Overhaulin’

Many people take advantage of the new year, and really stop to consider areas in their lives where changes can be made. January always seems full of opportunities to wipe slates clean. Just like the snow that falls during this time of year, covering all imperfections with a blanket of white, the thought of empty canvases and new beginnings offer a refreshing peace.

This blog has been through a number of re-inventions. What started as a technology and design blog in 2010, and transitioned to a faith-based blog before landing at its current state, Jenn On A Mission has been a labor of love and an outlet for my ‘jack of all trades’ personality. [There is just so much to see, do, learn, and explore in this life, y’all!] However, I have come to realize that the blog now is a bit like my home office — there is more “stuff’ in the space than the space is meant to hold. It creates Organized Chaos, which is not really organized or user-friendly. I may be able to walk into my office and, after shifting around several stacks of papers, locate the one thing I was looking for but my readers shouldn’t have to sift through numerous topics and blog posts just to find a local restaurant recommendation.

That said, my goal this weekend is to overhaul the website again.

overhaulin'
(photo borrowed from Red Rock Collision Repair website)

I have been doing research and have really put in a lot of time planning the new setup. The look will still be the same, for now… but I will be narrowing my menu topics and focusing on three specifically: Design, Health, and my home state of North Carolina. I still plan to blog on similar topics, from DIY projects to day trips, but my goal is to provide content that is easier to follow and find. If I’m going to work towards living a Minimalistic life, my blog should be uncomplicated too. It only makes sense. I’m excited about these changes and hope that you will be too. You should see the new menu options beginning January 15. New blog posts will be published every Thursday. The sponsored post that I’m writing for January 19 will actually be both health and NC focused, so stay tuned!

I am still unsure if I will continue the Motivation Monday posts. I would really like to put more emphasis on my design content, and plan to open my online store on the blog very soon. That is, as long as I don’t crash the site again. [My nerves still haven’t fully recovered from that fiasco yet.] Please bear with me as I work to finalize decisions and transitions.

As always, thank you for stopping by. {Please remember to subscribe!} Feel free to leave a comment below; I love hearing from y’all. What kind of overhaulin’ do you have planned for 2017?

Goodbye 2016

I have spent some time this morning decluttering the house. While I packed away Christmas decor, tossed out old files, and loaded the car with boxes of the latest donations, I started to reflect on this past year. It went by in a flash, but I am truly humbled by the last 365 days.

Highlights of the past year remind me of more good times than bad, which is something I haven’t always been able to say every December 31. What I have always been able to say, regardless of the ups or downs, is that God is good. He is faithful, and He continues to bless me with undeserving goodness and mercy.

This year, we welcomed two new family members — Michael David (born May 23) and John Carter (born September 12). Both of these handsome boys are my great nephews, born to my two oldest nieces, Jessie (Carter’s mom) and Katie (Michael’s mom). Being an aunt is an honor that I do not take for granted. I’m certainly not the best aunt, but I love all of my nieces and nephews (and now great-nephews) with all of my heart.


Michael (above)


Carter (above)

I ran a few races over the past 12 months. Six to be exact. With each 3.1 miles completed, my back felt better and I became both stronger and faster. After the struggle that I had last year with my back injury, I was happy to end the year at the same pace that was once my fastest.


I spent a few days in Myrtle Beach at one of my favorite conferences – Women of Joy. It is nice to get away for two nights and soak in some Vitamin Sea. I am most as peace where the ocean meets the sand. Between the sun, sand, and salty air… and the wonderful worship that fills the conference center over those 72 hours… I always come back rejuvenated and restored.



Author and speaker, Lisa Harper at Women of Joy 2016

I finally made it to Chicago this year. Five of my friends and I took an extended weekend girls’ trip up to the Windy City. We laughed a lot, we bickered a little, and we made lifelong memories over the course of five days. We ate great food. We saw historical landmarks. And we even caught a game at Wrigley Field. Little did we know we were watching the World Series Champs in action.

Shortly after returning from Chi-town, I received my biggest blessing of all — turning 40. Some people dread getting older but to me, it’s a privilege. When I say that I am grateful for my days, I seriously mean that I am grateful for every.single.day. As y’all know, I’m on a mission to make the most of this life that I have been given, and embracing every second is the best way to ensure that!

I took Mom to see Dolly Parton in concert this year. Dolly is someone that she has listened to as long as I can remember. I grew up to Mom playing Dolly albums on the record player… Here You Come Again, Jolene, and Two Doors Down are just a few of the Dolly songs that are part of my Life Soundtrack. It was really awesome to get to see Dolly perform them live with Mom sitting beside me. So much fun!

As I look ahead to the new year, one word comes to mind and sums up my goals for 2017:

Focus

Focus on the good.
Focus on what matters.
Focus on my health.
Focus on my family.
Focus on new distances.
Focus on making dreams a reality.
Focus on fun.
Focus on staying on budget.
Focus on staying on track.
Focus on my mission!

I admit that I can easily be distracted. As a matter of fact, I should still be in the office decluttering but I stopped to write this post. 🙂 I don’t want to lose site of my ultimate goal… my mission to make the most of life. I want to live minimally, eat clean, travel places that I’ve never been. I want to push past the comfort zone of 5Ks and train for a 10K. I want to spend more time on this blog, sharing life with y’all. I want to give freely, bless others, and be creative. I want to finish projects that I’ve started. (Boy, does THAT require heavy focus!! haha) I want to dream bigger than I ever have before, and not lose sight of all that I am capable of… and all that God wants me to experience.

What are your plans for the new year? Will you make resolutions for 2017? Do you have certain goals that you would like to accomplish? Comment below and share YOUR dreams with me. Let’s join together and encourage one another as we focus on a mission to make 2017 the best year yet! Happy New Year, friends!

SoGeeky South

I wanted to take a quick moment to share with you three upcoming social media/technology conferences that you may find worthy of attending:

SOCIAL FRESH Charlotte 2011
via www.socialfresh.com

During Social Fresh Charlotte’s two days of training – September 6-7, 2011 – our educational track can be broken down into a few core focus points:

Training Topics — Social Fresh is adding more and more training opportunities. Our sessions focus more on teaching actionable lessons and less on broader strokes or concept discussion. Attendees told us they wanted more hands on training, so now we have including training topics for teaching tactics and strategy throughout the entire conference. We avoid talking ABOUT social media and focus on showing you what you can do today.

We select the topics and sessions we think you will learn the most from. We include brand lessons that will teach you. Attendees from Social Fresh can hit the ground running after the event. They take away tons of notes and insights that can be implemented right away.

Better Speakers — I don’t know of a training event that can say they have the experience that Social Fresh has with finding the right social media speakers and topics for an audience of marketers. We have hosted hundreds of top industry speakers. The best speakers are one part high level insights, one part first hand knowledge, and one part not boring the attendees to tears.

We know who can convey the best social media lessons and brand lessons. We know who is rated the highest by your marketing peers, event after event. And we know which speakers can actually send people away inspired and more confident, as opposed to more confused and wanting more.

Our Charlotte conference has the best line up of smart speakers that we have ever put together. These thought leaders get it and put this stuff into practice for clients and big businesses every day.

WHY IS SOCIAL FRESH DIFFERENT?

Focus on Networking
Focus on Fun
Focus on Actionable Content
Focus on Case Studies

Hosted by Jason Keath and Corey Creed. Please visit the Social Fresh Charlotte website to read more about the event and speakers. Click here for ticket information.

ConvergeSouth 2011
via www.convergesouth.com

ConvergeSouth is the annual tech users conference held in Greensboro, NC. Entering our 7th year, the conference is organized completely by volunteers. Originally based on the “blogger-con” concept, ConvergeSouth has grown as technology has developed and has tried to meet new needs of our community via Social Networking, Social Media, App Development and more without ignoring new users’ needs – that’s why there will always be a “101″ or Beginners Track at ConvergeSouth.

Mark your calendars for October 6-7, 2011 in Greensboro!

ConvergeSouth has also added a one-day Nonprofit Track this year to draw in tech-savvy nonprofits who do so much for our communities. The three special sessions are designed at the introductory (101) level to assist nonprofits move deeper into the tech world.

Thursday’s keynote speaker is a globally-recognized blogger, educator, business consultant, and author who blogs at {grow} — one of the AdAge Top 50 blogs of the world, Mark Schaefer. Mark has worked in global sales, PR, and marketing positions for nearly 30 years and now provides consulting services as Executive Director of U.S.-based Schaefer Marketing Solutions.

He has advanced degrees in marketing and organizational development and holds seven patents. Mark enjoys teaching social media marketing courses at several colleges and is a faculty member of the graduate studies program at Rutgers University.

Mark is the author of The Tao of Twitter and has a new McGraw-Hill-published book arriving spring, 2012.

Please visit the ConvergeSouth website to read more about the event and speakers. Click here for full-event ticket information or here for Non-Profit Day registration.

GEEKEND 2011
via www.geek-end.com

Geekend is the interactive conference phenomenon you have been waiting your whole life for. It is your chance to interact with people taking the tech and creative industries by storm.

Geekend is the annual gathering of the geek tribe. Geekend is what you might call an interactive conference with some truly awesome parties. It’s the kind of event that you’ll be texting, Tweeting and Facebooking from, while making all your friends back home super jealous.

Geekend is a mashup, a meetup, and a Tweet-up all mixed together in a delicious Low Country boil of innovative ideas. It’s networking, Savannah style. It’s a veritable supermarket of fresh thoughts and delicious camaraderie. To sum Geekend up in one word is really quite impossible, but we tend to use this one: Fun.

Join us this October and November as the brightest geeks, designers, developers, artists, and social media mavericks flock to Boston and Savannah for several days filled with cutting edge speakers, fun-filled after parties, and amazing networking opportunities.

Go to our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter for all the Geekend details and updates.

Our Mission:

To bring together the brightest geeks, designers, artists, social media mavericks and forward thinking entrepreneurs.

Founded by Miriam & Jacob Hodesh and Sloane Kelley, you will be blown away by the events Geekend 2011 has in store for you. Visit Geekend’s website to checkout the schedule and list of speakers. Please click here for ticket information.

You will not want to miss these three conferences. Why are you waiting? Get your tickets now! Comment below if you already have your tickets and plan to join me. See you there!

Pet Peeves

No one is perfect, thankfully. Could you image the pressure of having to uphold perfection? I certainly wouldn’t want that stress. Perfection among a society could also lead to boredom. Without individual quirks, I’d imagine things would be pretty dull.

However, having worked for 10 years in Marketing, there are a few things that annoy me to a greater degree than others. I wanted to take the opportunity to blog about my pet peeves simply to get things off of my chest; although secretly I hope this will also raise awareness to the community.

THEN versus THAN

For some reason, society has forgotten the definition of these words. There seems to be an increase in misuse over the past years. The error has become so common lately that, for a second, I actually questioned my use of the words!

THEN is defined as a place in time; as in immediately, soon after, or next in order. It is an adverb. Used in a sentence, it would read We ate dinner, then started home.

THAN is a conjunction. It is a function word used in comparison or to express choices. Used in a sentence, it would read Easier said than done.

To read “We can go to the mall than go to the movies.” would – although poorly stated – actually indicate a choice (either mall or movies) and would not indicate a sequence of events.

The only time than can be used in timing is when it is replacing scarcely or hardly. For example:
No sooner had we arrived than the class starts.
Hardly had we arrived when the class started.
However, please keep in mind that hardly and than should never be used in the same sentence.

So rather THAN continuing to consistently make errors concerning these words, please reference these definitions above, THEN make the correct choice in your emails, texts, Tweets, or blogs.

BACKSLASH versus SLASH

It is common occurrence to confuse these two words, as well. I understand that not everyone is educated on this type of terminology. I hope that this brief discussion will encourage you to share the information in an effort to raise awareness. The correct use of these words is crucial when sharing your URL or giving a website to someone.

BACKSLASH is the mark and is typically used in computer programming. On a standard American keyboard, it can usually be found above the Return/Enter key. It shares the key with the mark |.

SLASH is the mark / which has multiple uses. It is sometimes referred to as a forward slash. Typically it denotes “or” as in the sentence above where I mentioned Return/Enter or “per” as in Miles/Hour. It is also the mark commonly used in URL (website) addresses. It can be found on the same key of a standard keyboard as the question mark (?).

To state that your website is jennbcreative-dot-com-backslash-jennb would result in the following: www.jennbcreative.comjennb  You will find that if you enter a backslash, you will receive an error message. Please remember when sharing URLs to properly state “slash” when the / mark appears.

PROOFREADING

I am notorious for making typos, especially if I am using my iPhone to communicate. Aside from auto-correct issues, my fingers simply struggle to reach the correct keys at times. This happens most commonly when I am in a hurry. Typos are simply going to happen.

However, when managing a business’s Twitter/Facebook page or being heavily involved in blogging, typos and other grammatical errors should be kept to a minimum. This should specifically pertain to folks who consider themselves writers, blogging specialists, or social media gurus. Proofreading is critical. Without it, our publications can look hurried, sloppy, pointless, or uneducated.

Blogs are written to express our feelings or to share knowledge within a community. We want our posts to convey accurate information right down to the punctuation. I like to think of it as this; blogs allow us to publish our own online newspapers with articles specific to our own liking. Imagine if you purchased a NY Times and found words out of place or misspelled. It would be difficult to take from it what the writer was actually trying to communicate. If my NY Times read like many blogs I have seen, I would demand a cancellation of my subscription and a refund in full.

Often when I write a blog, I want to put everything down as quickly as I can, for fear of leaving out details. Sometimes I type faster than I should, or my brain jumps ahead of itself. I have been known to omit words and even sentences. Because of this, I save my blogs as a draft. I then take a break and revisit the blog at another time. If your schedule does not allow for a revisit, take your time selecting the words of your blog. Don’t rush through it. If you don’t take the time to write it, do you think your guests will take the time to read it?

I also take advantage of the Thesaurus and Merriam-Webster websites. The Chicago Manual of Style is even online! We really have resources at our fingertips. In college, I remember having those books scattered across my desk during English and Creative Writing courses. Now, I simply keep these websites up as tabs. When I struggle to find a word, I will click on the thesaurus tab. Within seconds, I have found a better word for my blog. As silly as it sounds, I also find it helpful to re-read your blog aloud before publishing it. It is easier to find misplaced words and misspellings that way.

I hope that this post will enlighten just one person, who will be moved to share this information with someone else. This isn’t to point fingers at anyone but is simply to remind us that – although computers have simplified our lives – technology doesn’t necessarily make us smarter writers. We need to still be aware of what we are publishing and utilizing resources when we need assistance.

Put into your blog what you want someone to take from it, and never stop learning.