My Favorite Things About Historic Downtown Perry, GA

Perry, Georgia is a magical place.

It is 90 miles south of Atlanta and is home to around 16,000 people. The city is right in the middle of state and federal highways labeling Perry as “Where Georgia comes together.”

I’ve worked in Perry for almost five years and have grown fond of the small town feel that I didn’t have in Warner Robins. The other great thing is that Perry is a progressive city. They have big plans for the future but still remember what makes them a special place to be – the atmosphere of being tucked away in a small corner of the world enjoying the simple things in life.

My absolutely favorite spot is historic downtown Perry. It’s everything you dream a downtown would be like. Small business shops ranging from monogrammed merchandise to elegant home decor. Beautiful potted plants perfectly line the street and add an elegant atmosphere as you browse shops and sit on the comfortable benches dedicated to someone’s memory.

Here are a few of my favorite downtown spots on Carroll Street…

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The landscaping around downtown is absolutely beautiful.  The lush greenery and the potted plants are always well manicured and vibrant with colors.  I am always impressed that the flowers have never appeared to be withered or dead.  Appearance is a huge part of what makes the atmosphere inviting.  You can tell the people taking care of downtown truly care about preserving it.

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This area of downtown has always struck me as a perfect place to have lunch outside. It is covered and has several tables.  This cove is also used to host the Perry Farmer’s Market.  Vendors display their goods and the place is usually bustling with customers.  Having lunch out there is on my to do list.

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Carroll Street is picture perfect with trees lining the one way street and shop fronts that are perfect for window shopping.

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There are so many amazing stores on Carroll Street.  My favorite is Mossy Creek Natural.  It is a “bohemian bath and body gift shop” full of handmade soaps, bath bombs, body butters, and super cute merchandise.  The ladies that run the store are incredibly friendly.  I am alway greeted with a smile.  One year I bought gift baskets full of soaps, charming coffee cups, and body butters as Christmas presents for the women in my family.  The lovely ladies gift wrapped each basket with beautiful trimmings.  The price was very fair for such a unique gift.

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During my recent excursion I had to stop by and pick up a new bath bomb.  The honeysuckle one is my favorite.  Their products are the most luxurious bath bombs I have ever bought.  I was told they use a variety of natural ingredients to include avocado oil.  My skin always feels so smooth and smells great.

I also found a really cute ID holder for the back of my cell phone for.  The item is well made and I get compliments on it.

It is important is shop local.  Many of the shops in downtown Perry are locally owned and operated.  Each year they have “Small Business Saturday” the weekend after the Thanksgiving holiday.  I make an effort to get at least a few presents on my shopping list from stores downtown.  I’m still an Amazon addict but there’s something special to me about purchasing at a local store knowing I’m helping them and the economy I live in.  Plus, they have some really unique items!

If you’re ever in the Perry area I encourage you to drop by for a few hours to browse, shop, and eat.  It is truly a prime example of southern hospitality.  Be sure to stop by the Perry Area Chamber of Commerce while you’re there.  They are friendly people who are happy to show you all that Perry has to offer.

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Find more amazing downtown shops and restaurants on the Perry Area Chamber of Commerce website.

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Making My Office A Happy Place

We spend a lot of time at work.  Some would argue we spend more time at work than we do at home.  This time of the year my work gears up for a busy few months as the end of the school year approaches.

I’ve been lucky enough to have an office space in both my “big girl” jobs.  I didn’t realize how lucky I was to have a space of my own until I really sat down to think about how many of my peers either had small cubicles or an open office environment.  Up until recently I did not decorate my offices.  I’m not sure why I didn’t.  When I look back I can recall that I felt trapped in them.  Nothing was inviting.  I often joked that one of my office spaces felt like a prison cell.  No windows and blank walls.  Whose fault was that?  Completely mine!

I was grateful when my boss allowed me to move into an office space with a window a few months ago.  It originally belonged to a beloved coworker who moved on for a fantastic new job.  I was so sad to see her leave. I did, however, look at it as a new opportunity to re-energize myself and create the perfect workspace for me.

Aromatherapy
I recently became interested in essential oils for aromatherapy.  I’m still not convinced they have healing powers but a lot can be said about how certain smells can sustain a positive mood.

I purchased a small essential oil diffusers from a local bohemian bath and body gift shop in the small town where I work.  It is small enough to cover my office but not be overwhelming for my coworkers and their space.  It is battery operated and can also be plugged into the wall (this is the option I choose).  The other great thing about this diffuser is that it doesn’t require water to work.

I also bought a simple essential oil set from Amazon.  This $15 kit has lasted me several months and has a good assortment of scents to choose form.  Right now I’m using “Lemon Grass.”  I put a few drops into the diffuser and it’s good for the day.  The scent is inviting and seems to help my mood during the work day.  I also use “Sweet Orange” in my office when I want to change it up.

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Wall Art
Wall art can be expensive!  I knew I didn’t want to spend a lot of money so I went on a search expedition through the Amazon wormhole.

Purple is my favorite color.  It reminds me of my mom since it was her favorite color as well.  I found a beautiful three panel purple tulip item on Amazon for $15!  I was so pleased with the quality of the item and it fit perfectly above the two off-white colored chairs in front of my desk.

Need something that fills up a space that doesn’t cost a fortune?  The secret?  Vinyl wall decals!  They fill up a wall and can easily be removed.  It does not create holes in the wall and is easy to change out if you get bored with the look later on down the road.  Through a “purple flower wall vinyl” search I found the perfect set that complimented my purple tulip wall art.  The kicker – only $14!  I bought two sets and placed them around my office.  I receive SO many compliments.  Everyone thinks they are painted on but I proudly tell them they are vinyl decals.  They are the best addition to my office!

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Inspirational Quotes
The older I get the more I love short, inspirational quotes all around.  I also like them to be displayed in a creative way.  When I come across a meaningful quote I print it out and place it where I can see it everyday.  I have them taped at the bottom of my computer screen and on an inexpensive bulletin board on my office wall. I found the “Good and Great” pictures at Target for $5.  I was so happy!

I look at the quotes when I’m feeling stressed.  It doesn’t make the stress go away completely but it’s a nice kick in the butt when I need to focus my mind on the positive things in my life.

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Novelties
The small novelties that really show my personality is the most fun!  I bought myself an unicorn coffee cup for Christmas last year.  I absolutely love unicorns and flamingos.  They are quirky and I like to think of myself as a little quirky too 🙂 It really throws people off when they find out about it and I love it!  It’s aways nice to surprise people and let them there is more to me than what meets the eye.

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Overall, I have noticed a big change in my work ethic since putting in the effort of creating a workspace that fits my personality and is inviting to others.  It did not take a lot of money and makes all the difference in creating my happy place at work.

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Fearless in 2019

Hello 2019! I’ve been waiting on you. 2016 was the year that broke me. 2017 was the rebuilding year. 2018 was the year of changes. 2019 is the year I’m throwing my fear aside and taking on new challenges that I’ve talked myself out of for the past several years.

My word for 2019 is fearless. I will make a deliberate choice to not worry about what other people think of me. I have abandoned so many projects because I was worried about what other people would think about it.

I have all the other typical resolutions for the new year…drinking more water, being healthier, etc. But that’s not enough. I want to go deeper into strengthening my character and living my best life. I intend to do that in 2019.

I’m heading into my mid-30s and way overdue to take care of myself both personally and professionally. A big goal I have this year is to obtain my Accreditation in Public Relations (APR). This scares me a lot but I’m ready to tackle it. I have put this task off since 2016! It’s incredibly sad when I think about how much time I have wasted.

So here’s to a new year of infinite possibilities and great things to come 🙂

Cheers!

The Killer At My Table

 

I like to describe myself as a realist.  I try to see things as they really are without sugar coating it or thinking the absolute worst.  The thing is…the people who know me the best would laugh at my “realist” label.  They would tell you I lean more toward the pessimist side of life.  I really don’t want to be like that but I do catch myself with more negative thoughts than I would like to admit.

I watch a lot of Steven Furtick’s sermons at Elevation Church.  I really like how practical and real he preaches.  It’s more than helpful sermons.  I find he preaches about the root causes of problems instead of fixing it on the surface.

While browsing on YouTube I found Elevation Church’s Code Orange Revival series from 2016.  I normally hate listening to guest preachers but I gave the playlist a shot.  The entire playlist was amazing.  There was one in particular that stuck with me.  Pastor Louie Giglio spoke about the Psalm 23.  It’s one of the most famous passages in the Bible.  “The Lord is my Shepard.  I shall not want…”  Yes, I’ve heard it a million times but it never really penetrates my soul like it should.  That is until I heard Louie speak about it.  One section of the Psalm in particular, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.”  He uses the illustration of an actual table set up with delicious fruits and vegetables and a pitcher of water.  He goes on to say how many of us actually allow our enemies to sit at our table.  What an interesting concept…

How many times have I entertained negative thoughts?  You’ve made a horrible mistake.  You’ve really screwed up now.  Your best days are behind you.  Turns out I’ve entertained them for years.  I’ve allowed the enemy of negative thoughts at the table that God intended for me.  Such a powerful image.  As Louie put it…I’ve invited a killer to my table.  The killer of joy.  The killer of peace.  The killer of happiness and contentment.  The killer of purpose.

The good news is that we have a choice.  We have the choice to tell the enemy to leave our table.  We can choose not to entertain him at our table…our mind.  Lately, I’ve made a commitment to myself to recognize when the enemy has taken up a seat in my mind.  When I begin to have negative thoughts I simply think stop.  This is my table not yours.  You do not belong here.

I encourage you to listen to Louie below.  It’s an amazing illustration that really brings that part of Psalm 23 to life.  I really hope it helps you as much as it is helping me.

  

The Pressure of Success

I saw this video on my Facebook feed a few days ago and it’s spot on with my life right now.  My friend, Alan, shared it and I definitely needed to hear it.

Success, in whatever way you view it, is incredibly powerful.  It can rule your life in a way that is unimaginable.  For me, I put a high value of how successful I am by my work.  I know…not a great thing.  I really thought by now I would be incredibly successful with a prestigious career and making an impact on my community.  *Cue hysterical laughter and a few tears*  At 33 years old – I’m no where near as successful as I thought I would be at this point in life.  I thought by thirty I would appear on one of the 30 Successful People Under 30 Years Old lists.  Well…I never made a list.  In fact, every time I see a list like that I cringe.  That should have been me.

On the other side of the coin – I have to reflect on the amazing experiences I’ve had so far in my life.  I was incredibly fortunate to be the first Public Information Officer at the police department for six years.  It was amazing.  I sorely miss that position.  I would go back into the field in a heart beat.  I learned so much in that six years and had many amazing experiences that I will always cherish.  Law enforcement is in my blood and it makes me tick.  To work with officers has been the highlight of my professional life.  I also have an opportunity in my current position to become a more well-rounded public relations professional.  I have learned a lot and am grateful for the skills I have acquired.

During a bad day I often feel like maybe I’ve been as professionally successful as I’m going to be.  That negative mindset can really do a doozy to my day.  Then I remember…I’m only 33.  Even though I don’t feel like it a lot, I’m still young.  The video I saw on Alan’s Facebook feed was a great reminder that you’re never too old to achieve success not matter what you may think.  Everyone has a different timeline to their life.  Life is full of twists and turns and dry seasons.  It’s a hard place to be in but I have to tell myself to keep moving and be the absolute best I can be.  To keep waiting.

I remind myself to focus on the blessings I have.  My happy marriage.  My healthy children.  My beautiful house I thought we never could afford.  Mine and Justin’s health.  So many blessings to focus on instead of those that haven’t come my way yet.  My timeline is still happening.  I just have to be patient.

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You can watch the video here.

Gaining Confidence

I love strong women.  There is something empowering about a woman who knows what she wants and sets out to get it fearlessly.

But I do know one thing…there is nothing fearless about confidence for me.  A lot of outwardly confident women have a darker side that many people do not see.  A side of self-consciousness and panic feelings that she isn’t accomplishing everything she wants to in life.  That drive to be the best she can be is both motivating and extremely scary at the same time.

The key, however, is to strike some sort of balance between looking confident and loving yourself enough to embrace it.

I believe that outward confidence is the key to success.  First impressions always count.  Confidence is important in your job, with your family, and yourself!

Here are my steps to embracing confidence when I need a little extra boost…

Embrace your talents & love yourself. We’re all really good at something. I imagine you thinking your “something” is small or insignificant.  It isn’t!  There’s someone struggling right now with your “something.”  It can be as simple as creating budget friendly family meals, being an encouragement to others with a letter or kind word, or planning a great trip!  These things are important and often essential on a daily basis.  Embrace it!  You have to love yourself before you can appear to be confident.

Body language, eye contact, and smile! The language your body speaks is everything! Having the right body language takes some practice but is the easiest way to show confidence and show kindness to others.  How do you stand when someone is speaking to you?  Do you cross your arms?  Do you look down at the ground?  These gestures are defensive.  You may not mean to but sometimes you can appear to be closing your body and mind to the other person.  Try this – next time you are speaking with someone – stand up straight, clasp your hands lightly in front of your waist, look the person in the eye, and SMILE while you listen to them speak.  These four steps will drastically improve your appearance and show confidence.

Follow strong women who inspire you.  I need inspiration all the time especially when I am feeling down about myself.  I gain inspiration from seeing other women go after their goals in a fearless way.  If they can, why can’t I?  A little inspiration may be the one thing to kick start your confidence in a positive direction.


Ann Shoket
Instagram | @annshoket
Twitter | @annshoket

Former editor-in-chief of Seventeen magazine and author of The Big Life is my go to woman.  She loves to encourage her #badassbabes to embrace life and go for their goals.  Her Instagram focuses on empowering millennial women to break the standard and live fearlessly.  Plus, she tweeted me back on Twitter and made me geek out just a bit.

Maria Taylor
Instagram | @MariaTaylor7
Twitter | @MariaTaylor7

Maria is an ESPN and SEC Network analyst and show host I discovered through watching Georgia football this past season.  I love her!  She is fun, quirky, and making a huge impact on the sports industry as a female.  She has an amazing view on life and I’m inspired to see her spread kindness and empower other women to be ambitious.

Confidence isn’t something that comes naturally to many people…me included.  It’s a choice we must make every single day.  We can make a positive choice by loving ourselves and allowing others to inspire us.

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Showing Appreciation

 

 

 

 

 

 
I absolutely love getting an encouraging note from someone telling me they appreciate me or my work.

My number one love language is Words of Affirmation.  Words drive me.  I constantly struggle with self-doubt and always wonder if I’m ever making an impact on the world around me.

For International Women’s Day in 2018 I decided that I need to show appreciation to the women I look up to as positive role models every day.  I messaged several of them on Facebook with a simple note saying I appreciate what they do and to thank them for being a great role model.  The responses I received warmed my heart.  They showed appreciation for my message and even offered encouraging words for me.  It was exactly what I needed to hear on a day when I felt a little down.

Have you told your role models thank you recently?  It may seem weird at first but a simple message of thanks can mean a lot to that person.  You may even get a very nice note back!

It’s very simple to do…

Think of the people who you look up to in your life.  Are there colleagues that you admire?  Does a family member need a “you’re appreciated” note?  Has a person you only met a few times inspired you in the past?

Tell them!

It doesn’t have to be a long, drawn out letter.  Just a simple, “Hey!  I wanted to send you a quick note to say thank you for being such a positive role model!  I’m thankful for your friendship!”

I promise it will make the day of whoever you send it to and make you feel great in the process.