by the sky . . . especially the night sky . . . since I was a toddler. It probably helped having an uncle who was a rocket scientist for NASA.
I remember sitting outside at my Grandmother’s house (lakeside – no street lights!) with my uncle Joe, listening to him point out the constellations and the phases of the moon in the pitch-black night sky. Somehow the joy and excitement in his voice still rings in my memory, as I continue to find myself looking for the next full moon each month!
He was the first to point out to me the changes of the moon, and I remember running outside at night to check to see how it had changed since the last evening. If the weather was cold, I’d run from window-to-window seeing if I could find the moon.
Fast forward several decades, and I am still fascinated by the moon. Living in an area where we got to experience the TOTAL ECLIPSE of 2017 this past Monday was quite exciting, to say the very least.
I intentionally took time out of my schedule to have lunch with my daughter and 3-year-old grandson to celebrate the eclipse. In spite of the intense heat and humidity (it IS St. Louis, after all), it was definitely an experience of a lifetime. Sharing it with loved ones made it even more special.
Teaching the newest generation in the family to “trace over all the crescent moons with your sidewalk chalk” . . . instilling the same awe and admiration for our planet, our constellations and the amazing, unbelievable once-on-a-lifetime experience of a total eclipse . . . PRICELESS.

Step Up, Step Out, Stand Out

 

I was NOT happy.

My Mom had just lifted me out of the boat and now my feet were in the muck and mud. I can vividly remember the feeling of this strange, new substance oozing between my toes.

Get me out of here, FAST!

It was the flood of 1960 in northeast Oklahoma. The flood waters had not reached her home, but the only way to/from my grandmother’s house was by boat. I had just turned four and figured out very quickly, I DO NOT LIKE STRANGE substances touching my feet. What the camera does not show is how fast I ran towards the house, screaming.

Fast forward several decades, and I still DO NOT like being stuck in the muck — even metaphorically speaking.

Our business is growing, and although we are on target to double last year’s sales, I can still get caught up in the muck of temporary slow periods or hign-maintenance clients (no, not you).  When I step back into the muck, business slows down, clients tend to pay more slowly, and I have the tendency to isolate (not good) . . . or run towards the house screaming.

So how do I get back into the flow of clarity and Step Up, Step Out and Get Going?

  • I take the small, 1″ Post-its and start posting “gratitudes” all around the house
  • I catch up on returning phone calls and get current with emails
  • I pay a bill . . . even a small one . . . to let the Universe know I’m interested in the flow of money
  • I move to “receiving mode” . . . if I get a gift or an invitation, I accept it and say, “Thank You!”
  • I add “Sir” or “Ma’am” after every “Thank You!”
  • I ask for help with something I’ve been avoiding
  • I stop trying to “hold it together” . . . I let go of the “hold” . . . I surrender
  • I smile at strangers and open doors for everyone
  • I give away a perfect parking spot to a total stranger
  • I pay for the person behind me in the drive-through lane
  • I rest. I breathe.

And sometimes, I DO NO THING. I value my silence and my “alone time”. I sit (or lay) in silence with my eyes closed. Some call it meditation . . . I call it “plugging in”. It restores my energy, which allows me to better serve our clients.

I’m ALSO learning that when you run a business, the “muck” will always be there. How I choose to react to it is determined by me. If I don’t like to be in the muck, I’m learning to step out of it.

So, the next time you find yourself stuck in the “whatever” with your business, give me a call.

If you’re ready to STEP UP and STEP OUT of the muck, I can help you look good, STAND OUT and attract more clients.

In the FLOW of Circulation and Celebration!

It’s a beautiful new day in St. Louis this morning!

August in STL is known to be fairly brutal. We typically see high humidity with temps in the 100’s. But, not this year. The (hopefully) “last blast” of Summer heat came in late July. We woke up this morning to low 60-degree temps, clear skies, a gently flowing Mississippi, and an awesome sunrise (photo courtesy of KSDK “live video” near Chain of Rocks bridge, north of STL).

We’ve had several days, this early August, where we were able to open the windows to let the cool, Autumn-like breezes flow throughout the house.

CIRCULATION
There is something about being able to “open up” and let the built-up stagnant energy flow OUT, giving room for more positive energy to take it’s place — literally and figuratively. Kind of like hitting the “REFRESH” button on the keyboard of life, to bring about a NEW FLOW of energy.

As the energy flow CIRCULATES more, I’ve started noticing a ripple effect . . .

  • I “hear” more . . . the breeze rustling through the trees, and the birds seem to be singing louder and more vigorously
  • I “see” more . . . a second hummingbird has shown up at our feeder — watching the dance of bird #1 (who is highly protective of his hanging buffet) as he/she dive-bombs the new visitor can be amusing, yet dangerous if you walk out the front door at the wrong time
  • I “interact” more . . .
    • neighbors are out walking/bicycling/catching up with other neighbors
    • neighbors knock on our door for a weekend “chat”
    • strangers giving me parking spaces and empty grocery carts
    • customer service reps freely suggesting solutions I had not even considered
    • stangers strike up conversations with me (yes, even MORE than usual)
  • I “release” more . . .
    • unwanted clutter: clearing out the basement of unwanted items we’ve not used (let alone seen) in years
    • unnecessary stress:  remembering to BREATHE and relax my jaw/neck/back/etc. when I recognize I’m “clinching again”
    • excess noise: silence and quite are ever-more important at the end of my day — allowing me to “re-center” myself

CELEBRATION!
As I’ve opened up the windows to re-energize and refresh the air, and “open up” the spaces in our home and office, it has  simultaneously “opened up” an increased circulation in our business — and there is much to be thankful for these days . . .

  • Clients who had been “sitting” on projects have re-awakened and are moving forward toward completion (YAY!)
  • Exciting new business opportunities have been magically appearing (YAY!)
  • My days are longer, but go by even more quickly, as I eagerly respond to an increase in requests for proposals (YAY!)
  • Sharing our abundance of work with trusted “supporters”, training them for new responsibilities

CONVERSATION
If you’d like to have a conversation about increasing the circulation in YOUR business (and life in general), reach out to me here. I’d love to have you come join us in the FLOW!

Taming the “Later Gators” and Opening Doors

You may remember the storm of May 11, 2016 . . . you know the one . . . when our neighbor’s tree totally demolished our detached garage. Over a year later, we’re still feeling the effects of that day.

Take the saga of the bathroom door. We had stored our first-floor bathroom door (adjacent to the office) in the garage as a “Later Gater” project. You know the kind . . . the projects which turn into “out of sight, out of mind” and mysteriously vanish from the to-do list. Yes, we had a temporary door on the bathroom so it could still be used, but ultimately we wanted the original door back in place after a good sanding and new paint. Unfortunately the door met it’s demise that stormy day, and we’ve been on the hunt for a 1940’s period-specific replacement door off-and-on ever since.

Frustrated with not finding a suitable door at any of the local rehab/resale shops, we took to social media, asking our neighbors for ONE random, unneeded door which may be lurking in their basement or garage. BINGO! Although not an exact match, we found a close “second” (FREE!) and proceeded to retrofit the door to fit our much smaller opening.

It’s quite a nice door. Probably the nicest door in the entire house. Solid oak. I’m quite proud of our new (old) door. As you know, most older homes never have anything which is plumb or level or square . . . let alone door openings which are perpendicular or horizontal. Jack took extra time and effort to retro-fit the door (but swears he’ll never do THAT again).

Yep, here comes the metaphor: Like everything else which vanished when the old garage was torn down and hauled off, our door reminds me of all of the other “Later Gaters” which may have vanished from our to-do list . . . both at home AND in the office. How many other “Happy Endings” might there be if I turned my attention to some of the other “Later Gaters”? How many other doors could I easily open if I simply asked for help?

While writing this blog today, I received an email from one of our author-clients in Arkansas. We’ve helped them publish a couple of books, and they are building their business around speaking and offering workshops around the country . . .

“I can’t remember a time that the words in my mind weren’t looking for a creative outlet. I dreamed of writing a book, but  I assumed wealth or fame were prerequisites. I was vaguely aware of  self-publishing, but I didn’t know where to begin, and the idea of learning it all was too overwhelming. Then a friend wrote a book and told me about Davis Creative.  After talking to Jack and Cathy, I realized that I could really do this. My husband and I sent our manuscript, cover ideas, and a modest down-payment to Davis Creative, and within weeks we had a book. Now we have two books, with three more in the works, and we just completed our first training event using our books. We sell a few hundred a month by devoting 15 hours a week to calling and meeting with members of our target market. The Davises helped make my dream come true.”  ~ Kelly Condra

Kelly and Preston Condra took a leap of faith and asked us for help with self-publishing their books. They looked their “Later Gator” right in the eye and and trusted us to help walk them through what seemed like an impossible dream.

Now . . . to go find another “Later Gator” I can check off my list!

Fireworks Get Noticed

My mother’s birthday was July 4th.

And, YES, she was one heck of a FIRECRACKER. She LOVED being the focus of attention, and knew how to make that happen.

She always led with her “sparkling” personality, and it always served her well. Even after she moved to a nursing home, she landed on the front page of the Webster Kirkwood Times at least twice.

As I look back, I now realize (in her own way), she was teaching me to be a “Firecracker”. . .

After all . . . Fireworks Get Noticed.

I now use my Mom’s “how-to-be-a-firecracker lessons” for creating my own “Fireworks” in business:

  • GREET and introduce yourself to everyone you meet.
  • SMILE and the world smiles back (she wrote this one in her high school year book).
  • SPARKLE and always dress to impress — whether it’s your wardrobe or your website.
  • GIVE of your Time, Treasure and Talent.
  • COMMUNITY — surround yourself with supportive people.
  • PERSISTENCE — if there is something you want, ASK for it.
  • HAVE FUN — people want to work with people who are having fun.

If you are in business for yourself, and are ready to get noticed, give me a shout . . . I bet we can create some great fireworks together . . . I learned from the best!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOM!

Roots of DeterminACTION

Many of you have heard stories about my family roots, me growing up in Oklahoma and how my Cherokee ancestors traversed the Trail of Tears, settling in Kansas and Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl. Census records show the original Cherokee family name of SAU-WAH-GEE in the late 1700’s, and later, OO-YAH-SEE-WAH-TAH (perhaps, Oooh, Yeah, See Water!?) appears in the mid-1800’s. A look back on old family photos invariably show stern faces, furrowed brows and nary a smile. It was a tough crowd enduring a tough time.

DETERMINATION + ACTION = DeterminACTION

The photo above shows my Great-Grandfather, John Henry Miller standing in the back row, left. Census records show he was born in 1880, so the photo is probably circa 1890-1895. Those rough-and-tough times of uncertainty bred new generations of determination. He and my great-grandmother, Nancy Anne Mahoney, had 13 children in a 4-room house with an outhouse out back. I can only imagine how crazy that might have been during those long WINDY winters on the snowy Kansas plains. I guess that’s how they all learned their determination to survive! Most of those 13 siblings and their offspring went on to become farmers, ranchers, oilmen, retailers, barbers, beauticians, restaurateurs (the corner cafe), brewers, and more. If you couldn’t find a job, you created one for yourself.

“Roots” by Loryl (Davis) Breitenbach, 2008

There is definitely a thread of DeterminACTION in my DNA. Must be why I am so determined to not only grow our business, but to help our clients find ways to grow theirs as well. Just as strong roots help to build strong family ties, a sturdy, succinct brand foundation is necessary for building a strong tribe of followers and a growing business.

At Davis Creative, we’ve been busy creating new programs and offerings to help you attract more clients, help more people and grow your business.

Perhaps one of these new programs might be of interest to you or someone you know . . . (feel free to share):
  • Define, Design, Deliver Brand Identity Program — perfect for professional service providers and those in the “helping and healing” professions; includes a brand review and recommendations customized to help you grow your unique offerings.
  • “Summer Sizzle” Webinars — a series of FREE monthly Lunch & Learns where I interview people from around the country who are supporting self-published authors  http://daviscreative.com/add-sizzle-business-self-publishing/
  • “Living the INNERGIZED Life” Anthology — an economical way for authors to experience non-fiction self-publishing by submitting ONE chapter as a part of a compilation, with the common theme of “inner strength”    http://daviscreative.com/living-innergized-life-anthology/ (50% of the chapters have already sold, with a chapter deadline of 8/1/17)
  • “Ready, Set, Publish!” Program — for aspiring non-fiction authors who recognize the value of having a book to promote their brand, may not yet have a book, or have one started and aren’t too sure how to complete it or make it “sellable”. We mentor them through the self-publishing process, pair them up with writing coaches/ghostwriters, and help them write and/or complete their book (print and e-books). http://daviscreative.com/ready-set-publish/
  • Referral Rebates — Build up credits on your account to use now, or at a later date. Whether you are an existing client, or a yet-to-be client, each time you refer a new client to Davis Creative, you receive credits-on-account equal to 10% of the value of your referral’s first project with us. Simply send us an email introduction or remind your referral to mention your name when contacting us. We’ll notify you of your credits with a monthly statement.
Let me know how we can help . . . I’d love to help you bring your message to the public and help you build YOUR tribe! cathy@daviscreative.com

Our WHO, WHAT, WHY.

Our clients ask us a lot of questions. Things like . . .

  • How do I get more clients?
  • How can I stand out from my competition?
  • How can I be seen as the expert?
  • How can I make more $$$ ?
  • How can I sell more books?
  • How can I grow my business?

They also ask, “Can you help me?”

You betcha. AND I can break the answer down into three parts: WHO, WHAT & WHY.

WHO ARE WE?
Imagineers & Inventors. Discoverers & Directors. Marketers & Magicians. Crafters & Communicators. We create brand identities. 
As two veteran brand and marketing professionals, we “earned our keep” in the corporate world for a couple of decades (or so). Upon receiving the “gift” of being downsized in late 2003, I (Cathy) officially began providing independent design and brand consulting services in January of 2004. Jack followed the same path during the Summer of 2008, at which point we realized we were actually creating our own new JOINT brand identity.
WHAT DO WE DO?
We help brand-befuddled entrepreneurs and small business owners Look Good, Attract More Clients and Monetize Their Passion. 
Our clients include life coaches, mentors, therapists, physicians, educators, authors, speakers, non-profits, and a spectrum of professional service providers . . . all having one thing in common . . . they are making this world a better place. Our client base spans the globe with a client reach in all 50 states and 17 countries.
We Brand. We Design. We Publish.
  • BRAND: As brand identity experts, we help you clarify your brand with our deep-dive DEFINE, DESIGN, DELIVER brand re-invention program. We identify your unique VISUAL, VERBAL and VIRTUAL message to help you stand out in a crowd.
  • DESIGN: Yes, we design logos . . . AND MORE. As veteran graphic designers, we create unique visual brands to help position you as an expert and a leader in your field. We discuss color, fonts, white-space and more.
  • PUBLISH: As Certified Professional Publishing Consultants and book designers, we guide you through the often-confusing world of publishing and show you how to use your book as a marketing tool.
WHY DO WE DO THIS?
Our mission at Davis Creative is to help create a “Happy, Healthy, Heart-filled Planet” by providing opportunities to help service-oriented small business owners grow their businesses. Having created a “new identity” for ourselves over 13 years ago, and continuing to pivot as the market changes, we know what it is like to stumble along with a “fuzzy brand” . . . AND we know the steps it takes to clarify one’s message and attract more clients. We’d love to help you do the same!

Naughty Nuffs

Yep. They snuck up again. The Naughty Nuffs.

Just when I least expected it . . . there they were. I could hear their voices whispering, “NOT ENUFF time.” . . . “NOT ENUFF clients.”  . . . “NOT ENUFF help.” . . . “NOT ENUFF $ in that bank account.” It was a never-ending loop, and I knew it was time to put a stop to it.
Juggling 10,000 balls (sometimes it really feels like it).
As a small business owner, it is easy to get caught up in trying to “do it by myself”- especially when I fool myself into thinking I’m saving $$. Unfortunately, I end up sacrificing sanity and sleep in exchange for setting myself up for a Naughty Nuff visit. You see, on some days, I wear too many hats . . . Sales Manager, Project Manager, Marketing Manager, Web Manager, Social Media Manager, Customer Service Manager, Designer, Writer, Collaborator, Bookkeeper, et al . . . NO WONDER the Naughty Nuffs start to tap me on the shoulder . . . AND if I pretend to not notice, the “taps” become “whacks”, eventually knocking me off my feet.
Standing up to the Naughty Nuffs. 
When I recognize the return of the Naughty Nuffs, I’ve learned the best solution for me is to pause and simply B.R.E.A.T.H.E.:
  • BACK-OFF from my TO-DO’s. Take a step back for a better perspective.
  • REASSESS my priorities. Of ALL the things on my list, which ones are essential for only ME to do? What can I delegate out?
  • EXPECT the BEST to happen next. I know that a fantastic solution exists and is about to reveal itself to me, any minute now.
  • ASK for help, and be willing to ACCEPT it. Asking for help allows me to jump off the “mouse wheel” and puts me in a better position to receive. Accepting help creates a new collaborative energy flow and allows me to better focus on my priorities.
  • TRUST the process, trust the people I delegate to, AND trust myself to make the best decisions to GROW our business.
  • HAVE AT IT. When I celebrate the “HAVEs”, such as, “I have all the time I need  . . .”, more time magically appears. I really like saying, “I have all the money I need . . .”, and watching more money magically appear.
  • EXHALE BIG deep breaths. When I remember to breathe (especially the EXHALE part), I’m more calm, more centered, and I get more accomplished.
I’ve noticed the time in-between the Naughty Nuff visits has started to expand – they visit less often than they used to. Eventually, I expect to reach a point where I no longer receive visits from the Naughty Nuffs. Wouldn’t THAT be grand?!

Signs of the Times

In the 1991 movie, “LA Story”, Steve Martin plays a wacky weatherman who struggles to make sense of the strange world of Los Angeles in the early 1990’s with the help of a talking freeway billboard.

If only it were that easy to see the “signs”.
I’ve always wanted to believe those same signs could to talk to ME. When LIFE gets crazy on the macro level – whether I’m juggling several projects or simply frustrated with the discouraging political climate — it can easily affect my personal (micro level) perspective on life. I’m constantly looking for “signs” to help me navigate life and help me make those “next best step” decisions. And, yes, I’ll admit it . . . I’ve even looked at the highway signs, hoping they would magically send me the message I needed to see at that moment.

When someone recently asked me, “How do you stay ‘in the flow’?”, I answered, “I read. I listen to audio books. I listen to music. I listen to the silence. I watch sunsets. I watch for the full moon. I read license plates. I look for signs. I happen to believe the Universe drops ‘bread crumbs’ of clues – AKA: ‘signs’ for me to follow.”

I just need to be awake enough to notice,
mindful enough to make the connection, and
trusting enough to relax and move forward.

I got a sign!
We had another round of tumultuous storms last week in STL, with power outages affecting the internet, creating havoc in our otherwise typical work day. Thankfully we had electricity, but no internet or cable service to run the office. I could feel the sense of frustration mounting, as I had several proposals to send out via email. How was I supposed to meet my self-imposed sales goal for this month if I couldn’t follow up?! Debating with myself in my head about leaving to go find a coffee shop with internet vs. waiting it out, I walked by the cable box in the bedroom and saw this . . .

Hunt?  Hunt for what?! Hunt for new clients?
Hunt for a coffee shop? Hunt for a solution?
As I walked back into the office, still contemplating the pros-and-cons of the local coffee shop, Jack announced he had found a temporary solution by setting up his cell phone as a “hot spot”. He showed me how to do the same, and we proceeded to “hop on-and-off” the internet through our data plan (carefully trying to not over-use it). I was able to send the emails I absolutely-positively needed to get out that morning (and I avoided the crowds at the coffee shop – YAY).

Now, in all fairness, Jack was probably already working on the solution BEFORE I saw the message from the cable box . . . but I still like to believe my electronics talk to me. Maybe it was simply trying to tell me that Jack was already “on the hunt”.

Sometimes we don’t even know what we are “hunting for” until we find ourselves amidst the HUNT.

Looking for my MOJO

Yep. It happened. Again.

Mercury was not retrograde, nor could I blame a full moon . . . but after 10 straight days of overcast skies and rain, my MOJO was drained. It was time to inject a bit MORE JOY back into my daily routine.

Apparently, this is something I’ve been working on for several decades. I found a photo, circa 1959, showing my 3-year-old self, planted sturdily on a cliff (albeit a short 3-foot drop), searching for something. I call it my “Pocahontas stand” (minus hands-on-hips). After all, I had on my cowgirl suede fringe coat and cowboy boots (hidden by the tall grass) . . . looking around for something . . . while my headscarf was “blowing in the wind”. More than likely, my older brother or sister (10 and 12 years my senior) planted me up there and I was looking for a way to get down – a way to change my perspective.

Finding My MOJO . . . and a new perspective.

Over the years, I’ve developed specific routines for regaining my MOJO . . . my sense of self . . . my calm . . . my MORE JOY state of mind . . .

  • Surround myself with a loving, caring, supportive community
  • Reach out to those I trust for conversation (and a glass of wine, as needed)
  • Set aside time each day for “quiet time” to let the crazy voices in my head subside
  • Go for a drive with the windows down to “blow out” the left-over crazy voices in my head
  • Listen to a motivational audio (I have a short list – contact me if you are interested in knowing more)
  • Take a mid-day, no-noise, 10-minute “time out” on the sofa. Eyes closed, NO people, NO TV, NO computer, NADA. NUTTIN.

I don’t always notice right away when I’ve lost my MOJO . . . and the longer it takes me to notice, the longer it takes me to get “it” back. But when I DO finally stop long enough to regain a sense of MORE JOY, life just seems to go so much more smoothly . . . I’m . . .

  • much more calm and relaxed
  • better able to support my clients
  • less stressed by business hiccups
  • more refreshed and “INNERgized”
  • more creative with ideas and solutions
  • more positive about opportunities and outcomes

So, the next time you’ve lost your MOJO . . . give me a call . . . I’d be happy to meet you for a glass of wine and a friendly, co-supportive conversation.