Fifteen years ago, Stephanie Davis was at a friend’s house, enjoying a playdate with her children.  “I asked my friend if I could organize her pantry.  She said yes and the rest is history!” smiles Stephanie.  She started her company, Let’s Get Organized (or LGO Solutions), a professional organizing firm that services both residential and commercial clients in creating systems that increase efficiency and bring order to chaos.

Stephanie says, “I encourage our clients to create order in their lives to reduce stress and improve efficiency.  Disorganization and chaos breed a stressful, unproductive, and chaotic lifestyle.  Creating order and systems within a home will improve how everyone functions and relates to one another.  Carrying those principles to the work place will improve productivity and increase bottom line results.”

LGO Solutions will help you organize your home and your business!  Their residential services included kitchens and closets, laundry rooms, attics, garages, relocation and move management, and much, much more!  Business services include project management, QuickBooks and Quicken, Filing Systems and Virtual Assistance. 

With the New Year in full swing, we asked Stephanie to share five expert tips on getting organized in 2016!  She says, “January is the month of renewal and starting over.  I encourage clients to start small to ensure continued personal success!”  Here are Stephanie’s steps to success:

1)     Tackle your junk drawers

2)     Purge your closet

3)     Sort stacks of mail

4)     Clean out your inbox

5)     Invest in organizing tools

Thank you for these five important steps to getting organized, Stephanie!  We plan to start with these small, simple steps and encourage you to try them as well!  Stephanie says, “Organization is not a one-time project, but a lifestyle commitment.”  For more information on LGO Solutions, please visit their website here!
{Blog by Mitchell Walters}
 
 
Chilly temperatures and dry weather can be extremely harsh on your skin.  However, there are ways to rejuvenate your complexion during the winter season!  We reached out to the experts at SKIN the Spa at the Runnels Center, and are excited to share their five steps to glowing winter skin: 
For more information on SKIN the Spa at the Runnels Center, please visit their website here!  Also, a special thank you to Adam + Alli Photography for the lovely photographs!
{Blog by Mitchell Walters}
 
 
A luxurious boutique hotel will soon be gracing one of Mississippi’s most charming towns.  On September 1, 2016, Chancellor’s House will open its grand doors and usher guests into its exquisite space in downtown Oxford.  This beautiful mansion boasts thirty-one guest rooms, a contemporary rooftop lounge with sweeping views of the Oxford square and the Grove, a dining room, bar, outdoor terrace and a handsome library. 

Chancellor’s House recently held a fabulous reveal party at The Lyric Oxford, introducing its exciting concept to guests from around the state, including Governor Phil Bryant.  Here is a fantastic video recounting the story behind Chancellor’s House, and what guests have to look forward to:
The Chancellor’s House website is now live!  Please click here to learn more about this beautiful lodging experience.  You can also book your reservations for the upcoming Ole Miss football seasonhere!

Whether you love Oxford for the incredible sports, beautiful weddings, renowned film festival, or simply enjoy spending time in the quaint town, we guarantee Chancellor’s House will make your stay perfectly memorable. 
{Blog by Mitchell Walters}
 
 
{Name}   Laurel Donahoo
{Hometown}
  Madison, MS
{Event Site}
Our house in Madison!

{Tell us about the occasion for the event?}
This party was to celebrate our sweet baby boy, Wilson, turning one-year-old! 

{What inspired your event location and theme?}
Wilson loves books and loves getting read to, and one of our favorite books to read to him is Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. That was my husband’s favorite book growing up, and it just seemed like such a great basis for a party theme! I probably had a little too much fun with the planning, but then again, I love planning parties!! 

{What inspired your color scheme/flowers?}
The color scheme was inspired by the illustrations in the book, although we did end up going just a little more vibrant than the illustration colors. Instead of a mustard yellow, we went with a brighter yellow, and instead of just army greens, we threw in a little lime and kelly, too! I designed the invitations and included a little bit of a sky blue on there as well, so that ended up being a color we used in addition to the yellows and greens!

{What’s your favorite event detail? Is there a story behind it?}
My favorite detail… Such a hard question! Can I pick three?! (1) We ended up dressing Wilson up like Max from the book, so getting his costume together was super fun! And it really wasn’t hard. I found a solid white footed pants and shirt (from Wal-Mart) for the base of the outfit, then made a little tail out of gray felt and sewed it to the back of the pants. Then I made a tall yellow crown out of card stock and added a little felt rim to the bottom of the crown with leftover tail material! So easy and so cute! (2) I loved how the blue punch turned out. We made a little boat out of a red apple and I thought it turned out really well! (3) The party favors were some little yellow crown cookies that I packaged up individually to hand out as our guests left. I love baking so this was a fun detail to put a little extra effort into for me! 

{What was your favorite part of the event planning process?}
I love party planning for people I love. Since this little get-together was all about Wilson, it made every stage of the planning so much fun! I probably had the most fun designing the invitations and making his outfit if I had to pick favorites aspects, though!

{What was your favorite moment of the event day?}
My favorite moment of the day had to have been when I first put his outfit on him! Watching him walk around with that little tail dragging behind him could not have been cuter… To make it all even sweeter, the day of his party (which was also his actual birthday), he started giving the sweetest hugs!! If my husband or I were sitting on the floor and would say his name, he would just come give us the sweetest hugs around the neck. It was awesome. A hug from our dressed up little wild thing was just the best! 

{Your favorite picture from the event day?}
Wilson isn’t very good at keeping hats on his head, so any of the pictures where he had his crown on were extra special ones! 

Photographer: myself
Event Planner: myself
Venue: our house
Florist: myself
Cake: Lulu’s Sweet Shop
 
 
Mississippi's beloved city of Vicksburg is the ultimate wedding location.  With its perfect balance of old and new, downtown offers the modern bride a memorable location for her special day.  Walk the cobblestone streets, revisit history and savor spectacular views as you celebrate in this thriving city with a remarkable past.
Please pick up a copy of the 2016 Inspiration Mississippi Magazine!  It is filled with lovely photographs and fascinating articles, all celebrating the people, places and events in our great state.

We want to wholeheartedly thank our talented vendors for making this such a memorable shoot!

VENUE:  Vicksburg, Mississippi; The Bluff of Vicksburg​
 
 
“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”

Martin Luther King, Jr.
Today celebrates the birth of Martin Luther King, Jr., a brave, wise man and a great champion for nonviolent activism in the Civil Rights Movement.  He was tragically assassinated in 1968, but Dr. King’s voice continues to beautifully inspire younger generations. 

Dr. King heavily influenced one of Vicksburg’s finest, Sylvester Walker.  For the past ten years, Sylvester has held an incredible parade in downtown Vicksburg, celebrating the life and legacy of Dr. King.  We had the pleasure of visiting with Sylvester, and are thrilled to share more about how Dr. King inspired his life, and how he is carrying on Dr. King’s vision of serving others.

~ Tell me about yourself.  Where did you grow up? 
“I'm Sylvester Walker and I'm a native of Vicksburg, MS; I have three children and one grandson I love so much, who keep me so strong. I was very poor growing up and I wanted to make sure they wouldn't have to struggle as hard as I had too. My mother and father did the best for their children.  I grew up in the Rolling Hills Subdivision low-income projects, so I know how it feels to have nothingThat is the reason I love to give back to my community. Out of all the struggles I was able to attend college and I was able to start my own business at the age of 21 and started my own beauty salon; I was in business for 25 years.”

~ Did you ever meet Dr. King?  Tell me about his influence on you. 
“No, I never was afforded the opportunity to meet with Dr. King in person.  He did, however, influence my life as a young adult to serve my community.  His actions led me to believe that one man can make a difference.”

~ Describe the multicultural flag you created that flies over Dr. King's memorial site. 

“The Multicultural Flag I created was design to be inclusive; that's why you see the variation of colors.  They signify what America has claimed to be all these years, a melting pot for all.  Having said that, I feel it is time that our flag represents all cultures, ethnicities and heritages. This is not an attempt to change the existing flags, but to broaden our acceptance of one another and to display those ideals. The flag colors represent all walks of life: Black for the black skinned people, Red for the red skinned people, Yellow for the yellow skin people and Green for the land came from.  Red/White/Blue for the American flag that is in the center, showing we might look different, but we are so much alike.  At present they are not on the market, the ones I have are handmade. I was unable to keep up the production due to request; I began using it in the Dr. King Parade.”

~ What inspired you to start the annual parade in Vicksburg?
“I noticed other parades in other areas and had a desire to bring the MLK Parade to the Vicksburg community, in hopes of enlightening our youth and honoring Dr. King along with the generation of our community that under his guidance help to pave the way.”

~ Tell me about your email address, healing the wounds.  What does this mean?  
“The email comes from my 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.  We help people in the community who are less fortunate by providing clothes, food, shelter, counseling, and educational programs.”

Sylvester, you are a true inspiration!  Thank you for sharing your story with us today!  Though the Martin Luther King, Jr. Parade will not be held this year, Sylvester hopes the parade will continue in 2017.  We asked Sylvester, “What do you think today’s generation can learn from Dr. King’s wise words and brave actions?”  His reply was perfect.  “Have love and respect one another.”

We wish you all a happy Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday!

{Blog by Mitchell Walters}

 
 
“Inspiration is extremely difficult to quantify, but countless young women over the years have returned to the Miss Dixie National Pageant to explain how a kind word, an autograph, or an appearance by Miss Dixie National encouraged them to pursue a specific goal or opportunity.  Each story is unique, just as each Miss Dixie National is unique.  A new titleholder is crowned each year, and each year, the new Miss Dixie National brings her specific gifts, personality, and goals to the title.” Allison Coulton, President of the Miss Rodeo Mississippi Foundation Board of Directors
This February marks the 51st year of the beloved Dixie National Rodeo in Jackson.  On Saturday, January 16, the Miss Dixie National Pageant will be held at the Mississippi State Fairgrounds.  Allison says, “This pageant was created to annually crown a young woman who would spend a year promoting the Dixie National Livestock Show and Rodeo.  The pageant later added the Junior Miss and Sweetheart division to provide younger girls with similar opportunities to serve as a titleholder and promote the Dixie National Livestock Show and Rodeo.” As the spokesperson for the Dixie National Rodeo, Miss Dixie National takes on the role of educator, ambassador, role model, and the voice of enthusiasm and expertise for Mississippi’s largest professional rodeo.

We spoke with Allison to learn more about the Miss Dixie National Pageant and the incredible young women involved with the organization!

~ Who is Miss Dixie National?
“Practically, she is first and foremost a cowgirl; she is also a young woman aged 17-22 who has never been married or pregnant, enrolled in either high school or college, and passionate about the sport of rodeo!  Miss Dixie National spends her reign promoting the sport of rodeo and the Dixie National Livestock Show and Rodeo by making promotional appearances on Jackson area radio and television stations, educational presentations at schools and hospitals, speaking to civic groups, participating in other Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) rodeos in Mississippi, and traveling to any other appearances requested by non-profit groups or the media.”

~ Will Miss Dixie National compete in the Dixie National Rodeo in February?
“Miss Dixie National does not compete in the Dixie National Rodeo in February.  She rides during the opening ceremonies of the rodeo, and then dismounts her horse to go inside and answer fans' questions and sign autographs.  In addition to the Dixie National Rodeo, Miss Dixie National attends a wide range of the Dixie National Livestock Show events, including the Sale of Champions and the Dixie National Parade.”

~ Tell us about the actual pageant.  Where does it take place and what is expected of each contestant?  Is this event open to the public?
“The annual Miss Dixie National Pageant hosts cowgirls from across the Southeast.  The contestants will compete in four main judged events: horsemanship, fashion show, interview, and photogenics.  Whereas beauty pageants typically judge contestants on beauty and poise, rodeo queen pageants judge contestants on their ability to be a spokesperson for the sport.  At each event, the contestants are judged on their personality, appearance, speaking ability, knowledge (rodeo knowledge and current event knowledge) and horsemanship, the contestants are judged on their horsemanship ability.  The pageant will be held January 16th on the Mississippi State Fairgrounds.  All events except the personal interviews are open to the public.”

~ Why is it so important for these young women to share their love and passion for the sport? 
“Rodeo queen titles such as the Miss Dixie National title provide young women with the opportunity to not only promote the sport they love, but also promote agriculture and the western lifestyle.  Mississippi has a long heritage of agricultural production, and rodeo is directly connected to that way of life.  Serving as Miss Dixie National allows young women to promote the sport they love, the industry that maintains it, and the Magnolia State.  In doing so, the titleholders are afforded opportunities to travel and meet a diverse group of Mississippians as well as participate in countless activities--from speaking on the House of Representatives floor to being backstage at a Dixie National Rodeo concert--that would not be afforded to them otherwise.”  

~ Who organizes the Pageant?
“The pageant is organized annually by the Miss Rodeo Mississippi Foundation. The foundation was established to preserve and promote the sport of professional rodeo, which stands for family, hard work, values, and commitment, in the state of Mississippi. The foundations mission in order to provide scholarship awards for young Mississippians to maximize their educational potential, develop their public relations skills and public speaking ability, while producing ethical, responsible, and hardworking citizens, who desire to be role models and leaders for our state and/or country.The Miss Rodeo Mississippi Foundation is the organization that annually produces the Miss Dixie National, Junior Miss Dixie National, Miss Dixie National Sweetheart, and Miss Rodeo Mississippi Pageants.  The Miss Rodeo Mississippi Foundation also oversees the titleholders' reigns, and helps Miss Rodeo Mississippi prepare for the Miss Rodeo America pageant.”

Allison adds, “Two former Miss Dixie Nationals have become Miss Rodeo America, the sport’s highest rodeo queen title!  More information about Miss Rodeo America can be found at missrodeo.com.”

This pageant celebrates impressive young women across the state of Mississippi.  We hope to see all of you at the Miss Dixie National Pageant this Saturday, cheering on the lovely and talented contestants!  For more information on the Miss Rodeo Mississippi Foundation, please visit their website here.  Or, you can visit their Facebook page here

{Blog by Mitchell Walters}
 
 
With the 2016 issue of Inspiration Mississippi Magazine coming out this week, we are thrilled to introduce three more vital members of the Inspiration Mississippi team!
Aimee Sanford, Client Coordinator and Advertising Sales
We are delighted to welcome Aimee to the Inspiration Mississippi family!  Born and raised in Tupelo, this faithful, musical and gregarious woman now resides in Vicksburg with her husband, Zach, and their three-year-old son, Isaac.  “I am so inspired by time spent with family and friends, relaxing with a cup of coffee,” says Aimee.  She will work closely with all of our advertisers to ensure we promote every business to the best of our ability! Aimee smiles, “I am so proud to be from the great state of Mississippi.  Being born and raised in the South is a blessing and something I would never change.  I love all things southern:  Mac and cheese, fried chicken, sweet tea, adorable fashion, monograms, hot summers and cool winters…but most of all, I adore the love shown in this hospitable state!”

Alexis Davis, Client Relations Director 
As Client Relations Director, Alexis manages many roles at Inspiration Mississippi!  As our onsite photoshoot manager, Alexis visits each set to ensure everything is perfectly in place!  She supports talented photographers, vendors and models from across the state, who all work together to create magical scenes for our magazine and blog.  Alexis also handles countless administrative duties as our office coordinator!  She is an avid runner and savors time with her precious family.  If you are looking for a sweet treat, Alexis whips up incredibly decadent desserts! 

Caitlyn Sullivan, Social Media Director
Caitlyn is a senior at the University of Mississippi, where she is impressively double majoring in Chinese and English!  As the Social Media Director, Caitlyn posts all of the Inspiration Mississippi blogs and many of our beautiful social media photos.  Caitlyn is an incredibly talented photographer, and also works part-time for Kendall Poole Event Planning.  She says, “With this magazine, we have an opportunity to tell our story, and keep Mississippi’s moments from running away. I am continuously inspired by Mississippi.  Every day is a new adventure, whether it is volunteering at the nearest inner city mentoring program, or exploring the history of those who lived here before me.”  

Thank you, Adam + Alli Photography for the beautiful photographs of Alexis and Caitlyn.  A special thank you to Mary Moment Photography for capturing Aimee’s lovely headshot! 
 
 
The 2016 issue of Inspiration Mississippi Magazine launches throughout the state this week!  We are ecstatic and cannot wait to share the stunning photographs, moving stories and lovely ideas with you.  As we anticipate the magazine’s arrival, we are thrilled to feature the Inspiration Mississippi team on the blog.  We are excited to reintroduce many familiar faces, as well as warmly welcome our newest member. 
Kendall Poole Ellis, Publisher/ Founder / Ad Sales

Kendall created the concept of Inspiration Mississippi:  a beautiful magazine that celebrates the people, places and events that make Mississippi such an incredible state.  Kendall says, “There are simply no words to express my gratitude and excitement for this, the second issue of Inspiration Mississippi Magazine.  I am beyond humbled to work with some amazing vendors around the state who continue to inspire me with their talents and extraordinary enthusiasm for everything they do.”  Kendall is married to her wonderful husband, Will, and they have a precious daughter named Emma.  Kendall is also excited to announce the arrival of a new addition in 2016:  Charles William Ellis IV.   Kendall smiles, “There is no doubt that it is only by God’s grace and mercy that we are able to produce this magazine, showing off our great state.  Thank you, our readers, for letting us share our faith, friendship and inspiration!”
Emily Ferguson, Creative Director

Emily is exceptionally creative and quite an artist.  Remarkably, she handles all of the design elements for Inspiration Mississippi!  She also runs the billing department for the magazine, and is constantly dreaming up gorgeous photo shoots and layouts for the magazine and blog.  Emily says, “I have been married to my handsome husband, Heath, for six years.  We have a very enthusiastic five-year-old son, M.G., and another precious baby boy due in March!”  When she isn’t designing, Emily loves spending time with family and relaxing at the beach.  She laughs, “I am a recovering Pinterest addict.  My goal each day is to think of things for the magazine that are not on Pinterest and have never been seen before!”
Mitchell Walters, Editorial Director

Mitchell has always had a passion for putting words together to create a story.  She is thrilled to write all of the articles for the magazine and the Inspiration Mississippi blog!  “I hope our readers find this year’s magazine fascinating and uplifting.  I had the pleasure of interviewing so many extraordinary people around our state," she smiles.  "Highlights include the story of one family's incredible faith in the midst of cancer, personal memories of B.B. King from his closest confidants, and a glimpse into Sunday mornings at a cowboy church service."  In her spare time, Mitchell loves laughing and spending time with her husband, Matthew, and their three precious children:  Marguerite, James and Nabers.  Mitchell also enjoys traveling, running and painting with Marguerite, and loves fashion and interior design.  "I want to thank our incredible readers, vendors and photographers.  Your talents and support are what make Inspiration Mississippi such a special publication." 

Thank you to Adam + Alli Photography for the lovely photographs of our team!! 
 
 
An incredibly supportive and faithful group of women is gathering tonight in Madison, Mississippi.  Those Who Speak is a casual support group for women who have had trouble getting pregnant, staying pregnant, or who have lost a child at a very young age.  Founder Laurel Donahoo says, “After I had a miscarriage back in July of 2013 and was going through a very difficult grieving process seemingly by myself, the Lord laid it on my heart to start a group where women who had had difficulty in similar areas could come together for support, prayer, accountability, advice and just general friendship in a super casual setting! He also laid the names of two other girls on my heart I knew had experienced child loss in different ways (miscarriage, stillbirth, and loss of a weeks-old infant), both of whom I reached out to with the idea. They were all in! The first meeting was at my house in April of 2014 and we had almost 20 people there! That, to me, was affirmation that a group like this was so needed!”

We spoke with Laurel (of The Lovely Bee) to learn more about this wonderful group of women:

Tell us about the name of the group, Those Who Speak!
“I’ve had several people ask about the name of the group. It comes from a C.S. Lewis quote that I found shortly after my miscarriage that I just loved! It made me realize that getting together with several others and talking about my hurt may actually help my healing! 'I have learned now that while those who speak about one's miseries usually hurt, those who keep silence hurt more.'”

Can you outline what happens at a typical meeting?
“We have changed up the format of the meetings a little bit since the beginning, but currently we all come over to the host’s house (the January 8th meeting is at my house again!) and have a bite to eat, a glass of wine, and get to know anyone who might be new to the meetings! Lately, we have been writing down topics or questions and putting them in a bowl, then sitting down and opening discussion up with prayer. (This is a faith-based group by the way!) We then start drawing pieces of paper out of the bowl and conversation just flows very naturally! The thing I love about this format is that nobody feels pressured to say anything. If someone wants to come and simply just sit and listen, that is 100% OK! Since everyone is different, this makes it more welcoming for the super talkative types as well as the more closed off types. Any woman who has experienced difficulty getting pregnant, staying pregnant, or who has lost a child at a young age is welcome to attend!” 

How has this group encouraged you?
“I have made so many sweet friends through this group!! It has helped me to find that I’m not the only one who has experienced the feelings I’ve had. And I’m not the only one whose husband deals differently than I do. And I’m not the only one who faces this crazy fear when I do get pregnant that I’m going to miscarry again. I have a group of girls who I can float a specific prayer request to and they totally get where I’m coming from. It’s been incredible to walk joyful journeys of successful IVFs and natural conceptions with some of the members, and it’s been a huge boost in my prayer life to pray for patience and understanding for others who are still waiting on God’s timing.”

Thank you, Laurel, for sharing your story, your faith and Those Who Speak with women across the state and Inspiration Mississippi!  The group meets tonight at 6:00pm in Madison and anyone is invited to attend.  Laurel says, “We meet every two to three months, so if this group sounds like something you might want to attend but you don’t feel ready yet, that is OK! We will have another one soon! I post to my blog (www.thehiveblog.com) each time we set a date for a new one so you can keep up with the meetings there!”

{Blog by Mitchell Walters}