Being a patron

18 October 2019

Hey, hi, and howdy, friends! Whew! 2020 PowerSheets launched this week (more about that below), which partially explains my extended pause here. The rest we can blame on travel and other excitement – so many good things, but I’ve had to put blinders on and take them one at a time in this season: first getting ready for our Charlotte trip to see family, then our Connecticut trip for a friend’s wedding, then launch week, family photos, Asheville, Halloween costumes, etc. I’ve tried to focus on, prepare for, and enjoy each fully, which has helped keep me from getting overwhelmed.

Wednesday was wonderful. Big launches can be stressful, and we’ve had our fair share of glitches in the past – most notably the infamous FreeShipGate of 2017, when our free shipping code failed to fire and we racked up hundreds of customer service emails in a matter of minutes. YIKES. But, by the grace of God (and a LOT LOT LOT of preparation), Wednesday was a joyful and rewarding day. I literally laughed until I cried several times, we had chocolate milkshakes with lunch, and a new inter-team meme was birthed. Couldn’t ask for much more :)

I truly believe the 2020 PowerSheets are the best yet, and I hope if you’re on the fence, you’ll take the leap and get them! We reworked much of the prep work as well as the monthly pages this year, and I think it is the most effective and impactful process we’ve ever shared. I’ve tested a bunch of the pages, of course, but I can’t wait to crack open my own set for real in December – I’ve been waffling, but I’m officially on Team Teal. You heard it here first :)

(If you’re new to PowerSheets, you can read more about why I think they’re important here – and, of course, visit the Cultivate website for more!)

Perhaps because of the preparation for this launch, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about being a patron. It’s kind of a stodgy word, conjuring up images of opera goers in fur, but it’s an identify I have recently embraced. As a patron, I get to think of the dollars I spend as supporting and furthering things I want to see more of. My dollars say, “I value this! This makes my life better! I want to be a part of this!”

This is the beauty of capitalism – your dollar really does have power. If you care about a cause, you can further it with your purchases, not just your donations. If fair trade practices, cruelty-free testing, American manufacturing, employing former inmates, or women-owned businesses are close to your heart, then let your dollars follow! And once they do, allow yourself a bit of ownership and pride. Not only do we have a duty to spend our dollars carefully, but it’s really quite fun.

A note: I have not always had the luxury of spending every dollar completely according to my values, and I’m still not doing it fully – and probably never will. We all have limited resources, and sometimes expedience or convenience wins. But when we have more, we should do more, and over the years as I’ve found myself with more disposable income, I’ve done my best to refine my spending accordingly.

You can be a patron of all sorts of things – a particular grocery store you love, or a clothing brand – but my patron mindset is fixed on media right now. My Dad likes to say there’s no such thing as a free lunch, but in the age of social media and the internet, it can certainly seem like it. As we know, though, all publishing we enjoy takes time, effort, and money. As there is so much published out there that I DON’T enjoy, I’ve tried to take a more active role in supporting that which I DO enjoy.

This year, I subscribed to The Atlantic. We’ve read their thoughtful pieces for Articles Club for years, and I appreciate their generally excellent writing and interesting topics.

I’m also giving $1 a month to the Coffee & Crumbs Patreon – I’ve become pretty attached to Ashlee, April, and Indiana, and I love their heart for moms.

Finally, among other things, I’m a long-time subscriber to Our State, which is a treasure trove of North Carolina adventures-in-the-making, filled with excellent writing, and satisfyingly thick in the age of emaciated magazines. Plus, many of my friends contribute to their gorgeous images, which I think is just the coolest!

What about social media, though? If there’s, say, an Instagram account that you love to follow, that brightens your day, or that’s taught you something helpful, how can you be a patron of it? Not every account has an obvious monetization. (In that case, you can support them by leaving kind and encouraging comments or sharing their work with a friend!)

If it’s an account you really love, though, and they do have something for sale, consider buying it – because not only will you own something neat, but you’ll be telling that person, “I value this! This makes my life better! Thank you!” If you love following Julia’s travels, consider a Gal Meets Glam dress. If you love following Nancy’s family, consider picking up her photo guide. If following Val buoys your faith, consider a prayer journal.

On that note, a few things you might love from the new Cultivate collection, if CWM is a bright spot in your days (or even if you’ve never heard of it before, ha!):

PowerSheets One-Year Goal Planner | Because I’ve yet to meet a person who wouldn’t benefit from them. The prep work alone is worth $60. SO excited they have monthly calendar spreads this year, since I’m a monthly calendar gal!

Everyday Notebooks | A set of three with the prettiest covers! These would be great to break up and gift to friends (tied with a bow!) or to tuck in a stocking.

Wildcard Page Pack | Even if you don’t use PowerSheets, you’ll find a spot for these 24 sheets in your life. I’m most excited about the fun lists, the go-to meals sheet, and the goals-at-a-glance pages.

Legacy journal | The fancier notebook from this collection! I’m going to transfer my Life List to the Chambray version. I’m also thinking about starting a practice of asking these six questions each week with John, and if we do, I’d record our answers in one of these.

Write the Word: Fruit of the Spirit | Not technically in the new collection but this is my FAVORITE WTW volume and there are only 13 6 more in stock!! Since it’s limited edition, once it’s gone, it’s gone. (There’s a kiddo version, too!)

Joyful Greeting Card Set | I saved the best for last!!! Everyone and their mother knows these are my favorite things ever. I am their professional hype girl. They’re $1 each (do you know how much they would cost at Target?!), lined envelopes, beautiful designs, beautiful stock, blank insides, gold foil. YOU WILL LOVE.

On that note… let’s give a set of cards away!! To enter, leave a comment below. I’d love to hear about something of which you’re a proud benefactor, or your thoughts on my thoughts about being a patron! :) I’ll choose a random winner next Friday.

UPDATE: A winner has been chosen and emailed! Congratulations to Holly! :)

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October 18, 2019 6:47 am

I’m proud to support Walden Local Meat here in New England. They offer a monthly share program that’s delivered to our door with locally sourced and pasture raised meat. They usually deliver ours overnight so it’s like Christmas morning running outside to see our loot! The food is delicious and I love how they have made it that much more convenient to both support these local farms and feed my family nutritious food. We started years ago and they’ve recently grown and even opened a storefront in Boston. All very exciting! Also my teal power sheets were ordered on Wednesday…I’m ready for 2020!

October 18, 2019 2:59 pm
Reply to  Maria

Hi, Maria! I grew up in the Boston area and most of my family is still there — and my parents also get shipments from Walden Local Meat. Such a small world. I love their food! :)

October 18, 2019 8:12 am

I LOVE this post, as this has been something I have been thinking about a lot lately. I am certainly a patron of Cultivate, Simplified, and my local bookstore. I am also a patron of the local library — I love libraries and have invested in getting to know some of the librarians at my new branch after moving in July!

I have to tell you that I may just be the local Philly hype girl for the greeting card set (ha!). But in all honesty, I love them so much. They are the BEST. Like you have written about before, lack of preparedness is often the reason that I don’t end up sending a birthday card, gift, or a note to someone hurting and making those thoughtful efforts MATTERS to me! The greeting card set has definitely helped — as having them on hand makes it easy to send everyone I want to send a card a card :) I have even convinced my mom and two co-workers to buy them recently!

Laura A
October 18, 2019 8:59 am

My favorite artist is Lindsay Wilkins and I’m super excited to have 2 small original pieces by her to hang when our renovation is done!

October 18, 2019 9:54 am
Reply to  Laura A

I love Lindsay’s paintings as well! I am still hoping to own a piece of hers soon!!

October 18, 2019 9:49 am

I proudly support Beyond the Screenplay, a podcast about screenwriting, because I love their insights and breakdowns and their heart for helping others be better writers. I also support a local Youth for Christ missionary, because I love the emphasis this organization puts on relationships and I’ve seen firsthand the impact that an adult mentor can have in a youth’s life.

October 18, 2019 9:56 am

I love shopping the farmers market on Saturday mornings in the summer, I grew up going with my parents and love finding a juicy tomato or fresh corn! For Christmas the last few years I’ve gifted my dad a subscription to the New Yorker. It comes with online access that I use to read the articles and then we discuss together. I love the idea of being a patron with my dollars and will keep this in mind when I’m trying to shop small and be patient slower shipping or fewer hours.

October 18, 2019 9:58 am

I love your thoughts on being a patron! I sometimes think of it as voting with my dollar too when I look at fresh produce, cleaner products, etc. I love supporting Cultivate What Matters, I have been a patron since the lose leaf days, I think I started using them a years after they were created when it was still 6 months at a time.

This year I was team pink Powersheets; the confetti inside pocket did me in as I love the peek of the confetti since my PowerSheets are usually open on my nightstand continually.

Julie R
October 18, 2019 10:06 am

Money can be tight, but there are a few things that I “splurge” on. I like to shop the local grocery store in the next town over versus the larger chain, a local coffee shop run by a fellow homeschool mom, and some great coffee roasted by a company in Western Maine. Small local companies are the best!

Katlyn Taylor
October 18, 2019 10:06 am

I really like this idea of thought! We use local photographers to capture or family. We traveled to the beach this summer and I found a local photographer to do family photos which included grandparents and aunts and uncles. Now they will make wonderful Christmas presents.

October 18, 2019 10:20 am

Love this! My family sponsors a little girl through World Vision, we try to support small local businesses, and give any time we feel the prompting of the Holy Spirit. I love your encouragement to be a patron with our finances.

October 18, 2019 10:32 am

I love this conversation! I live in a great big little college town, Columbia, MO, and there are so many fun businesses to support. A couple in particular that I love are our local pet store, Lizzi & Rocco’s, where we take our pup to be groomed, and a gift shop called Poppy where I buy 90 percent of my greeting cards and many, many gifts as well (although I’d still love to win a set of Joyful Greeting Cards! :) ). We also have a great non-profit indie theater and we love supporting them as well. I was able to catch the Downton Abbey at the local theater instead of a big cineplex, and it made the experience even more special!

October 18, 2019 10:40 am

I just took the plunge and bought powersheets based on this post. I also am a coffee & crumbs patron. I think I need to start giving to NPR next.

October 18, 2019 10:51 am

I support “Inspired by Nikki” on Patreon (her YouTube account is here: ) because her site and content make me want to be better. I also support my local NPR station with a monthly, sustained gift, because I value the news stories that feature our local ranchers and farmers. I’ve also always liked *your* writing and advice. :)

October 18, 2019 11:03 am

How we spend our money is so important! I love to support small businesses especially those whose shops are owned by those in the chronic illness community. I buy all my tubie clips for my central line from Crafting For a Cure, I shop for all my masks from my sister in love, my favorite is to get succulents from our hometown nursery or from the succulent lady on Etsy who I am close with who has similar illnesses to mine. Thank you for the reminder that how we spend our money speaks volumes and that sometimes convenience wins- which will happen sometimes!

October 18, 2019 1:32 pm

I love Elisa Cripe’s Get to Work Book and buy it every year. I’m also excited for her new book, Big Dreams, Daily Joys!

October 18, 2019 2:24 pm

I don’t always do it (convenience wins sometimes), but I love to get coffee from a local spot instead of Starbucks, especially when meeting a friend!

Victoria Bouchard
October 18, 2019 2:31 pm

I really love your thoughts on this and I believe in it as well! I am Team Pink this year for PowerSheets and am feeling so excited and encouraged to even finish this year strong!

Victoria Bouchard
October 25, 2019 11:58 am
Reply to  Em

Thanks Emily! It’s a beautiful color in person! I just wanted to update you that because of this post I became a patron of my favorite podcast – What Should I Read Next? I would also love a gift guide or list on small businesses to shop at for Christmas for all ages! I am really into it this year and think it may become part of my 2020 goals.

October 18, 2019 3:49 pm

love your thoughts on this! This year has been full of questioning where I am spending money vs where I want to be spending it.

October 18, 2019 4:39 pm

The sentences “I get to think of the dollars I spend as supporting and furthering things I want to see more of. My dollars say, ‘I value this! This makes my life better! I want to be a part of this!'” really resonates with me! Lately I have been LOVING the workout YouTube channel Royal Change with Sydney Cummings. She kicks my butt on the daily and I am just so pleased that I can burn 350 calories in my living room and get a great workout for free!! That is mind-blowing. So, as a patron, I purchase her workout calendar to show my love and support.
P.S. love the colors for the new launch and I’m glad it went smoothly!

Liz Linhares
October 18, 2019 5:30 pm

I love supporting The Balanced Life and Robin’s mission, as well as Simplified and CWM. It feels good supporting a small business and knowing you’re playing a part in their mission. Oh, I’m also a major Chick-Fil-A patron ;)

October 18, 2019 5:49 pm

The older I get (ummmm, “more seasoned”..LoL!),the more I see the importance of being intentional with my money & time. I prefer to shop locally at small mom & pop type shops, as these are the businesses where you can be given valuable information on the product(s) you are interested in (ie…my boyfriend has a small salt water fish tank, and the local aquatic shop is always willing to teach, coach, and give sound advice on fish, water PH levels, or any “salt water” questions we have)!!!
I believe in shopping at places that are Christian in ownership, as these are my spiritual brothers and sisters, and I believe in shopping in places that stand for what they believe in!

October 18, 2019 6:06 pm

I’m a big fan of cards especially for difficult time. I love Emily McDonald’s cheeky takes on heavy themes.

October 20, 2019 1:40 am

I’ve had my eye on the notecard set, but they didn’t quite make it in my budget allotment this year! I opted for PowerSheets (obviously) and the weekly planning sheets and wildcard pages! With the addition of the monthly calendar pages, I’m going to try to let this replace my planner and stick the weekly pages in when needed! We’ll see how it goes!
As far as being a patron, I do love thinking intentionally about where I spend my money. I get excited to support businesses I love. One way I do this is by supporting a local cake baker! She’s the sweetest gal, and I always get her cakes for special occasions! It’s become a fun tradition.
I get excited to support local business owners because I want more of what they do in my community. You’re so right that your dollar is a way to say, yes! I want more!
Also, I’m an avid Coffee & Crumbs listener too! I have yet to support any podcast through Patreon, but I’ve been considering it more lately.
Love all these thoughts—thanks for sharing, Em!

October 20, 2019 8:37 am

We are currently in a season of sticking to a VERY tight budget, so monetary patronage isn’t something we can focus on too much right now. But, I can offer “free” support to the things I love, like commenting on instagram posts for artists I love, or subscribing to podcasts I listen to regularly!

October 20, 2019 10:58 am

I love your thoughts on being a patron! A concept I’m not sure I would’ve given much thought before now, honestly. I’ve been using the powersheets since 2013, and received the magazine this fall. It brought me such delight, and I can’t wait to order when the finances allow. They’re worth their weight in gold. I’ve linked it, but I’m a Rodan + Fields consultant, after purchasing the products for many years. I’ve loved how having clear skin from acne has given me confidence, and now I can help others achieve their personal skincare or business goals. I also love supporting Emily Ley. The powersheets and her day planner truly help me live a life focused on things that matter most to me.

October 21, 2019 9:12 am

I love the ideas you expressed here! I ordered confetti power sheets (I’m a first time power sheet purchaser!) before I read this post, and when I read your post, I felt an extra surge of happiness at having made the leap. Your post got me thinking about capitalism — something that I’m usually anti! In a country of such abundance (where landfills are overflowing), I often feel that the answer is to say no to more stuff (no matter how ethically sourced it may be). What do I really *need* more of, after all? You actually made me second-guess my ordinary thought pattern (and that’s saying something! I think it’s hard to change someone’s mind about something — so that’s good writing!). I think I’m still inclined overall to minimalism, for budgetary and reducing-my-carbon-footprint reasons, but your post makes me think that when I am going to buy something, I should try really hard to make it be from a company/individual whose work I support for reasons beyond the quality of their products. Thank you!

October 21, 2019 12:09 pm

You’ve put this so well, Em! I can tend to be a tight-wad, thinking, “I could make that myself!” or procrastinating until I’ve talked myself out of it! But, you’re so right! My brothers both have home-based craft companies and I’ve seen first hand the amazing blessing that it is to have customers who so kindly and repeatedly support their endeavors. Thanks for the reminder!

P.S. I ordered my third set of PowerSheets on launch day and I am so thankful for this amazing tool. God has used it is such a powerful way in my life. Thank you for the work you do!

Erin K
October 21, 2019 1:24 pm

I love shopping local foods as much as possible-this summer we found several favorites at our local farmers market and it’s so fun to support real people!!!

October 22, 2019 4:03 pm

You are a wonderful person and I really, really like you! I cannot wait to intentionally DIVE into my new Powersheets. I know they are going to exceed expectations so I want to really have adequate time to soak them in.

October 23, 2019 8:46 am

I love supporting our local schools! But I particularly have a heart for a program in our area called GoPantry, which is a nonprofit that provides a backpack of food for weekends and school breaks for kiddos who’s parents are not able to feed them. It feels SO good that my dollars are actually making a direct impact on such a basic need that we often take for granted.

Jessica K
October 24, 2019 11:23 am

I’ll proud to support a local farm near me by being a CSA member each year. We also are members of our local NPR station and pay for the New York Times subscription. I used to be hesitant about giving our money to many of these things, but it really helps to feel like part of the community!

October 24, 2019 9:23 pm

Ooh, such a fun topic! I have been meaning to sign up for C+C’s Patreon (thanks for the reminder!), but in the meantime, my contribution to them is singing their praises from the rooftops and gifting their book at every baby shower I attend :) One of my before-35 goals is to become a season ticket holder for Carolina Ballet!

Sarah Jean
October 25, 2019 12:35 pm

I love this post, Emily! It is so much fun being a patron! I love seeing the smiles on the faces of our “apple guys” when we buy a gallon of cider week after week! This will be my 5th year using Powersheets and my 2nd VMP prayer journal! Purchasing with these companies means I get support and encouragement the rest of the year! Something I would not get had I purchased something on amazon or at target! I am excited to be able to keep spending my money this way, and looking for new opportunities to be a patron of the companies and people I love!

October 25, 2019 2:46 pm

I love this concept! In a similar fashion, My family is passionate that we make our big city “local”. Which means going to the same coffee shop, pizza place, etc. That way you can get to know the people that work there and it makes you feel invested in the shop succeeding. And, when small businesses flourish, the city flourishes.

October 26, 2019 2:14 am

I loved this post! I have thought of how I spend my money locally this way (ie: being willing to invest more money to purchase produce from farmers at our city market vs. purchasing those items at a grocery store). I hadn’t thought about it in terms of how I shop and support small business owners online! Helpful things to cl
consider- thank you!

October 26, 2019 2:13 pm

Oh, Em, I love reading your blog! I don’t know why I don’t do it more often, but I’m making a note to check it every month! Good for you!

[…] cast of characters.”Self Portrait in Black and White | Fun fact about John: you know how we talked about patrons awhile ago? One way he shows his patronage of voices he appreciates is by buying their books. However, he […]