PLOP DOP | 7 Action Words for Goal Setting | Resolutions for the Creative Entrepreneur (a.k.a. me)


{ Perfect Welcome 2016 Photo Borrowed from Feast and West }

Happy New Year!!

Holy moly it’s 2016! How did that happen? 2015 was a pretty phenomenal year. I got a new husband, a precious (and very energetic) pup, a new bike, my first sleepover with my nieces, and an AMAZING Clemson football season. It was a year filled with faith, family, new friends, old friends, good friends and lots of love. Van and I made it through the first “blending of the holidays”, and although we were both EXHAUSTED after all the traveling, too much good food, and fellowship with family and framily, we know we are indeed so very blessed.

{ theoliveshoe’s #best9 from Instagram}

The year 2015 was a monumental year for The Olive Shoe. On December 23 the blog tipped over 50,000 views for the year, and saw nearly 40,000 unique visitors in 2015 alone thanks to a few posts that went viral on Pinterest. In 2014, there were a meager 4,188 views and 1,922 visitors, so 50,000 was quite a jump! I am so thankful for the support and encouragement from my close friends and family as I have embarked on this adventure…I cannot even begin to express my gratitude!


In 2015, I designed more than 100 new pieces of stationery including over 30 Christmas cards and new 5 wedding suites. The Olive Shoe, which started as a seed of idea in 2007, turned into a doodle in 2010, a blog in 2013 and a business in 2015. It has been quite a ride already, and I can’t wait to see what this year has in store.


In June of 2015, I designed a few graphics to float on social media in support of the Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston which turned into a completely unplanned fundraiser via t-shirt sale… In December, I sent a check for $1,000, 8 t-shirts, and an archival print to Mother Emanuel. The multiple request to turn the graphics into t-shirts inspired me to expand my product line beyond stationery and there will be additional Olive Shoe apparel and gifts coming in the future!

Check to AME

I also introduced the Olive Shoe Organics last fall – a small, handmade, homemade line of body products with organic and natural ingredients and essential oils. In November and December I made over 200 lip balms, 40 sugar scrubs and 55 lotion bars, plus a small batch of body butter…more goodies coming in 2016!!


So what the heck is PLOP DOP? Well, it’s an accidental Seussish anagram I discovered when I was thinking about my resolutions and goals for the coming year. When I started listing my goals and resolutions for the new year, I wanted them to be big-picture words that smaller goals throughout the year could fall under. The result: seven action words. I didn’t even have to change the order after I wrote them the first time, so I guess it’s fate. So…..WHAT IS PLOP DOP? Well, y’all, here ‘tis:

Practice. Learn. Organize. Plan. Do. Observe. Pray.




{Image Credit : Chobiwala}

Every. Single. Day.

I want to practice more often than I did last year. I will stretch my skills, expand my knowledge, make practicing a habit. I want to hone my craft, funnel my passion, continue to dream, and strive to follow my ambitions.

How? I will sketch more, draw more, write more, design more. Take stock photos in my front yard, around town, or stop the car in my travels to take pictures on the side of the road. I will plan better, dream bigger.

Practicing allows you to work on specific skills one at a time, or all together, in increments. No expectations, no deadlines, no one to compete with but yourself. Practicing allows you to work completely freely, one small piece at a time.



I am a lifelong learner. One of the things I loved about teaching preschool (a mini-career that I had while I was finishing my degree), was how inspiring it was to watch my K-3 kiddos soak up information. Two, three, and four-year-old children are the most amazing little sponges that are just yearning to learn.

When I’m inspired by something new, my inner-preschooler comes out. I cannot get my hands – or brain – I guess, wrapped around enough information fast enough. I soak up any new information I can find and can’t wait to learn more.

I did soooooo many new things in 2015 that I was forced to learn new things just by sheer necessity. The Olive Shoe was driving itself – based on customer requests and inventory demands, and I was honestly, just keeping up. Now that the dust has mostly settled, I’m reflecting on how I could have improved the processes, and what I need to have in place for the coming year. As a result, I am researching new things about growing my small business that I hadn’t previously thought much about and LEARNING. SO. MUCH.

One of the things I stumbled upon in my research is this article, How I Started Making Full Time Blogging Income from which inspired me (as I fell in love with pretty much everything on her site) to put together this list:



Here is what I would LOVE my office to look like:


{This is actually blogger Monikka Hibbs’ home office | Click HERE to see more of it }

or this…


{Office Tour from Inspired By This}.

…but sadly, here’s more along the lines of what my office is looking like these days:


{Borrowed from this article on Hoarding Signs on the Huffington Post}

This. Is. A. Biggy. A big biggy. I’m in dire need of some serious organization. Time poverty, faster than expected growth, and a slight tendency in nature toward the messy side of things have created a disaster, known as my office, which currently looks like a hoarder lives somewhere in there.

My office, which is also our garage, fondly referred to as “the craft room”, is really quite scary at the moment. November and December were simply overwhelming, and it was all I could do to keep up with orders and get things out the door – A HUGE, HUGE blessing for which I am so very thankful, but was not fully prepared for. As I struggled to keep up the momentum as The Olive Shoe grew last fall, something had to give…what lost priority was keeping my office organized and staying on top of cleaning chores (most specifically our laundry) at home. The laundry has nearly recovered, but my “office” is a lonnnnngggg way from back to ship-shape.

I have big plans and a vision for a creative space that is stylish and functional, welcoming to clients, and a room where creativity comes alove, but right now it looks like a disorganized storage unit with a desk, computer, and easel somewhere in the middle.

Major challenges I’m currently facing include:

  • Storing shipping and packaging supplies
  • Cataloging stationery and portfolio samples
  • Storing and organizing canvases (both blank and finished)
  • Organizing paperwork including invoices and other business documents

This item is HIGH PRIORITY on my resolution and goals list sooner than later. Especially since our book club is reading Marie Kondo’s The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up for our January book. {Our entire book list for the year can be found HERE}



{Pretty planners from The Blog Market}

I will plan better this year. I will use last year’s mistakes, mis-steps and hiccups to make 2016 a better and brighter year. I think planning and analyzing are invaluable and often get overlooked and underused especially by those who label themselves “creative” (at least for me). I am a list maker, so I have lists everywhere, inside cabinets, in my brain, on post-its, on refridgerators, in my phone… but part of planning is putting lists to work, so I will continue to make my lists but I will PROACTIVELY put them to work for me.


I PLAN to make a conscious effort to spend an adequate time both planning AND creating.

Plans include:


How DO you DO?


There’s practicing and then there’s doing. I think practicing is honing the skills you need to do whatever it is you do, and doing is using all of those skill sets to, well, do whatever it is that you do best. Writing blog posts…or poems…or novels. Making crafts. Sewing garments. Painting paintings. Designing buildings. Running marathons. Taking Photographs. ACTUALLY FOLLOWING WHATEVER DREAM YOU DREAM when you’re procrastinating what you don’t really like doing.

I have a confession to make. I have turned into a self-proclaimed Star Wars nerd. Van and I saw the new one on December 20, and now I can’t believe I have to wait 2 years for the next one. Thankfully we bought the entire series, so I am getting caught up on all of the old ones…I had never seen the very first one, err 4th one…the one that came out in 1977. As such, in line with my “DO” action word, I’ve created this new art print. There weren’t any lady-like versions out there, so I made one. As a thank you to EVERYONE for making 2015 such a wonderful year, enjoy 50% OFF everything in my Etsy shop using the code “PLOPDOP16” until January 31, 2016.


That said…


I have so many ideas. So many plans for things I’m going to create. Ideas for new stationery. Paintings I want to paint. Thoughts on possible new products. The possibilities are endless. Bring on 2016!


Observation is an incredible tool, especially for someone like me who is a super visual learner. Often in new situations people think I’m shy – not because I am, but because I prefer to observe my surroundings before I jump in and participating. Observing makes me more comfortable with the unknown. I will take time this year to actively observe, and use that information to allow me to grow and stretch.

Some tips on observing as a tool for growth:

  • Follow people you admire on social media.
  • Talk to people who do what you do or do things related to what you do. Some of my best brainstorming ideas with my new friend Dorothy at our almost monthly #inreallife lunches. One creative mind going full speed ahead in brainstorming mode is pretty crazy but two??? AMAZING IDEAS CAN COME OUT OF THAT SITUATION!
  • Read up on companies you want to emulate. Talk to the people who work for them. Observe how they do business.

For example, Feast and West, a blog I recently discovered, featured Jayme Hennel in one of its most recent posts. Jayme is a stationery designer with an illustration style similar to my own, so of course it caught my eye. I enjoyed reading about Jayme’s company and how she does what she does. We can all learn from each other right?


{Dream Jobs : Q&A with Jayme Hennel of Hennel Paper Co.}


Finally, give God the glory for your gift. I probably should have put this one at the very top, because this should be numero uno.


I recently completed my largest acrylic painting to date, and largest commissioned work, ever. It was a 36” x 48” canvas, which may not be that big to some, but to me it was GINORMOUS. It takes a lot of paint to cover 1,728 square inches. I even had to order a new easel because the one I have been using, which happens to be my Granny’s, wouldn’t accommodate that large of a canvas.


{Joy in Color, Acrylic on Canvas by LAC James, 36” x 48”}

So when I had rolled the ideas around in my head, and sketched my ideas for this big ol’ painting, and was ready to REALLY get started, I got to work. I put on some tunes – I can’t paint without music…my college roommates will attest to this. I spread out a drop cloth in our living room, unpacked and put together my new easel, and set up the canvas. I got all of my paints and organized them by color so I could grab what I wanted. I got out my favorite brushes, got my spritz bottle, my water cup, put on some crummy clothes, and for the first time before painting ever, I dropped to my knees. Literally, right there on my living room floor in front of the easel. Head down into child’s pose and all.


A very specific prayer popped into my head, so after I prayed on my knees on the floor in front of that giant canvas, I wrote it down and when I would get hung up on the panting I would just re-read it. I will rewrite it in non-chicken scratch one of these days, but it went like this:

Our Father in Heaven, thank you for this day and your many gifts.

Let your work be done through my hands.

Help me to bring joy and creativity to the world through design and color and art.

In your name we live and pray, Amen.

You see, my artwork may come through my hands and head, but I am just a vessel. People regularly ask me how I do what I do, and I’ve always just kind of shrugged and said, “I just do it” or “I don’t know; it just shows up on the {paper/screen/canvas}”. The truth is, it’s God’s work. I’m just so thankful I get to participate!


So those are my words:

Practice. Learn. Organize. Plan. Do. Observe. Pray.

I plan to be mindful of them all year and practice them as often as possible.

Happy New Year! Looking forward to an amazing 2016!


The Olive Shoe | Paperie & Design | Celebrating Creativity and Creatively Celebrating is designed and run by Lauren {LAC} James © 2015 LAC James All Rights Reserved.

Lauren {LAC} James is a Sr. Designer of Product Graphics for an international manufacturing company by day and a creativity crusader, designer, planner extraordinaire, artist and blogger in her “free” time. Follow her and The Olive Shoe on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram! Please subscribe to receive emails, of course, come back and visit again soon!

Please visit the online art gallery {Art by LAC} and Etsy Shop too!




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s