Being Present, Not Perfect

Imagine: your to-do list is never ending, you’re exhausted, and you swear you haven’t had a human interaction in days. For many of us, we didn’t have to try too hard to imagine because this is an oh-so-familiar feeling. We all work tirelessly to check those boxes, send those emails, and come up with the best business strategy. However, in the process, we forget to take care of ourselves. The irony in this is we do the best work when we are relaxed, rested, and enjoying others. It is so easy to get overwhelmed by work, but here at DFS Creative Concepts we try to keep in mind that we are people first and #Girlbosses second by living by these words of wisdom:


  1. Too Much Yes Leads to No

We all love to be helpful, responsible, and dependable. We all want to be the “go-to-girl” for solving problems, taking on tasks and projects of all kinds. However, after saying yes too many times, you might find yourself in an Alice in Wonderland sized hole of work. Then, when you are working to dig yourself out of your hole, you have to say no to all the fun things in life: dinner with family or friends, coffee breaks with your favorite coworkers, and even maybe the one project you’ve been wanting to be a part of! So yes can be good, but too much yes leads to no. So, say yes to what makes you happy and helps you grow, not to the busy work or the mindless task just to prove you are a responsible person. For us at DFSCC, this means we take on the projects that make us smile, challenge us to think differently, and fall in line with our values as a business.  “Yes” is for what builds you up. “No” is for what drains us.


  1. Rest & Relaxation

Now, you may read this and think, “She’s crazy, that’s what coffee is for!” Make no mistake; I love a mug of coffee just as much as the next girl, but I can’t deny the importance of sleep! While we all know that the recommended eight hours per night is a little unattainable, we can certainly strive for it. None of us wants to be the girl at her desk sipping on her fifth cup of coffee, jittery and unable to keep her eyes open. We want to be the girl who comes into the office looking like she has it all together and is ready to face whatever the day brings. Another important part of learning to be put together instead of caffeine dependent is being able to relax. In a world where we are constantly going, going, going, we forget to slow down to enjoy some peace and quiet. At DFSCC, we are constantly filling each other in on ways to relax: recommending good reads, laughing about a funny movie, or talking about a weekend bike ride. We do love to work hard, but understand how important it is to enjoy our down time. Whatever relaxation looks like for you (reading, exercising, retail therapy), don’t forget to pencil it in!


  1. Look Around, Not at the Screen!

In today’s workplace, we are constantly being bombarded with phone calls and emails that are “urgent.” It is way too easy to get caught up in the technology that shapes the way we communicate professionally. Don’t forget the to interact with people around you. While emails are effective, meetings and quick conversations in person usually are more clarifying and immediate. Don’t shy away from walking over to a coworker’s desk to ask about the social media strategy or even about their weekend. We work hard to cultivate a culture of communication here at DFS Creative Concepts with regular check-ins to update each other where we are on our projects. Communication makes the world go ‘round, but remember that a chat over coffee or lunch beats an email any day.

When life gets going too quickly for you to keep up, remember that in order to be a #GirlBoss, sometimes you have to put the to-do list down and take a breather.

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Two Peas in a DFSCC Pod

Part of being an associate at DFS Creative Concepts involves a lot of introspection throughout the process. It’s not just about the deliverables, it’s about the process. Each new addition is tasked with reflecting upon their first week (or so) with our company so that they can continue to grow not just as producers of excellent quality products, but as people. Because at the end of the day (I really need to get a new catch phrase), we care just as much (if not more) about what goes on inside our people than the great accomplishments they bring to the table.

Proud to bring to you Sydney and Becca. They’ll begin contributing to the #GirlBossBlog regularly, but for their intros. . . And to get to know them. . . Read below. And enjoy.

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Sydney’s Reflection: First Week Wisdom

When I think of the word “intern,” I think of a coffee grabbing, errand running, copy-making guru who’s only purpose in the office is to do the busy-work of the higher ups. For a visual reference of what I’m talking about, watch “The Devil Wears Prada.”

So, when my lovely and amazing boss asked me to write a blog post about some things I learned during my first week as an intern, I was hesitant. All I could think was, “What could I possibly write about that anyone (other than my parents and grandparents) would willingly read or care about?”

But as soon as I stopped internally freaking out about what I was going to write about and actually began to listen, I realized that Dorothy is not only a source for fashion inspiration but also an outlet for receiving some insanely wise #girlboss wisdom.

So, between the wise musings of Dorothy Self and my own first week trial-and-error experiences, here are some little “tidbits” of advice for all of you aspiring interns out there:

1. Bring. A. Charger.
No seriously, bring one! Actually, bring two: One for your phone and one for your laptop. On my first day, I was on my phone pretty much all day researching our clients, looking at their Instagram’s, and becoming familiar with how we represent them on social media outlets. By 2:30p, my phone was surviving on 11% and had to somehow make it to 4:00…#yikes

Going off of #1…

1.5. Know who you’re working for:
This should be common sense…but I’ve included it as a ½ piece of advice, just in case! Research your clients. Research your employer. Research their old posts, blogs, articles, events…everything! Channel your inner Nancy Drew and just research away. The best way to impress your employer (and clients) is to be familiar with and know their brand.

2. Roll with the punches:
The night before my first day at DFS, my computer pulled a 2007 Britney Spears and had a complete meltdown. Needless to say, I had to take it to the Apple Store and get it repaired which left me stranded (without a computer) at an internship that relies almost entirely on having the technology to communicate, write and post updates for clients (talk about a great first impression…) But do you remember that “lovely and amazing” boss I mentioned earlier? She was nothing but understanding and accommodating for my lack of having the bare essentials. So, while things don’t always go your way (and rarely will they ever), the only thing that really matters at the end of the day is how you choose to handle those setbacks. Sometimes, the best reaction is no reaction at all. So, take a second. Pause. Breathe. And then get back to #werk.

3. It’s okay to be nervous:
Y’all…walking into the doors of DFS on my first day was single-handedly one of the scariest moments of my young life, so far. To describe it would be similar to the feeling you get right before you go down a roller-coaster. There is something so surreal and nerve-wracking about starting a new journey and steadily walking into the great unknown blindfolded (which is what I felt like I was doing). But this is normal – I promise! If you aren’t nervous, then it means you’re either not excited or passionate about it or have a lot more nerve than I do (in which case…please teach me your ways).

4. An internship is more than just a resume builder…
…it’s actually a learning opportunity! One thing Dorothy told me on my first day was: “I want you to grow as a person and I want you to have a voice.” And since that day, she has done just that and has given me countless opportunities to find my voice. In every task she assigns me, Dorothy explains why it needs to be done and how it’s helping our client. No social media strategy is just about a series of posts, but something that genuinely has an impact on the business’ overall messaging and brand. She also told me, “You’ve got to learn the foundations before you can learn how to construct the roof.” In other words, you have to learn how to walk before you can run. Not all internships are glamorous (however, in my case, I did luck out with interning at DFS Creative Concepts) but they do hold the potential for growth if you allow them to. Be open to the experience and seek wisdom from those who are already doing exactly what it is that you want to be doing.

5. You’re not just an intern:
The biggest piece of advice, in my opinion, that Dorothy gave me on my first day was: “Just because you’re an associate does not mean you are less worthy. You have stuff to bring to the table. If you’re smart, good, and do the right thing…you’re valuable.” In fact, she has never referred to me as an intern, but rather an associate (see above quote). So really, this post shouldn’t be about my first week as an intern, but instead my first week as an associate (*insert hair flip emoji*). So often, people get bogged down in the mundane nature of internships when, in reality, there is so much room for you to learn new things about yourself not only as a person, but as a future employee. To quote Dorothy (again), “Every star is different and shines differently…but every star still gives light, nonetheless.” No one star can light up the sky on its own, it takes a team of stars (a #StarSquad some would say). And no matter if you’re the biggest star in the sky or the smallest one, you still give light. You still have ideas. And you still matter.

6. Embrace every experience:
Take this opportunity to: learn, grow, watch, listen, ask questions, fail, and succeed. But most importantly, take this time to find your passions and to find yourself. Being an intern isn’t just a stepping stone to bigger and better things, but a building block to add to your foundation that allows you to strengthen who you are and where you’re going.

So with that take my ramblings, from one “associate” to another, and start your journey to the top…

…because you’ve totally got this

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Becca’s Reflection: The Anatomy of DFS Creative Concepts

You take a deep breath and you walk through the doors, it’s the morning of your very first day. Okay, so for anyone who got my reference: no, your first day of ‘real’ work won’t be like your first day of high school. For anyone who didn’t get my reference, don’t sweat it, Taylor Swift is pretty much off the charts anyway. Now let’s get back to that first day of work thing.

A few weeks ago, I walked in to what many people, myself included, would consider my first “professional” job. What I thought was going to be cubicles and pantsuits turned out to be creativity and passion, and what I thought was going to be stressful and intimidating, has turned out to be the best part of my day.

Over the last few weeks I’ve discovered what it’s like to actually sit at a desk for most of a day, that it is in fact possible for me to consume 6 cups of chai tea during one day in the office, and that no matter how cute the heels are, they still pinch your feet (unfortunately). On top of all those tidbits, I’ve also learned my way around the DFS office specifically (literally and figuratively!), and I have been able to see what makes our ever-growing office press on and produce amazing work. And so, without further ado, I present to you the anatomy of DFSCC.

We’ll start with me, an associate. Hopefully one day I can say “started from the bottom now I’m here” but for now, I’m proud to be taking it in as an associate. There are a few other associates running around, but make no mistake, we aren’t just going on coffee runs and making copies.

Here at DFSCC, associates literally make up the “creative concepts” (CC) part of D F S C C. That’s why one of the skills an associate like us needs to hone in on is our creativity. Some other skills an associate like myself would be nowhere without are passion, and a sense of purpose. Without our passion, our work would be dull. We’d produce only to meet deadlines, and only to reach Fridays faster. Our passion for DFSCC, what we stand for, the media, our clients and effective communication is what fuels our work.

But what fuels our passion, you may ask? Feeling like we serve a purpose at DFSCC and like our work matters is what encourages us to go the extra mile and to give our clients and each other our very best, every day. And finally, what fuels our sense of purpose? Moving up to the top is where we have our biggest fan and our greatest motivator, Dorothy.

Okay okay, I know… every office has a boss. But not every office has a #GIRLBOSS!! Dorothy herself quite literally makes up the DFS part of DFSCC, and is the powerhouse herself. See, the office can sail or sink based off the quality of its leadership, and the presence of qualities such as character, commitment, and humility. Character is important to us at DFSCC because we are committed to truth and integrity within our work, and we believe honesty is the best policy. We are committed to not only our character, but also our work in general. We are determined to get it done, and get it done in style, and with confidence. Through all that confidence, it’s important to us to have a leader who is humble through it all. A great leader is one who is strong and decisive, but knows how to listen and how to recognize the value of others.

Since my first moments of my first day at DFSCC, my value has been recognized and my work has been praised, which has in turn made me work hard and be excited for what I am going to produce during my time here. Hopefully through my eyes you can start to see the cycle of leadership and associate, the qualities each party possesses to make this cycle spin, and the anatomy of the office here at DFSCC!

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What Separates Goals We Achieve from Those We Don’t

2 words, 8 syllables.  Delayed gratification… What exactly is gratification, how does one delay it, and why is doing so beneficial?  Yeesh — do you have a headache?  Me too.  Let’s break it down.  

Take this example.  

Instant gratification: picture yourself pulling up to the Starbucks drive-thru with a crisp $5 bill in hand.  You buy yourself that new overpriced S’mores Frappucino you’re mid-afternoon brain is telling you you need now now now!!  You take a sip and all your fears and worries melt away and you drift into a sugary bliss.  But your $5 is gone.  Spent. Tossed into the hands of a barista.  Yikes.

Delayed gratification: you forego the Frappucino and instead brew a cup o’joe at home or work.  You shove the $5 in your piggy bank to put towards your BMW savings, throw a Splenda into your home brew, sip, and smile. 

So basically, the gist is this: do you want a little now or a lot more later?

By delaying gratification, you can save yourself a lot of cash, boost your willpower and more quickly achieve your long-term goals.  Specifically, delaying gratification is a great skill to acquire when working towards career objectives.

But…How do we stick to our goals?  How do we deny ourselves that sugary, caffeine-filled 16 oz cup of Starbucks deliciousness?  

Number 1: Factor in fun when choosing how you plan to achieve your work-related goals.  If you enjoy the task you’re doing, or the work environment you’re in, you are more likely to stick with it in the long run.
Number 2: Sprinkle in a few immediate benefits whilst in pursuit of long-term objectives.  Listen to music while working, nibble on some fruit snacks, or scribble in your planner in 6 different shades of pink pens.
Number 3: focus on the positive.  Reflect on the good, throw out the bad.  Make your work experience as positive as it can be.  Your situation is all about your mindset.

All in all, don’t make your life horrible just for the sake of achieving a long-term goal.  While delaying gratification can lead to prosperity, the here and the now is also important — reaping benefits immediately doesn’t always have to take away from your future ambitions.  It’s all a balancing act — so, instead of wasting $5 on that Frappucino every day, treat yourself once a week!  Or, in my case, treating myself means running by the Village Grind for an iced americano on the way to work at DFS Creative Concepts.

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What I Learned My First Week as an Intern

We have all been the new girl (or guy) at work before. You’re a little afraid and excited, and at the same time you stayed up a little too long the night before as you let your nerves get the best of you… sound familiar? There is an eagerness to learn and be helpful, but you also are stuck trying to navigate those workroom norms while somewhere in the back of you’re head thinking — what have I gotten myself into? Well, that was me about a week ago as I entered DFSCC’s doors.

If you have ever walked into DFSCC, then you know it’s fashion forward and has an aesthetic that radiates good vibes and class. I mean, what is not to love about that zebra rug? But those “good vibes” are not just seen in the multitude of colors, it is an attitude that has been adopted by all who work here. I recently read an article which spoke in detail about ‘the leader’s dilemma’ in which employers struggle to balance the amount of stress they place on their employees with the high results they expect out of their employees’ work. I found this article interesting as I am often left speechless in trying to describe to family and friends my super positive experience of working at DFSCC as an intern, but I think I have a better grip on it now. From observations and conversations I’ve had at work, I have compiled a list of thoughts and actions seen daily at the DFSCC office which combat the leadership dilemma and aid in building a fulfilling work experience.

Self Care

We often use the phrase “When you dress well you test well” and I find this so applicable here. When you feel your best, you radiate confidence all around you. All of us here at DFSCC have our own unique style that we showcase in different ways. Self Care does not just refer to hygiene and personal presence, but in making sure that our mental health is as strong as our physical health. For some, this may be working out or reading a book to get some peace of mind after a long day of work. But in regards to the work place, having an honest discourse between everyone and transparency regarding all work matters leads to ease and more productivity.

Expanding our Boxes

In life there are some things we are good at and some. . . not so much. In that same regard, there are some things we like to do and some. . . not so much. One of the things we are able to do here at DFSCC is explore both sides of the spectrum. On my first day of work Dorothy told me something that really resonated with me. She noted that we are often placed into boxes depending on age, race, gender, etc. and that because of that the tasks we are ‘good’ at often become the only tasks we are allowed to do. Many times we become trapped in this cycle and may never really experience our full potential. From writing to designing to working on event days, we are able to dip our toes into a little bit of everything here at DFSCC experiencing what we love in a new context, and usually finding something else that we are ‘good’ at.

Feeling the Love

Whether it’s a shout out on our Instagram page or a one-on-one with Dorothy, there is plenty of love and gratitude to go around. I’ll be the first to admit that even though I’d like to think I am Wonder Woman, many days I find myself enlisting the help of my colleagues or Dorothy to complete a task. Though we are a super diverse crew, together we are family. And Dorothy reminds us all of this everyday.

As you can see here, I survived my first week. But, I can easily say that I didn’t just survive. I was able to thrive due to a work environment that allows for independence and creativity cultivated by the OG #GirlBoss Dorothy. So here is a shoutout to our fearless leader you inspire us daily. Thank you for pushing us to exceed expectations in our work, to keep calm in the craziest of of situations and to always add a little flare in everything we do.

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Monday Mantra: Don’t Just Stand There

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So normally, Caroline writes the majority of our posts, followed by the rest of the crew . . . And I round out the bottom of the barrel. Yep, that’s right. Being everything from my own janitor to my own bookkeeper to running my own small business (oh yeah, being a mother to a #threenager and a wife to a husband in tax season, too) has my writing time few and far between. But it’s a rainy day, I’ve actually done a good job with my bookkeeping for the morning, and before the tsunami of work (and, apparently, rain) piles up I thought I’d hijack the Monday Mantra post because there was something I felt needed to be shared for a number of reasons.

I’ll never forget how the women in my life seemed to all be in cahoots in their chorus of advice: WELL DON’T JUST STAND THERE. (Implied: do something.) Every woman I’ve ever looked up to was never just standing around. Whether professionally, personally, ideologically, ethically, or physically. Nobody just stood around and let life happen. Carpe diem, right?

There’s so much to this loaded phrase that has carried me through life.

Seeing another student being called names on the playground in elementary school? Well don’t just stand there.

Seeing another student struggling with high school math (who doesn’t)? Well don’t just stand there.

Want to get into the college / graduate school / job of your dreams? Well don’t just stand there.

Want to pursue a dream you’ve had for a long time, yet lack the self-confidence to pursue it? Well don’t just stand there.

Standing around is easy. Letting life happen to you is easy (whether the good, the bad, or the ugly). Staying in that boring job is easy. Not standing up for what is right is easy. Saying unkind things is easy. (Just to name a few.) None of those aforementioned situations take any thought. In fact, it takes literally ZERO thought and actually no action.

What does take thought, though? Not standing there, not just letting life happen to you, going for it, standing up for what is right, saying kind things, doing what is right, actively being present. You get the drift. It’s so much harder, and takes way more thought and deliberation, to say and do the right thing (by yourself and by others). But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t.

When I started DFSCC, I didn’t just stand there. It was extremely difficult to put myself, my name, my time, and all of my heart on the line to pursue a dream (not to mention the sacrifices that had to be made across the board). Were there those who doubted my ability to succeed? Of course. Were there those who, due to their own insecurities, questioned how I could be a working mother? You bet. I still get those side comments. “You’re so lucky you are a weekend mom,” someone once said. Hello, uncensored.

But as one of my favorite quotes from a great lifelong girlfriend goes, “We may stand out, but we never stand alone.” Read: just find the right tribe to stand with you. Tribes don’t have to be big. Just the right people are needed.

So let’s start fresh this week and challenge ourselves not to “just stand there.” Go do something. Pursue a dream, pursue a passion. Be kind to someone who needs it, and even kinder to someone who you think might not need it one single bit.

After all, nobody ever crossed the finish line in life by just standing around.

Also a good pair of shoes makes all the difference. Cinderella proved that a long time ago.

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How Full is Your Tank?

A few weeks ago, as I left the office, I received a phone call from one of those friends that you (under no circumstances) let go to voicemail (unless you are physically unable to answer the phone). Only, this phone call resulted in a comedy of errors that provided for much entertainment and, surprisingly, self-awareness.

Apparently her gas tank was empty, and she was stranded on the side of a busy intersection. And you know what? I love that she called ME.

Having danced on the edge of this one too many times myself (“ZERO is just a suggestion!” I always say.), I said “I’ll be right there. But how do you get gas? To a car? If it’s not at a gas station?” (We can discuss my lack of automotive knowledge at a later date.)

After walking me through how to buy an empty gas can, fill it with gas, and then (duh) drive to her to fill the tank, I thought we were all set.

Until, that is, we couldn’t figure out how to get the gas out of the gas can and into the tank. Fast forward 15-20 minutes (maybe 30, if we are totally honest), and we realized that perhaps the illustrated directions – on the sticker, on the gas can – would probably give us the coveted information we so desperately needed. (Calling spouses and admitting defeat and/or asking what to do was not an option.)

All of this didn’t happen without multiple passers-by stopping to take photos of what probably looked like a stand-up comedy routine. No, nobody offered to help. Not one person. Yes, one of us was head-to-toe in Lilly Pulitzer and the other was wearing the standard leopard print stilettos, a flowy top, and oversized sunglasses. And yes, there came a point where we were so desperate to fill the tank that we tried to splash the gas into the tank. Which only resulted in the ole 80-20 rule – 80% wound up on us and our clothing and 20% wound up on the street.

However, once we actually followed directions which were presumably illustrated and designed by those who knew what they were doing, we got the tank reasonably full and were able to get moving again. Granted we smelled like gasoline for two weeks, but that’s beside the point.

The whole experience got me thinking. How often do we run on empty? How often do we, as those who work both within the home or outside of it (or both) think “I can make it just one more mile. . . even though the indicator is flashing bright red and says ZERO”? How many times do we actually ONLY fill up our tanks when we are prompted to by the light? When is the last time we thought “Hey, let’s put some gas in the tank. . . Just because I know I’ll need it one day.” (Usually such forethought, at least in my case, only happens when preparing for a long drive.)

So I concluded that (at least for me) many wait until we are empty to fill ourselves up. . . And the only time we find to proactively fill ourselves comes when on the front-end of a long journey where we know we will need it.

And that’s not really any way to live.

So I don’t know about you, but I’ve started to make it a priority to not wait until my tank says ZERO or I’m stranded before I do things to nourish myself mentally, physically and emotionally. A small break here, doing something nice for myself (no matter how seemingly insignificant) there, saying “No” without citing a reason and little things that internally validate who I am and what I believe in. . . All of those come together to fill my tank so that I won’t find myself at ZERO or stranded in any way, shape or form.

Here’s to filling up your tanks. And also to those friends who are there to help you refill it when you were too busy being everything for everyone, and you didn’t notice you were running low.

Now about that piece of chocolate cake and a side glass of champagne. I’ll take one of each, thank you very much!

Numbers Don’t Lie and Neither Does Young Adult Literature

“Some hearts beat only about 412 million times, which might sound like a lot, but the truth is, it barely even gets you twelve years.” –The Truth About Jellyfish

My sister-in-law, also a #girlboss (slash pediatrician), gave me a fabulous read for Christmas. As the mother of an almost three-year-old boy. . . I find it hard to muster up the energy to read things (outside of working hours) that require more than his attention span (currently that of a bumble bee). Until I read The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin.

I’m going to tell you a story about a special person, whose heart only beat for thirty years. As anyone can tell you, I’m no mathematician. I just spent about 15 minutes on my iPhone calculator trying to figure out, based on that excerpt, how many beats would constitute thirty years. And I’m still not able to get it. Sidebar: My math teachers were awesome, I think they just gave up and said “Listen, how about I give you a passing grade if you just leave me alone and stop asking questions?”

His name was Daniel. And he was born with Proteus Syndrome. Don’t know what it is? Google it.

His sister Kathleen and his cousin Amelia lived with me in college. So in a sense, Daniel felt like an extended part of my family. The thing about Daniel and his crew is that they treat you like family even if you aren’t. As Kathleen once said, “Listen I hate to break it to you, but there’s nothing you can do that will make me stop loving and caring about you. I might get mad at you, but we’re family and families don’t give up on each other. No matter how hard it gets.” As all college girls/roommates do, we had our ups and downs. And as all friends do, we have had our near years and our far years. But ultimately there’s a string, a common thread, that ties us all together. A little thing called love.

Daniel died the other week, after thirty years of changing lives like it was no big deal (which, in fact, it was a very big deal the way he changed people’s lives, for the record). . . And hitting well over the century mark in numbers of surgeries.

As I woke up at 3am to drive to Savannah for his funeral, and to be there for my “extended family,” all I could do was reflect, contemplate, and question what it all means.

And here are my top five things that I think we all need to keep in mind as women in the workplace, mothers, sisters, daughters, friends, you name it.

1.) You only get so many minutes in the hour, hours in the day, days in the week, weeks in the year, and years in your life. You better spend them wisely. Is it worth it to allow negativity into your life? Or is it better to let love permeate? Is it better to live a life ruled by competition than one guided by kindness and treating others how you’d want to be treated?

2.) The people in your life are there for a reason. You might not understand why. But every person is put into your life to teach you something about what it means to live. You might as well go ahead and accept this fact. Love one another. Live a life that radiates positivity, and refuse to engage in anything that doesn’t put good out there.

3.) Find your tribe, and love them hard. And though not everyone can be there for every tribe member every minute of every day, at least try to be there when the going gets tough. You don’t need a big tribe. Just the right people in it.

4.) Joy: sprinkle that stuff everywhere like it’s confetti on your birthday (or a random Friday). Because life is brief, and happiness matters.

5.) “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth.” – Muhammad Ali

Young adult literature is easy to read. For the young and young-at-heart, and all those in between who find themselves with less time on their hands to read than desired, I encourage you to pick up this book. It’s a good one.

And Daniel, thank you for the life you lived. You taught us all about what it means to persevere, and to live life to the fullest.

To find out how you can help with Proteus Syndrome, click here. For Daniel.

Start, Stop, Continue

Last week, I discussed the Furman University Women in Leadership Institute in which I am participating this Winter/Spring. The moderators left us with a task before our next (February) meeting: figure out three things. Something to start, something to stop, and something to continue.

At first, this seemed pretty easy. Start eating healthier (I say as I enjoyed a burger from GB&D, complete with “extra burger sauce” for my fries. Thank God I inherited my mom’s metabolism . . . For now), stop buying shoes (Although Blossom Shoes & Such is exempt from this, naturally), and continue growing DFSCC into my vision: a place for women both young, young-ish, and young-at-heart to learn, thrive, and grow while conducting good work for the clients who put their faith within us.

After much thought, a glass of wine, and a little bit of sleep (let’s hear it for toddlers and sleep regression!), I’ve revised my three to reflect a bit more insightful and introspective thoughts. After all, this WIL Institute is supposed to change my life (so far it has), so we might as well continue with the trend.

START: Forget eating healthier. (Though I should be doing that anyway.) My start that I plan to report at our February meeting is that I plan to start only speaking and communicating in a purposeful way. Meaning: I tend to fill the space. If someone’s not talking, I feel like I need to make conversation. Witness my former publisher-boss, who would just sit there as I rambled on about everything from work to my dogs to the kitchen sink. Somewhat amused, but probably somewhat thinking “Will she ever stop?” I’ve realized the importance of not saying things just to say them. Rather, I plan to only say things that are relevant to my clients’ work, my family’s interests and lives, and my friends’ livelihoods. I want each word to be purposeful, thought through, and relevant. I plan to do a whole lot of listening, and a lot less talking. Someone (I was too busy talking, apparently, to remember who) said “You’ve got two ears, and one mouth. Use them in that order.” It might have been my dad. He was never one to wax poetic about things. Speak with a heart of purpose through your words, that’s what I’m going to start doing. (Somehow I can hear people who know me reading this and cheering out loud.)

STOP: Forget the cease-shopping stance on shoes. Ok, maybe I can dial it back a little bit. But what I truly plan on stopping is self-criticism. We’re our own worst critics (most of the time, anyway). It eats us alive, and sucks the joy out of life and our abilities to love the life we live. We only get one go-round at this life (or so my beliefs state), so might as well spend it NOT thinking about all of your imperfections, your weaknesses, and shortcomings. But rather, turn those observations into teachable moments.

CONTINUE: I do plan to continue growing DFSCC into my vision as a place for women to flourish in the marketing world (small, medium, or large as that world may be based on their desires). I’m going to keep my eye on the prize: mentoring women as best I can. Because while I might not know the answer, I certainly at the very least know what NOT to do (from personal experience!). I’m not perfect, but sometimes the best lessons are learned from those who aren’t, right?

I’m reminded of one of my favorite quotes, written on a shoddy notecard with no attribution. (Sorry, Mrs. Burleigh and Mr. Blackwell, I know your skin is crawling about this.)

“This is the beginning of a new day. God has given me this day to use as I will. I can waste it or use it for good. What I do today is important, because I am exchanging a day of my life for it. When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone forever, leaving something I have traded for it. I want it to be a fain, not loss; good, not evil; success, not failure; in order that I shall not regret the price I paid for it.”

My closest friends joke that I always say “At the end of the day……” before I launch into my opinions. So, true to form…..

At the end of the day, it’s worth evaluating what took place and what was sacrificed for that day. You can begin a start/stop/continue each day, each week, or each month. Heck, I’m sure you can start one each hour if you’re that into it. But if there’s one thing I do know, it’s that as a mom (separate from small business owner), mine include: start the day with a snuggle, stop beating yourself up over sleep regressions / potty training / weird toddler food preferences / running the rat race, and continue loving my child.

What are your start/stop/continues?

You’re One in 33 Million. Say What??

Strengths help define us just as much as weaknesses. And while we would love for the former to outweigh the latter on all occasions, that’s simply just not the case. Sometimes, our weaknesses rear their little (or big) selves right before our very eyes (unfortunately, so it would seem). . . and I learned on Tuesday at the Furman University Women in Leadership Institute that’s not entirely a bad thing. Wait, what? Weaknesses (and knowing what they are) aren’t a bad thing? Who’s moderating this institute anyway? Didn’t they get the memo: weaknesses are bad. Do I need to jump in and correct everyone? Lord help us.

But I was wrong.

Turns out, you’re not just “one in a million” as the phrase goes. In fact, technically based on the 34 strengths that we were assessed on during the first session, we are each one in thirty-three million.  Based on how we fared on our strengths (top five, top ten) and weaknesses (bottom five, bottom ten) and everything in between. . . our strengths and weaknesses make us as individual as fingerprints.

After my initial concern that 4/5 of my top strengths were in “relationship building” (I guess I’m not as well-rounded as I thought in terms of strengths), the facilitator pointed out something rather insightful out to me. (Yes, I was the girl who raised her hand, panicking that my strengths were not spread equally across the board.)

She said, “You don’t have to be strong at everything, you know. You just have to know your strengths, hone those, and find people who compliment them. THAT’s when you have a powerful situation. Whether at work, at home, or with friends. . . Find those people who compliment your strengths, such that the sum total is better than the individual parts.” Wow, thanks Dr. Kim Keefer with the Shucker Learning Institute. You pretty much blew my mind.

In a day and age where we, as women (Caro would say #GirlBosses) feel like we have to be “it all” for everyone (and trust me, there’s always someone else who needs you for something), it was somewhat freeing to realize that it’s okay not to be evenly spread across the strengths board. And that you don’t have to have it all. You can trust God, the Universe, a higher power (hey, whatever you believe – that’s your bag). . . But people are put into your life for a reason.

We then went on to list out people who we “partner” with that make us better as a whole. Luckily, this came easy to me. Apparently I know who is better at certain things than I am. (I suppose this comes from having a psychologist as a sister.) We also examined who you find yourself partnering with who might not really fit your strengths (read: takes a little bit too much, and doesn’t give back nearly what they receive).

With an office full of young women, emerging into who they become in the personal and professional world, I always try to tell them and treat them as if they are “one in a million.” I think, and don’t judge me, that once on Oprah (still sad her show is where I can’t seem to find it, but that’s another blog post). . . she interviewed someone who said “My mother treated each of us like we were her favorites, and we all felt that way.” And that’s how I designed DFS Creative Concepts. To ensure each client, collaborator and employee felt they were the very most important. That they were the one-in-a-million.

But surprisingly, and in a happy way, my people, collaborators and my clients are so much more than that. They’re one-in-thirty-three million. I’m no math genius (just ask my teachers growing up – they would see me walk in and run for dear life when I would launch into my questions), but it seems rather clear to me: we are way more special than we thought.

And it’s not only due to our strengths, but also our weaknesses, and everything in between. It all weaves together to create the fabric of who we are as people.

So for “Doses of DFS” this Friday, I guess the point of this way-too-long-post is that you’re more unique, special, and different than you think. And that’s not just because of the good stuff. But also because of the weaker parts and everything average in between.

Let’s stop thinking of ourselves as just one-in-a-million. When truly, you’re exponentially more than that.


PS: My fifth strength is strategic. And our office people have all taken the same analysis, and between all of us, we’ve got all the boxes checked as strengths. Like a puzzle, we all seem to fit together to create our little powerhouse of women, and I couldn’t feel more lucky.

Dressing drinks and finding a ‘better way’

So, I kind of feel like I’m in group therapy. “My name is Dorothy…” and Caroline (my faithful comrade at DFSCC) is making me do these “Doses of DFS” on Fridays. And I couldn’t be more out of my comfort zone. I don’t even like looking into photos directly unless a photographer forces me to. As extroverted as I might seem, I actually test on the extreme introvert side of the spectrum. Nobody ever believes me, so I have to pull the results up on my phone. Extrovert by trade, introvert by nature. 

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