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On Being Fun & 31

Sister time

With a birthday falling almost perfectly on the middle day of the calendar year, it’s become a sacred ritual to take a little breather and jet off to Hawaii for some sister time (she lives on the dream land). Introspection is a daily hobby for me but when I’m on the beach I love to read non-fiction business books and doodle (mostly hearts) in my notebook. I usually come home armed with a new idea or two. There’s something about the ocean (and a few hard ciders) that make me comfortable letting my thoughts fly.

This past year has been of immense expansion. I experienced my first run in with grief, which through the pain, loneliness and sadness, delivered a much-needed lesson in vulnerability. I realized that in order to get on the other side of it, you have to get weird and start playing like a kid again. It’s through this process that you’ll find your authentic voice and can really start living your life’s mission.

My mom recently commented that I’ve been an entrepreneur my entire life, starting back when I was around 8. My sister was always my first (and most dedicated) employee. I was a talk show host, a pet storeowner and yes, even a matchmaker. I used to cut cute men and pretty women out of the JcPenny catalog and hook them up on dates ´a la Jenny McCarthy style on Singled Out. Yep, I was fun, creative and weird. And…. it’s just throughout this past year, that I realized I am still am fun, creative and weird! In my world, these three things all mean the same thing.

Okay, I haven’t exactly gone back to helping America find and patch up their love lives, but the point is that since I had mastered how I want to feel (that was on last years Hawaii agenda, which you can read about here), this past year I was able to figure out what makes me happy and just do a lot of that. 

Lately, you can find me doing a lot of Spark Hunting with my dad, styling jewels and taking selfies on Instagram, shopping online and sharing my favorite finds, going to my version of church (aka yoga), baking paleo chocolate chip cookies for friends, working out on the daily and reading non-fiction books (sorry book club ladies, I will probably never, ever read one of your fiction picks but, you can always count on me to be there for the wine).

This has also resulted in me throwing spontaneous dance parties anytime that I like the beat, including when I’m running with ear buds in and stopped at a stoplight. Like who cares what anyone else thinks? You don’t want to be like the rest of them anyways, darling.

Now that I feel more me than I’ve ever felt, I am ready to take it to the next level. With my vulnerability and creativity, I want to figure out how to serve my purpose to others. On the plane ride over to Hawaii, I re-read one of my favorite books, The Accidental Creative: How to be Brilliant at a Moment's Notice by Todd Henry and then went on to read his newest book, Louder than words: Harness the Power of your Authentic Voice.

I know that choosing where you spend your time is the single most powerful thing we can own but sometimes I’m intimidated by my own creativity. How do I possibly make all those pretty ideas swirling in my brain come to life and mean something to others? That’s where my friend, Todd Henry’s brilliance comes in. Simply put, we need to create boundaries so that our creativity can work for us. Without boundaries we’re paralyzed. Here are a few of his ideas that resonated with me that I’m excited to play around with and build upon.

  1. Create high quality stimulti by setting daily, quarterly & yearly practices. It’s easy to let the days stack up without doing the activities that stimulate us the most and foster long-term growth. I’ve identified a few of these myself as making time to take a solo creative trip to Palm Springs, carving out time for a cross country Sparkhuntin’ trip with my dad, scrolling through Pinterest, Bloglovin’ and Instagram on the daily and utilizing the good old telephone to call my best friends more often.

  1. Defining clear goals to problems. Before you even start to tackle the problem, answer the who, what, where, when and how. It seems like a no brainer but this part of the process often times gets overlooked, often for me too, even when sometimes it’s the most important. I think these questions are best answered away from the computer with a pen and scratch paper. I’m going to utilize the parks by my house more often.

  1. We can’t do it alone and we can’t expect others to do it for us. We must continually be cultivating the support we need from both people who can listen (friends and family) and guide (mentors). This involves asking for specific help and not waiting for others to ask us what’s going on.

  1. Keep focus on your top three priorities. For me, that’s creating a theme for each month and then having an editorial calendar broken out by week for new arrivals, email campaigns and blog posts. When I know what I’m trying to achieve, my ideas somehow spontaneously pop into all the slots.

  1. And then most importantly, embrace the messy process of paper trails. Ideas will Spark at the most random of times so have a notebook or your camera handy to capture the ideas. Spend a little time each week going through it to see if there are any patterns that keep rising or can be applied to current projects or problems. I use a working document in excel to keep a running list of copy, editorial and travel ideas and update it every day or so based on what's flowing through my brain.

  1. Continue to build your arsenal of skills.We sometimes have this crazy fire inside but we can’t communicate it because we don’t have the proper tools to express ourselves. We’re intimidated by the topics we know we don’t know (excel, photoshop, lightroom, excel, photography, social media, etc.) but we need to be continually playing and trying new things in order to evolve. We all started somewhere. I just recently learned how to use Photoshop thanks to my talented graphic design friend, Victoria. I simply asked her for a one-hour tutorial and then treated her to a fancy dinner date in return. Win win for the both of us.

We need enormous amounts of space to be, dream, experiment and then ultimately, to serve. As I turn 31 this year, I bow to you, “Namaste”, the spark in me sees the spark in you. Now, let’s get weird!

XX, Jillian