What Matters Most: Reflecting After Loss

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I’ve done a lot of reflecting lately. I know a lot of people in my community have. We lost a good man. A friend of mine lost a husband and three little boys lost a father. Many of the people who attended his funeral walked away saying the same thing: 1. We want his minister friend to give our eulogy and we want to go to his church. 2. Are we doing enough for our children?

Being a single parent is hard. It’s hard to be the mom and the dad. It’s hard to run and grow a business and make clients happy while being a mom, a friend, a daughter, a taxi driver, a scheduler, a tutor, a mentor, a cheerleader and all of the other hats one wears while being both parents.

This isn’t a plea for sympathy. I chose this life. I chose to leave, to become a single mom, and my only regret is that I didn’t have the courage or strength to do it sooner. But it doesn’t change the fact that it’s hard. And I have it easier than many because thankfully, I have the help and support of so many friends and family members.

However, the passing of several of my friends’ loved ones recently has given me pause. I learned young that nothing in life is promised, let alone that you will be here tomorrow. So, it made me ask again, “What is it that I want to accomplish? When someone gives my eulogy, what do I want to be known for? What is really important? Given that I only have so many hours in the day, what do I need to accomplish in each one?” My number one priority is my children. It’s an easy answer for parents.

I know that I don’t do enough to support my kids. Some days I fall into the standard task master role, you need to do x, y and z. But I do make an effort to praise my children so that today’s to-do list isn’t all they hear from me. I will never have the time or energy to give my boys everything they need or want in life. But my hope is that when my time comes, they will have the tools to succeed in life and be happy. My boys know resiliency. They know grace. They know love and forgiveness. They know manners. They know hard work. They know (though sometimes forget) that the latest toy isn’t going to fill their cup with happiness but that experiences with loved ones does.

Tonight, I asked my oldest if he wanted to eat again between his hockey pictures and his game. He was standing with several of the other players when I went over to ask. They were joking around and he finally figured out where he wanted me to get him food and what he wanted. I started walking away and he called out to me, “Thanks Mom!” I threw back a “You’re welcome” over my shoulder. Then, in front of his teammates, my almost 16-year-old boy said, “I love you!” It made my heart swell. I did my best to not act like a spazz and gush back. So, I threw back over my shoulder, “Love you too!” and gushed to one of the other moms instead.

Any mom of a teenager knows how precious that is. That my son has the courage to express his feelings and to be genuine in front of his friends and it not affect his “cool” factor or care what others think is huge.

I am by no means the perfect mom and they are not perfect children, but that moment made me feel like I was doing something right. Like most parents, I’m proud of my boys. Yes, there are days when they do things I’m not proud of and I do things I’m not proud of. There are days when I want to bonk their heads together Three Stooges-style and tell them to knock it off. But, I’m proud that they help out around the house (no, it isn’t always perfect and sometimes there are more than one or two reminders), but they do it. They helped decorate the house today while I had to wrap up some things for some clients.

My reflecting has reminded me again that I want each of my days to be guided by purpose. Each thing I do during the day needs to be a step toward my vision for my life and what is important to me.

A friend texted me over Thanksgiving to wish me and my boys a happy one. He said, “I am thankful for you today and hope you have a great holiday. Your strength humbles me and reminds me that family comes first. You really do an amazing job of leading your family. Thank you for your friendship.” It was truly the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me. “You do an amazing job of leading your family.” Wow, just wow. Those words couldn’t have been more powerful. There are days when I think I do a lousy job of leading and shaping my boys to grow to the men they should be, for them to have the character and strength they need to be good, make good decisions and be able to lead healthy, happy lives while leaving this world better than they found it. For my boys’ friends, I want those friends to have gained something from being their friend.

I’ve gained a lot of clarity in the past couple of years. Clarity of purpose, clarity of vision, clarity of what is important to me and what I want out of life. It makes it easy to cut out the things or say no to things that don’t add to that or propel us toward that clarity. It makes it easier to draw boundaries.

Maybe because of the death of a few and because we all seem to rush around these days, time seems to be a big topic of conversation lately. There are a lot of great quotes about time. “Time is not measured by clocks but by moments.” “Time has a wonderful way of showing us what really matters.” “The greatest gift you can give someone is your time.”

The last one is one that I live by. I value my time as well as others who give their precious time to me or my boys. One of my favorite times is Christmas and this quote by Thomas S. Monson sums up my feelings toward the holiday quite well, “Christmas is the spirit of giving without a thought of getting. It is happiness because we see joy in people. It is forgetting self and finding time for others. It is discarding the meaningless and stressing the true values.”

Merry Christmas and cheers to what truly matters most!

​In the End, Relationships Are What Matter Most

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In the end, it’s your relationships that matter most. So many times I get caught up with my deadlines and what I have to get done. When you work for yourself and work from home, the lines between work and home can become significantly blurred. It works great when you have to move back and forth between kid stuff and work stuff.

But a person recently told me that successful people focus and make time for what’s important. They make sure they spend quality time having quality conversations with those who are important to them.

I used to read to my kids every single night. We got away from that and I started to feel disconnected. That small habit of reading to them, discussing the books and tucking them in each night connected us through a shared activity.

I recently watched Brene Brown’s talk on The Anatomy of Trust. If you haven’t seen it, you should take a look. She said research shows that trust is built in those small moments. I would add that connections are built in those small moments too. And, like trust, it’s built over time when those small moments happen over and over and over again.

Building Connection Through Habit

So if you’re feeling disconnected from someone, make it a habit to do something with them. Life is busy, but the people in our lives are important. In 50 years when I look back on my life, I’m not going to remember the deadline, the blog post, the client (yes those things are important too). I’m going to remember the dinners with my boys, family and friends. I’m going to remember going stand up paddle boarding with my kids and friends. I’m going to remember long pool parties with friends and family. I’m going to remember watching silly shows and laughing with my boys, taking them to sports events and all of those other precious moments of connecting with them, with my family and my friends.

We’re creatures of habit. So when you make something a habit, whether it’s exercising, eating clean, making your bed or spending time connecting with loved ones, it’s something you do effortlessly. Why not make something that brings you happiness a habit?

Scheduling time for my priorities

It really is a simple step. My first job out of college was at Big Brothers & Big Sisters of Green Country in Oklahoma. I’m grateful they sent me to Franklin Covey’s time management class and bought me a planner. That class taught me about taking a few minutes at the beginning of each workday to list out all of my tasks and then to assign a priority to them. What if we do that with our lives?

What would that look like? Would doing the dishes be an A1 priority? Or, would it be laughing with your kids? Everyone’s priorities are different, and I’m not necessarily advocating for a dirty house.

But, when you prioritize your entire life, how much time do you devote to the things that matter to you most? Do you make time for them on a daily basis? I can say that I don’t always.

I bought a journal after a friend told me about it. It’s called the 5-minute journal. It kind of combines what I’m talking about here with the power of attraction. Every morning, I write down three things I’m grateful for, three things that would make the day great and my daily affirmations. It focuses my day.

Each night, I write down three amazing things that happened that day and how I could’ve made that day even better. Sometimes, I have more than three things to write down. Sometimes, I can’t think of a single thing that would’ve made that day any better because I feel like I used my time as wisely as I could in a balanced way.

Between that and my planner, how much richer would my life be if I schedule time to connect with my boys, my friends and my family?

Building Better Connections for Better Balance

A sweet, wise friend of mine writes, talks and coaches about life balance. It’s when that balance is off that I feel the most disconnected. And when I feel disconnected, I feel lost, alone and stressed. I get frustrated more often and just out of sync with who I am. I lose my temper.

Remembering to make time for those who matter most to me and I to them is my new commitment to myself. I think that scheduling that time, making that process a habit will bring better balance, peace, happiness and the space to be me.

Happy Sunday! Here’s to building better relationships!

Fantastic Friends, Food and Fun for Labor Day

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Austin really is one of the best places to be single and the offerings for Labor Day weekend didn’t disappoint. You can’t beat hanging with friends, some yummy grilled food and good vibes, but if you want to get out, Geraldine’s at the VanZandt continues to make me swoon with their delicious dishes like the roasted quail and grilled squash with yummy cocktails and the almond tart, fun live music and beautiful views of downtown out by the pool. The Lustre Pearl is a fun place to get your groove on (or be a dork like me), play some fun outdoor games, quench your thirst with some yummy drinks and of course people watching there and on Rainey is hilarious. My favorite place for catching a football game is still Lavaca Street Bar while munching on their quesadillas and my signature martini. Oh, and their gumbo is gooooood, bartenders are magicians and the crowd is always fun.

Geraldine’s speciality cocktail One Night in Bangkok.
Geraldine’s roasted quail – so yum I licked the plate!
Geraldine’s grilled squash paired with pecans and just some yummy goodness.
Geraldine’s almond tart. Why do I have to share?
A borrowed hat and a photo bomber to dance the night away at the Lustre Pearl!
Lavaca Street Bar’s chicken quesadilla which is big enough to split. My martini? not so much

Celebrating Valentine’s Day Solo: I Love Me

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I don’t have a significant other this Valentine’s Day, I have something better: I have two incredible boys and a ton of friends and family who are simply irreplaceable. I don’t hate Valentine’s Day. Yes, it’s a silly made-up holiday to sell a bunch of stuff that will either die (flowers), make you fat (sweets) or just reduce the size of your bank account (jewelry).

But what I love about it is that people everywhere celebrate love. So for the first time ever, I’m making myself my Valentine this year. I love me. I love that I sing loud and off-key in the car and at HEB and really just wherever the mood strikes me. I love that I dance in the open and dance in the rain. I love that I am often unintentionally funny because I do really silly things. I love that I don’t take myself seriously. I love that I’m generous, kind and forgiving. I love that I treat my body like a temple and sometimes like an amusement park. I love that I love amusement parks.

I love that I have courage to keep my boys’ lives steady even when it would be so much easier to move home or just anywhere else and start over. I love that I let myself be vulnerable when it would be easier to say that relationships are for the birds. I love that I have values and boundaries and that my favorite word is one you don’t hear in polite company.

So for all you single peeps celebrating today solo, cheers to you! I hope you remember to love and celebrate yourself today.

Don’t Let Fear Rule In 2017

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I’ve heard from so many people who said 2016 just plain sucked. I have no doubt that they had bad things happen during the year (so did I), but surely there is something during the last 365 days that was good.

After all, the Cubs finally won the World Series again, and someone other than the Patriots won the Super Bowl.

I’m a firm believer that the quality of our thoughts determines the quality of our lives. When I’ve shot for the stars and put my fears aside, I’ve gotten what I want. When I’ve let my fears and insecurities creep in, my fears become reality. You get what you focus on.

Tony Robbins said, “Change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.”

This plays out in so many lives. I know someone who is afraid to date again because it’s been so long since he has. I know someone who is afraid to live with someone again because it’s been so long that he feels like a loner. And I know a friend who is afraid to let go of someone who is not good for her because the fear of not being good enough is greater.

I’ve let fear rule by not submitting my work to national publications because I’ve been afraid of rejection. If I don’t submit, there’s still that possibility of acceptance one day when I’ve learned more, when I’ve grown more and when I’ve experienced more. If I do submit and fail, then I have to live with that.

But what is the alternative to those fears? Why not take a chance on happiness? Why stay in the same rut? Most people tend to repeat mistakes until they learn from them. I’ve played it safe and not made myself vulnerable to failure in some areas of my life.

One of my growth goals this year is to strengthen my weaknesses. My strength is that I see the good in others. My weakness is that most of the time, I obstinately refuse to see the faults of someone I care about.

Refusing to see a friend’s faults/weaknesses, or a potential partner’s faults, robs me of an important learning opportunity. It makes it harder to create boundaries to protect myself from disappointment or from being taken advantage of. It makes it harder to pick someone who will be a true match. It also robs us of a deeper connection.

Figuring out what your weaknesses and fears are is half the battle. At my mentor’s suggestion, I took the Myers-Briggs and DiSC personality tests. It was incredibly interesting to focus on the results and become more aware of what my weaknesses are and how I can become more effective in my relationships and at work.

So what are your fears? Do you even know what they are? I would say that for my friends mentioned above, their fear is all the same: failure. They are simply afraid to fail. But there really isn’t failure. With each relationship, situation or experience, you gain knowledge. When you gain knowledge, that is not failure. It makes you wiser to try something else. You know what not to do next time.

So if you have a fear of failure in relationships or other areas of your life, surround yourself with friends and loved ones who won’t bail when you fail at something. If you fail in one area, your support system will be there.

A girlfriend of mine keeps apologizing for being a bad friend while she goes through a hard spot in her life. But as her friend, I want to see her succeed and eventually she will. What she also forgets is that she was there for me during one of the hardest times of my life. She was there with a shoulder to cry on and an ear to listen to me ad nauseam about my fears, my worries, my insecurities. She was there with a cup of my favorite hot tea to comfort me. Friends don’t mind if you fail. They help you get back up or stand beside you when part of your growth is to pick yourself up.

I challenge you to overcome your fears. Whether that is coming to terms with your weaknesses, or asking that girl out, you will never succeed unless you suck it up and go for it. Want a raise? Ask. Want something different in life? Make the change.

Life is now and I refuse to sit on the sidelines of my life waiting for something to happen. Good things sometimes fall into your lap, but they always come when you work for them. Good things come when you overcome your fear and go after what you want. I’m not implying you will be successful 100 percent of the time, but I would rather try and fail than sit in fear and wonder “what if.”

So this year, I’ll submit my work. I may fail, but that’s okay. If I get feedback, then I’ll know what to change and gain experience. This year, I’ll also work at not just loving others but acknowledging and accepting their shortcomings and mine. This year, I’ll work toward achieving my goals each day and not overcome my fears and weaknesses.

Your Next Photographer/Videographer

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If you need a photographer, this guy is the bomb. You know when you can communicate with a friend with just gestures and your eyes and they just get you? That’s these guys. Sure, we had conversations about what I was looking for during our industry conference, but sometimes all of the different shots you’re looking for don’t get communicated.

These guys delivered and then some. They captured our conference, socials, networking, fundraising, auctions and trade show in a beautiful way which, let’s be real, is hard to do. What they do with fun events is amazing.

So, if you’re in need a photographer or videographer for a wedding, birthday, (any celebration really), corporate event, check these guys out.

Plus, Greg can really cut up a dance floor: BONUS!

Check him out:
gregfulks.com
​Facebook

Need a videographer? I’ve already posted about him, but Zac does an amazing job at Double Z Productions

Lost in textlation: “I don’t know how to talk to you”

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Rihanna and Drake aren’t the only ones singing about communication issues. There are nuances with the spoken word that don’t come across in the written word. How you say something, the tone you use, your body language makes all of the difference as to how something is perceived. We all know this, but texting is easy so we resort to it anyway – in dating, our friendships, etc.

Awhile back, someone paid me a genuine compliment through text. The way I read it, it seemed more like a corny joke, so I “lol’d.” Oops! (Egg on my face) I would never laugh at someone who is being sincere especially when they’re paying me a compliment.

On a different occasion, a friend, who I’ve known for years, texted me. I read it as I was walking into a meeting and didn’t have time to respond. She texted later hoping that I hadn’t taken offense and wanting to clarify. I hadn’t taken offense at all, because when I read it, I heard her voice and know her well enough to know how that message should come across. Re-reading it, I could see how she thought I might have interpreted it differently.

But, when you’re getting to know someone, either through dating or a new friendship, the meaning in those messages can get lost. It’s easy to get sucked into texting because you can do it when you have time. It allows you to do other things at the same time and also cuts down on moments of silence. But phone calls and face-to-face add those crucial communication layers so that messages are more accurately conveyed and when you’re getting to know someone, those are things that matter (at least to me).

I’m a writer and I have those “oh shit” moments when I draft an email and hit send instead of save (same with text) before I have a chance to reread and see if it conveys what I’m trying to say. It can be hard to write tone especially when you’re in a hurry or emotionally responding to something.

Everyone has different communication styles and I know that writing can also be easier for some (especially guys) when it comes to expressing emotions. But if you can learn to open up and be vulnerable with someone face-to-face, the communication, and your relationship, will be so much richer for it. And you’ll learn to how to talk to the other person. (Yea! You and your message are understood.)

I’ve heard the comment several times that I’m a woman of few words (when texting). That’s because I’ve decided that if you want to get to know me, I’m the old-fashioned type and face-to-face or phone conversations work best. If I get to know someone well enough through those methods first, I’m happy to text more. Otherwise, I think it’s just a waste of time.

And, texting crucial conversations is the worst. When emotions have the potential to run high, meaning can get completely lost through text (or email). Part of that message is just gone, or misinterpreted.  Bye Felicia! Something that started out as a minor difference (and could’ve been easily and quickly resolved) can end up being a BFD. Ugh! No one has time for that.

In the song, “Too Good” their issue is communication. Don’t be like the dude in the DIRECTV commercial. Don’t end up in a communication ditch. Don’t end up Lost in Textlation.

Drake “Too Good

Everybody Just Have a Good Time in Austin

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There is so much to do in and around Austin for a single person. It’s an incredible playground full of fun.

During the month I didn’t have my kids, I explored. I promised myself when I was going through my horrific separation and divorce that I would try new things. I read, I ran, I wrote, I went out with friends, I dated, I shopped, I talked to my kids, I met knew people, I decorated my house and relaxed.

Thank you to all of my friends (and friends of friends) who helped make the summer truly memorable.

Here are some of my favorites:

Go to a concert and meet the band

Twenty One Pilots, Mute Math and Chef’s Special concert was incredible at Circuit of the Americas.

There’s tons of concerts every weekend.

Go to a concert and dance onstage with your friends

​We rented a party bus and went to the 90s concert at the Cedar Park Center. SO MUCH FUN!

Eat delicious food

La Condesa is so very good and they make a great Sangria.

Uchi, Odd Duck, Lick’s Ice Cream, Geraldine’s… There’s so much good food in Austin.

Dance

The Rose Room is my fav right now. But there’s tons of places if that isn’t your thing.

Go to a Grand Opening and Give to Charity

Hanover’s 2.0 hanovers2.com Grand Opening was tons of fun with a special performance by my friend’s children, Suede, yummy food and drinks, great service and hilarious friends.

They offer table service.

Celebrate friends

We celebrate everyone’s birthday and have a large group, so there’s always a party somewhere. Make your friend feel special with a great night or day out: Wine Tour, Wagner’s Backyard, Cover 3, Jack Allen’s, a stay in a downtown hotel, Hanover’s, etc., etc., etc. LOTS of OPTIONS!

Fourth of July weekend celebrations

Rooftop bar (love Geraldine’s)
Round Rock Express (game then fireworks – bonus!)
City of Leander (live music, great people watching, what’s not to love?)

Next year – SUP
​Note: make reservations early

Splash in the Puddles and Walk in the Rain

It finally rained. Downtown was completely deserted and so pretty! Made for a great stroll with the lights reflecting off the water.

Go to a Wedding – Celebrate Love

Friends had their after party at Cedar Street Courtyard! GREAT IDEA! Band was funky and so funny.

Baseball Games

The season is almost over, but there’s still time to catch a game. It’s a great way to relax with friends and family.

Horseshoe Bay

Excellent place for adults! There’s plenty of space to park your rear in the sand (sun and shade) and relax around the lake with lakeside drink service. Horseshoe Bay offers a marina with boat and jet ski rentals (so much fun), tons of pools with music and bars nearby, tennis, mini golf, yummy restaurants, etc. etc.

Up Next:
Trapeze lessons, football games and whatever I can get into. 🙂 Life is an adventure – go get it!

7 Reasons Girls Need a Close Guy Friend

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My guy friend gives great advice and I know he has my best interests in mind. We met while working together last year and became great friends. We tried the dating thing but I had a lot going on and my heart was really with someone else so we’ve stayed friends.

Guy friends are solid, good friends. Like any good friend, he’ll pick up no matter what time of the day or night I call or text. His normal line is “well hello pretty lady” or some variation of that.

  1. Having that guy perspective is awesome. I texted late one night because I couldn’t sleep but didn’t want to wake him up by calling. I texted, “Love sucks.” His reply was great. Noticing I was up way past my usual bedtime and knowing my situation, he replied, “Love doesn’t suck. People suck. Love is great.” Spot on. Guy friends point out when a guy is being a douche.
  2. They give it to you straight. When I complained that someone was being an ass, he pointed out that I was being an ass too. Good point. Teachable moment for me. Sometimes you need someone who isn’t “in” the situation to show you what you’re doing and how it looks to a guy.
  3. No drama.
  4. No competition. There are no categories for which we would ever compete. Guy friends just look out for you and your best interests. They can also be your wingman and your body guard.
  5. Hanging out is so low key. There’s no gossip. You can watch (or even play) sports with them. They don’t care if you stop listening to them or shush them during a really good or important play. They get it. You quite literally eat, drink and be merry. Going out is fun and funny. You get to try new “guy” things.
  6. Compare notes from the “other” side. When I’m like WTF? He breaks it down and vice versa.
  7. Respect. It’s really cool to just have that mutual respect from the opposite sex without someone always trying to get in your pants.

Rose Room Exudes Energy

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I’m loving this place. The dance floor packs them in like sardines with a DJ that keeps you going all night. Pair that with a cool light show and the place is hoppin’. If you get thirsty, there’s a bar on either side with bartenders who can help you out with just about anything you can think of. And, if you need to cool off, you can people watch from the second or third floor balconies.

Despite the crowd, my girlfriends and I were able to make a little circle on the outside of the dance floor to get our grove on. The circle collapsed now and again with everyone pressed together, but people move on and off the dance floor. One of my friends couldn’t believe this great of a night club was in North Austin.

After awhile, we wanted a break. There’s a door that leads to 77 Degrees, the rooftop bar next door, which is pretty darn cool and a totally different vibe.

Tips for not getting your butt grabbed:

So, one of my friends danced on the inside of our circle most of the night and her butt saw a lot of unwanted action.

  1. Keep your booty pointed to the outside edge/stage/DJ
  2. Don’t stop moving

​Yes, that means some of your friends takes one for the team, but it’s not you. Of course, that didn’t stop a guy from grabbing my ring hand to see if I was married, but hey, you pick your battles.

What is it with guys grabbing women now anyway? Do you think that’s going to go over well? What happened to hands off?
​#don’tgrabmyass