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How to Cultivate the Friendships in Your Life

One of my PowerSheets goals over the past two years is some iteration of loving others well, and while this is something I like to think comes naturally to me, in reality I know I have a long way to go! One of the hardest parts of an ambiguous goal like "love others well"? Figuring out tangible action steps for you to make little by little progress on that goal!

When we were working on creating the Fruitful Friendships Workbook, I was pretty adamant about having a section with Tending List ideas so that you could easily transfer them to your PowerSheets Tending List each month. We didn't want the Workbook to be just a pretty magazine you flipped through; we wanted it to be practical and encouraging as you cultivated friendship in your life.

I'll share a few of the ideas below based on where it could fall on your Tending List (monthly, weekly or daily goals). I'd love to hear how you incorporate friendship tending into your goal-setting routine, too!

be-a-good-friend

Monthly Tending List Ideas

Make a list of things your friends love. I keep a running note on my phone of things my friends love or things I need to know about them. A few ideas: their favorite candy, shirt size, any significant holidays or milestones, their Starbucks or Chipotle order. The possibilities are endless here!  The times I feel the most loved are often because someone is recalling a detail about me that seems insignificant, but shows that they listen to me.

Plan a summer meet-up to bring together friends in your community! We created an entire meet-up packet to make this easier for you! Send a text, post it on Facebook, or email a group, and start making new friends in your neighborhood.

Leave an unexpected treat on your friend's porch. Whether it's a sweet treat you baked or a small gift you picked up at your favorite shop, it's sure to be a fun thing for your friend to come home to at the end of the day. Bonus if you download one of our bright notecards or punny gift tags.
thank-you-gift

Weekly Tending List Ideas

Call a friend. I've oftentimes said I am a terrible long-distance friend, but here's the thing, picking up the phone for a catch-up call or Facetime isn't that hard! Adding this to your monthly PowerSheets is a great way to stay accountable while showing your faraway friends that the distance isn't keeping you from caring about their life.

Send a gratitude note. My best tip for gratitude notes? Keep stamps and notes together and in a place where you are often sitting. For me, it's my top desk drawer or my car (in case I have a few minutes to spare). It'll make it so much easier to write a quick note of thanks or encouragement to someone.

Offer to pick up something for a friend on a grocery run. If you're already headed on an errand, why not text a friend to see if there's anything you can pick up for them and drop off at their home? A new momma might especially appreciate having someone offer to grab a new pack of diapers as they're throwing the last one away and preparing to load the baby in the car.
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Daily Tending List Ideas

Respond to your text messages. How often do you get a text message, read it, and then wait to respond at a "better time"? No one else? Just me? I might be preaching to myself here since I'm the worst at responding to texts (I have 5 currently sitting unread on my phone). Here's the thing: if your friend were to ask you a question to your face, would you turn away and not respond? Absolutely not! So don't treat them that way with your electronic device. I'm working hard on this, and I've added it to my PowerSheets daily goals for a few months now.

Make eye contact. Commit to looking your friend in the eyes when she is talking to you. Nothing is more distracting and hurtful than watching a friend look around or worse, check their phone when you are spending time together.

Encourage someone. Smile, and offer a genuine compliment to someone today.

Fruitful-Summer-Bundle

There are more Tending tips in our Fruitful Friendships Workbook as well as worksheets to help you set friendship goals. We created each of our companion guides to be used in conjunction with PowerSheets, so if you're not a PowerSheets user, now's the perfect time to join us!

Our Fruitful Summer Bundle is available to help you set meaningful summer goals and grow meaningful friendships this season. It includes a set of Six-Month Undated PowerSheets Workbook in White, Fruitful Friendship Workbook, Fruitful Summer Postcard Set, and Take the Leap Mini Print.

Save the date for Wednesday, May 31st when Lara and I are going to work through the Fruitful Friendship Workbook LIVE alongside each of you on Facebook! We can't wait to spend some time together chatting about our friendships. Grab your copy today so you can have it in time for our hang-out!

 

 

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Summer Goals: Why You’re Missing Out By Not Setting Them

Will you sit with me while I tell you a brutal truth? You accomplish 0% of the goals you never start! You can't make progress on something you don't even start.

That dream job you want? You can't be considered if you don't even apply.

That half marathon you want to run? You can't run 13 miles if you don't first run one.

The marriage you want to save? It needs your attention and time.

You know all those things you've always wanted to do? You should go do them. Plain and simple.

I know what you're thinking. "That's easier said than done, Jess!" or "Easy for you to say! You work for a company that teaches goal-setting!"

But here's the thing, friends. We (ME!) are not goal-setting experts. There are some months where it's sudden May 15th and our PowerSheets are blank (cough ME cough). Lara has said before that traditional goal-setting gives her the heebie jeebies, and we agree! Goals can be overwhelming when they aren't connected to what matters. They can make life busier. What we do is different; it's grace-filled goal-setting. Powerful goals–meaningful goals–simplify your life and help you take action. They help you live with intention and purpose instead of on accident. Good goals remind you that the little by little you put in each day add up to a flourishing life.

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Our Fruitful Summer bundle is available in our shop if you want accountability in your goals!

Doesn't that sound much better? Like something you can get behind? If so (and we sure hope so!), I have a two next steps for you. Remember, you accomplish 0% of the goals you never start!

Download our Summer Goals Printable, and start brainstorming the things you want to accomplish this summer.

Join us for Lara's free live Summer Goals class today at noon EST. Bring that printout or your PowerSheets with you! She's giving you her top ten tips for uncovering good goals, and doing something about them. If you can't watch live, that's okay too! Be sure to sign up, and you'll get access to a replay in your inbox!

That's it! Two steps that will take two hours max.

Oh, and because I'd be a bad friend for not mentioning this, our Fruitful Summer giveaway is live on Lara's blog! We had a blast brainstorming these products to help you have an intentional summer, and I cannot wait to package up these goodies for the lucky winner! Head to her blog to enter to win today!

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How to Make New Friends

Can we all just take a moment to acknowledge how difficult it is to actually make new friends? Not just social media friends, but real "I'm-calling-you-right-now-because-I-need-you" friends. Gone are my college days when I was surrounded by thousands of other undergrads looking to make lifelong friends, and now I'm faced with what feels like an incredibly daunting task of building new friendships as someone in their mid-twenties.

Whether you've just moved to a new city for a new job or are simply looking to make some new friends in this season of life, we wanted to offer some of our best tips for you!

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Fight the fear. This might be the hardest, but most important tip of all! It's so easy to look at a friendship that went wrong or your lack of girlfriends this current season and believe that you just aren't cut out to have good girlfriends. If I could, I'd politely grab your face, look you in the eyes, and say "that, my friend, is a lie." We created our Fruitful Friendships Workbook to help you walk through who you are and what you hope to find and grow in friendships. There's also a section for you to reflect on past friendships–both good and hard–to find common threads. Similar to PowerSheets Prep Work, reflecting on these things help you uncover what's important to you as you cultivate these new friendships!

Start with who you know! Take advantage of the friends who say "Oh, you should meet ___! You'd totally get along!" Whether it's someone who lives in the new city you're moving to, or a friend with a common interest, ask a friend to connect you to that person, and then reach out to them to schedule a time to hang out. If any of my friends say, "Jess, you should totally meet ____; she loves guacamole and reading" you can bet that girl is going to get a follow-up email or text message from me!

Commit to something you love that meets regularly. The key here is to find an event that occurs regularly; it doesn't have to be every week, just consistently so it's already on your calendar! One of our Editors, Emily, created an Articles Club along with a friend of hers and used her social media platforms to invite local friends! Nicole signed up for a local pottery class last year. My boyfriend and his friend's in Atlanta are on a bocce team that plays once a week. The opportunities are endless! Whether it's a mom's group, a small group through your faith community, a sport league, a skills class or a book club, there are so many ways to find friends who have common interests or are in the same season of life as you.

Embrace awkward. We've already established that making friends is hard, and it doesn't happen overnight. Learn more about how (and why!) to embrace awkward in your friendships–both new and old. As Lara says, perfect the art of the awkward pause and wait for all the good that is to come! Get out there, ask lots of questions, and don't be tempted to fill in the silence. My favorite conversation starter? What's one thing that is keeping you up at night? It's a pretty simple question on the surface, but it opens the conversation up to go past surface level. Sign up for our Fruitful Summer series for our free conversation seeds and other second questions to try!

Be available. Some of my favorite friendships have come from simply saying yes, even when I'm tired (especially when I'm tired!) When you receive an invitation, be open to stepping out and saying yes. Obviously, if you need some alone time or have already scheduled two things that evening, you can say no. However, don't fall into the trap of just wanting to go home and change into your pajamas at 6pm (please tell me I'm not the only one who does this?!)

Challenge yourself! Add one of these tips to your PowerSheets Tending List this month as a challenge to yourself! If you're looking for more ways to get started, page 25 of our Fruitful Friendships Workbook is full of ideas that have worked for the Cultivate team as well as tips sourced directly from each of you (you guys are seriously full of so much wisdom!)

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My final piece of advice? Find friends that think you're hilarious :) Photo by Olivia Suriano of Nancy Ray Photography

What do you have to add to this list? Leave a comment with the craziest way you've made a new friend!

 

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What is Fruitful Summer, and Why 2017 is the Year To Have One

Fruitful Summer is all about cultivating meaningful relationships and doing life together. In my mind, summer marks the halfway point of the year. It's a time to reflect on the previous season and look ahead at what's to come. It's about making a choice that you are going to be intentional with your time. Let's be clear that Fruitful Summer isn't about our shop products; it's about something bigger. It's about digging deep and creating connections with those around you. It's about acknowledging that the time you're given is limited and using those hours well. So how exactly do you make the most of your summer?

Write it down! There is power in writing things down; that's why so many professors recommend you take handwritten notes in class instead of using a laptop. The same is true for your goals (hence PowerSheets). What do you want to accomplish this summer? Big or small, write them down! Whether you want to start exercising, cultivate friendships, become a bookworm, start a gardensimply rest, or a combination of all those things–it's time to start brainstorming and start doing them!

Be available. Something about the summer screams community to me! A combination of longer evenings, front-porch sitting, and outdoor activities seems to make everyone linger in conversation a little longer. Time seems to slow down, so take advantage of that and make yourself available. Sit on your front porch, let your kids play in the front yard, build buffer times into your schedule so you aren't rushing from obligation to obligation.

Go outside! Use the extra sunshine to get outside and get moving! I could write a whole blog post about how fresh air and sunshine is good for your soul, but I don't want your sitting at your computer reading my words. Just trust me, and do it!

This is just the tip of the iceberg, friends! We're always excited to spend time with each of you, but something about Fruitful Summer has us even more excited than normal! I learn so much from each of you every single day, and I just know you are going to be full of wonderful advice about how to cultivate relationships!

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Photo by Olivia Suriano of Nancy Ray Photography

What can you expect from us as we celebrate Fruitful Summer week?

  • We're showing up on your doorsteps! Not really, but wouldn't that be fun? Instead, we'll be popping in your inboxes once a day all week long with practical tips on cultivating community and resources we created especially for this week! Sign up so we can say hi!
  • Encouragement from the Cultivate community. We'll be the first to tell you that making new friends and investing in deeper relationships takes a lot of work, so we're ready to be your biggest cheerleader.
  • A coupon code from the Cultivate Shop. This is exclusive to our newsletter subscribers, so make sure you're letting us say hi.
  • Lara's free Summer Goals live class this Wednesday. We're going to be spending an hour with each of you helping you get motivated, refresh your PowerSheets goals, and make progress on what really matters.
  • My favorite giveaway we've hosted to date on Lara's blog this Wednesday!
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  • Dance parties in the office! We've been working extra hard on our brand new Fruitful Summer playlist, and we can't wait to debut it!

Doesn't that sound like so much fun? If you're in (and we sure do hope you are!), leave a comment telling us your favorite summer memory! I'll choose one of you at the end of this week to win a Fruitful Summer Bundle from the shop!

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An Ode to the Best Ladies in Our Lives

In honor of Mother's Day this weekend, the Cultivate team thought we'd hop on and share about a quick blurb about some of the best ladies in our lives–our mommas!

Lara-Mom

When I asked my mom what advice she had for me when looking back at life with two kids (my brother and me), she immediately offered these words: "Maybe it was more important to stop and smell the roses." Maybe, instead of trying to get it all done, it's more important to let it be. And so we do. We literally stop on our neighborhood walks to smell the roses and marvel at the good things growing right in front of us. Her advice has cultivated in me a desire to interrupt my own thoughts, worries, plans, and predispositions in favor of listening, seeing, and tasting that the Lord is good in all seasons, right where we are. -Lara

Jess-Mom

One of the best things I learned from my mother is that true sacrifice is silent. It wasn't until I got older that I realized the ways she (and my father) quietly made decisions to ensure that my siblings and I had more than we needed. Both of my parents worked long jobs–my mother was often on her feet for 12 hours a day at her restaurant. We rarely heard her complain about having to work, and we never heard her blame it on our extracurricular activities, back-to-school shopping, or college savings. Her quietness in serving others has taught me so much in selflessness. -Jess

Nicole-Mom

My mother has always been a creator. Growing up, she ran a alterations shop, always crafted Christmas ornaments and photo albums with us, and taught me and my sister how to sew, crochet, embroider, and cook. There are few things she believes we can't do ourselves, and every time we chat about something new we want to do, her response is always, "try and see." My mom jumps into projects with excitement, always anticipating something good will come of it, even when it's her first time. It's something that I try to remind myself when I'm caught up in self-doubt or get too analytical -- anything is worth a try. -Nicole

Emily-Mom

Photo by Tanja Lippert

For most of my life, my Mom drove a white minivan that was known around our town as the Jellybean. My sisters and I were okay with it when we were younger, but by the time we were in high school and the van had aged considerably, we would not be caught dead driving it. My Mom, however, drove it happily, even saying that she preferred it to some of our family’s newer options. That may or may not have been true, but her example of not deriving her value from the type of car she drove, and of valuing other things (college payments!) over a new car, has made a huge impact on my life. And oh, how the tides have turned: I'm now proud to drive an 11-year-old car myself! -Emily

Amber-Mom

Growing up, my mom always placed a high importance on relationships and little acts of kindness. I remember at a young age watching her put together little gift bags and treats on every holiday for special people in life -- whether co-workers, friends, or even the babysitter. She always felt it was important to make others feel important and cared for through little gifts and surprises. Not to mention, she enjoyed it as a way to celebrate the little holidays along the way! I'm grateful for her instilling that spirit in me. To this day, I love finding little gifts for friends and people in my life and surprising them! -Amber

I'd love to hear from you below! What have you learned from a mother figure in your life! After you leave a comment, download our notecard and write a note of gratitude for her. We can guarantee it will brighten her day!

We know that while Mother's Day is a joyful celebration for some, it is also a time of suffering for others. For those struggling with infertility longing to be a mother, those grieving miscarriages, those who grew up with an estranged mother figure. We want you to know that wherever you are, we see you, and we hope you can join us in celebrating the ladies–mother or not–in your life who have loved and encouraged you.

 

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