Posts tagged conferences
Turn your vision statements into business cards

And now a word about branding.

Lots of great marketers and communicators have lots to say about branding. I have a great deal of thoughts about it myself, and I continue to learn more about best practices for my new small business.

In order to move forward the brand of Pars Caeli, in addition to logos and colors and fonts, I thought through mission and purpose.

As a loose exercise, I started by writing key statements that summed up my purpose and vision. And phrases like Yearn to Create resonated.

Amazing are You.

You are a Piece of Heaven.

Soak in the Goodness.

The amazing company, Minted, gave me the opportunity to create these sharp triple thick two-inch business cards/vision statements. The solidity of the cards feels like the right reflection of where I want to go - strong, positive, and thoughtful.

I'm spending today and tomorrow in Utah to assist with Alt Summit. It's my third conference from Alt, and I learn a ton from the creatives I meet. I'll be showing off great business cards (they are a big deal at Alt), tweeting out great tidbits of expertise on social media/branding/small business, and capturing images of the fanciful and imaginative parties and collaborations that only happen at Alt. I'd love to have you join in the fun via #parscaeli_ALT on Twitter and Instagram.

I'll be back next week to share all that I can!! Until then have a great weekend, friends. Don't forget to check in tomorrow to see what hits The Top!

xoxo, MJ

Putting the Impostor in its place

How is this ever going to get this done? I find myself asking this. Often.

My to do list is no longer or fuller than yours. And, if I'm honest, my feelings have little to do with the amount of tasks I need to accomplish.

Tomorrow, I have a presentation to give on a topic of which I am familiar: social media. I'll deliver it to an attentive audience who's asked some individuals who regularly work in this arena to present. I don't often give presentations these days, and, though I don't have a particular fear of public speaking, I feel ill-prepared, overwhelmed, and I am carefully planning all of the other things I could be doing instead of delivering this presentation.

I'm avoiding.

And procrastinating.

And there is a voice in my head, that has grown in volume over the last few days, that I might not be qualified. I might be asked questions I don't know the answer to.

I might not be able to do this.

I'm not sure I can do this.

Psychologists give this downward internal conversation a term known as the Impostor Phenomenon. I call it a big dose of self doubt that pops up its ugliness at the most unopportune moments.

It's this sense that, even though you have succeeded and accomplished a certain arena, you are still not qualified... and that others might see you as an "impostor."

Seems that high-achieving women (uh oh) and African Americans are most likely to experience this feeling and grad students as well as faculty on the tenure track feel it, too.

But, guess what?

The quickest, easiest cure for such a phenomenon (or jumbo heap of self doubt)?

"The most effective technique to overcome impostor syndrome is to simply recognize that it exists."

How about that? Just admitting that you don't feel qualified alleviates the problem. I always appreciate when speakers give an early comment something to the effect that they are not experts in their field or that they are always learning and searching... an easy cure of the impostor, I suppose.

Something I've been saying a lot to my children lately is helping me as well. "We're all in this together." St. Catherine of Sienna is quoted as saying, "The only reason to learn is to teach." So really, when we're all in this together, and I am to teach what I have learned, how can we lose?

And if you are in this with me, and you teach me what you know, then we move forward together.

So I've created my first slide. I've set the imposter in its place:

Ancora Impara, always learning

I look forward to all that you have to teach me. And I have a few things I want to teach as well.

xoxo, MJ

PS. Remember this great blog series that also broke down the impostor feeling?

Alt Summit 2014: The People

I think I'm turning into an extrovert. I missed you all yesterday not because I'm so tired from the marathon of amazingness that is Alt Summit, but because I am so over-the-top with energy and excitement, I'm having a hard time containing myself into anything that would be slightly useful.

The night before I headed out to the conference, I narrowed down my goals, and the first (and the one in big block letters) was:

Connect with friends.

I had a long list of people I wanted to hug and thank and congratulate. And another list of people that I admire who I knew would be at Alt, upon whom I wanted to try to keep my composure and say a well-formed, "hey," while I freaked out and did the running man in my head.

That didn't really work. The composure thing, that is. Oh well. I did connect with an uber mound of creatives.

All of the incredible photography in this post (save this one) is by Justin Hackworth and Brooke Dennis.

At the top of the list, these crazy good dames. Coming from far - Emily in South Carolina, Paige in Arkansas, Me in Indiana - and the even farther in the snow - Ellen in New Hampshire - we were an unstoppable team of the first-ever Alt Reps. We had each other's backs, eminated warmth and good vibes, and laughed it up every night in our shared suite. So, So, So much fun was had with this trio. I am unbelievably blessed.

I spent time with my long-time collaborator and good pal, Joy of Frock Files, and the sweetest roommate, Mere of Not Merely Living. Also Joy taught an amazing photo styling course while at Alt Summit, and girlfriend rocked it.

I met new buddies like Charity from I heart Cleveland, and confirmed just how cool Meg really is (here she's pictured in a frock that her mom made for her IN FIVE DAYS).

I re-remembered just how wonderful it is to be thinking creatively, work collaboratively for a creative venture, dream big with the best of best.

I made a fool of myself when I met artists I've admired like Melissa and Alma and Mike Loveland. C'est la vie.

I cracked up at every story Amy Christie told me (that one is hilarious!), and I declared Oklahoma a state of perma-awesomeness with these design stars, Erin and Rachel.

I high-fived Alexandra for her kickin' party (does anyone do a pony better than she?), and I told Bobbie just what an amazing beauty and writer she is.

I connected with speakers and assisted new attendees. I took WAY more selfies than I ever have and accessorized my little heart out.

I worked alongside these well-known creative super powers, who make the whole magic Alt orb rotate. And I learned a ton just from watching and connecting. Big thanks to Sara and Gabrielle for this premier opportunity.

I got things tangled and untangled again, and I recognized the goodness in this amazing Arkansas heart.

I sat in awe as this artist brought with her crowds of admirers, and took notes as this powerhouse made magic happen through the composition of her words.

This Alt Rep adventure was my nugget of an idea...and I've learned a ton (can't wait to share that), raked in some incredible business cards (sharing those, too), but ultimately...

Without the friends and the connections (new and old), it would have been a great conference at a chic hotel with interesting information.

Instead it was the tops of the top... that Altitude Summit. On the road to success, be sure to take your friends.

xoxo, MJ

P.S. Holla to my gals Maggie and Melissa whose photos weren't in the photostream but whose awesomeness exceeds any snapshots!!





Spreading wings

Hello lovelies!

As you can see, this space around us is going through some construction (still in process - thanks for hanging with me) as I freshen some stylistic qualities on Pars Caeli, keep you up-to-date on the latest, and get ready for a whole lot of exciting for 2014. It's going to be the year to be bold. Pars Caeli's second birthday is coming up, and if I remember from the Hallmark list, the traditional second birthday gift for a blog is wings!!

So let's fly. Two very exciting developments to share with you today!

I'm a new contributor over on one of my fav-o-rite blogs - Classic Play. I have loved Jen's site for years, and my kids love the fun we can have together thanks to the creative ideas shared over on Classic Play!

I'll be over there every month talking about high quality, little time, fun activities you can do with your children. We're calling it Squeeze Time right now, and it'll be a bright spot with handy ideas to make the most of the hour or less we have on those crazy days of parenting and life!

Join me over there at the end of January for my first appearance. :)

And...drumroll, please. Many of you have been asking...

Pars Caeli has made the leap to Facebook! I know, I know, many people are running from Facebook these days. But, if you're over there and want a fresh break from the typical newsfeed, add Pars Caeli to your feed, pretty please? I'll be sharing information over there...and a few unique posts only for my FB friends. I started the page a little less than a week ago, and I already love the simple interactions I can have with readers. So let's have some conversations and keep in touch that way, too!

Thank you, thank you to all of you awesome people who have allowed this space to grow!



Go Out on that Limb: Alt SLC Reps
Photo via Justin Hackworth Photography

Every time I look at this picture, I grin. I grin that big, full-face, cheek-aching grin as seen above (me in stripes). I remember this moment vividly as my new pals and I sipped cocktails on the roof of (just to name drop here) Omnimedia, AKA Martha Stewart's HQs. This was a day in June 2013 known as AltNYC, and it was 24 hours of amazingness in NYC that changed the trajectory of this little blog.

Those ladies - Emily, Paige, Theresa, Ellen - are my people. They are the kind of fountains of spunk, creativity, and heart that you want to bottle up and take with you everywhere. We had a grand adventure in NYC. We were all incredibly appreciative of the opportunities that Alt Summit laid before us, and we had a few (million) ideas on how to make this goodness happen again...

To make a long series of emails, excited phone calls, and FB exchanges succinct, I gathered this group together (+ one Sarah of Sarah Hearts!) to build on an idea I had. If you've spent any time here at Pars Caeli, you know I am all about community and lifting each other up - and we translated that into a kickin' proposal that we titled Alt Ambassadors. We sent it off with a wing and a prayer (and a whole lot of "please, please, please") in August.

Fast forward ----> New Year's Eve. Ellen sends me a very exciting text that she's received an email from Gabrielle (cofounder of Alt) that Gabrielle would like to welcome us to AltSLC as Alt Representatives.


Sorry - disbelief, shock, and sheer joy jammed my neurons and made me unable to think. I had a whole lot of "did that just happen" moments, and then we got the gals together to figure out details. And here's the skinny:

Ellen, Emily, Paige, and I will be acting as Alt Representatives during the SLC conference. We'll be offering the warmth of the collaborative spirit of Alt and connecting new and experienced bloggers, answering questions, and being the ladies you can turn to when you have THAT ridiculous question that you really don't want to have to ask someone else like: where do I pin my business card or where are the sponsors I want to see? It's an incredible opportunity for the four of us, and we are honored to take on this new role. We'll be assisting speakers and greeting creatives in each breakout session. If you are headed to the conference, please come find us - we want to meet you and give you a hug (and tell you that, yes, that outfit is just the right look for the day, you are brilliant).

To get that community vibe going, please follow the Pinterest board that I've started for AltSLC. This board will definitely evolve in the next days to include all the speakers, sponsors, and attendees we can find! We hope it can be an amazing resource for you and also all the others you want to connect with during the conference. All of the Alt Reps can pin to the board so feel welcome to grab any of us to get yourself pinned! I've preloaded about 75 of us that I could find...maybe you're already there... go check!

 And, well, here's the moral of the story for me.

If you have an idea, or if you have a gem of an inkling of an idea, go after it. Try it. Connect with others who can make it happen! Sometimes crazy, amazing things can happen when innovative, intelligent people are listening.

2014 is going to be the year of going after your dreams or thinking up those dreams that you've been pushing off to the side for way too long now.

Please forgive all of the exclamation points in this post!!! I am pumped about this opportunity to work alongside so many people that I respect and admire - and also I get to go to some drop-dread awesome parties in the mix. Wahooo!

xoxo, MJ

P.S. If you're interested in following our journeys in this new experience, follow the hashtag #altrep, because it will likely make you laugh and we are all over making up hashtags. (Runner up hashtag name? AltSaltShakers)

P.P.S. Today's #30Sketch goes with it all:

Pars Caeli takes on AltNYC - the cards

For me the people of AltNYC were the toppers. BUT a very close second were the business cards. I knew before I ever stepped foot in Omnimedia's offices on Thursday that I wanted to get them all. Business cards, the good old-fashioned way to exchange messaging and contact information, are a highlight of Alt conferences. These mini masterpieces are all shapes, sizes, textures, and even scents. With each and every card exchange, I felt like I gained another lovely bit of inspiration, and I got to tell my story to another eager listener (thank you attendees for that).

And after much labor and DIY-ing, I'm delighted to present to you the inaugural Pars Caeli business cards.

Highlights of their creation include printing on watercolor paper and adhering two layers to create the ultimate thickness and applying four layers of silver scratch-off paint. Hand painting each one of these was a commitment and a total joy. The process reminded me of the joy of freehanding. Granted, the glimmer of bliss began to wear off somewhere around coat two of silver paint, but I pushed on through that.

I went with a round design to reference the Alt logo and Martha Stewart logo (grabbing onto the coat tails of greatness). Pars Caeli is all about joy and celebration so I wanted every participant to WIN something. The thought: offer a scratch-off treat that reveals a very special website for attendees to grab a VIPrize.

I was so over the moon about these, and I eagerly handed my very first card to Paige in our Hotel Americano suite just before we were about to leave for our sponsored dinners on Wednesday evening. Paige, the ever-supportive enthusiast, quickly began to scratch at the silver paint.



Scratch, scritch.

My stomach sank. As Paige scraped off the silver paint, off came the watercolor paper and the ink that posted the website that made the whole concept click. 

Seriously? What. am. I. going. to do. Time? 5:30 with dinner to begin at 6:30 where cards will be exchanged.

I could have bawled right there. I know it sounds ridiculous but part of me wanted to pull an all out fit, think 4-year old tantrum, and pout.

BUT, I had Paige. See angelic human below.

And one really great friend is worth more than a Times Square ad space.

Instead of pulling a childish fit, I laughed. Heartily and almost hysterically. And Paige laughed, too. And in 2 minutes we were brainstorming ridiculous solutions. And laughing at every turn.

I texted my husband on the issue. He urged me to rally. To pretty please rally. He offered the story that the lottery would not release the real solution/ingredients for the official scratch-off formula so this was a bit of a gag. Eh, I give him credit for storytelling in a second's notice.

Paige stopped her preparations for dinner.

Sat down with me and a great big pile of business cards and...

We began to handwrite the messages around the circle of the cards. "Head on over to to grab your treat. xo" was written again and again. And you better believe that Paige will forever know how to spell her Latin terms.

We'd finished about 15 when we realized we had to get in a cab and get to dinner. I needed more than 15 for dinner.

Again, Super Paige to the rescue. In the backseat of the most tumultuous cab ride, Paige and I attempted to handwrite messages on every single card. With grace and wit, she set me at ease, got right to the task, and had me planning for when I might finish off the once overwhelming task.

And you know what, friends? I owned it. Every person who received a Pars Caeli card got a quick, funny recap of the escapade. Maybe the humanity of it or maybe the wit or even the sweetness of friendship will resonate with folks... and make my cards that much more memorable.

I know it's a story I'll be telling my grandkids. Friendship sticks...even when the silver lining gets scratched off.

And now to the rest of the amazingness, the cards of Alt NYC. First up amazing objects. Really ladies? You rock.

Catch that swimming minnow from Ellen? And that circle lovely from Amy?

I just can't help it - the charm of Paper Mama's wooden dog pin had me. Handmade. No, really.

And onto the color and photography cards. I received so many letterpress and fabulously thick cards (my fave).

Haeley over at Design Improvised even gave us the ingredients for an Alt business card garland. Genius!!

Alexandra's letterpress vintage charm was just gorgeous and right on message.

And the black and white set. Such great classic and crisp cards here. Theresa's washi tape envelope had me at wow.

Shall I offer a favorite? Or shall I pull a mom answer out and say I love them all, just differently.

Nope. Leslie Fandrich, your cards are even more beautiful in person than in stunning photography. Your hand-drawn illustrations brought to letterpress are gorgeous and my very favorite.

Who topped your list? I'd love to hear.

And before I forget, let me share with you another installment in the fun Endless Summer Projects series. This week Melissa of Lulu the Baker is creating mini masterpieces in an easy how-to that we can all handle with our kiddos. My older children are beginning to notice art more and more, and thanks to an art memory game we have, they've each established their own lists of favorite painters and illustrators. I know they'll enjoy creating some appreciated masterpieces to life for our home!

Thanks, Melissa!! Alexandra has a great project headed our way next week, and she's taking us right out to the backyard. Join in.

xoxo, MJ

PS. AltNYC friends, the site is open. Please go to and enter your info so I can send along your prize!!
PPS. Take a look at Obsession Session's quick take on the cards via Vine.