What does Bravery Mean to YOU?

I made a spur of the moment decision while at Target the other day. An impulse buy that I don’t regret at all. I happened upon a book by author Annie Downs that takes you on a 100 day devotional journey towards “unlocking your most courageous self“.

I knew the second I saw it that it was meant for me. And that may come as a shock to most of you who know that I’m not typically a very religious person. But this, this is something that I’m very excited to embark on.

I, like many of you (I’m sure) struggle with a fear of the unknown. Sometimes when I can’t predict the outcome of a situation or things are more fluid than I would prefer, my anxiety takes over. I see this devotional book as a great way to help me overcome those fears.

Day one talked about what it means to be brave – that bravery isn’t the absence of fear but, rather, the courage to do it anyway because what’s waiting on the other side is beautiful and worthwhile. That speaks to me a lot.

How many times have I been scared to make a move in the game of life because I feared the reaction or the unknown? Sadly, pretty often. Not anymore. I’m not saying that I’m going to suddenly go out and jump off of bridges or make dumb decisions – I’m just saying that maybe I ought to not let the fear of the unknown drive my decisions anymore…because the only thing that comes from that is me not living to my fullest potential.

More later…

 

 

 

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I’m Shitty. Thanks for the grace.

I’m sitting here in Starbucks, crying.

I’m a hot mess. You guys, this is real life.

I’ve become that mom.

My life isn’t that hard, and it’s certainly not that complicated. And I only have one kid. So, truly, it shouldn’t be THAT hard to keep it all together, right?

Charlotte does competitive dance for a living (I’m sort of kidding, she’s a second grader, it’s not a job). She loves it, which is why we do it. She dances at the studio several nights a week and, lately, weekends as well. With our insanely busy schedules it’s sometimes impossible for me to stay at the studio while she dances, so I don’t. There is always, always, always somewhere else I also need to be.

I used to stay at the studio ready to record dance routines, there to check on my kid. But that’s not my life anymore. And I feel really, really crappy about it.

I’ve become the mom who relies on other parents to send me videos when my kid, ONCE AGAIN, forgets to bring her phone in to record. I’ve become the parent who doesn’t know exactly what’s going on unless I’m told (because communication is often shared through word of mouth). I’ve become that mom.

I often feel judged by the other moms, which is entirely in my head. I think it’s because I am judging myself.

I really wished I could be the mom who stores a secret cape in her closet. The mom who gets up every morning and makes her kids breakfast. The mom who shows up to every classroom party and who stays at dance, helps other moms, reads to her kid every night, showers on a regular basis. I’m not any of those things.

I’m the mom who struggles to keep it all together, who uses dry shampoo to get me through the week, whose house is a complete disaster, who *never* bothers to fold laundry. I’m the take out mom, the “let’s make bedtime quick” mom, the serve yourself cereal in the morning mom. I’m a shitty mom. I get that.

Maybe I’ll be less of a shitty mom tomorrow. We’ll see.

BE(ing) the Change

I’m the type of person who (sometimes) (often), hours after hearing a joke, will laugh at it when I’m all alone in the middle of the night. I’m not even kidding. It’s so bad. So I guess it’s not entirely surprising that it just occurred to me what “Be The Change” is really all about. We are movers. We are shakers. We have the talent and the gusto to do big things in the world and yet when it comes to the problems and difficulties that surround is in our everyday lives, most of us are totally and painfully complacent.

Why is that?!

Fill in the blank:

I wish I could _____________________________________ right now.

or

I wish I had __________________________________________________.

or

I wish _________________________________ would _____________________________ for ___________________ _______________________ _____________________________ __________________.

The last one was a joke (but props to you if you made it work).

We get busy, right? With work, and projects, and volunteer work, and trying to find the time to socialize, etc, etc, etc…that we end up with a long wish list of things that we wish were different in our lives.

I wish that my house was cleaner.

I wish that I had more money in my bank account.

I wish that I had more time to spend with the people that I love.

I wish I wish I wish I wish I wish….

But I wouldn’t have to wish so much if I would just do.

That’s what it means.

Yes, I’m also aware that it means that we need to be the change in the world but we also need to be the change for OURSELVES.

nothing is going to change

Stop sitting on the couch wondering why your life sucks all the while doing nothing to change it. BE THE CHANGE.

Stop wondering why you’re having trouble meeting new friends while you stay in your own little bubble and refuse to venture out. BE THE CHANGE.

Stop wishing that you can drop the weight while you continue to have the same bad food habits you’ve always had. BE THE CHANGE.

You are more powerful, more wonderful, more amazing than you even realize and your ability to do big things is so big. Be that change you’re so desperately hoping for in this life.

because I promise you this…

NOTHING in your life will change unless you do.

Be the change.

 

 

 

 

The Problem With The Fixer

With over seven and a half billion individuals co-existing together on this planet right now, chances are you’ve encountered many different personality types in your journey so far. You’ve probably encountered people like me several times throughout your life, and I’m sorry for that. I am a fixer at heart.

My husband tells me that I see things in black and white when there are grey areas all over the place that I’m missing. He accuses me (and he’s not wrong) of ‘lawyering‘ situations to find the truth when there might be different layers of the truth all existing together. He says these things about me because I am a fixer at heart.

I fix. I find things that are broken and I fix them. People, situations, things.

Why?

If I’m being honest with myself with you, I don’t really know. Perhaps it stems from my broken childhood or from my inherent desire to please others, the truth is out there somewhere. I’d probably have to dig a lot deeper to find out exactly why I have a seemingly incessant yearning to fix everything around me but we don’t have time for that today.

But the problem with being the fixer is that I find myself sticking my nose where it doesn’t belong. And I imagine if you’re a fixer, you probably do, too.

Sometimes there are situations in life that are absolutely none of my (your) business and, yet, I (you) make them my (your) business.

That needs to stop. It’s not okay.

I have to put myself in the shoes of the people around me. If I were in this _____________’s shoes – – would I want someone like me prying into my life and offering unsolicited advice and opinions?! How annoying would that be? (Very.)

My seven (almost eight!) year old was losing her ever*loving*mind a week (or so) ago and kept asking me over and over again to explain things to her that I really didn’t have the patience to explain. So I said to her:

“You don’t always have to have the answers.”

Then I stopped and I repeated that back to myself. 

You don’t always have to have the answers. 

As a fixer, I am constantly struggling to find answers. So much so that I risk alienating the people around me that I care about because I am trying to fix the situation and figure it out instead of just simply allowing myself to let it go.

Why do I always try to find the answers for every situation, for every person around me? What purpose does that serve? What does that say about who I am as a person?

I’m going to issue myself (and you, if you need it) a challenge:

Let. It. Go. 

Just let it go. Find something every day to just let go.

I’ll try it. We’ll see how it goes. Stay tuned.

Do I enable people to treat me like crap?

Sometimes I have a tendency to get inside my feelings. Surprise, surprise. We all do that, right? (Please tell me I’m not alone and that we all do that). This morning was no exception. 

I’d made plans with a friend and was really excited for the opportunity to spend time with her just to have the plans broken, which is really not a big deal. The bigger deal was the aftermath of feelings that I had to process. This kind of thing happens a lot. Why?

I realized that I am an enabler. 

We’ve all heard the phrases:

You get what you put up with.

You’re only a doormat if you lie down for it.

Reality is hard but those statements ring true. I’ve gotten so good at being okay with people disrespecting my time that I’m enabling it to happen to me over and over again.

Yesterday I was on the phone with someone who had asked me a question about my husband’s job. I was in the middle of answering her when I noticed that she was having a side conversation with someone else. That’s okay, sometimes things happen. So I paused and decided I would just wait until she was able to chat again, thinking she would come back on the line and apologize for the distraction.

A good 30 seconds went by before she came back on the line and said, “That’s so cool, Holli.”

That’s. So. Cool.

She hadn’t even been listening to me.

This wasn’t the first time that had happened with this particular person but I’ve always extended grace because I don’t want to come across as rude or make a big deal out of it. But, guys, here’s the thing:

It is a big deal. 

It’s a huge deal.

I, you, we deserve better.

I (you) deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.

If you make plans with me, give me the courtesy of acknowledging that you’re breaking the plans to do something else.

If you’re not interested in having a conversation with me, then get off the phone.

…because the way these actions make me feel in the aftermath are just horrible and I’m not going to enable the behaviors anymore. Neither should you.

I’ve always considered myself to be somewhat of a peacemaker, not wanting to rock the boat. As a result, I’d become the ‘yes’ girl always doing favors for others or going out of my way to make sure that they were comfortable and happy. All the while sacrificing my own dignity and self respect when the same isn’t returned in kind.

I think there’s a balance to be had here. Doing things for others with no expectation in return I believe is what we should do in life but not at the expense of our own emotional well being. This is something I am going to work on, to stop enabling people to treat me poorly.

It’s time to stand up for myself and to demonstrate that I care enough about me to not put up with it anymore.

I’m ready to put the big girl pants on.

Stay tuned.

 

 

 

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.

 

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.