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"This business is mental. The skills can be taught quickly. It's what happens up here that determines what you do with those skills."
I'd be shocked if I'm the first to tell you this, but what you focus on, you create more of. And I don't mean in the sense of stare at the owl sitting in your mom's front yard focusing on it delivering your Hogwarts letter (sheesh, finally!), but I mean, in order to be a champion you have to first champion your mind. Second, champion your schedule. We're gonna talk about that first one today.
Ever waffled with the idea of putting your business "on the back-burner," which is code-word QUIT?
You know what quitters don't do? Win. What's the best way to keep from quitting, so you can start putting #winning on all of your posts and texts to your mom? Remember those goals and commitments you made like, IDK nine days ago? If you want to quit quitting, stop starting over and keep going, you have to stay excited.
Excited you does things. Miserable or waffling you does everything to keep you from doing those things.
When I buried my business, goals and desires under other stuff [read: putting 200 percent effort in my full-time job at the expense of everything else], I was cranky. Angry. Frustrated. Not fun to be around. Liable to stab you with my knitting needles. I complained about everything because I felt like my soul was being sucked from my very body for 60 hours a week and I was so mentally exhausted all I wanted to do was a big, fat nothing. It was miserable. I was miserable. And when you are miserable and all you're thinking about is misery ... y'all, they don't joke when they say "misery loves company."
It was vital not only to my business, but to myself, to find a way to break that cycle; to get and remain excited, and to excite other people while I was at it.
For example: Let's examine Miserable Dallas from a few months ago (or honestly, at many points during the past decade, but that's neither here nor there). Miserable Dallas woke up frustrated about her job. She then stayed in bed until the last possible second because she didn't want to go to the place that made her miserable. Sometimes she would wake up with such anxiety it caused her to become physically ill. Miserable Dallas would eventually go to her job, spend the next however many hours were required of her there, talking to other people who were miserable or angry. She got in her car to come home and called her mother, boyfriend, best friend, someone she worked with who wasn't there that day, to fill them in on what misery occurred. She was so mentally exhausted after being miserable and dwelling in her misery that eff it, she was going to not do anything productive because she was no longer excited about anything ... and if there was a glimmer of hope, she sabotaged herself and squashed it. Do you think this Dallas was a champion of anything except perhaps amount of days she could go without washing her hair?
This is why Cheryl Fulcher's, who is a top leader in my company, words were like a "ohhh shoo," gut-punch moment at her event this month.
I don't care what your business is — skills only take you so far. Seriously. Once you got the "how to" down, then you gotta do. It's the doing of the skills that moves you forward, and the not-doing that keeps you stuck where you are or moving backward. Take any class you had in high school or college: you probably learned a skill, maybe a certain lab technique, running two miles in PE, the Pythagorean Theorem, music on the trombone, whatever it was, in order to get better at it and more confident about your ability to do it, you had to perform the skill over and over. If you didn't do the skill, or convinced yourself you sucked at said skill, well, so be it. But if you committed (ha, there's that word again) to doing the skill repeatedly, you were the one breaking records in your high school cross country meets and being all Lindsay Lohan Mathlete about your life. Stop focusing so much on the "how to" and focus on the "let's do!"
The entire time I was so miserable I had the exact same skills I do today, but I wasn't committed to working them. I knew how to book appointments, make sure those appointments were going to take place, make women feel amazing and at home, ensure if they chose to shop they loved what they got (and if they didn't, figure out what worked better), share my job with others. That did nothing for me when I was doing nothing.
Are you there now? Are you afraid of going down that rabbit hole? Allow me to share with you some of the ways I force myself into a better mindset.*
*Please note that I am not a therapist, not a licensed mental health professional, and I deal with depression/anxiety without the use of medication. These are things that helped me. If your rut seems more severe than just being down in the dumps, there is no shame in seeking help. Seriously.
For a while now, I saw friends from my hometown post about going to this new coffeeshop called Rooted Coffeehouse. It looked absotively, posilutely Instagrammable: the drinks were beautiful and dressed with care; the decor had all the muted, neutral tones that are so modern and "in" right now; its actual Instagram account is straight-up eye candy and to be honest I am heavily inspired by the way they shoot their drinks, so hey, I'm going to copy that cat at some point for future stylings, I'm sure. But what I did not realize was that Rooted is much, much more than a coffeeshop.
vibe. No offense to Starbucks, of course, but y'all know I have a penchant for supporting local businesses and people. I'm as basic as they come (not pictured is the "You had me at Pumpkin Spice Latte" T-shirt I was wearing while visiting Rooted), but what I found when it comes to working from home is that you often need a change of pace. Or, well, place.
And truth be told, when I'm visiting my family, there are not a lot of options in the Evans and Grovetown areas for locally-owned restaurants that have an atmosphere I find both inspirational and able to focus in. Usually the music or the people are too loud; the lighting blows (have you ever tried digitally editing photos or video in the dark with your computer brightness up for full color clarity? If you haven't, don't; your eyes will thank you); there are distractions; it doesn't have WiFi; you get the drift. The difficulty of finding such a place that's not a minimum 30-minute drive from my parents' house was a tad annoying.
I was so, so excited when I realized that having to come to Evans for dreary duty — oops, I mean "jury duty" — meant that I finally had an excuse to check out Rooted myself. My mom, who's a retired educator and published author, and who happens to be working on a couple writing projects already for 2019, walked in and the first words out of her mouth were, "This would be a great place to come write!" BAM, y'all! And that was before we did so much as get our drinks and food.
Oh, yes. Food. That's right. I don't know how I missed the memo, but Rooted has breakfast sandwiches, lunch-ish sandwiches (it's open until 6 on weekdays and 4 on weekends), Millennial-approved toasts, oatmeal and those purple bowls of fruits and berries. Mom, Daddy and my uncle Abram indulged in "The Classic," which was a breakfast sandwich of egg, cheese, bacon and spinach on ciabatta, and let me tell ya, the breakfast sandwiches are hearty helpings. I should've snapped a photo (ugh, #hindsight) to demo just how big they are!
At most places I've been with picturesque atmospheres like Rooted, a $5 breakfast sandwich is a weensy lil' English muffin that has maybe a tablespoon of filling and the thought of a piece of bacon. Not. At. Rooted. Be prepared to bring your appetite if you order one of the sandwiches. The price is ridiculously reasonable for what is brought out on your plate.
On top of the avocado mash was a pile of microgreens, which not too long ago became a bit of a favorite of mine. Microgreens are the edible shoots of salad greens or flowers, picked just after the first leaves show up. I'm not sure which microgreens made up the mix on my toast this morning, but they have a lovely light, almost nutty flavor to them. The avocado was sprinkled with Himalayan salt, red pepper flakes, black pepper and hemp seeds. I didn't get much from the hemp seeds in terms of flavor, but overall the combination led to a gentle blend that had a subtle kick to it. Avocado by itself doesn't have much flavor to it — somewhere between a roasted cashew and unsalted butter? — so it takes seasonings very well, especially ones that are salty or spicy. I was not disappointed at all with this kind of breakfast, and it far outshines my own attempts at making avocado toast.
Obviously it is difficult to visit a coffeeshop and not purchase a beverage of some sort, and since the seasonal menu was still available, I partook in a cinnamon white mocha (made with the house-produced cinnamon syrup). It was really sweet, so if you like coffee-flavored-coffee, this one may not be for you. Being that I like quality coffee seasoned with quality creamer, this was a great treat! I love how it was presented — kind of hard to see in the above photo, but it came out in a tallboy glass topped with whipped cream and powdered with cinnamon. I felt so fancy taking it to the table! Bonus points go to Rooted for its custom cup-grips that say "spread joy," which I got when I poured the rest of my cinnamon white mocha in a to-go cup.
I'm quite excited about this new place to work, and also excited for what seems like such a positive addition to the Evans area. Not only is it a locally owned business, but it supports fellow locals as well. Some of its coffee mugs are made by Tire City Potters, located in downtown Augusta, and during the holiday season it started a series of craft, music and community events. I'm bummed I missed out on them and hope that I'll be able to make it back for future ones!
Now, if you need Mom or me any time in the next few days ... we'll likely be sitting on one of the Rooted couches, writing up our latest stories.
On the first day of 2019, two significant events occurred. I found a four-leaf clover (more on that in the coming days) and I watched the Georgia Bulldogs lose a bowl game.
I may not have been at the Sugar Bowl, much less playing on the field, but there's a lot that can be learned from what happened in those four quarters, especially when it comes to what you plan to tackle in the new year.
As a fan, I went into this bowl game with a muted mindset. Though I know my usual gameday traditions are 100 percent personal superstitions that do not affect the team one iota, I woke up yesterday morning, excited for the new year and completely forgot college football was happening at 8:45 p.m. My typical gameday attire that I am so careful to put on; the regular Saturday traditions I go through as a lifelong Dawg fan ... nonexistent.
Our big game of the season was over. Kirby Smart & Co. worked their tails off in a game that wasn't meant to end in red and black victory, and then the nation saw the "calibre" of teams that were selected to go on to the playoffs. They were high-ranked and deserving teams, but those teams that had a National Championship spot to play for showed lackluster performances compared to what was expected of them. Georgia fans, remembering what a season 2017 was and how we still performed incredibly well in 2018, putting up more points and almost pulling off both a Natty and SEC Championship victory against Alabama, were annoyed that the "four best teams" included two that looked like they weren't even trying to win a National Championship.
Having achieved all that, this bowl game was "meh" in comparison. At least some members of the team weren't all-in it to win it, or so it seemed from the outside looking in. As I mentioned already, my fan mindset wasn't all-in either. The 2019 Sugar Bowl Dawgs looked like those teams its fans said didn't deserve a spot to vie for the Natty. The team made mistakes its players are usually more careful to avoid, and it was clear Texas was ready to take this one home.
So, what does this long, drawn-out story have to do with you entering 2019?
It shows that if you're not bull-headed and committed to whatever it is you want to achieve this year, this week, this season of your life ... you're likely going to flail about and not get the results you're looking for. The Dawgs wanted to win this bowl game, I'm sure, but at least one player somewhere wasn't putting in the work to minimize mistakes and keep on track.
In my career, this is something I've struggled with as well — especially when it comes to setting a new year resolution! You see, a resolution is essentially lip service. There's not much accountability to it. There's usually not much strategy. It's a whole lotta talk and like, zero walking. This is why for so many people, a new year's resolution lasts about 2.7 seconds. I've had a skincare and cosmetics business for going on seven years now, and for the better part of six of those, I was real good at telling people what I wanted in my life and significantly less good at putting a plan in place to get what I wanted. I was even worse at committing to working the plan.
I adopted, without realizing it, the same mantra that Georgia sports fans seemed to be annoyingly cursed with adopting for football, baseball, basketball ... pretty much everything except soccer. Thank goodness for ATL United for reminding us that this mantra isn't reality, it's something we let happen to ourselves.
"There's always next season. There's always next year."
Not to be a Debbie downer over here, but like. Y'all. Yes, there is always going to be another football season/another year because that's how the clocks work and that's how sportsballs work. However! What if something awful happens to you before your "next season"? Furthermore, imagine what your "next season" will look like if you stop bullsh*tting and become bull-headed about making those changes you keep talking about!
Stop with the new year's resolutions. Start with a new commitment. This was a hard, hard mind-shift for me to make, because I'd been stuck in that procrastinating "there's always next season" mentality for just about everything I wanted in my business. Moving up our career path in leadership; earning a free car; maximizing my financial resources; etc. Excuse my French, but who the EFF does that?! Who says they're going to make more money doing X, Y, Z or Q and then allows themselves to get overwhelmed with moving forward so they make a hard 180 back to where they were before, or they veer off in a completely different direction that's not getting them any closer to where they want to be, but instead puts them further in some kind of drag-me-to-hell-hole?!
ME. That's who. And I'm willing to bet a few of y'all as well. It is a mind-shift I struggle with D A I L Y.
I wake up in the morning sometimes [transparency note: I struggle with anxiety and depression on the regular, which is normal and OK but what's not OK is to do what I used to do and wallow in it] and it is an act of God to pull myself out of bed. I would make excuse after excuse as to why I wasn't going to work on my future that day. It's no wonder that some aspects of my businesses looked about as stand-out as the UGA Sugar Bowl performance!
This year will be different. I've got not only my own version of the Sugar Bowl to crush, but a National Championship to work toward. You do, too.
That's why I bit my tongue, stopped stopping and decided to launch Dallas Anne Duncan, LLC, or DAD LLC for short. It's a tad self-reflective and I hope you'll find it inspirational and helpful as you read and learn from what I've done, and from the journeys of those I admire. I'm not the super-rich media mogul with a picture-perfect styled natural light photography headshot who sponsors ads all over your Facebook feeds. I'm a real human, pretty salty and snarky and eggscellent at puns. I write, I knit, I enjoy beer and whiskey, I have two cats and a black lab and an amazing family and a supportive boyfriend and more baggage than I can fit in my Honda Fit. I've done things and made business decisions I'm not proud of. But what I learned is that it's possible to fail forward if you're willing to take the risk, make the commitment and do the work.
Remember what I said earlier, that whole commitment-instead-of-a-resolution thing? Commitments come with resolve. They come with strategy and planning and accountability. If I've got a handful of folks who are able to take away something positive from watching me work, seeing me jump hurdles, hearing from others who knocked down every obstacle to get to the hella exhilarating place and people they are today ... then I'm committed to work, jump hurdles and tell these stories in the hopes that it will help you write your own.
The lackluster mindset I had during the Sugar Bowl (and off and on for the past six years) is purposefully being cut off. There's so much goodness coming our way this year that NEXT YEAR will be absolutely insane. I'm calling it 2020 Vision, and the only way that's going to happen is being all-in and committed in 2019.
I think these words from former Bulldog Tim Worley sum it up pretty well. Feel free to save this one for inspiration as needed: