How to Take Care of Yourself

A recurring theme I have seen pop up numerous times in your 2017 PowerSheets goals is self-care, and I must say, I love it! The Cultivate Team's word of the year last year was "well." Why? Because we knew that we needed to pour into our wells so that we could draw from them to create meaningful products to help women cultivate what matters, right where they are. A practical way we did this was by instituting "well breaks," which were pockets of the time during the day we were encouraged to stand up, walk away from our computers, and let our brains rest by doing something life-giving! It helps us clear our brains and feel refreshed so that we can continue to do good work.

That's why one of our best pieces of advice is to plan for intentional rest each month. I know what you're thinking: "Easier said than done, Jess."

This is a particularly ironic blog post for me to write because I am the farthest thing from an expert at self-care. I'm hoping to offer some encouragement for those of you that feel like you just don't have time to take care of yourself by sharing some tips that have worked for me over the past few years. As our Marketing Director Amber Housley says, "Self-care doesn't have to be a grand gesture. Little things along the way add up!"

Whether it's a specific goal you wrote in your PowerSheets or not, we know everyone can benefit from moments of self-care! Here are some of my favorite tips for making this happen in your own life in 2017!


Amber's breakfast date and reflection on self-care

Make a list of activities that are refreshing to you, and keep it somewhere accessible. This might take a little bit of time if you haven't thought about it before, but we encourage you to sit down and make a list on pen and paper (perhaps on a blank page in your PowerSheets or on a sticky note) or on a note in your phone. Having a list makes it easier for you to find pockets of time when you feel yourself needing to recharge. Some favorites from the office: going for a hike, getting a pedicure, starting (and finishing!) an entire book, exploring a new place, taking a bubble bath, getting a massage, spending a night alone in a hotel room, an hour alone in a coffee shop, browsing the local antique mall. Try to include options for all budget ranges and time periods (you can't always take an overnight trip, but going on a neighborhood walk can be as quick as 30 minutes and it's free!) Here's the most important thing: do what is restful for YOU, not what you think you should be doing. If taking a bubble bath isn't your thing, then don't do force yourself to do it! Fill out your list with things that YOU enjoy!

Implement social-media free time! Whether it's the entire weekend, a single day, or pockets of time throughout your day, start incorporating moments to be social-media free into your routine. Social media isn't a bad thing when it is used purposefully, but we've found that taking moments to disconnect often makes us feel purposeful and connected to those around us! We posted some practical tips on how to implement social-media free weekends into your life (don't worry: you can start small!)

Set office hours! Here's the harder part, stick to them!! The Cultivate Team intentionally works Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm EST. Any emails or social media comments that come in after hours are saved for the next day. Why? We've found that working hard during those hours makes us more productive team members, and better wives, mothers, girlfriends and friends outside of work hours. A practical tip: if your work email comes to your phone, download an app that blocks it outside of office hours. I use the Gmail app, and it's easy for me to turn my work email account off after hours so I don't get notifications. Those emails will be there the next morning at 9am.


Be active. Whether you're taking breaks from your desk throughout the day (laps in our office are becoming popular now that most of the team are FitBit owners) or scheduling time to head to the gym, make sure you get your heart rate up. The American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of activity five times a week. Can't quite meet that time frame right now? That's okay! Something is better than nothing. Start small, and remember your little by little progress adds up. Lara posted some tips on her blog recently, and we've posted some simple ways to cultivate a healthy lifestyle.

Schedule your refreshment days! Our final tip is to open your iCal, Google calendar, or planner, and go ahead and schedule! Until it has a specific time, it's simply an idea and dream. Oftentimes, when I schedule my "rest" periods, I'm not entirely sure what I'll be doing during them; I just know that the first step is protecting that time on my calendar.


We added REST stickers to our Cultivate What Matters Sticker Book to make it easy to incorporate this into your schedule. Sticker books will be back in stock in the coming months!

Remember, prioritizing self-care doesn't make your selfish. By loving yourself well, you are able to do that for others.

What are your favorite ways to recharge? I'd love to hear from you in the comments!

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How Embracing Imperfection Can Help You Get in the Best Shape of Your Life

Earlier this week, we shared some practical tips for cultivating a healthy lifestyle, and today I'm thrilled to introduce a friend and PowerSheets user, Robin Long, to each of you!

Robin lives and works in sunny Santa Barbara, CA. She obtained her comprehensive Pilates certification through Body Arts and Science International and her barre certification through Balanced Body. She is passionate about creating programs that empower, strengthen, restore, and rejuvenate her clients from the inside out. As a mom of two little ones, she knows what it’s like to have very little time for yourself. The Balanced Life was created to help women feel healthy, balanced and strong through at-home Pilates workouts, wellness resources, and a supportive community of like-minded women around the world.

I hope you're as encouraged by Robin's words as I am! Be sure to scroll to the bottom for an invitation to join a free 21-day Pilates Challenge!

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Have you ever felt like you needed to go to the gym to work off the big, indulgent dinner you had the night before?

Or, have you ever rewarded yourself with extra sweet treats after a hard workout?

I certainly have. And to be honest, I was trapped in this cycle for a long time. The cycle looked something like this:

  • Over-indulge in a cheeseburger, fries, and beer at a restaurant (eating to the point of being way too full)
  • Feel guilty, over-stuffed, and bad about myself for not having more self-control
  • Exercise as a way to make up for the “damage" I’d done
  • Feel proud, accomplished and exhausted from said workout!
  • Reward myself with a large, sugar-filled latte with extra whipped cream (I earned it!)
  • Feel bad for having such a big treat
  • Exercise to make up for it
  • You can guess what comes next...

Although I didn’t know it at the time, I was trapped in a terrible cycle.

Essentially, exercise had become a form of punishment and indulgent food had become a reward.

I was caught in a cycle that was so mainstream I didn’t even realize it was wrong.

There was a constant battle going on in my head about how I “should" exercise more or I “shouldn’t" have eaten certain foods.

There was no room for mistakes, no room for grace and no room for imperfection.

After years of feeling frustrated and discouraged, I decided enough was enough. Something had to change. I needed to break free. I realized that while there was certainly room for improvement in my diet and exercise routine, it was my MINDSET that needed to change.

My relationship with exercise needed a makeover, and my beliefs about what it meant to be a fit and healthy woman needed an overhaul.

So, I made changes.

And one of the most important things I learned, is the value of embracing imperfection and giving myself grace.

If you can relate to an unhealthy (or simply burdensome) relationship with exercise, I encourage you to explore what it might look like to allow more room for imperfection and grace.

While it might seem counter-intuitive, giving yourself permission to NOT be perfect, to go off-track and to fall behind can (and most likely will) lead to better results.

Because when you embrace imperfection, it’s easier to stay consistent for long periods of time. One bump in the road (skipped workout, extra piece of cake, etc.) will no longer throw you off track. You will look at your progress and see the ways the little by little is adding up instead of the areas where you aren't enough.

This one change has helped me get into the best shape of my life, but more importantly, my healthiest state of mind.

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Here are 4 practical ways to embrace imperfection on your fitness journey:

Choose grace over guilt. This has become our unofficial motto in my online community. When you miss a workout, eat more than you need to, or forget to drink water-choose grace over guilt. Wallowing in guilt leads to shame and a cycle of negative self-talk. Sometimes we think that guilt will motivate us to change and while it might work in the short-term, it will NOT work for the long-term. Ditch the guilt, choose grace, and move forward.

Treat every day as a fresh start. Every morning is a fresh start. Don’t worry about what happened yesterday. Just wake up, drink a big glass of water and start another day with the intention to nourish and care for your body the best you possibly can.

Ditch the “all or nothing" mentality. Have you ever skipped a workout because you didn’t have time to complete the whole thing? Me too. Or perhaps you don’t really exercise because you don’t have time for hour-long classes + a daily commute to the gym? As a mom of 2 toddlers who runs a business from home, I get it. Letting go of the “all or nothing" mentality will help you stay consistent and get moving on a daily basis. My daily mantra? Something is always better than nothing.

Embrace short workouts. Everyone can find 10 minutes per day, right? If you don’t have time to spend hours in the gym or train for marathons, try short daily workouts. I teach women to do 10 minutes of Pilates per day and the results are incredible. Why? Because 10 minutes is realistic. And because it’s realistic you can actually stay consistent. And when you’re consistent, you see results.

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Changing thought patterns and your relationship with exercise can take time. But one of the best things you can do is learn to embrace imperfection on your journey. Remember that fitness is a long-term pursuit that will ebb and flow. There will be ups, downs, trials and errors. Embracing imperfection will help you release guilt, accept grace and live in freedom.

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Thank you so much for sharing, Robin! Need some workout inspiration? Robin will be hosting a free fitness challenge-21 Days of Pilates! Just 10 minutes per day, no equipment necessary, all levels welcome. The challenge will officially begin on March 6th but registration is now open! Sign up today (I already have!) and get your free Prep Kit!

What is one way you’re going to embrace imperfection when it comes to your fitness routine? Will you be joining Robin's 21-Day Pilate Challenge? We'd love to hear from you in the comments below!

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We’re hiring at Cultivate and Southern Weddings!

Our small but mighty team is growing, friends! As many of you know, our company houses two brands: Cultivate What Matters and Southern Weddings. Both brands exist to help you cultivate what matters, right where you are, whether that's your relationship, an intentional wedding day, a thriving business, or a joyful life. We are a unique company! Each team member contributes to both the Southern Weddings and Cultivate operations. And now, we're looking for a new team member who loves the heart of both brands and can help us take our work to the next level.

We are committed to finding the right person (or persons!) and tailoring their responsibilities in a way that suits them and our growing business. That being said, here is what we're looking for:

The person most fit for this position:
- Is a good writer
- Has strong copy editing skills
- Has a strong knowledge of our brand and heart for our mission
- Has a strong personal aesthetic and exquisite taste
- Has a passion for PEOPLE - including brides, moms, students, and business owners!
- Has extraordinary people skills (email and in person)
- Has some knowledge of/experience in the wedding industry
- Has a joyful spirit and thrives on “situation solving”

This person's tasks may include:
- Customer service correspondence via social media and email
- Writing blog posts, newsletters, magazine features, and social posts for both SW and CWM
- Copy editing all sorts of content across both brands
- Back-end content and marketing support: loading photos, formatting posts, product sourcing, vendor communication, tracking campaigns, etc.
- Online shop and fulfillment assistance: correspondence, boxing, stickering, assembling, etc.

We are looking for someone excited to jump in and tackle any and every task with excitement and flexibility!

We are open to candidates who can commit to either part-time or full-time employment, with preference given to those who can work in our Chapel Hill, NC office.

If you are excited about this opportunity, please click here to fill out our job application. Applications will close Friday, March 3.

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How to Get Fit

Out of all the posts I've written thus far for Cultivate What Matters, this is certainly the most unlikely one! Why? Because I am by no means the "most fit" person on our team or in my circle of friends. However, after celebrating our new Cultivate What Matters holiday, I hope that my little by little progress will offer you some encouragement to keep making little by little progress on your goals!

First, I should share a little bit of backstory with you. I've never been an athlete; I didn't play sports growing up, though I certainly enjoyed cheering my siblings and friends on at all their games and competitions. After being rejected from my middle school volleyball team (don't worry; I recovered!), I shifted my focus to various other extracurricular activities. When I moved to college, I spent a lot of time walking around campus, and I worked out at the gym occasionally, though it was never a big part of my routine.

Fast forward to 2015, and I unexpectedly broke my leg and went into surgery (let's just say I steer clear of trampolines now.) Since my surgery, I've found that my motivations for taking care of my body have shifted from losing weight or getting into shape to being a good steward of my body. All of that to say, while I'm by no means a fitness expert, I've learned a few things over the past two years that have helped me on this journey. One of my 2017 goals is to care for my body well, and I wanted to share what's been working for me! If one of your 2017 goals is to cultivate a healthy lifestyle, I hope this post encourages you to begin doing that, right where you are!

Photo by Marie L.

Figure out your why. Take a few moments to ask yourself these questions: Why do I want to spend time on this goal? Will this goal get me closer to where I want to be when I'm 80? You'll feel much more motivated to stick to your goals when they are connected to a purpose. For me, spending time on this goal makes me a better daughter, coworker, friend, and girlfriend because I'm taking care of myself and staying energized!

Find something you will enjoy. I've never been a runner, and while there are many days I wish I were, I've found that I'm much more likely to exercise when it's something I enjoy doing. For me, that's attending my local Pure Barre (shoutout to the most amazing Pure Barre staff in Durham!). If you're not familiar with Pure Barre, it's a high-intensity low-impact workout that focuses on isometric movements using a ballet barre. This was extremely helpful for me early on in my surgery recovery since there was no impact for my healing leg! If I had been forced into another form of exercise I didn't enjoy, it would have been much easier for me to skip my workouts.

Make it a priority. Treat your workouts like a business meeting or dinner with a friend, and schedule them! You wouldn't skip a work meeting or dinner with your best friend, so don't skip your workouts! When I sit down on Sundays to plan my meals for the week, I also look at my schedule and try to sign up for Pure Barre classes that fit into my plans. When it's written into your calendar my calendar, I've found that it's much easier to keep me accountable.

Find accountability. Similar to scheduling your workouts, it's important to hold yourself accountable to making them happen. Luckily for me, Pure Barre has built-in accountability with a penalty for missing classes. This means that if I've signed up for a class and don't want to go, I'm still obligated to go so I don't have to pay a fee. Let me say, I've gone into many classes wishing I could just go home and sit on my couch, but I have never left one of those class thinking, "I wish I hadn't done that!" If your exercise routine doesn't have built-in accountability, find a friend to cheer you on in this goal. Whether you find someone to meet you at the gym at the same time or ask your roommate or significant other to hold you accountable, find ways to incorporate accountability into your fitness goals for the year!

Think outside of the box! Cultivating a healthy lifestyle is more than just exercising and eating right! Seemingly small but intentional decisions add up over time. Take the stairs when possible. Schedule walks with your friends instead of drinks or dinner. Park farther away from store entrances to get extra steps in. Take a few laps around Target the next time you're there to pick up items on your shopping-just don't let it add unnecessary items to your cart (guilty!) Lara's recent blog has great ideas for those that are looking for ways to incorporate fitness into your everyday life!


One of my favorite photos of thinking outside the box for getting fit by Lara :)

Celebrate your progress. Like any goal you set in your PowerSheets, we recommend finding ways to celebrate the little by little progress you've made! Don't approach your fitness with an all-or-nothing mentality; choosing to celebrate your victories along the way will help you feel even more encouraged to keep up your hard work!

I'm excited that our friend and fellow PowerSheets user Robin Long of The Balanced Life will be sharing with us this Thursday about how embracing imperfection can help you get in the best shape of your life and offering a free Pilates challenge coming this March! If you're looking for a way to start making progress on your fitness goals, Robin's free challenge will be the perfect place to start!

What are some ways you have incorporated more activity into your lifestyle? I'd love to hear any suggestions you have in the comments!

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It’s Okay To Grow Slow

We might be wrapping up Cultivate What Matters Week, but that doesn't mean our little by little progress ends here! The Cultivate Team is committed to continuing to encourage and equip you on your journey to make what matters happen in your own lives!

Our final piece of encouragement to you is this-it's okay to grow slow. When we look at the defining moments in our company this past year, we see a thread of intentional decisions we have made as a team to grow deeper instead of wider. What does that mean exactly?

It means we ordered the exact number of 2017 PowerSheets our team knew we could handle well.

It means we've chosen to say no to opportunities we are excited about to ensure our team is not stretched too thin.

It means we say no to ordering larger quantities so that we can spend our time building relationships with each of you.

We want to stay small because small doesn't mean that we aren't making an impact. Small means we get to talk on the phone with many of you, one-to-one. We have the bandwidth to build relationships with you. Small means we get to know your stories, and then share those stories with the rest of our community. Small means we get quality over quantity, and we have no intentions of changing that.

When the world says do more, grow faster, go, go, GO, we are choosing to celebrate the sprouts we see coming through the dirt. Why?

We believe that growing an intentional life is possible, right where we are: in the mess, in the tension, in the wait, and in what may feel imperfect.

We believe that good things grow over time, through little-by-little progress.

We believe that cultivating what matters isn't magic: it takes hard work and intentional decisions. From tilling up the earth and planting seeds, to tending and pruning, to the harvest, growing good things takes muscle, heart, and leaps of faith.

We believe cultivating what matters changes everything.

Celebrate the little by little progress you've made on your goals, and trust that while you might now see the growth sprouting through the ground quite yet, the roots are growing deeper to support what is to come!

Download your Cultivate Manifesto, preorder your 2017 PowerSheets (scheduled to ship later this spring), and follow Lara's 2017 Goal-Setting Series to set intentional goals right now, right where you are! It's never too late to begin cultivating what matters. Thank you for allowing us to cheer you on!



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