August 2013 Archive

action makes it real


One of my favorite quotes of all time from Ralph Marston, is “Thought makes things possible, action makes them real.” I believe so wholeheartedly in this idea; that there is a huge divide between THINKING and DOING.

There is a part of us that can really internally STRUGGLE on the journey between an idea and it’s action. Some of us are naturally doers, but can struggle with getting the right information to move on the decision. Some of us are naturally thinkers, and can struggle with moving forward on an idea with complete confidence.

There are 2 answers to the question if an idea/thought is right for us:

1. NO.

If things are wrong, we usually feel a gut reaction AGAINST them. They are the type of things that usually have a negative consequence as a result (even if the consequence is not RIGHT away, but in the long run). It’s usually easier to spot when things are 100% wrong. It just feels icky and brings you down. Sometimes it sounds good on paper, but it’s a NO because it’s on your “I’m saying NO to” list – it doesn’t fit in with your motivations/goals/hopes for your ideal life, or for the future.

2. YES.

When things are right – we might IMMEDIATELY have a fearful reaction. That makes a yes answer SO hard to get to sometimes. But remember what we identified about fear? We learned that it holds us back, and that we should be courageous in the face of fear. Pay attention if the YES brings fear. Imagine yourself NOT afraid of it – what decision you would make then? Say to yourself, “If I was NOT afraid of this, would I say YES?” When your gut is feeling a big YES, but you’re not sure how it’s possible or going to happen, it’s a YES. That’s how the biggest YES starts.

2b. NOT YET. I put this under YES, because truly it is a YES. I feel like although NOT YET exists, people use NOT YET as an excuse for their fear. If the NOT YET is NOT because of fear, then it should still be a CALL TO ACTION to get to the YES. What are the steps you DO need to act upon now to get to this YES? NOT YET is not a passive response.

So now that you have your YES? Now what?

YOU WALK. You take the smallest step forward. YOU DO. You break that HUGE yes down in to baby steps if you have to. YOU START.

I want to encourage you today, with every ounce of my soul, don’t wait any longer to start your yes. MAKE IT REAL.


a full bucket


My daughter Aven just turned 2.5 years old. Watching her grow is THE most amazing thing I’ve EVER witnessed. I LOVE seeing her change and grow, especially the growth of her mind. Her decisions, her emotions, her thought processes; get more and more complex every day. One thing Aven has always been fond of is collecting things. She loves to make a container out of anything that has space, and collect things inside. She loves to collect rocks, coins, shells, blocks – really anything that is collectible. She will stuff purses, bags, boxes full of silly things and carry them around with her like treasures.

The other day, Aven was carrying around a plastic bucket. She was filling it with her favorite toys, and she kept seeing new things she wanted to add to her bucket. Pretty soon, it was overflowing, and when she’d walk with it, things would fall out. She would get totally frustrated and try to stuff them in, only to have other toys fall out. I told her, “No sweetie, your bucket is full, you’ll have to leave some things there, it doesn’t all fit.” She wouldn’t listen to me (surprise, surprise), and would try with great frustration to GET IT ALL IN HER BUCKET. She wasted time, got frustrated, and ended up giving up – she kicked over the bucket and stomped off (what a 2 year old right?). She just couldn’t let go of a few things in order to move forward. She was too focused on wanting it ALL in the bucket.

What are you trying to squeeze into your bucket, and it’s just overflowing? Are you not able to move forward because you’re too busy messing with your overflowing bucket? We all have a bucket – a capacity. We all have a limited number of things that can go into it.

Even though our bucket is overflowing… WE STILL see new and fun things we want to ADD to our bucket. Are you unwilling to remove things from your bucket, for the sake of the new things that go in? What do you have to say NO to in order to say YES to something else?

What if what’s in your bucket is heavy, burdensome, or depressing? Maybe your bucket is full of CRAP that you don’t love. Wouldn’t it be amazing to empty out that bucket, so that it can be full of the things that LIGHT you UP?

Today I want to encourage you to take stock of what’s in your bucket. What’s in your life, that doesn’t NEED to be. What can you LET GO OF, to make room for those things that bring you REAL joy?

Happy Friday! Wishing you a relaxing weekend with JOY-FILLED buckets! xo!


a spirit of power, love, and discipline

Spirit of Power, Love and Discipline

Fear is a helluva thing isn’t it? Think about just how POWERFUL it can be. It can make people do pretty much anything – and yet at the same time – can make people NOT do pretty much anything. It is both a burden, and a defense mechanism. Everyone has it – yet it doesn’t really exist. It only has power, when you give it power. Crazy, really.

I have come to regard fear in my life as being USEFUL. However uncomfortable, unpleasant, and unwanted as it is, I just can’t deny that it is incredibly useful most of the time. The times that I have been the most afraid of doing something, I’ve known I was ON to something.

It’s those times when I’ve stepped completely out of my comfort zone into the unknown (a.k.a the SCARIEST place you can possibly be) that I actually see the miracles happen. Conquering fear is like finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow (if rainbows were scary, of course). I’ve never been more afraid in my life than when I had my surgery to remove my carotid artery tumor. Yet, if I could go back in time, and have the choice to go through this or not, I would ALWAYS choose to go through it. It was in my darkest hour, that I saw the brightest light. I will forever be (wonderfully) changed by that experience, and I would NEVER choose to take it back.

Do you all feel me here? Can you think of that time that you were scared stupid of something, pushed through it anyway, and came out victorious? You came out fresh, fulfilled, more full of life than ever before? And yet, when fear creeps back in again, we head straight back to doubt. And sometimes we let the fear take over. What if, during those times, we use our past victories to REMIND us of the truth we knew then? What if we use them to empower us to take the first step? What if instead of focusing on the doubt and negative, we really focus on the MIRACLE brewing on the other side of fear? What if we did this EVERY time we are afraid?

Thinking about fear reminded me of the verse 2 Timothy 1:7, that says “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

I thought, does this mean we aren’t supposed to be afraid at all? So I looked into it a bit more.

Another translation I have says, “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.”

So instead of FEAR, they used the term TIMIDITY. I looked at other versions, and they used other similar words like FEARFULNESS and COWARDICE. This says something about COURAGE in the face of fear. Having POWER, LOVE, DISCIPLINE and SELF-CONTROL, a SOUND MIND in the face of fear. So, it’s not a question of IF fear comes into play, but WHEN it does.

Remember those times when you thought all hope was lost, but it wasn’t? Remember how amazing it felt to be strong, confident, and in control? Think about the times where you ‘felt the fear and did it anyway’ like my lovely friend Lara Casey would say. If you’d like, make an actual list of these victories. USE these as ammunition to gain the confidence to fight the fear the next time it arises. Whenever I’m afraid, I think about my story; about my diagnosis, my surgery, my recovery. Honestly, I’m afraid of a lot of things… so I have a TON of these stories of victory to think on; my MIRACLES at the end of the roads PAVED in fear. I have PROOF that conquering the fear was WORTH IT. I meditate on the amazing people I’ve met, the places I’ve seen, the love I’ve experienced – all as a result of pushing through the fear and doing it anyway.

Is there something you’ve dream about doing, or starting, but you’re afraid? I’d love to encourage you today to step out of timidity. To have a spirit of COURAGE and of POWER – you’ve done it before. Use that courage to do that thing that you’re afraid of, and make it AWESOME.


starting with the smallest spark


You can’t help but to have noticed a HUGE shift in commerce, entrepreneurship and small businesses in the last few years. With the social media booms and customer-service-is-king mantras being sung from the mountaintops, more and more people are choosing to start a business on the side (outside of their full-time gig), or from home. And let me tell you, it is seriously AWESOME. I couldn’t be more excited for this shift in thinking, because it ultimately means, now more than ever, people are able to really seek out their dreams. What once was a ton of red tape, marketing and networking this, SBA and business loans that, has become easier, quicker and more accessible than ever before. I am thrilled to work with these small businesses every day, and it absolutely sets my heart aflame to see people doing what they were PUT ON THIS EARTH TO DO. Hallelujah.

When I started my business back in 2008, the economy was in rough shape. Tiny sparks of the small biz revolution were beginning to ignite. Our communities started to come together to give the “little” guy a chance. I didn’t start my business because of a lay off; I still had a cushy position at a design studio. I started it as a side cash businesses to pay for our wedding – basically a hobby that made me some money. Let me back up a bit – I NEVER envisioned myself as an entrepreneur. I remember telling my husband explicitly that I would NEVER own my own business. I thought it was too much work, and I would never make enough money. My American dream was to work for a huge, successful design agency, with acclaim and prestige. So when my business started getting serious and celebrating successes and growth, instead of my dream to just WORK at a big company, I’d build one. I thought in order for it to be successful, I had to be big. I’d have a big lofty office, downtown, with a lot of employees.

But, you know what’s missing from that picture? Pretty much everything that I’ve now come to cherish so very much. Freedom, personal connection, fulfillment, making a difference. The things that I love SO much in my life today, would have been missing from that picturesque life I’d planned for myself.

While working towards my dreams of building a big design company, I suddenly realized something. I LOVED BEING SMALL. I loved the freedom it gave me. I loved making my own schedule, and having time during the day to run errands. I loved making my own decisions and developing my brand from the ground up. (I didn’t love the accounting – but I’ll save that for another discussion.) I loved KNOWING my clients, and my clients knowing me. I realized if I had that big studio, I’d be shackled to another 9-5, and I’d still be working for someone else – my business.

After this realization, I went immediately to my website and changed all the WE’s and US’s to ME and I. About ME. Contact ME. I believe in this. Yes, it’s just me. No, I don’t have a customer service department – it’s just ME (now I do have a team, but at that time I didn’t.) There was such freedom in that, and letting it be okay to just be myself. I could write the manual on my business, I could run it the way I wanted to run it, I could have my freedom and set my own prices. I could infuse emotion and love into my business. I could make things PERSONAL again.

I want to encourage you today, if you’re ashamed or not sure about being small, to EMBRACE your small, and wear it proudly. In coming posts, we’ll talk about developing a team to help out if you need it. But for now, let’s just be okay with being small. SMALL IS ENOUGH. SMALL IS AWESOME. SMALL is going to ROCK THE SOCKS OFF OF THEM.

It all starts with a small spark.


create a balance and live smarter – the design life project

Create a balance between work, play, life + love.

Design Life Project is a five-week, online course to help you custom-design your LIFE. Design Life Project will help you find your balance between work, play, life and love by identifying your core, discovering your strengths and weaknesses, and your natural rhythm. Design Life Project will help clarify and simplify your scheduling, help you to know what you should be working on when, get things out of your head and organized, and allow for maximum creativity to do the BEST DESIGN WORK you’ve done. Let’s make the REST OF YOUR LIFE, the BEST OF YOUR LIFE.


You will learn how to tailor a life balance so that you can wake up in the morning feeling FREE and totally present. Design Life Project will help you to develop a customized and flexible schedule that will FINALLY bring all the pieces together, once and for all.

Are you a creative who is:

  • Juggling too many things at once, and are afraid of DROPPING the balls?
  • Afraid of being too stressed to do your BEST work?
  • Making mistakes, and being TOO HARD on yourself for them?
  • Burning the candle from BOTH ends?

Perhaps you’re JUST starting out in a design business, and you want to start it right so that you develop the balance early on. You’ll learn what I’ve learned in YEARS of running a business, balancing a new family, and doing your best work, in just 5 weeks! I will be completely TRANSPARENT with you and tell you EXACTLY what did and didn’t work for me!

Would you like to:

  • Wake up in the morning and LIVE out your ideal day?
  • Be clear on what you need to work on, and WHEN?
  • Use a schedule you can finally STICK to?
  • Use 100% of your creative potential and feel TOTALLY inspired?
  • Work with your IDEAL clients?
  • Know the VALUE of your work and price it right?

Registration for the next Design Life Project course opens December 31st, 2013

Sign up for the newsletter to be informed of when registration opens so that you can snag your spot!

Week 1: Your Ideal Day, Motivations and Goals

In the first week, you will learn how to discover who you are and what you were made to do, and how you’d like to do it. I will help you identify what brings you JOY and what ignites your best work. You will learn exactly HOW to map out your ideal day, and what you’d like it to look like. In little, easy ways, you can start filling your days with JOY.

Week 2: Developing Boundaries and Implementing Them

In the second week, you will learn how to create boundaries, and I will teach you how to start implementing them RIGHT away to start clearing the clutter. I will help you choose which boundaries to put in place, for your desired results. You will be able to start clearing out some time and getting some time to yourself to do the things you love.

Week 3: Getting Help and Developing Your Team

In the third week, you will learn how to get help to clear off your plate, and how to afford it. You will learn tips and tricks to simplify your workflow so that YOU are doing less of the work you don’t love, and MORE of the work you do LOVE. You will develop a plan to work smarter and not harder, right away.

Week 4: Creating a Customized Schedule, Get Laser Focused and Be PRODUCTIVE

In the fourth week, you will learn how to custom-tailor a schedule to work WITH who you are, and how you like to work. You will learn that it’s okay to throw out the traditional ways of doing things and you will learn how to design it to work with your personality and style. You will finally develop a plan JUST FOR YOU, so that everything fits and everything flows. I will also help you get you laser focused, by following your schedule and allowing yourself to be FULLY present in what you are currently doing. You will learn the art of focusing on your project, on your family, on your friends – at the right place and time. You will start getting the MOST of your time so that you can stay productive and get more MEANINGFUL things done (in less time).

Week 5: Putting it All Together and Fine Tuning

In the fifth week, you will learn how to fine tune everything you’ve developed, and help you put it all together. You will start to master living out all of the pieces in balance, and you will be able to fine-tune the areas to work even better. This week we will be oiling the machine that has brought you to living your ideal day. It will all come together this week, and you will finish the course with a well-developed, customized plan to fit only you.

Design Life Project is taught by Graphic and Web Designer Cathy Olson, owner of the design studio Love-Inspired. She has over 13 years experience as a professional graphic designer, and has worked with a range of businesses – big ones like Disney, Costco, Best Buy and Walmart – to small ones like work-from-home moms, working from a desk and a laptop in the wee hours. Cathy started her own design business over 5 years ago, and in that time has helped hundreds of businesses find their authentic voice through exploration, social media, marketing, graphics, and web. She has dealt first-hand with the juggling a thriving business, being a mom to a growing family, and personal goals. She’s experienced overwhelm first hand, and has learned how to balance work AND life in a fun, personalized and EASY TO STICK WITH way. This class is perfect for designers, photographers, artists and creatives who want to have more free time, attract their dream clients, work smarter not harder, and truly start to LIVE the LIFE they want to.

Class is currently in session – but you till have a chance to take it!

See our new offering of Class + Coaching – take the course on your schedule and have ME as your personal coach!

Let’s FINALLY develop some balance and peace in your design/life. In this course, you’ll learn about setting goals to make your heart SING, determining which boundaries are necessary and ACTUALLY how to STICK to them. You’ll learn how to create laser focus and to REALLY stay productive. You’ll learn how to really be present in what you’re doing and be the BEST at it that you can be. Instead of living someone else’s life/dream/way of scheduling, you will learn the skills to design YOUR ideal day, YOUR ideal week, YOUR ideal year.


I’m so busy and overwhelmed already. Will I have time for your course? Can I register, but start it later when I know things will have quietened down? The course spans over 5 weeks. Each week we will have lessons and worksheets, and you can do them in your spare time. If you don’t have spare time, the course will HELP you FIND some. Honestly, the BEST time to do this program is WHEN you are overwhelmed, because you’ll start to clear it out RIGHT away. You will also have access to the private Facebook group to bounce your ideas off of. If you would still rather go at your own pace, you can. You will be able to download all the content and access the course site for three months after the program finishes.

What kind of teaching can I expect in the course? What’s included? The Design Life Project e-course is robust. Enrolling in Design Life Project includes full access to the online classroom, video tutorials, Q&A and worksheets to identify your ideal day, as well as access to a private Facebook group where you can connect and share with your classmates and get feedback directly from Cathy. You’ll create an actual working system that is customized to you, so you don’t have to waste another moment in overwhelm or frustration.

When does the class start?Registration opens December 31st, 2013! Class begins Monday February 3, 2014. You’ll be able to download all content and access the course site for three months after the program finishes.

Does the course meet at a certain time? Does it matter what part of the world I’m in? Design Life Project is a virtual course, you can participate from anywhere at anytime! Lessons will be posted online throughout the week, and you can log into the course at any time to view them.

How much time can I expect to spend on the course? You’ll get new content on the course site throughout the week, M-F. We’ll start with a lesson, then a worksheet, some observation and testing, and then end the week with an action step. You can expect to spend anywhere between 30 to 90 minutes reviewing the content and completing the exercises and work for the class each day, depending on the length of the lesson. Some people may work through the content more quickly, and others may want to spend more time. All the content will help you develop your personalized plan by the end of the Design Life Project course.

How are payments handled? Payment is securely processed via PayPal and can be made using your PayPal balance or credit card. Please note that all course correspondence will be sent to the email address associated with your PayPal account. To use a different email address, please forward your PayPal invoice to

Other questions? Email me at cathy@love-inspired.

Class is currently in session – but you till have a chance to take it!

See our new offering of Class + Coaching – take the course on your schedule and have ME as your personal coach!

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