I’m deep in the design process now for the new Magnolias West website. As I started fiddling with the menu (nav) bar, I took a minute to really think about the main nav items, and about what website pages I want to include and which might be eliminate-able.
I really want to simplify the new iteration of my site, for a couple of reasons. This will be my first responsive website* for myself (after designing and developing responsive sites for my clients for the last 18 months), and I’m designing with functionality and ease in mind. In a responsive site viewed on mobile, sidebars appear below the main content, and there can be a lot of scrolling when you’re on an iPhone. So… no sidebars (for now anyway).
Second reason: simplicity for simplicity’s sake. My goal is to keep the text lean, and to embody and manifest the principles of heart-centered empathy-based marketing in as few pages as possible.
My current Magnolias West website has seven main pages:
As of this moment, the new site will have only five:
The Start here page. Also known as Is this you? or New here?, this page is a key element in empathy-based marketing. I learned this method of tribe- and practice-building from some amazing teachers, and in a large part from Mark Silver of Heart of Business (who is also the source of the doors and windows magic mentioned below).
The way this teaching has landed in my heart is this: Speak to and about your ideal client before you speak about yourself. Or: Roll out the red carpet for your ideal client so that he or she feels seen, heard, recognized, welcomed, and like they’re in just the right place. The “Start Here” page is a great way to do that.
Notice its placement in the order. It comes after Home and — most critically — before I start talking about myself and my badass expertise.
I’m going to combine what I’d put in a Start here page with my Home page text and see how that works. Hey, it’s WordPress, and there’s plenty of space. I can always add it back.
The How it works page. I have never really felt that this page served my site, as it’s very similar to the page called Work with me. This one is an easy one to drop. And since I’m in a dropping mood (for the sake of simplicity), it’s gone.
Of course, you create your nav menus with a reading order in mind, but there’s no way you can guarantee that your imposed order will be followed. Think about it: Do you ever read a website in order? Of course not. Something will catch your eye. Or you’ll enter from an external link and go on from there.
Knowing this, go ahead and create your website pages in the order you’d like them to be looked at, and then employ this amazing magic trick to increase the odds that your reader will check out the stuff you think is important:
Yup, leave easy paths for your reader to follow at the bottom of each and every main page. At the end of the text on each page, add a paragraph that reads something like:
Keep it to two links — no more. Keep it simple, and trust that by including these doors and windows you’ve added a few inviting and engaging links to those that appear in the menu itself.
That’s it from me today. Now I’d like to hear from you. How did you decide what pages to include in your menu? What do you know that I should? Share your questions and tips in the comments. Blessed be.
I learned this lesson about happiness twice recently: in tai chi class and then again two weeks later from Molly Gordon in her Art of Living class. (Just in case Molly’s class page is down, you can meet her and her beautiful work here.)
This happens a lot. I’ve been a tai chi student since 1974. So many opportunities to see (and be shown, in case I’m missing it) my ego in all its sad glory.
There I am, in class, soaking up the too-infrequent feedback and instruction I get from my friend and teacher Greg (who visits twice a year from NYC, who’s known me pretty much this whole time — over four decades) and then I get frustrated and say something like: “Why do I bother even trying to do push hands? My body (and its musculo-skeletal challenges) — I just can’t. I’m too old, too damaged, too sick.”
Greg’s response to me: “You always have some reason that keeps you from fully engaging with what you have, who you’re with, what you’re doing.” I’m paraphrasing the exact words a bit (not the sentiment). I got so mad at him when he said this, and in the time between being angry and realizing just how right he was, I managed to forget exactly how he put it.
And every story I tell myself gets in the way of my ability to experience happiness now.
The assignment from the first Art of Living class was to “make a list of all the stories you’ve been living out.” Watching myself write these down as they occurred to me, I realized in a new and deeper way that the content of my stories is just that — content. I realized we all have stories, and while the content is different for each of us at different times, the pain and unhappiness they bring are universal.
Now and then it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy. — Guillaume Apollinaire
What about you? How do you deal with the stories that dance around inside of you and get between you and your happiness? I’d love to know; let’s talk in the comments.
Mercury just began another retrograde (until May 22), Mars is retrograde (until June 29), and every other planet except Venus is retrograde (or approaching) right now. Are you feeling sped up? Slowed down? Stuck? More problems than usual? I know I’m moving slower than I’d like to. I’m hoping that when Jupiter stations direct next week, things will begin to ease up. I’m hoping. How’s it going for you?
Another in the series of posts about branding. This one is:
I’m not done yet. Yup, I may be standing in that still, deep water (at least I’m still on my feet, could be worse, could be flailing, or drowning) but that water is deep and it’s broad. I wanted to be done by the upcoming end of this month, and I won’t be. I can’t even tell you that I see the light at the end of the tunnel yet, but I can tell you that I know how many more stops there are before I can see that light. As soon as I get detailed layouts made (nope, not even started yet), and hand them off to my developer team, I will be counting the days to launch.
Continuing the story from the last rebranding article six weeks ago, there’s a lot that has been decided and accomplished. There are a boatload* of decisions to be made on a big project like rebranding, and when it’s your business, if you’re like me, you give those decisions some focused and supported attention because it’s your business!
I decided to keep the name Magnolias West. Although this rebrand is all about upleveling my brand and my offers so that I can better connect and work with the wise and passionate women I know I’m meant to serve; although I’m changing the look, the logo, the colors, the fonts, and every single word — when it came to the naming question, I realized that there are many very good reasons for me to keep the name just as it is.
How’s your business development going? What’s moving smoothly? Where are you stuck? Let’s support each other. I’d love to hear from you in the comments.
Yes, I am connecting scented baths and massages and similar yummy events to the care and nurturing of your business.
Because this: You love your business. It’s your passion and your calling. And this: Every action you take to feed and nurture your business reflects and manifests (and maybe even multiplies) the way you take care of yourself.
Exquisite self-care for your business starts with you. Exquisite self-care opportunities show up in many ways, some teeny and some huge. You get to choose and commit to self-care every day — in your work, in your life, in your relationships.
It’s an inside job. All the best external successes grow, thrive, and sustain because they have a strong inner foundation.
It’s pretty simple: It’s about having and keeping a sacred commitment to practices that let you establish and maintain a state of being resourced, restored, and in balance so that you attract the clients, revenue, friends, satisfaction, and joy you desire.
Eat, move, and rest like a boss.
Grow a loving relationship with your body and with food, and keep expanding and improving that relationship as you can. A juicy add-on: grow some food, even a pot or two of herbs in a sunny spot if you’re a beginner (it’s nearly impossible to kill a pot of peppermint).
Move your beautiful body — I love my daily walk. Take breaks and get away from the computer.
Prepare good meals and eat them away from your desk.
Absolutely do not forget the scented baths and massages.
A strong connection to the divine — to a power bigger than you — helps you stay grounded through the hectic busyness of each day, even in the scary and unwelcome moments. Grounded, peaceful, and motivated. Grateful. Happy.
These days my daily practice looks like something like this: two rounds of tai chi, a journal entry, gratitudes written on colorful paper and added to my gratitude vase, and a guided meditation. I take a walk and I do a workout or a stretching routine as well.
Dress for work, even if you work at home.
Don’t wear the clothes that you slept in. (What? You wear PJs? Me, I keep it simple. I just ditch the bra layer and sleep in the shirt I wore all day — works 90% of the time because I wear comfy cotton knit t-shirts 90% of the time — and slip into yoga pants if I’m not wearing them already.)
Doing errands around town? Dress in something you wouldn’t mind wearing when you are meeting a new prospective client.
You never know when a stranger you encounter will end up becoming your next prospective client.*
Want a successful and sustainable business that has you doing your inspired best work for your ideal clients? Then nurture and sustain yourself.
Work/life balance is a thing. When you’re out of balance and working so much you can’t make time to play and restore, your good health and positive attitudes take a hit. Over time those hits can suck the life, and love, and success right out of your business.
Working at home on your own? It’s so easy to slip into feeling alone and worried. Take an action that fits your needs and your financial reality: Find a mastermind group. Hire a coach. Set up an accountability buddy system with a friend whose business is in a similar reality to yours.
These days I am in a paid small group for coaching, I have a buddy I meet with every other week for content development and heartstorming, and I have a no-fee peer-led mastermind where we talk through business questions and do content creation separately together.
I use the tools that allow me to schedule my life and live my schedule and be accountable when things change.
What’s working for me these days is a powerful combination of mostly cloud-based systems that allow me access from anywhere with internet. The three main ones are Evernote, Apple’s calendar, and Google docs and sheets.
Put on your big-girl panties and find out what it feels like to have a grown-up relationship with money.
When you know what’s going out and what’s coming in, you’re in clarity (not vagueness) and you’re in much better shape to be present and take the next right action.
Drop me a line in the comments.
The Equinox — that beautiful balance point — was sandwiched between the two eclipses of the season, just ahead of the Full Moon Lunar Eclipse this week.
In my world — in my life and in my business — the balance point this year felt like a moment of stillness wrapped around a fiery ball of energy ready to explode! How did the Equinox, and its moment of balance, feel for you? Did you notice anything unusual?
Now we are in that beautiful creation-inspiring, fiery, let’s-get-going, time-for-new-starts Aries energy.
Step back from the details and the day-to-day tasks and take a fresh look at your brand. Solopreneur, wisdom teacher, healer, or humanpreneur — your brand is all about how you show up in the world matches your values and actions. What’s aligned, what isn’t? In business: Does your marketing reflect where you are now? Are you supporting your work in the world with a clear, steady, loving presence? Is it time for a facelift, or an upleveling of some or all of the elements of your brand?
Outside of business: Are you walking your talk? Are you showing up as you intend to? When shit happens (and it does), do you let others know that things have changed? Power tip: Schedule a no-strings call with me and I’ll look at all of it with you.
Clean house. Release what no longer serves you. In your office: Step back and take a look at your desk. Declutter those piles of paper and business cards. Take a quick look at each one and either file it, or schedule an action, or toss it. Have a lovely reunion with your cleared desktop and in-baskets.
You can do the same thing with your clothing. For each item you can ask: Is this in good repair? Do I wear it? Does it fit? Do I like the way I look in it? Depending on the answer, keep it, give it away, or toss it.
Start something new, something daring, something you’ve been meaning to do. In your biz: Ask previous clients for referrals. Call someone you’ve met online whose work interests you — bonus points for calling a niche-mate! Schedule some fun time right in the middle of your work week.
Up your wellness game. More/longer walks. Regular meditation. Take a class. Start cooking. Knitting. Dancing. You know, that big scary stuff!
I’d love to hear what you’re cooking up in this fiery new season. Talk to me in the comments, or send an email.
I’m on an upleveling journey with Magnolias West and part of that upleveling includes taking that “I’m gonna rebrand my business sometime soon!” idea off the shelf and putting it into action.
I thought about changing the look and feel of the Magnolias West brand for almost all of last year. Especially since I found out that my search results were compromised because my website isn’t responsive in its current state.
I didn’t make the rebrand a priority until things had evolved enough in my heart, in my mind, and in my business for all three of the points in the graphic above to be true for me. Which they now are.
There are probably as many (or more) good reasons not to rebrand than there are to begin such a huge undertaking. Contemplating a rebrand is a great mindfulness and self-integrity opportunity. Check in with yourself, your support team, your tribe. You may find that it’s just an element here or there that wants a refresh. Keep it simple, sister.
Just like I do for my clients, in the Unmask Your Brand and Shine Your Light journey, the logo comes first. This is Magnolias West 3.0. Each of the preceding two logos used an illustration of a magnolia blossom that I had made for me by an illustrator friend and a script font for the words Magnolias West. This go-round, it came to me surprisingly clearly one day that I wanted to use a photo of a magnolia that I shot and a handwritten (by me) version of the name. It’s a very deep and personal decision. I want my passion and wisdom to shine through clearly from the very first thing you’ll likely see when you look at my new branding — the logo. This will hopefully set the tone for a deep connection my heart to my reader’s from the first glance, before a word is even read.
When I created Magnolias West, I was combining what I had previously run as two different businesses into one. My coaching practice was one business and my design and branding biz was another. I decided to combine them (handing out two business cards when I met someone was not working out very well; it definitely caused confusion and a break in the flow of getting to connect with someone).
I didn’t know how to name this new business. At the time I didn’t see the amazing synergy that would be created by combining coaching and branding, so I went with a name that didn’t really mean anything (on the surface, that is).
I have been taking pix of my kid with the magnolias as a backdrop since she was a toddler. She’s 29 now. I have a few thousand images of magnolias that I have shot.
I controlled myself. I didn’t go back through every single magnolias shot I have. I confined my research to the photos I have in digital format — only about ten years worth to cull 😳. Didn’t get the ladder to climb up to my paper photos file to find something better to scan — such self-discipline! The eight magnolias you see above made it to the final round. And I’ve picked the hero (you’ll have to wait a bit to see it; it’s quite beautiful).
And then the handwritten name, oy! See that sheet of paper up there, the scan of my business name in my best handwriting? I have nine more! I spent about three hours writing Magnolias West over and over and over. I learned a lot.
And then I spent 2.5 hours piecing it together. An “M” from this version, “agnolias” from another. Same with the “W” and the “est.” Plus cleaning up the bumpy bits.
If anyone asked me advice about doing a handwritten logo, I’d say “Don’t do it, pick a nice font. Unless you are either an expert in Illustrator tracing and very patient. Or unless you have a big budget to pay someone to do this for you.”
What conditions came to pass that caused you to decide to rebrand? Are you considering this but still waiting? Want to talk about it? Let me know what’s going on with you by leaving a comment, or send me an email if you’d like to set up a call with me (no strings, of course).
I’ve survived abuse and trauma. Until fifteen years or so ago, I — to put it very mildly — had an unjoyful life. My journey had built up layers of protection, preemptive bitterness… no joy.
I’ve been blessed to learn how to melt those layers, to soften, and to invite and welcome joy.
And to soften some more so I can improve my tolerance for joy — yup, for survivors this can definitely be a thing. It sure is for me.
When you spend years and years and years being in a perpetual bad mood, joy and other positive emotions can be tough to take. You know how the ego finds comfort with the devil it knows.
I’ve been transforming everything about the way I think, speak, and act for going on 25 years now, and I’m living proof that it’s possible to take really positive actions and still be miserable. Like getting clean and sober, for example. I really really wanted joy and all its buddies — satisfaction, serenity, self-acceptance, goodness — to land in my life like flipping a switch. It took me a long time to figure out that like most changes in life, daily (hourly? with each breath?) practice and more practice — in this now moment and the next — is the only way to make lasting changes.
You can easily (too easily!) perpetuate your misery by thinking, speaking, and acting in this moment and the next the same way you’ve been thinking, speaking, and acting up until this moment.
“Everything in your life is a reflection of a choice you have made. If you want a different result, make a different choice.” — Unknown
I know it sounds simple, and I also know that choosing to choose something different and more positive than what’s keeping you miserable is probably the single most worthwhile choice you can make. Even if it feels difficult.
Start now. Choose to keep reading, and choose to try something new or even something you tried once before and then forgot about. As they told me in 12-step: Give it a try for 90 days. You can always get your misery freely refunded to you.
It’s simple. Change your thinking, change your life. Here’s a tiny bit of the science about this.
You didn’t create your pain and your negative thinking on a whim. In fact, there was probably a really good reason for some of these behaviors in your past. They might have protected you from danger or abuse. What happens, though, is that those protective behaviors become grooved habitual responses and then you’re repeating them and repeating them without even knowing why. These behaviors went from being protective to being your thrown-to way of being.
There are many ways to learn different and better ways to think.
“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.”
— Mahatma Gandhi
Gratitude is the one that opened the path to living a transformed life for me. In fact, this blog started out as a gratitude journal.
When I began with this practice, it wasn’t pretty. I didn’t feel grateful at all. I was raising a young daughter who was angry and violent (can’t imagine where she learned those things!). I was miserable. I had just lost my one big client (for the second time). I had plenty of circumstances that made it clear to me that gratitude was a ridiculous idea.
Luckily, by then, I had learned how to be willing. Or willing to be willing, anyway. (Or even sometimes willing to be willing to be….) So I tried. And my gratitudes were gritty (sometimes still are!). Like:
It got better. It’s much better now. On most days anyway. I write my gratitudes on a piece of beautiful paper with a lovely marker and crumple it into a seed and place it in my gratitude jar. At this point in my journey, no one sees my gratitudes but me. If you’re first starting out, it’s juicy and joyful and wonderful to share your gratitudes with someone else. A buddy, your support team….or share them online as I did for years.
Gratitude and deprivation cannot coexist. Try it. If you’re in gratitude, you’re not going to be feeling victimized or sorry for yourself.
“Appreciation can make a day — even change a life. Your willingness to put it into words is all that’s necessary.” — Margaret Cousins
Generosity. Sharing of your time, treasure, and talents. (I just found out that this phrase is from the bible, who knew?) Some say it’s really best to be generous in stealth mode. If that option is available to you, try it; it can be awesome to just give without getting direct thanks in return. I find that either way works just fine.
This was a hard one for me to adopt. I had to act as if I was okay with letting go of anything! And when I did I softened. I found that when I loosened my death grip on MINE! I was open to receive. Generosity and entitlement also cannot coexist. Give, give a little, give a little more, and see what happens. Ways to take on generosity:
“You can’t live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.” ― Debbie Macomber
What practices have you tried, and what have you found? Did I miss anything? Share your joy builders in the comments!