Forgive me for starting, sir.

TreasuredMemory

After days of cancelled flights and uncertainty surrounding when I would be able to return home to my family, I was finally able to board an aircraft from Raleigh, North Carolina bound for St. Louis, Missouri, only a few hours from my place of residence in Kansas City. My first flight was a breeze (literally, someone had horrifying gas on the aircraft which made the turbulence in the first part of it seem like a cake walk) and I was thrilled to find yet another available exit row seat on my second flight back home.

As I took my seat, I noticed the my row-mate, an older gentleman with the same thick glasses my grandfather used to wear when he was alive, bore a striking resemblance to one of my favorite people in the world. There was something about this man, the way that he carried himself and the look in his eye that reminded me so much of my Grandpa Bob. I couldn’t look away. I just wanted to talk to him, to get to know this mystery man who made me feel so comfortable the instant I took my seat. Why is that?

I’ve always been fascinated with the gentle reminders of the past. The faint smell that brings you back to the days when your grandmother would make holiday breakfasts, the gentle breeze that reminds you of a vacation you took when you were little. These are life’s little gifts that I cherish and am grateful for.

My grandfather was an incredible man. He lovingly nicknamed me “Holly Dunn”, always reminding me that she was his favorite artist.

When I was little, he would pick me up from school and take me out to lunch at the lake, or to the store to pick out a My Little Pony, or any other number of fun just us things. Those were the moments when he bonded with me, that made me feel like I was the most special granddaughter in the world. He was magical like that.

As I got older, he taught me how to play cards, how to drive a boat, and how to make the best sausage gravy for morning biscuits. I will always cherish those moments with my grandfather.

After he passed away in 2012, I really started to think about the life that he lived. He was a hard worker who loved to travel and, after he retired, he spent his years volunteering to help others. After the terror attacks on 9/11, Grandpa Bob spent time in New York City cleaning up in the aftermath. He continued to volunteer with the American Red Cross assisting post-hurricanes and anything else the disaster response team needed help with. I didn’t know until after he passed away the extent of his volunteer work and the impact that he’d made on the world around him during his life. He was amazing.

I appreciate that moment I had today, the gentle reminder of my wonderful grandfather, that pushes me to be a good person and do what I can, with what I have, to make the world a better place…it’s what Grandpa would have wanted. It’s what Grandpa would have wanted, after all.

 

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Who do you think you are?!

Today, I come to you at 32,000 feet in the air. I’m waving, can you see me?

I love traveling.

Who Do You Think You Are_

Some of my earliest memories include traveling as a kid. Heck, my very first airplane trip was across the pond when my family moved to Europe when I was only a couple months old.

Maybe my love for travel is somehow in my DNA but there’s something about it that speaks to me on a soul-ular (not a word? don’t care) level.

Over the last few years, I’ve really started traveling more…as much as I can and as far as I can go. I hope to instill this love for the world (and the people in it) in Charlotte as she grows. Today’s trip, though, is a little different. Why? Because I’m completely alone.

I was talking to a friend about my solo travel last night. I told her that, as much as I’m going to miss seeing Charlotte and Tim over the next few days, I truly believe that traveling alone is important. Not always, but certainly on occasion. You see, traveling alone gives you the unique opportunity to discover WHO you are.

When you leave the comforts of home and you’re relying on only you to get to where you need to go, you discover you.

When you’re traveling alone you have the chance to observe the world around you, to communicate with strangers in unexpected conversations that can teach you something new, and to be alone with your thoughts. You don’t have the distractions of your normal day to day life and I find that solo travel can really remind you of what’s important in life (for me, it’s family).

I know what you’re thinking…Who can afford to travel all the time? Not me.

You don’t have to travel far to travel.

I’m fortunate in that we accrue airline points on a pretty regular basis with our chosen airline because many of our bills can be paid using the card. It’s nice because it gives my family the chance to get away every once in a while and it gives me the chance to go on these solo journeys sometimes, too.

Even if you’re not flying somewhere, though, you can still get away for a day, or a weekend road trip. Find something that works for you and do it.

I look forward to missing my family this week because I know that will make the reunion just that much better when I return.

All for now.

Cheers!

 

 

 

 

The Feeling Of a Home

Charlotte recently had a friend from dance up to the house for a sleepover. Admittedly, I was a little nervous about having this particular friend into our home for an extended period of time not because of her (at all) but because I felt slightly inadequate about  our home. This friend lives in a house easily three to four times the size of ours. It’s in a stunning lakefront community and they have a dance studio and indoor playground in their basement. It’s a dream home, without a doubt.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my house, but it’s very much a starter home. It works for our family and the dynamic of our neighborhood is what’s kept us around so long (we truly have the very best neighbors in the world) but it’s far from our forever home, so to speak. Someday we’ll find that home, just as this dance family has found theirs.

So when this friend came over, I worried a little that she wouldn’t have fun at our house because, comparatively speaking hers has much more to offer. Much to my surprise, though, the girls had a blast. Also, to my surprise, her friend kept mentioning how cool she thought our house was. She loved the weird, eclectic vibe that I have going on around my house and I really didn’t understand why.

Somehow I’d convinced myself that this society we live in, the one that seemingly values things above all else, was going to influence how much fun my daughter’s friend had at our house. We don’t have a television in the living room, we don’t have a ton of fancy stuff, we just have what we have and we’re comfortable.

I realized that is my problem. Why was I so worried? Why do I feel inadequate compared to these women who seem to have it all together?

I expressed to the mom, who is also a friend of mine, that I’d had these fears and I was really glad her daughter had fun at my boring house when she said something that really struck me. She told me that her daughter loves our house so much because of the energy that’s inside. That it’s filled with love. That stuck with me.

Maybe it really doesn’t matter what size television you have in your family room or the amount of toys you have in the basement. At the end of the day, a house is just an empty home without love. I’m working on overcoming my own feelings of inadequacy and learning to appreciate this beautiful life I’ve cultivated in the meantime.

Cheers.

Does Customer Service Exist Anymore?

As I sit here sifting through (e)page after (e)page of flooring options on Amazon for the bathroom renovation I’ve been working on for the last several months, I’m reminded of the reason why I haven’t gone back to a physical store to explore options. I recently popped over to a local flooring store to explore their offerings and was met with the worst customer service that I’ve ever experienced in my life. I only wish that I was exaggerating.

Within thirty seconds of walking into the store, I was met by (let’s call him) Bob (fitting, since it’s part of the name of the store). He, like any good sales rep, was quick to ask me if he could help me find anything in particular. I told him that I had come by in search of patterned floor tiles for my bathroom.

He seemed confused. I’m not sure why.

His tone shifted.

“You’re going to have to be more specific,” he said, “what exactly do you mean Pah-turn-d  tie-ull?” He asked.

At this point, I already knew that I had zero interest in doing business with someone that speaks to their customers this way. Nope. I really did want to see what options they had, so I decided to respond to him.

“Well,” I said, “I mean tile that has a pattern on it”.

He brought me over and showed me some white tiles since those, obviously, are patterned, and asked me if that was what I was looking for. Much to his shock, it wasn’t.

He seemed exhausted and was clearly not in the mood to continue our conversation so I thanked him for his time and left.

Is customer service a lost art? 

This guy was unbelievably rude to me. It wasn’t even necessarily what he said but how he said it. I wouldn’t have been upset if they didn’t have the kind of tile I was looking for, I understand that. Not everyone carries options that are unique in a world where people generally decorate with a sense of conformity. I get that, truly.

Maybe he was having a bad day. Maybe I reminded him of an ex. Who knows. The bottom line is that he felt that it was okay to make his bad mood my problem and that’s not okay.

I’m a firm believer that the way you carry yourself says a whole lot about the kind of person you are on the inside. If you’re entrusted to represent a brand, no matter what your role is, you should represent it to the best of your ability. Present yourself in a professional manner, be kind to others, think before you speak, and – – for goodness sake, don’t talk down to anyone. Ever.

I talked to my seven year old afterwards about the experience I’d had at the flooring store. Not because she was there or because I wanted to complain to her. Rather, I saw it as an opportunity, a teachable moment where I could discuss how we treat other human beings in this life.

So, whether you’re working with others or out in the world, choose kindness. Treat others with respect. And do the right thing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Monster Mommy.

I’m a monster. Don’t worry, some of you are, too.

I lost it this afternoon when Charlotte asked me for help with her piano homework. There’s no excuse, though I could certainly offer a few up. She needed me and I lost patience. I lost my temper. I lost it.

She was nearly a month behind on her piano homework in one of her books. Why? I’m not sure, but she had been lying to us whenever we’d ask her if she was finished it. In hindsight, I should have been double checking. She’s seven.

Why do we, as parents, lose our cool when our kids don’t do what we’ve asked of them? 

Because we allow it to become our problem.

That’s true with almost any situation in life.

Charlotte didn’t do her homework and fell behind. She was so behind that she needed help catching up. And it made me mad because I felt embarrassed and I decided to make the problem mine.

I did this.

Was I right to feel frustrated with the situation? Absolutely.

Am I allowed to feel irritated when she doesn’t meet the clear expectations that are set for her? Yup.

Should I handle these situations with calm? Yes.

And I didn’t. That was my doing, not hers. 

That ugly monster itches to come out and play. It’s the monster that I think lives within us all, the one that thrives in chaos, that enjoys yelling, that feeds off of your elevated cortosial. What if, instead of answering the door when the monster comes knocking, I take a minute to ask myself: Who owns the problem?

When I get to the point where I’m so frustrated that I start to lose my temper, I need to look for logical consequences that keep the problem with the responsible party and not with me.

At the end of the day, when I allow a problem to become mine, I’m not only allowing the situation to affect those who happen to be in the blast radius of my own explosion but I’m also punishing myself when I inevitably feel like a monster and a failure in the aftermath.

Parenting is hard. Godspeed.

 

 

 

 

On Life’s Lightbulb Moments

 

Life is full of moments.

Some of my favorite are the ‘ah-ha’ ones where all of the sudden that piece of the puzzle that’s been missing finally clicks into place. I’ve had a few of them over the last couple of years.

1. The moment I realized that your relationships are WORTH fighting for.

Tim and I were, as much as I hate to admit this publicly, on the road to splitting up. We’d had some crucial conversations about our relationship and it really seemed like our journey was heading in that direction. Right around our ten year wedding anniversary, I had a light bulb moment. The amount of time that we’d chosen to be together was SO much longer than the amount of time we’d spent feeling like we were drifting apart – and those years are worth something. Worth fighting for. So, we’ve chosen to try to do that. To fight for our marriage – and, in a lot of ways, things have gotten SO much better as a result.

2. The moment I realized that life is more about how you handle situations than the situations themselves. 

2017 was an interesting year, full of learning experiences. Within the span of less than a month, Charlotte had a nasty case of head lice, our house flooded, the dog died, and we were getting ready to leave to go out of the country. I realized during that timeframe (somewhere around the flood), that life is more about how you navigate through the storms than the storms themselves. Going through all of that in such a short amount of time truly changed me, for the better. I came through it a more calm, grounded individual. I learned a lot about who I am and how I handle crisis.

3. The moment I realized that I can’t expect anyone to treat me better than I’m willing to treat myself. 

I’ve spent years de-valuing myself in life. So much so that I’ve become an expert at it, with more than three decades experience. So it should come as no surprise to me when other people follow suit, right? My most recent lightbulb moment was happened not too long ago. I realized, despite having heard it before, that I set the tone for how other people treat me by sending the message that I’m okay with it. Time and time again. It’s a lesson you will never learn until it finally clicks.

“You’re only a doormat if you lay down for it.”

Should other people be held accountable for the way they treat you? Yes. But, here’s the cold hard truth of the matter: The way that you carry yourself, the amount of self-respect you have for yourself, and how you value yourself is going to play a huge role in how other people respect and value you. I cannot expect anyone to value me more than I am willing to value myself.

Right?

I recently found myself in a situation where I had to defend my value. It wasn’t that the other person didn’t see my worth, it’s that I had sent the message over and over again that I was okay being undervalued. Why? Because, like I said, I’m an expert at it. I started to realize that I’ve spent years not valuing what I bring to the table in life, at work, out in the community, etc. Why?

I’m not even sure why, it’s probably something I need to dig a little deeper to figure out, but I’m finally starting to realize that I’m worth more than I’ve been giving myself credit for. And that’s a big step for me.

Just call me Stuart Smalley.

StuartSmalley

 

 

 

#JoyDelivered to YOUR Doorstep! {WIN} $50 to #DoorToDoorOrganics

Happy March, Friends!

The warmer weather here in the KC metro area reminds me that a new season is nearly here and I’m inviting you to SPRING into better eating habits with me this month! You guys, I’ve been bad…really, really bad. Some time ago (last month, don’t judge me), I survived on pizza snacks for nearly three days straight (#kiddingnotkidding) and ultimately had to have a little Come to Jesus chat with myself about both the example I am setting for my 5 year old as well as the impacts that proper diet (and exercise – *sigh*) can have on your overall health.

I’ve always ENJOYED healthy foods, that wasn’t the problem, but I was struggling (big time) with the “convenience” of the junk in my freezer. NOT ANYMORE (ignore the Thin Mints in my freezer) or at least not OFTEN anymore. I’ve discovered what it means to have #JoyDelivered to my DOORSTEP every single week. This JOY comes in the form of healthy, fresh, organic produce and quality foods boxed up from Door To Door Organics each week and, you guys, I am SO THRILLED to be able to offer one of YOU $50.00 to try it out for yourself. Take a look…

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Setting up my new account with Door to Door Organics was fast and easy. Their website is very user friendly (read: just about anyone can navigate through with ease) and I immediately felt comfortable making changes to my subscription, adding on pantry items, and getting ridiculously excited for my weekly order. The very first thing that I did (and you’ll need to do) was made sure that my home address is located in a delivery area (spoiler alert: it is). Go check to see if your zip code is, I’ll wait…

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FUN FACT: Save $10 on your first box using the code KCBlog16

Once my account was set up, I spent time going through all of my options for delivery. In addition to the box of produce (I’ve ordered both the “bitty” and the “small” boxes) that comes with my subscription, I’ve also been ordering some awesome foods I never realized I could have dropped off at my doorstep. I’ve been ordering breakfast items, frozen foods, and items from the bakery as well. I hopped into my local supermarket to compare the prices of some of the foods I got in my first box and they were fairly consistent with what Door to Door Organics charges for the same items. Take a look at what I got in my first box (it was really two boxes…double the FUN!):

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My first order included a SMALL mixed box and, as you can see, it had quite a bit of food. I’ve since dropped down to a bitty box which is still enough for a couple of eaters. I’m almost afraid to admit this but, before this experience with Door To Door Organics, I’d never had FRESH mango before but now I’m hooked (and so is Charlotte). My favorite thing about this particular subscription is that if there’s ever an item in your weekly (or bi-weekly, or however often you choose to get delivery) box that you don’t care for or have enough of already, you can swap it out for something else. I used ALL five of my available swaps last week so that I could load up on some of my favorite fruits and veggies at home.

You can also set preferences so that your box will never contain foods that you either can’t or elect not to eat (like corn & grapefruit – YUCK). On the flip side (I really wanted to say “conversely” here but decided against it), you can tell Door to Door Organics what you REALLY like and they’ll do their best to incorporate it for you (I’ve had bananas and lemon delivered every week).

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Now for the fun part…Once you’ve made adjustments to your order, added on anything that you’re needing for the upcoming week, and are satisfied with your choices (or it’s midnight the night before your delivery date), you get to experience the joy of WAITING. The anticipation is actually pretty exciting – I REALLY love when things are delivered to me (it’s like *magic*). I may or may not have (okay, I did) squealed with delight when the box arrived at my house.

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{This was just HALF of my first delivery from #DoorToDoorOrganics}

I could (literally) go on and on about how much I appreciate and value the delicious produce and other groceries that I’ve gotten so far from DTDO but I’m getting a little wordy here so let’s jump right into the giveaway and then I’ll share more next week when I announce a winner – Sound good?! Good!

I have, in my {electronic} possession FIFTY Door To Door Organics BUCKAROOS to give away right here on It’s An Ordinary Blog and I really want you to WIN!

To get in on the action, head on over to my FACEBOOK page and drop me a COMMENT on THIS POST telling me what YOU would like best about having this service. You can get a BONUS entry by doing the same on my INSTAGRAM post linked HERE.

I’ll randomly draw ONE winner on March 10th ((comments will be accepted through 11:59pm CST on 3/9/16)) and will announce RIGHT HERE on the BLOG! Stay tuned and, as always, may the odds be EVER in YOUR favor! Good luck!

“13 Hours The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi”

“13 Hours The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi” recounts the actual events of a terrorist attacks on the American Consulate and CIA annex in Benghazi, Libya which have since been the source of investigations and controversy. Nearing the 11th anniversary of the attacks in New York, the Pentagon, and the downed American Airlines flight in Pennsylvania, the threat level in Libya was deemed critical and Benghazi was considered to be one of the most dangerous places on Earth. So, when American ambassador Chris Stevens’ team was attacked at the US Consulate, there was no help available beyond his small security team that was already in place.

The bulk of the film documents six members of the security detail assigned to the nearby CIA annex who risked their lives to try to save the ambassador and his team in the early hours of the attack. Once back at the annex, however, the team quickly realized that their night had just begun as the militants issued several waves of subsequent attacks on the annex forcing the team to fight for not only their lives but also for the lives of dozens of CIA operatives who were inside the compound at the time.

War films highlighting modern day political conflict can often be a harsh reminder of the world we live in but also serve as a reminder that there are people who are willing to risk their lives to save others – which is exactly what the “secret soldiers” of Benghazi accomplished. All in all, these men fought for nearly 13 hours before being able to return home to their families lives changed, some lives lost. The film depicts the gravity of war and brings you on an emotional journey that will break your heart.

Overall, I recommend “13 Hours The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi” to moviegoers who are interested in war films or for people studying the recent history of our war overseas. On a scale from 1 to 10, I give this movie a 7.45309.

See you at the movies!

Peanuts: They’re BACK!

The Peanuts Movie

Runtime: 93 Minutes

Rated: G

Snoopy, Linus, Lucy, Charlie Brown and the rest of the Peanuts gang are back on the big screen for the first time in 35 years. With the power of Blue Sky Studios (makers of the Ice Age movies and Rio) behind them, “The Peanuts Movie” has a new 3D Computer generated look, but retains the same heart and spirit of the older films.

As a child, I remember watching “It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown” around Halloween and “A Charlie Brown Christmas” before Christmas every year.  As I grew older, I appreciated the complicated subject matter tackled by these movies that were for children and about children. The new Peanuts movie keeps up with that tradition. Charlie Brown deals with self-doubt, feelings of inadequacy and a great deal of adversity. He takes a lot of lumps from life, but always gets up to take another and you never stop rooting for him.  

In the latter years of the Peanuts comic strip, the focus shifted from Charlie Brown’s hopeful hopelessness to Snoopy’s silly antics. This movie does a good job of giving audiences both.  Snoopy has a side story that is interspersed within the main story, which helps distract from the fact that Charlie Brown’s story is a fairly simple one.

This Peanuts movie is very faithful to the original material. Other than the new look of the animation, it feels very much like one of the classics.  Having the family of the comic strip creator Charles M. Schulz involved in the writing process no doubt helped preserve the feel of the originals, and it is evident that this movie is a labor of love. If anything, things may be a little too familiar. Charlie Brown has misadventures in pitching, he visits his five cent psychiatrist and he even tries to kick a football. During these bits, it feels a little bit like “Peanuts greatest hits”.

I didn’t mind. “The Peanuts Movie” will fill old fans with nostalgia while introducing the characters to a new generation. It’s a clever and wholesome movie that will be enjoyable for people of all ages.  On my It’s an Ordinary Blog scale where 1 is the worst, 5 is the best, and 10 is the worst again I give “The Peanuts Movie” a 4.85234 with an emoticon based sub-ranking of: GOOD GRIEF! That was Great!

Young Boy Kidnapped From Orphanage, Becomes Pirate, Takes Over Entire Land

“Pan”

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Run-time: 111 Minutes
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for fantasy action, violence, language and some thematic materials
Starring: Levi Miller, Hugh Jackman, Garrett Hedlund, Rooney Mara

The live-action remake of classic animated films is quickly becoming the go-to play in Disney’s playbook. Back in 2010, fueled by good marketing, captivating visuals, and peak Johnny Depp weirdness, “Alice in Wonderland” re-imagined a familiar story and made all of the money. Since then, the Disney live-action remake has become its own sub-genre. “Maleficent” and “Cinderella” both did well and now “Pan”, the latest entry in this growing trend will try to emulate that success. Whether “Pan” succeeds or not, it appears the Disney remake machine has started and cannot be stopped. Reportedly there are a dozen or more additional live action remakes in the works.

“Pan”, like its most successful live-action remake forerunners, approaches a well-known story from a different angle so that the audience can learn more about well known characters. It is a prequel to the story we all know and love, showing the origin of how Peter, a 12 year-old orphan, came to Neverland and became the hero known as Peter Pan.

This is a very quirky movie.The story, though stretching far from what we know about these previously established characters, is interesting enough to hold your attention. The visual effects were whimsical and clever. I appreciated the bursts of color when someone was injured in a fight, which softened the impact of the violence while providing an interesting and unique effect.

Even though enjoyed “Pan”, there were parts that are too intense for very small children. My daughter is 4, she loves “Peter Pan”, but I would not bring her to this version. For older audience members; however, the captivating visuals and unique take on beloved characters is enough to keep audiences entertained from beginning to end.

On my It’s An Ordinary Blog scale where 1 is the worst, 5 is the best, and 10 is the worst again, I give Pan a 3.62349123 with an emoticon based sub-ranking of: “oooooooooooooohhhh pretty”.