Entries from September 2012

Who Knew Moving One Inch at a Time Could Hurt So Good

September 17, 2012

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The first time I went to a Barre3 class was in the middle of a Monday afternoon. I had scored a Groupon deal and just started working for myself – so a new workout in the middle of the day was the perfect way to celebrate my new life.

When I pulled up to the building in the very stylish Classen Curve, the parking lot was filled with black Land Rovers and shiny white Escalades. Already I felt out of place. I wasn’t sure what to expect from a class with a bar but my experience with pilates, yoga and modern dance kept me from being too terribly intimidated. I signed in, placed my shoes in a cubby and found my way to the studio. I grabbed the necessary equipment: a squishy ball that I would later dominate with my inner thighs, a strap and two 2lb. weights that would eventually feel like like 20x their size.

Once we got started with the warm up I was completely distracted and hypnotized by all the perfectly pedicured toes in the class. Every single woman (and one man) there had perfect feet. Smooth cuticles and zero corns. One lady even had a dainty and surprisingly classy toe ring. It made me all the more self-conscious of my own feet which resemble those of a teenaged gorilla. My toes will never be deserving of any type of ring. As I moved up to the perfectly manicured hands I spied lots of diamonds and stacked ropy gold and silver bracelets. The women who didn’t have loads of bling or makeup on were the kind of effortless beauty that comes from generations of estates with family horses and hunting dogs. Everyone just looked so … kept. And these women might possess magical powers that transcends money because they just. don’t. sweat.

So when my friend Danielle invited me to come take a class with her I was enthusiastic to go back. Because despite feeling like an odd duck amongst the ladies who lunch the workout is pretty much killer. I never knew moving just an inch at a time could hurt so good. The class itself is like a combination of pilates and ballet with just a bit of yoga and stretching thrown in for good measure. And if you’re doing it right … you’ll most definitely sweat.

With a friend next to me at the bar I didn’t feel like such a black sheep. Or maybe it was my new Lululemon leggings that gave me the confidence I needed. Or perhaps I figured my hair would distract anyone from noticing my ugly gorilla feet. A few elegant squats and one inch leg raises later, I was feeling the burn. I left the class with my muscles feeling like jelly – but in a good way.

Afterwards we chatted with the owner, and former soccer athlete, Andrea Mason. She blew me away with her kindness and passion for Oklahoma City and what she’s doing here with Barre3. She told us about how she grew an entire inch after practicing Barre3 – a workout she started doing in Portland during her first pregnancy (and the rest is history). She was super gracious with her time, answering our questions before beckoning over her husband, former NBA player turned artist, Desmond Mason, to take our picture together. I restrained myself from telling him that I was a huge fan as I handed over my camera to him. I kept myself from telling him that I was the designer for the Hornets when he played for them. That I was responsible for the billboard of him slam dunking a ball so hard that it appeared as if the billboard itself was shattering from the impact. That said billboard that was taken down in New Orleans because it was just too destructive. The one that folks in Oklahoma thought a tornado had hit. Instead I shook his hand and told him how to press half-way down on the button to focus and then all the way to shoot.

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From left to right: Barre3 owner Andrea Mason, me, Brigette, Danielle (who kindly took the photos of me above). This photo above by Desmond Mason. 

If you have $20 (or 3 classes for $30 for new students), and need a challenging, yet calm, workout then get a pedicure and hit up Barre3 Oklahoma City.

You can find them here:
Online: Barre3 | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram: @Barre3OK
In person: Classen Curve at 5800 N Classen Blvd, Suite #2 Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73118

Disclaimer: Barre3 provided this class to me on behalf of my friends at Engage OKC. I did not receive monetary compensation for this post. All words and opinions are obviously my own.  

Using our hands

September 13, 2012

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These hands belong to my designer, Kristin, who used an actual spirograph to help me create Emily’s logo – despite me saying “we can do that in Illustrator.” What a great reminder to get off the computer. 

Lately I’ve had a craving to do work that involves using my hands – like writing with a real pen in my Moleskine. I have a fantasy that I’ll start practicing hand-lettering or art journaling or even picking up a paint brush again. The fear of coming off as a total amateur is holding me back.

Have you been creating with your hands lately? If so, I’d love to see or hear about what you’re working on.

Finding My Tribe

September 11, 2012

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My dear friend Greer once shared with me that one of her top priorities for growing her brand was finding her tribe. I remember repeating the words over and over again in my mind. I had never heard it said quite like that. And I never forgot it.

I was invited to attend Mighty Summit this last weekend and the level of smarts, talent, creativity and drive of all the women I hung out with for 3 solid days blew my mind. I almost didn’t go… I almost let fear and the cost of a last-minute plane ticket to California keep me home. But I’m so glad I went. The weekend was transformative. I learned so much about myself and about the kinds of people I want in my tribe.

Each woman at Mighty Summit brought a life list. 100 or so things she wanted to accomplish over her lifetime. And on our last day together we picked five that we want to tackle in the next year. It sounds like it could be a little hippie-dippie woo-woo (and we all know I’m totally hippie-dippie woo-woo) but it was truly powerful. Here’s my list:

1. Declutter my belongings to the most beautiful and useful. Liz is always an inspiration here.

2. Develop a regular yoga practice. In high school and through college, I used to do Ashtanga yoga like it was my part time job. Then I got a real job and started doing high intensity workouts instead. I’m ready to chill out again. To find my zen through my body. I want to do yoga 3-4x a week.

3. Plant an herb garden. This contributes to my ultimate goal of becoming a witch doctor on the side.

4. Work with Lady Gaga. Okay. Maybe that’s a bit of a stretch. But more than anything this serves as a reminder of who I want in my tribe. The kind of brave badass who does things her own way.

5. Grow a successful ECourse program. I’m just really excited about this one. I want to see the Braid ECourse thrive and help people live what they love. Thank you to those of you who are already helping by enrolling and spreading the word!

6. Find my tribe. This is an unexpected bonus that came out of this weekend. Just like Greer, I’m ready to find my tribe. To intentionally surround myself with creatives who have stories to tell and ideas to execute. People like the women at Mighty Summit who make me want to be a better wife, business owner, sister, boss, friend and creative. But these kinds of relationships and connections and conversations aren’t limited to just Mighty Summit. There are interesting people all over the world and I’m willing to make the investment to travel and find my tribe. I’m going to be doing much more of that over the next year or two.

Braid: One Year Later

September 6, 2012

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It seems like just yesterday I was posting my one year recap of freelancing for myself. This past year has gone by at lightning speed and the amount of growth I’ve been through in just 365 days leaves me like a teenage boy with a ravenous appetite for more, in spite of my somewhat achy bones.

Over the past year my job description has evolved in a way that it became tricky to identify exactly what it is I do for a living. Tara and I started our business knowing that we wanted to specialize. We both come from an advertising background working with credit unions – so we thought we might go in that direction (doesn’t that sound so … out of place?). I told my sister that I had grown to love working with other artistpreneurs like photographers, bloggers, jewelry designers, crafters and designers – that I wanted to find a way to service them too. I was surprised that as my business grew the creative clients I love working with matured to meet my more sophisticated offering.

My sister quickly saw that we make a real difference when working with creative entrepreneurs – that it felt good and it felt right. She fell in love with you guys too. Do artists have as much money as credit unions? No. Would we find a way to make it work? Yes. We decided if we couldn’t do it our way it wasn’t worth doing.

So here’s what I do:

1. Graphic design. I create brand identities (logos, stationery, print collateral and sometimes websites). I think some people are confused by the fact that Braid doesn’t have a portfolio. That’s intentional. While the work we create solves problems and alleviates pain for the individuals we serve one-on-one the Braid site is a resource for all creative entrepreneurs – regardless of their level of engagement with us. I don’t want the message that your brand is more than just a logo to be clouded by the identity I’ve designed for someone who is not you. You can see what my design work looks like here.

2. Brand Story & Positioning. If my focus is on the graphic design then Tara’s is on writing an authentic brand story and positioning statement that aligns what our client does and for whom with their true voice and vision. I think it’s the single most powerful thing we offer.

3. Business Visioning. I found that you can’t really separate the person from the brand from the business. So when we go through our method to uncover our customer’s brand we also uncover a business model at the same time.

4. Process Defining. So along with branding, positioning and visioning we also help our clients with more intangible products (like consulting, for example) define and package their own method and expertise in a way that gets them hired.

5. Writing. I’ve become a writer. I spend the bulk of my days writing. I write blog posts here at J&K. I write blog posts at Braid. I write letters for creative entrepreneurs (if you want on that mailing list sign up on the sidebar either here at J&K or over at Braid). I write emails and love notes and lists.

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And more recently I started writing an ECourse

I’ve always been all about sharing my secrets through my Freelance Matters series and wanted to take that philosophy of transparency and sharing over to Braid. So over there we share branding exercises and the way other creative entrepreneurs are carving a living out of what they love. We don’t have anyone sponsoring this content so we only get paid when people hire us to develop their brand, uncover and craft their story and help them get clear on what they do and for who. But not everyone can afford us.

With that, I wanted to provide something at an affordable price point ($75) for people who need our help but can’t afford a one-on-one engagement with us. So over the past 6 months Tara and myself (with HUGE help from Emily at Indie Shopography) wrote, designed and developed an ECourse offering.

Braid ECourse: Shape Up Your Content from Braid Creative on Vimeo.

Our first ECourse is called Shape Up Your Content: Tame Your Ideas and Tell People How to Buy You. I’m really proud of it. It’s four lessons full of visuals, downloadable PDF worksheets and videos to help walk you through a few exercises. If you feel like you don’t have your shit together or are all over the place with your ideas this course is for you. If you feel like you don’t know how to clearly say what you do and for who then this course is for you. If have trouble getting people to actually hire you for your creative services then this course is for you. Read more about it here. If you think this ECourse will help you meet your needs then use this code to take it for $50: BRAIDFRIENDSEPT2012.

So this is what I do. Thanks for your support over the past two years. I couldn’t have done it without you all.   

Day 9: See ya, Budapest

September 5, 2012

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We woke up early on our last day in Budapest. We made our way to a large park on the Pest side with intentions of going to a public bath house. But once we got there, for whatever reason, decided against it. Instead, we wandered around somewhat aimlessly but grateful for cooler weather.  I was feeling pretty lethargic – perhaps it would’ve done me some good to soak in a hot tub with a bunch of strangers.

We decided to make our way back to the Castle Hill area and toured the St. Matthias church. I’m completely fascinated by the church. The money. The art. The religion. The ritual. The corruption. There’s a lot going on in those old bones.

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From there we hit up Central Market and bought some cookies. I overheard a woman from Texas (I know a Texas accent anywhere – especially in the middle of Hungary) asking a man behind the counter of a bakery to wrap up some sort of loaf treat extra tight because she was going to try and sneak it through customs on her way home. It made me smile – and it made home feel close by.

Jeremy and I decided to take a night train to Krakow, Poland that evening. But with a few hours to kill we decided to head back to our favorite wine bar. It was there that we met a middle-aged German man named Herman. Jeremy and I split a bottle of wine and discussed politics and Herman’s hatred of the French. We chatted about how expensive Norway is and The Problem with America. But in the meantime I found myself completely distracted by people watching – really beautiful girls clouded in self-awareness – their faces as if they had practiced and perfected their best sexy pout – the kind you put on when you look at yourself in the mirror but really no other time. Another girl with bleached blonde dreads and amazing heels waiting for her date. The dude bros drinking Rosé on the patio. Just as I was falling deep into my tipsy it was time to go.

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Arm-in-arm, Jeremy and I made our way to the train station and found our cabin which we shared with a young Polish guy named Thomas who works as a light designer in a theater in Krakow. We practiced our Polish with him and he told us about the vacation he just took with his sister and her husband to Croatia. I ate a cookie and read a bit before retiring to the top bunk.

Over the next 10 hours I enjoyed the most solid sleep I had had since being in Europe. The sound of the train was my lullaby and my dreams were its precious cargo. At 6AM we woke up in Poland.

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