A Thank You Letter To myself

A Thank You Letter To myself

Dear Shelly,

Thank you so much for everything. I don’t show my appreciation for you enough, and I want to change that. This letter is a step towards acknowledging everything you’ve done, and everything I’m grateful for.

Thank you for always keeping creativity, writing, connection, and storytelling as a key focus and passion. Thank you for using your creative outlets as a way to not only connect with others, but connect with yourself on a deeper level as well.

Thank you for pushing past fears and stepping out of your comfort zone even when it felt impossible. So many amazing experiences have come from pushing yourself to do the thing you knew you wanted, even if it felt scary.

Thank you for having a caring, kind, giving heart and for always helping others and making an effort to understand how they feel and what they need. You sometimes see this trait as a negative, but it is one of your greatest strengths. It has allowed you to be a great caregiver for children, has allowed you to form strong, lasting friendships, and has allowed you to connect with new people on social media. So many people value your opinions and advice. You have helped so many people feel heard and feel less alone, and you will only continue to do so.

Thank you for remaining positive and optimistic even when everything felt like it was crumbling around you. Thank you for getting me through the dark times, always seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, and being able to daydream about a brighter future. Your ability to get back up after falling down has been such a lifesaver.

Thank you for being my best friend. My support system. The one person I know I’ll always have by my side, and will always be able to count on. I know I haven’t always shown it, and I can sometimes be incredibly critical and hard on you, but I always love you and see you for exactly who you are.

I love you. Thank you for everything.

– Shelly

My Gratitude List: Thanksgiving 2018

My Gratitude List: Thanksgiving 2018

I hope all of my United States friends had a great Thanksgiving! I always take the time around this holiday to reflect on what I’m grateful for, and this year I’m happy to say I am thankful for a lot. It’s easy for me to get caught up in what I’m not happy with in my life, and what I wish was different. Writing this blog post has been a great exercise to remind myself of everything I am grateful for. I would encourage you all to write a gratitude list of your own after you read mine! 

  1. I’m thankful for my family, who supports me, inspires me, and loves me unconditionally. My family is so important to me. I know the holidays can be a stressful time for some people who may not get along well with their family, so I’m feeling grateful to have a family I genuinely love spending time with. 
  2. I’m thankful for my friends, both old and new, who I have shared so many fun memories with this year. My friends inspire me to get out of my comfort zone, open up and talk about my feelings, and just live life to the fullest. I have made new friends, reconnected with old friends, and kept existing friendships thriving this year. Friendships really are one of the most beautiful parts of life. 
  3. I’m thankful for a job that gives me opportunities and luxuries that not everyone has. This year I was able to travel to Costa Rica, Seattle, Laguna Beach, and Orlando. I moved into a house and am able to save my money and feel financially stable. No job is perfect, but there is a lot for me to be thankful for with this one.
  4. I’m thankful for my body. I went to a yoga class this morning for the first time in a while, and was reminded that my body is so strong and gives me so much. It’s easy to get wrapped up in how our body looks, but I was reminded this morning that how we feel is so much more important. 
  5. I’m thankful for my mind. I’ve worked hard over the past couple of years to maintain a healthy mind through therapy. Though mental health is always a work in progress, I feel lucky to be feeling relatively healthy in my mind and soul. 
  6. I’m thankful for the city I call home. I was born and raised in Austin, Texas, and I feel so lucky to still live here now. Every week there are new events going on, from live concerts, to pop ups like the FOMO Factory, to art installations like the Waller Creek Show
  7. I’m thankful for music. I started teaching myself to play the keyboard this year, and have gotten back into singing as well. Music has always been an important part of my life, and I’m happy I’ve found a way to keep up my passion.
  8. I’m grateful for travel. As I mentioned above, I was able to travel quite a bit this year. I’m so grateful for all of the memories, life lessons, and new friendships that have formed from my trips. I can’t wait to travel even more in 2019!
  9. I’m grateful for myself.  I am often my own harshest critic, but deep down I love myself and am so proud of everything I have accomplished, and the person I have become. I’ve heard people say you should be your own best friend, and this year I have really made that happen.
  10. I’m grateful for this blog, and for each and every person who takes the time to read what I write. A little cheesy, I know, but it’s true! I started this blog on a whim almost five years ago, and I am constantly grateful to have an outlet for my creativity, and people who care about what I have to say. 

What’s on your gratitude list this year? Leave a comment and let me know! 

Where Have I Been?

Where Have I Been?

I can’t believe it’s been two months since my last blog post! I’ve been wanting to write again for a while now, but I wasn’t sure what to write about and I’ve also been very busy so it’s been easy to make excuses as to why I can’t blog. But here I am, and that’s all that matters!

I think this post will be a bit of a stream of consciousness. I like the idea of just sitting down and writing instead of overthinking what I should write about. So apologies if this is all over the place.

The short answer to where I have been these past two months is: working. I started a brand new job the first week in October after taking some time off from work for about three months. It’s crazy that a month and a half has already gone by at my new job! I’ve been loving it so far, from the work I’m doing to the people I’m surrounded by, to the overall culture of the company. I’m still doing social media marketing, so the work feels familiar, but I’m learning a lot of new things and I’m excited for the opportunities to learn even more and grow in this new position. Overall I’m feeling very hopeful for the future of my career, which is something I couldn’t have said a couple months ago.

The more abstract answer to “where have I been” is: working on myself. As I mentioned in my Life Changes post, I have been through a lot of changes in the past few years. What I didn’t mention is that I have also been through a lot of change in the past few months. Starting around May, things started to shift in my life, and at times I felt really out of control. I felt like everything was happening to me, and I will admit I probably played the victim a bit. I kept wondering why. Why was I forced to leave my job? Why did my relationship have to end? So many things happened over the summer and into early fall, and I won’t lie, it was really difficult for me.

I felt like I had two choices: I could either use this time as a growing experience, and try to learn more about myself and figure out how to be happy, or I could wallow in my misfortunes and give up. As you might be able to guess, I chose to be happy. I found my new job, which I feel so lucky to have been offered. I started spending more time with friends and family. And I started working harder by myself and in therapy to become a better version of me.

I wish I could say I had some kind of huge epiphany, or that I have some sage wisdom to share with you about what has changed in these past couple months to make me a happier person, but I don’t. All I know is that I am feeling really confident in who I am right now, and I’m feeling really happy with where my life is. Of course I still get sad and angry and scared like everyone else, but overall I feel that right now I am in a better place than I have been this entire year.

So with that said, I am making a commitment to improve myself even more, by doing things that make me happy. I’ve been working and spending a lot of time with friends, but as a result I have let some of my hobbies and passions fall to the side. I haven’t been blogging, and I haven’t been exercising as much as I’d like to. So I guess I’m using this blog post as a way to promise myself I will try harder to do those things more often. This blog post is a good start, and I am heading over to do some yoga with my mom after this!

Like I said at the beginning, this post was more of a stream of consciousness than anything, so bravo if you’re still with me. Thank you for taking the time to read this. I’d love if you would leave me a comment and let me know where you’ve been lately, however you’d like to interpret that question.

Table Talk Tuesday With Jennifer Smith

Table Talk Tuesday With Jennifer Smith

I’m back with another Table Talk Tuesday, and I’m so excited to introduce you all to my guest this week: Jenn from the lifestyle blog The Art of Better, where she helps women live their best lives, and The Art of Better Blogging, helping others along their blogging journey.

srp-49circle

I’m so impressed by what you’ve built with both Art of Better Blogging and The Art of Better. Can you tell me, in a nutshell, how you got to be where you are today? 

Thank you! It’s been a long, winding path, for sure. I’ve been blogging on & off since 1999, way back in the day where I would hard code my sites in HTML from a blank page. A few years later, I had a fledgling graphic design business that I had to put it on the back burner for my corporate career. Can’t maintain a side hustle while working 60hrs every week!
Luckily I started my blogging journey back up again not long after because I just couldn’t seem to exist without writing. The Art of Better came first with The Art of Better Blogging coming about a year later when I started getting asked so many questions about blogging that I decided to segment them out. I blogged on the side for a few years and then finally got to the point where I was able to go full-time in 2015 and leave my soul-sucking corporate career!

A lot of people struggle with feelings of doubt, fear, and worrying about not being good enough when trying to accomplish big goals in life. Do you have any advice for pushing aside those negative feelings and going after what you want?   

“Impostor Syndrome” can be crippling, but everyone grapples with it from time to time. The way I help my blog & business coaching clients through it is through helping them recognize that everyone has a unique story and angle because no two people have the same background, path or life perspective. Well, that, and making it clear that fear is just a feeling, an emotion. You can choose to acknowledge it, set it aside, and move beyond it.

You seem to be an expert in all things blogging, social media, and just life in general. What was your process for becoming so knowledgeable? Do you have any tips for someone who wants to learn more about blogging, social media, etc? 

Well, I don’t know about life (I’m kind of a self-development junkie!) but I’ve been around the blogging & online business worlds for so long that I have seen nearly everything. The best advice I can give anyone who wants to know more is to read everything you can get your hands on (but take everything with a grain of salt) and find some bloggy besties that are slightly above your skill or experience level. Hanging out with people who are more advanced will cause you to stretch your skill set more often.

What is your life motto?

Hustle 24/7? Hell no!
Everything I do is dedicated to better… and that includes rebelling at the idea that you need to grind away all day every day to have a successful blog or online business. It just isn’t true! Do you have to hustle with purpose sometimes? Of course! But not all the time.

What is the most important thing you think someone should know before starting a blog, like The Art of Better, or a business, like Art of Better Blogging?

Consistency is imperative for success. A lot of people start blogging and seem to have this idea that you can just write and they will come. I wish!

What three things are at the top of your gratitude list right now?

Oh! I love this questions. I do a daily gratitude practice and it has truly changed my life. Keeping it down to just 3 is really difficult!
1. My family (including our 4 dogs & close friends!)
2. My ah-mazing clients!
3. True red lipstick

Who is your biggest “girl crush” in terms of female entrepreneurs, celebrities, or any other woman you look up to, and why?

I have so many! Of course, the usual suspects like Michelle Obama, Oprah, Marie Forleo, but also women like Rose McGowan & Ani Difranco who are so unafraid to speak out for what they’re passionate about.

What is one piece of advice you would give your younger self?

Learn to meditate much, much sooner.

What accomplishment are you most proud of, and what is something you still hope to accomplish in your lifetime?   

I’m most proud of becoming legal guardians for my niece a few years back. We didn’t have any kids prior to that time and we’ve managed to learn very quickly how to become good parents. I think in a few years we might want to have a baby- that would be a big accomplishment for us since we thought we’d never want kids!

I have to throw a fun one in here to wrap this up. If you could be any animal, which  animal would you want to be? 

I’d have to say either an eagle or cheetah. I like to go fast!
Hope you enjoyed my interview with Jenn and learned as much from her as I did! For further inspiration and education, grab her free video training, How to Kickstart Your Blog’s Growth in 2017and join The Art of Better Blogging FB Community.

Table Talk Tuesday With Anna Gordon

Table Talk Tuesday With Anna Gordon

tabletalktuesday

Welcome to the first-ever Table Talk Tuesday, a new interview series I’m starting where I talk to bloggers and entrepreneurs that I admire. But before I get into talking about my first interviewee, I wanted to give a quick shout-out to my friend Lindsay for creating the cute image you see above!

First up in the hot seat this Tuesday is Anna Gordon, social media manager and creator of House of Hashtag, a platform for female entrepreneurs. She also has a brand new website in the works, so I will share that link when it is live.

screen-shot-2017-01-17-at-4-32-25-pm
To start off, can you tell me your life story in three sentences or less?

My background is in art, design and photography. I have certainly had a lot of trials and tribulations in life but I am grateful for my struggles as they have led me to where I am today, and I am happy!

What is one piece of advice you would give your younger self?

I would tell myself not to worry so much and to never miss out on an opportunity for the fear of being disliked. Up until the age of about 23 I was so insecure about my appearance, I would often avoid going out with friends and attending any social event. Looking back, I feel I missed out on a lot.

If you had a life motto, what would it be?

Feel the fear and do it anyway.

What is the most important thing for people to know before starting a business/blog?

Done is better than perfect. It’s important that we get things right for our businesses and blogs, but spending forever on something until it is perfect is a waste of time. Just get it out there! Also I think having a positive mindset is crucial as well.

Sometimes our failures/setbacks teach us more than our successes. Can you talk about a time when you failed and what it taught you?

Honestly, I have experienced so many ‘failures’ and setbacks but like I said in my first answer, I am genuinely grateful for those times because I believe I am exactly where I am supposed to be in life. I think going through rough times and experiencing failures helps mold you into a more compassionate person to others. Ultimately, sometimes we all just have to roll with the punches when things don’t work out.

What three things are at the top of your gratitude list right now?

My mum (she is literally my best friend) 2. My partner, David. 3. Finding my passion

Who is your biggest “girl crush” in terms of female entrepreneurs, celebrities, or any other woman you look up to, and why?

Oh tough one, I have so many “girl crushes”. At the moment I’d have to say I’m crushing on Mariah Coz the most. She really knows her stuff, gives away so much free content and she comes across as genuine and down to earth.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

I’d have to say travelling solo around Australia and South East Asia (which was amazing by the way). I have always been such a shy and anxious person. So for me to step out of my comfort zone to that extent and follow my dreams makes me proud.

I have to throw a fun one in here to wrap this up. What is your go-to karaoke song?

Prince- 1999

screen-shot-2017-01-16-at-5-30-35-pm
I hope you all enjoyed the first installment of Table Talk Tuesday with the very inspirational Anna Gordon! Be sure to follow her on Instagram, and keep your eyes out for another interview next Tuesday.
Interested in being featured? Email me at shelly@shellyray.com.

How To Stay Positive

How To Stay Positive

It’s been a difficult week for a lot of people because of the election, and for me personally, it’s been a rough three weeks (unrelated to the election). Despite this, I think I’ve been able to remain relatively happy, so I thought I’d share some of my tips for staying positive through tough times.

Keep track of the good times

I believe it’s not only possible, but also very important, to find at least one positive moment in each day. The last few weeks have taught me that no matter what is going on in the world or in my personal life, there is always something to smile about, whether it be getting to spend time with old friends, or getting a card and cake from my coworkers for my one year anniversary.

Don’t forget to be grateful

Along with paying attention to the positive moments in life, I have also started to keep track of what I am grateful for. Thanksgiving may be a few weeks away, but I think having gratitude for all of the amazing things in my life should be a year-long goal. I’ve started going over each positive moment and what I am grateful for each night before I fall asleep. It really helps put things in perspective when I realize I have so many things to be thankful for, and so many happy memories each day.

Focus on others

Another important trick for staying positive is to get outside of yourself and focus on someone else for a change. This could be in the form of a small act of kindness, giving someone a compliment, or making an effort to ask a friend how they are doing and listening to them before talking about yourself. I have found I feel much happier when I take the time to pay attention to other people’s needs as well as my own.

Treat yourself

I know I just talked about paying attention to others, but I do want to stress how important it is to take care of yourself as well. I’ve been taking the time to do things for me lately, which includes taking nice hot baths when I need a little relaxation, going to yoga and zumba classes, taking walks and hiking, catching up on one of my favorite TV shows, and spending lots of time with friends and family. Whatever it is that makes you happy, be sure to do more of that, especially when you’re feeling particularly down.

 

I hope you found this helpful in some way! I just thought the world could use more good vibes lately. Let me know if you have any other tricks for staying positive, I’d love to hear about them!