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Facebook Groups for PowerSheets Users

One of our very best PowerSheets tips is to find a PowerSheets buddy to keep you accountable in making the little by little progress on your goals. Why? Accountability is a game-changer, and it's so helpful to have your tribe to go to when you need advice or encouragement or when you want to celebrate accomplishing a goal!

However, we know that sometimes distance, life circumstances, or work schedules can make it harder to have face-to-face interaction on a regular basis, and that's why we're thrilled to offer five Facebook groups for the Cultivate family. These Facebook groups offer hundreds and thousands of women who are using PowerSheets to cultivate what matters in their own lives, and after spending time there myself, I'd bet money that they're some of the most encouraging groups on all of Facebook!

  • PowerSheets Group: This is our main Facebook group, and it's the hub of all things PowerSheets-related! Our team spends a few hours each week browsing all your goals and cheering you on as you make progress. I also get a lot of ideas for blog content in this group, too!
  • Moms Cultivating What Matters with PowerSheets: Anything from book recommendations for moms-to-be to creating a morning routine to finding baby socks that don't fall off is shared here! I'm not a momma myself, yet, but these ladies seem pretty wise and you can bet I'll be using this resource in the years to come.
  • Students Cultivating What Matters with PowerSheets: Are you a student? This group is a great place for students to encourage and inspire each other in this unique season of life! Our Customer Delight and Shop Manager Kaylee is a recent graduate herself, and she's one of the group's biggest cheerleaders!
  • Business Owners Cultivating What Matters With PowerSheets: One of my favorite parts of this group is watching women take dreams of businesses and begin to plant the seeds to build them. Whether you're dreaming up a business idea and writing out a business plan or a seasoned business owner yourself, you're sure to find extra encouragement here!
  • Cultivating Faith with PowerSheets: We know many of your goals is to cultivate your faith (and not just with our Write the Word journals). These ladies are quick to offer encouragement and practical resources to implement your faith in your life.

Click the links above to join one (or a few) of the ones that are applicable to your season of life, and request access. A member of our team will approve your request in a jiffy, and then you're free to introduce yourself and share your PowerSheets goals and progress. I've learned so much from these amazing ladies, and I can't wait for you to be equally encouraged!

We can't wait to say hi to some new faces in these groups!

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A Comprehensive Guide to Fitness Goals

We've talked quite a bit in the past about how to get fit and how imperfection can help you get in the best shape of your life, and we firmly believe those posts are full of encouragement and practical advice for you. We also know that when it comes to setting goals that work for your lifestyle, everyone is different, and sometimes you need a little inspiration when it comes to filling out your monthly PowerSheets Tending List.

We're starting a new series where we're going to be sharing a collection of monthly, weekly, and daily goals that align with larger themes we see in our PowerSheets community. Our hope is that you use these guides as resources when you're looking to make progress on one of your goals and need some inspiration to fill out the lines of your Tending List. Remember, these are simply suggestions to help get your wheels turning, and we welcome any additional suggestions in the comments!

First up, fitness goals! Whether you're a triathlete or you hate running with every bone in your body (I certainly lean more towards one of those than the other), the list below will give you some ideas for your Tending List if you're looking to prioritize your health and fitness this year!

Monthly Goals

  • Download Couch to 5K
  • Find a personal trainer
  • Join a running club
  • Sign up for barre membership
  • Choose an exercise plan
  • Join the local YMCA
  • Buy a pair of running shoes
  • Purchase a Fitbit
  • Find an exercise buddy for accountability
  • Create a workout Spotify playlist

Weekly Goals

  • Exercise 3 times a week
  • Run 10 miles
  • Track weight and measurements

Daily Goals

  • Be active
  • Take the stairs
  • Park far away
  • Hit 10,000 steps
  • Go on a walk after dinner
  • Lay out workout clothes before bed

These are just a few suggestions of tangible goals you can add to your Tending List each month to make progress on your fitness goals for the year!

We'd love to hear from you: what else would you add to this list?

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Your Go-To Guide for Meal Planning

Let me set the scene: It's 5:30 pm, and you're leaving work. You're hungry, but you have no idea what's for dinner (or if you even have food at home at all!) I've been there. You think "A quick stop by Chipotle will give me dinner AND lunch for tomorrow. surely that makes more sense than going to the store and then cooking." I completely get it. But once you start adding up those Chipotle and Panera runs, your wallet thins out pretty quickly!

Meal planning and prepping often gets a bad wrap because it seems overwhelming, but I'm here to share my best tips and tricks for those of you who are looking to make progress on your nutrition goals this year. I'm calling this a go-to, grace-filled guide to meal planning. So what's the point of meal planning? It's two-fold, not only will planning and prepping your meals give you control over what you're putting in your body (goodbye weekly Chick-fil-a trips!), but it is also much more economical. I'm sharing my best tips below, but it isn't an exhaustive list. I'd love to hear from you in the comments.

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If you follow my #TendingListTuesday updates, you'll know that "Plan and Prep Meals" has been a weekly goal for months!

Set realistic expectations. It wouldn't feel fair to write this post without starting with this tip. One of my best pieces of advice is to set realistic expectations as you start meal planning and prepping. There are going to be times when you rock your week–you'll do all the organizing, prepping, cooking, and come in under budget to boot! But there will also be times you eat an entire pizza instead of saving some for lunch and you find yourself at Food Lion the next morning buying Spaghettio's for lunch...🙈  Give yourself grace, and remind yourself that you can and will make progress each week.

Invest in the right containers. I've found that having the right containers and tools is essential to meal planning and prepping. There is nothing worse than making a batch of quinoa, putting it into a Tupperware container, and then ransacking your kitchen looking for the lid. I used my recent move as an opportunity to throw out my old plastic containers and invest in some new glass containers. I'm able to easily divide leftovers into lunch or dinner portions for the upcoming weeks. I recommend starting with a set to see which sizes you use most frequently, then buying a few extras individually. My favorites are from Ikea (here, here, and here), but there plenty of other options out there, too! Budget tip: Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals are a great time to stock up!

Create a bank of easy, go-to meals. Pinterest and your favorite blogs are a great starting point, but I like the idea of crowd-sourcing, too! Use your social feeds to ask for your friends' favorite meals, and ACTUALLY RECORD THEM SOMEWHERE. Whether it's a cute recipe box or digitally on your Pinterest board or Google Drive, make sure these are all aggregated in one spot so that when it comes time to choose recipes you can be efficient. If you aren't a recipe follower (ahem, me!), then create a typical shopping list for the week, and bookmark it somewhere. This is my favorite shopping list template, and I use it week after week to avoid overbuying.

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Here's this week's meals for me. You'll see that it's pretty simple and there are a lot of leftovers. I didn't add breakfast since I'm eating the same thing–yogurt, homemade granola, and berries.

Know yourself, your family situation, and your lifestyle. I'm a notorious meal-repeater. I typically eat the same breakfast and lunch for two reasons. It saves me from decision fatigue, and it saves me money because I'm only cooking for one person. If I want to mix things up, I'll split a Hello Fresh delivery with my boyfriend for some variety. Depending on your family situation, your meals will likely look very different than mine, and that's okay! Budget Tip: Email me if you want to try Hello Fresh, and I'll share my referral code for $30 off your first Hello Fresh box.

Schedule a weekly meal planning session. Take 30 minutes one day per week to plan your meals and shopping list. I spend time Sunday afternoon planning my meals, and it's a breeze and prepares me to go grocery shopping. My typical agenda is below, and while it might seem long, it rarely takes more than 30 minutes:

  • Look at your calendar or planner and decide how many meals you need for the week. Consult with your spouse, a roommate, or children's calendars to make sure you on the same page. For example, some weeks I have my book club and won't need to plan for dinner. I typically write out my weekly meals in my Simplified Planner, and from there I can see any gaps. Tip: don't forget about snacks here! I plan for two snacks during each workday.
  • Check your freezer and pantry. Are you out of staples? Do you have food that is about to expire and you want to use? Figure those things out now so you can choose your meals accordingly.
  • See if there are any sales at your typical grocery stores. I do all of my shopping at Trader Joe's (there are no sales), but this can inform your meal planning for the week. Tip: You can easily view your local flyer for most stores online.
  • Plan out your meals. Using the recipe bank you created above and starting with breakfast (it's the easiest!), plan your meals and snacks for the week and write them down. Whether it's in your planner or on a notepad on your fridge or in your calendar app, make sure you can see what's on the menu.
  • Make your shopping list from the meals. Write down everything you need for the week, and be sure to stick to it. Tip: If you're prone to forget your list or aren't heading to the grocery store until later, go ahead and take a photo of it, too.

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Head to the grocery store. Grab a snack, your reusable shopping bags, and get to shopping! This isn't required, but I like to add a rough estimate of prices beside each item so I don't have sticker shock when I head to the register. When I get home, I immediately unpack my groceries and start chopping, prepping, or roasting things as necessary.

Incorporate these steps into your PowerSheetsIf you're starting from scratch, add "Create a bank of recipes" to your monthly goals next month. Maybe you add "Meal plan and prep" to your weekly goals. Whatever it is, writing it down will help keep you accountable! Tip: Use the grocery cart sticker from our sticker book to add some color to your PowerSheets!

Whew! That was a long post, but I hope it was helpful. Now it's your turn; I'd love to hear from you! Leave a comment and share any tips or favorite recipes you have! I don't claim to be an expert in meal planning and prepping, and I'd love to learn from you!

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How To Embrace True Beauty

I have such a treat for you today, friends! Sam of LULA Hair + Makeup has been a long-time friend of Southern Weddings and the Cultivate team. She's a phenomenal hair and makeup artist (she spent the day with us for the 2018 PowerSheets shoot making our ladies lovely), but even more than that, she has a heart for helping each woman who sits in her chair feel like the loveliest version of herself. Sam has recently moved into a new season of focusing on encouraging women to “see and honor the beauty in themselves,” and I hope her words are as encouraging for you as they are for me! -Jess

Have you ever noticed that the more someone believes they are beautiful, the more beautiful they actually become?

It’s a pretty incredible phenomenon. I’ve witnessed it over the years in friends, in acquaintances, and in many of my favorite fictional characters. They begin to embrace who they are, how they were created, and decide it is beautiful. Then something happens, something changes. They are transcended beyond cultural standards of beauty, beyond any judgment from others, and are free, vibrant, relaxed, strong, and confident. They are totally themselves, and totally gorgeous.

How_To_Love-Yourself

I have been in the beauty business for many years, styling hair and doing makeup on hundreds of women for all kinds of events. Helping women to see and honor the beauty in themselves is one of my greatest joys! Through all of my experience, I can honestly tell you that great hair and makeup does not equal beauty. Beauty is not skin quality, weight, the perfect hairstyle or makeup look, the absence of wrinkles or blemishes, or being on top of style trends. True beauty is in the most intangible qualities of a woman’s spirit, her ability to celebrate herself as she is and celebrate others as they are. That kind of beauty radiates from the inside out, and can’t be achieved through any product or service.

I love a perfect shade of tinted lip balm and an amazing dry shampoo, and I love using tools and tricks to enhance natural features. But what is more important is to turn our self-talk into what we love about ourselves, and kick out the hiding, fixing, and changing mentality attached to the concept of beauty. Believe me, it’s hard for me too! We deserve to do it for our own sake, for the sake of the women around us, for our husbands, our children, and the next generation of young women looking up to us.

So I want to extend permission to you–when it comes to true beauty, you don’t have to have perfect hair or makeup. You don’t have to look like anything you see in pop culture or celebrity magazines. You have permission to be totally yourself and to celebrate that, because that is real beauty.

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Here are a few tips I have used to cultivate a strong sense of true beauty, little by little. I hope some resonate with you!

Embrace who you are

Start small. What do you love? What’s your favorite color? Your favorite book? Getting back to the basics of who you are is a fun and simple way to remind yourself that you are unique and wonderful.

Go deeper. What is your story? What are your gifts? What is a message you bring to the world through your experiences, both good and bad? Write it down!

Decide you are absolutely beautiful as you are - nothing more or less necessary.

Embrace how you were created

Replace “too much” and “not enough” feelings with something you are thankful for about yourself. “I am a strong mother to my children,” or “I am thankful that I can walk, talk, and work” are simple ways to build up loving self-talk!

When you look in the mirror, smile at yourself. You will feel super silly for a second, and then something awesome is going to happen! For me, it breaks down unreachable or unrealistic standards I hold myself to and presents a kindness that I can then share with others.

List something you think is beautiful about yourself every morning, like “I face my fears,” or “My eyes are gorgeous dark brown, and they see the beauty in others.”

Take care of yourself

Treat yourself like you’d treat your dearest friend. Don’t run yourself into the ground. Challenge whatever belief or structure that makes you feel like you have to, or that it’s normal. Even when life is hard, it is so important to take time for self care. What do you need?

Invest into your health and feeling great. When you feel great, it shows! Drink lots of water. Move and sweat regularly. Honor rest times. Get out from behind the screens and outside into nature. Think about how you want to be physically when you’re 60, 70, and 80, and cultivate that health now.

Let go of any burdens that might be weighing you down. Seek out counseling or healing for past hurts or traumas. Extend forgiveness and let go of bitterness. Ask for forgiveness for ways you may have hurt others. Sometimes I will just say “grace for myself, grace for others” in the mirror, and it helps give me perspective.

Celebrate yourself

Paint your nails red. Go get your hair done at the salon. Purchase that gorgeous top that looks amazing on you and makes you feel like a million bucks! You are worth celebrating!

Go do something fun! Have a girls night. Throw a dinner party for no reason. Take up archery. Just have a blast being YOU!

Give and Encourage

Give back. Find a cause you really believe in and give of your time and/or money.

Call out the beauty you see in others. Speak it. Encourage it. Someone else’s beauty never takes away from your own; it only enhances it.

How do you cultivate your inner beauty? Please share! Sam's post is full of encouragement and practical ideas that can be added to your PowerSheets Tending List, too. I might try adding one of her suggestions to affirm yourself to my daily goals!

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September Goals Round-Up

Happy September, friends! It's that time of the month where we share a monthly goals round-up! If you read our 2017 Goals Round-Up, you know that I'm a big fan of reading all of your goals for the year and cheering you on!

Is it me, or does Labor Day typically mark the beginning of fall in your minds? I know we have a few weeks left, but something about the packed up white jeans and grocery shelves stocked with pumpkins makes me excited for the month ahead. And I will always welcome a fresh season!

This month's September PowerSheets Goals Round-Up is about celebrating the little by little progress we made at the end of the summer and continuing to work towards cultivating what matters in our lives!

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Photo by PowerSheets user @CBriWalter

Allie's September Tending List is a great example of how to combine work and personal goals in your PowerSheets.

Need some guidance on tackling the Goal Refresh in your PowerSheets? Head to Lynn's blog to see how she revisited her goals for the year and hear about her progress.

The great thing daily goals on your PowerSheets is the ability to use it to track goals that you want to become habits, regardless of how big or small they seem. We love Emily's honesty about one her daily goals.

Want to see how to use PowerSheets in a season of transition? Mary's August recap is the perfect place to start.

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Photo by PowerSheets user @JazzSews

Rachel's words of encouragement at the end of the post were just what I needed to hear: "I’m giving myself grace for not always being “productive.” A time for rest and peace is so important."

I love how Diana tracks the number of days she accomplishes her daily goals. It helps her see where she's made progress, and it gives her grace to miss a few days, too.

One of my favorite weekly goals I've seen in a while is Amanda's goal to "create something" each week. It's a great way to keep her creative juices flowing!

If you've posted your goals somewhere, we'd love to see them! Feel free to drop them in the comments, too–no fancy blog required! We can't wait to take a peek into what this month holds and cheer you on! Want to stay in the know about our 2018 PowerSheets launch, sign up for inbox updates and sneak peeks!

Remember, keep sharing your goals with us each month so that we can cheer you on! Whether you're posting in our PowerSheets Facebook Group, leaving us a comment on social media, or using the #PowerSheets hashtag, we love seeing what you are working towards each month!

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