TARGET | THE ESSENTIALS

Target the essentials.jpg

Well. If I'm honest, 

I didn't have a post scheduled for this week. Not on purpose. For some reason it just got lost.

Next week is exciting. Last week was awesome. I'm not sure where this week ended up.

But nonetheless. After texting all the besties and asking, "What do you want to see on the blog this week?" the answer was pretty unanimous. 

"Can you tell us what you've been buying at Target, please?"

Ok, yea, totally. Not sure why y'all want to see it here. We could just go to Target together and get coffee after!

But, alas. Here's what I think y'all should head to Target to grab.


 

Hustle Season

 
HustleFlowchart-Header.jpg
 

This blog is supposed to be about the season of hustle, and how to manage it while also being a mom and so many other roles I currently play.

But listen.

It’s the night before this post is supposed to go live. And I’m sitting here working to upload and match a photo and craft my IG caption and tweet and YouTube snippet. And I just can’t. Because I’m sitting here, crying.

God, I feel like such a girl. Like, whoa, pull it together. Your husband doesn’t cry, slouched over on the floor outside your over-tired toddler’s bedroom door while he complains that he’s not ready for bed.

And now, I just heard my toddler drop his binky on the floor, which means I’m going to have to stop mid-writing to go and soothe him and give him his binky back and start this process ALL. OVER. AGAIN.

Hold please.

Ok, now that he’s asleep, finally.

I’m in a season of major hustle. I’ve got some crazy dreams that need executing NOW. Not later. And so, was born about three weeks ago, my season of hustle.

I know this season is temporary, and it took me a long time to embrace the hustle season for this reason ­– it will fade. But as I grow, as a mom and an adult and a wife and a believer, I have learned to understand that we go through phases, just as our toddlers do. Nothing lasts. And if we don’t embrace where we are RIGHT NOW, it will pass us by.

We can either take advantage of the moment, or we can wait for the next.

I do not have time to wait. I got sheez to do.

Let’s clarify a few things:

  1. One. I am referring to hustle as an emotional state of mind. The physical interpretation of hustle means that you are exerting yourself beyond your normal rate of speed, intensity and strength. I am implying that you are EMOTIONALLY doing this. That your brain, heart and soul are working hard, running at an intense pace and moving fast.
  2. Two. A season of hustle means nothing unless it’s fueled by passion.
  3. Three. Once in the depths of a hustle season, there is no need to explain it to others. Your actions have spoken for themselves, and very rarely is anyone wondering why you’re extra tired, extra snippy or extra late to literally everything. They know, you’re hustling, and they don’t need to ask why.

The point.

Hustling when you’re a mom (or dad), a business owner, and a cognitive human being means that you have other responsibilities that outperform your desire to hustle.

Because kids get sick. Bills are still due. And we all know that your skin needs to be moisturized, girl. Now is not the time to be skimping on the undereye cream.

How. How are we supposed to do this? How are we supposed to hustle without the end result being us, sick and bedridden and wondering why we pushed ourselves too hard and why our kids are revolting against us as we try and feed them healthy food?

How. This is a great question.

The season of hustle comes with many a sacrifice, but it also means that we can live a little more intentionally.


Things that can wait in a season of hustle:

Housework

 By the end of your emotional hustle, your house will look like a bomb went off. Your husband will be asking you why there are no more spoons, and why the kids’ milk has soured in the fridge. This is ok, because as soon as your hustle ends, which it will, you will throw out the old milk and the spoons will get washed. And in the meantime, your kids can, and will, drink water instead and eat their cereal with their hands, albeit quite messy. And that mess, you will clean up another time.

Social time

Sorry, friends. Ain’t got no emotional energy to give your right now. This is literally the text I send my group of friends in our group text when I hit a hustle season. They get it. They know. And they also happen to show up and clean up my kids’ cereal mess when it deems I’ve gone a little too far.

Leisure time

This is what Hulu was made for. I firmly believe that Hulu was invented for people like me. I have no time to watch Grey’s when I’m in hustle mode. None. But thanks to Hulu, when I’ve exited my tunnel of hustle, my playlist is waiting for me when I can’t sleep at 3 am, like a deacon of reward for many a week spent neglecting my DVR.

Wife time

Yes, wife time. You can’t neglect Mom time (see below), but wife time can wait. You see, your husband is an adult (I hope), and he will understand when you need to step back for a bit. So long as it’s clear that this is a season, not a permanent fixture, your husband will be likely pretty supportive of a more productive and prosperous future that you are currently hustling for. With that comes more dinners by dad, a lot less bedtime fun, and a substantial amount of bedtimes brought to you by Chuggington.

The gym

For most, like me, the regular gym routine is paramount. I have big gym goals, very similar to my business goals in intensity. However, my gym goals don’t make me money. Or further my passion for helping others in their businesses. Right now anyway. So when I enter a season of hustle, sometimes my gym routine takes a hit. And though it’s really hard to swallow, I know that I will find my way back when there is an opening. In the meantime, I dial down my meals, drink a ton of water and WALK EVERYWHERE. The more you do, the more you gain, right?

Taxes

I realize I may get heat for this. But since my current season of hustle fell smack dab in the middle of tax season, and I was not prepared for either, I casually asked my CPA to file an extension for me. Very little harm and no fowl, and I get to put filing my taxes on another month’s to-do list. I was prepared, nonetheless, but my hustle took priority over spending a day or two getting my taxes together to send to my CPA and then worry about what I may or may not owe. This is something that can wait until after my hustle is over and I have time and space to digest.

Things that can’t wait in a season of hustle:

Dinner with your family

I don’t care if you order takeout, eat from a freezer or make the time to cook each night, but dinner is not negotiable. Many times, I will literally turn around from my desk and eat my dinner at the table with my family and turn right back around. But, I never turned around DURING dinner. The fact that I know this is temporary is most important. My son won’t remember the times I hurried to finish dinner, but he will remember that I ate dinner with him, albeit fast.

Sleep

If you’re tired, sleep. The end.

Food

This is my biggest fault. I don’t eat when or as often as I should. And when I’m in a hustle, it’s even worse. And when I’m not gymming because I’m in a hustle, it’s even worse. Food CANNOT WAIT. Feed yourself. And feed yourself well. If you’re hustling a much as I think you are, you need more than jelly beans and wine to sustain you. Though, I have launched many an idea on those two substances alone, I will still claim that getting some green juice and a cheese stick is probably a good idea.

Paying client work

Payday than what you’re celebrating now, but trust me, it takes a long time and a wishful dream to convince PG&E that you’ll pay them when your hustle season is over. And your hustle season is a “moo point” if you can’t sell it to anybody in the end because you never followed through on the job they paid your for to begin with.

Mom time

You cannot mom and work in the same moment. And if you think that you do, you’re doing it wrong. If you are momming and working simultaneously,  you’re not putting your heart and soul into either. Mom time cannot and will not wait. Your baby needs you. Right now. Not later. Right. Now.


Ok, ok. But really. How in the heck do you make these decisions on the go?!

I’m going to help you. After a multitude of hustle seasons lately, I decided to needed something to help me make almost split second decisions on how to proceed in my hustle or life. Alas, the hustle flowchart. And like my “should I wash my hair today” flowchart, this one hangs prominently on my bathroom mirror and is used almost daily during a season of hustle.

GET YOUR HUSTLE FLOWCHART HERE

I hope you print and hand and use and share, because I promise it will help you make those tough choices we hustlers must make.

xoxo

Fabletics + A Momma Who Lifts

 
Fabletics-Header.jpg
 

*This post is sponsored by Fabletics. All opinions are my own.

After I had a baby, I wore athletic wear most every day, like most new moms. I always made sure my top was loose and my leggings went high. Get my tummy tucked back up where it’s supposed to be and leave room for a nursing babe.

Until very recently, I never really cared about how that athletic wear looked, or acted, other than keeping my tummy tight.

But now, I’m able to keep my athletic wear where it is supposed to be – doing athletic things. Let me say this: This is an honor. Never in my life did I think I would be here, caring about if my bottoms were squat proof or if my sports bras cut into my lats or not.

However, now I do care.

fabletics-8.jpg
fabletics-6.jpg

This spring, I’ve been able to receive and review some Fabletics athletic wear. And let me tell you two things about this:

  1. Really?! Fabletics cares about me?! Let me just pinch myself and act like I’m only one degree of separation from meeting Kate Hudson.
  2. I’m kind of sold. Gimme more.

Coming from the girl who wears mostly black and white and navy most days, these floral print leggings were kind of a shocker, but as soon as I put them on, I was looking in the mirror and literally “hot damning” myself. I can pull these off. And if I can, and walk out in public with them, so can you. I swear.

And also. I need to go find a good yoga class so I can show off this sports bra. I did a little review HERE of that one, and though it’s less supportive than my other sports bras, I admit I’ve worn it almost every workout. It’s that comfy.

So, you’ll see me rocking these spring flings, and for sure some more of the Fabletics wear, all the time.

fabletics-16.jpg
fabletics-4.jpg

Favorite things about these leggings:

Totally squat proof! I know, they’re even white!

So, so soft.

Thick but very breathable.

High rise is snug at the waist but looser on the rise, keeping everything in but not cutting into my ribcage or waist.

Perfect rise on me (5’7”), coming just at my bellybutton. Also the perfect length.

Can we talk about this print? OMG, next time I’m wearing my fluffy pink sweater and putting a bow in my hair and calling myself Spring.

Get two pairs of these (and any of the other) amazing leggings for $24 when you join Fabletics’ flexible VIP membership program. Seriously. Do it. They are the best – go here for the deal.

Get my leggings right HERE

nicole.png
 

Eleven

 
Eleven.jpg
 

“Should we be talking about organ donation?”

He stated that it was probably a little premature, but that he appreciated that I had the courage to bring it up.

Megan, our nurse that day, who had walked us back to this room to meet the doctor, had left already. I watched her as she gracefully helped my mom pull out a chair and sit down, she touched the doctor’s shoulder, glanced at my dad at slid through the barely open door.

As if from out of thin air, she reappeared, now half sitting on the table against the wall, with an entire pack of tissues in her left hand.

Ugh, the tissues. It still makes no sense to me how a hospital can carry such terrible tissues. The boxes are extra small, and the tissues, though thick, are the texture of sandpaper.

But she had no tears. Not yet, anyway.

The doctor was casual, just as he was 6 days prior in the emergency room. One ankle crossed over the other leg’s knee, worn out running shoes and a strong 5 o’clock shadow on his chin and cheeks.

His hair, wild long and gray, was being combed through his fingers, his expensive watch glistened in the fluorescent light, making my involuntarily follow the glimmer on the wall beside me.

“But what if something goes wrong?” My mom’s voice was shaky, of course, but her face was stern. Lips pursed and fingers intertwined over her crossed knees.

This was why we were even having this conversation. It was implied that something would go wrong.

The ventilator had been working hard for him for the last 6 days, and a week with a tube down your trachea is the longest a human can stand before it begins to cause a problem.

Whatever that problem was, I envisioned, seemed so incredibly minor compared to the other things we were classifying as “problems.” I stumbled with the idea of us spending more time on a decision about his throat than decisions about his brain.

Nonetheless, here we were. In this room. My dad, still silent, my mom, stern, and me. I stood, my gaze going from the doctor and back to Megan, who finally caught my stare and never let go.

“What would you do if it were your child, doctor?”

I imagine that doctors hate this question.

In fact, just a few weeks ago, I asked him. If he remembered my dad asking this question.

His eyes fell to the floor, then to the wall beside us. Blank and yellow, the same walls we walked that day back five years ago to this very room. “I do, actually. And I had an answer, but it wasn’t the one you wanted to hear.

“Your dad is one of the most real people I have ever had to work with. I was not afraid to tell him the truth, because not only was he demanding it, but you all needed to hear it.”

The truth was this: that he may not make it through the simple surgery of performing a tracheotomy. The simple act of laying him flat could be catastrophic, nevermind the transportation of him to the OR from his quiet, dark ICU room.

He had been responding heavily to noise. We kept the door closed tightly, and the room dark. We whispered when bedside, wore slippers and socks and turned off all the beeping machines. Silence, for him, was the best medicine.

This conversation was “the conversation.” The one you talk about with your family when you are working on writing your will, or after a glass or two of wine and someone asks you where you’d like to spend eternity.

It’s the conversation you have with yourself at 16 when deciding whether to put the little pink organ donation sticker on your driver’s license or not.

You probably, in your entire life, spend less time thinking about this conversation than the 5 minutes we spent actually having it.

How much longer did we want to wait? How much longer could we wait? How much longer were we WILLING to wait?

You cannot answer these questions in a hypothetical situation. You can chat about it with your lawyer all you want, making sure the right person will be appointed to make this decision for you. But it won’t be the right answer. It never is.

There’s a magic number in there somewhere, between WANT and CAN and WILL.

Our magic number was 11. Eleven days.

Come to think of it, wasn't that his motocross number?

ErgoBaby 180 Stroller GIVEAWAY + Review

ErgoGiveaway-Header.jpg

There is no other ‘hood I would rather be a part of than motherhood. I am so blessed that not only do I get to enjoy the little moments of motherhood with my baby boy, but I actually get to share so many things with all my other ‘hoods – like the Insta-hood!

Speaking of ‘hoods, how about the fact that cruising through my own little hood is one of our most favorite things to do.

Joey spends a lot of time in the stroller, strolling through our neighborhood with the girls, trekking through the gravel to the park, and most weekends we are at the farmers’ market; getting that stroller quite sticky with fresh persimmons and all the berries we can stuff in our mouths.

And just like our babywearing obsession, Ergo has yet again appeased my soul and my love for ease of mommyhood.

The new Ergo 180 stroller is just as fab as our favorite carrier, this one (in case you missed it), and frankly, I’ll be getting myself one of these babies if and when baby number two comes someday. Maybe even if baby number two doesn’t come. It’s that great.

But for now, this turnkey, super modern and ultra-awesome stroller is going to one of you, yes you, in what is sure to be the best Easter basket a momma ever did see.

ErgoBabyGiveaway-1.jpg
ErgoBabyGiveaway-4.jpg

Ok, ok, but what makes this stroller so great? Well, let me tell you, momma!

It’s crazy lightweight.

I can carry this things with one arm, and still have Joey in the other. Oh, also, I can carry it down the stairs and also hold things in my other hand. I’m not kidding. It’s so light.

All four wheels lock, two ways, individually.

Want to walk the straight line? No prob. Want all the movement? No prob. Want to lock the wheel closest to your foot without walking around the back? No prob. Want something in between all these options? Ok, it’s got that covered, too.

Face your baby, or don’t (Joey’s preferred way to walk). Or switch.

With major ease, too.

Tall? Short?

Doesn’t matter. It adjusts for everyone.

Adjustable seat recline.

The only thing that isn’t as easy as my Uppababy, but still crazy simple.

The sun shade is the coolest thing ever.

It can go a little, a lot, or All. The. Freaking. Way. Down. This was also Joey’s preferred way to walk, apparently. He HATES the sun in his face, and this sun shade is made for a baby like Joey.

Cleaning made slick.

Just unsnap it, throw the seat in the wash, or spray with a hose as I would do, and viola. Clean without the hassle.

And the winner is – ONE HANDED FOLD UP.

Pull on the handle in the middle. I’m not kidding. It folds in half and then you can carry it with the handle. I’ve been folding it up just for fun because it’s so incredible. Like whaaaat?!

I have to be honest, I never thought I would find a stroller I love more than my Uppababy one. I adore my Uppababy stroller and carseat and bassinet combo. But this thing, well, I would switch in a heartbeat. I’m obsessed.

And so, I’m stoked to handing this cadillac off to a momma who needs it. Because God knows we could all use a little more ease in our mommyhood season.

Without further ado, I am stuffing this stroller box with not only this brand spanking new (minus a few Joey Cheerios from the photoshoot) Ergo 180 stroller but also whole bunch of other new momma goodies from some of my other favorite mommas to give one of YOU the Easter basket of a lifetime.

But how do you win? Super easy.

 
ErgoBabyGiveaway-9.jpg
 

Head on over to my Instagram and enter on the post with this photo. Just follow the loop of mommas, and get yourself the chance to win:

Be sure to leave these other mommas some love, too.

*This giveaway is not sponsored by Instagram or any other party.

**This post does contain affiliate links and I may be compensated from the brand retailers. However, all opinions, photos and copy are my own. Thanks for supporting me and the brands I love!

Also, in case you missed it for some reason, there's more giveaways being announced over on the email list. You can get more info by joining here!

Itty Bitty Moments

The Moments.jpg

You know those days, when you drive for hours and hours, only to spend a mere 15 minutes at your destination, and then you head back?

Growing up, and now as an adult, I tend to do a lot of this. Time in the car doesn't scare me. In fact, I really enjoy car time. Alone, with Joey, or as a whole family, car rides contain some of my fondest memories, and I always look forward to the trip.

What's even more meaningful than the car ride, though, is what happens in the moments you step out of the car for a stretch, or a snack, or a quick photo op. 

Not long ago, before we were married and really truly adults, Adam and used to take itty bitty road trips for the day, mostly to the snow. We'd just drive, and take photos, and marvel at the sites, and eat jerky and M&Ms in the car together. 

So last week, we both had an afternoon with little on our plates, so we loaded up Joey and all the snacks and headed for a drive to the snow. We had no intention of some major snow play,  no sleds or snow gear or mittens or firewood. We had muck boots and each other, and we drove until we literally could not go any further.

We literally oohed and aahed at the views. It's been so long since we've seen as much snow as there was that day, and we were giddy with anticipation of all this snow melting and heading towards our beloved river. 

Then we stopped, and it was during this itty bitty moment that these photos were captured. However, the entire day was simply magical. 

Side note – Joey isn't a huge deep snow fan, as he sunk to his chest and was blinded by the bright white that now encompassed him. But, snowballs seemed to make that much better and so we continued to tromp through and hit Daddy with a good amount of very wet mounds of white fluff.

Itty bitty moments, in the freezing cold and middle of nowhere, for a mere 15 minute snow fight. Magic. Pure magic.

Also, you guys... these itty bitty moments are ones I really really want to keep. So we've been having things printed through Artifact Uprising and LOVING IT. These little Insta books are so awesome – Joey loves to flip through them and see photos of himself. Anyway, here are some of our faves and we hope you start printing your itty bitty memories, too.

Get to know Artifact Uprising: this Denver-based custom photo goods company thoughtfully sources materials to create photo books, wall art, and other gift items. 

 

Instagram Friendly Books

Ideal for moving photos off your device and into your life, these soft cover books tout 100% recycled interior pages and a textured, matte cover.

null

 

Wood Block Photo Prints

This rotating art display features 12 of your favorite photos set in a wood block, comprised of reclaimed pine from the Colorado forests. Perfect as a gift or to enjoy year-round, it's the ideal addition to a well-dressed desk.

null

 

Baby Book 

The Story of You is an interactive photo journal that encourages parents to document their child's days in a meaningful way. Knowing timelines and little ones don't always mix, they've placed a focus on the everyday moments that matter most. Each book purchase includes a pen, photo adhesive, and code to create a complimentary set of Everyday Books to get you started.

null

The Green Cardigan

The Green Cardigan.jpg

For some reason it’s easy for me to remember what I wore in these moments.

On this particular day, I was wearing these yoga pants from Target. They went up high on my waist and squeezed me tight. I remember because it was the umpteenth day in a row I had worn them. I was too tired to do laundry, and the sitting around in the ICU waiting room brought lots of sugary treats from the church congregation and certainly no days at the gym.

I was also wearing my green knitted cardigan. Adam calls it my grandma sweater. It’s my favorite.

I still own both these pieces of clothing.

And don’t tell Adam this, but I haven’t washed the green cardigan yet. To this day, it sits, folded on the top shelf of my closet, worn only on the days that comfort and tears are at the forefront of my emotional threshold.

Sometimes I can hear the diesel truck engine. A Ford. I can feel myself sliding out of my own seat-warmed driver’s side of my car. I can imagine painting my own home white with navy trim one day. But then I remember. And realize that I will never paint my house white with navy trim, because then I’d be back, in that parking spot in a cute neighborhood adjacent to the hospital, standing in the middle of the street. Crying. In front of the cute white house with navy trim. In my green cardigan.

Nobody could go to work. Everyone that tried, at some point or another, ended up back in those extremely stiff, faux leather seats with wooden arm rests in that ICU waiting room. What would start as an everyday morning would end late, walking from the elevator that smelled of marijuana to your car, parked somewhere blocks away, in the rain. Always in the dark.

From where we sat, there were no windows. Windows and sunlight were reserved for patients. Though, it really doesn’t seem to make sense. If the patient is asleep, and will be for weeks, maybe their families would like the window seat. They were going to sleep through the daylight anyway.

What started as a normal day for many was now a new normal for us.

It had been five days. No major news. Not out of the woods. And now, we knew, day five would be the hardest. But most could not sit for another day or more. Life was waiting beyond those tiled floors and sterile glass doors.

It was my birthday.

Not that it mattered. Not to me, anyway.

Pat and Tommy and Peter and David and Randy had all gone back to work. To their families. To their lives. All out of town. Where their lives were led and grown and nurtured and fostered and built.

These were my people. My parents when I didn’t have my own. My dad’s best friends, my other sets of families that took care of me my entire life.

Of course, they called. So often. More often than I could answer the phone. And because I was the sister, the daughter, it was my duty to keep the public informed. The extended family. The community.

It was my phone that rang and beeped and dinged all day. And I did my best to oblige.

It was my birthday. I woke up to an empty house. The first day in five days it had been empty in the morning. The street had been lined with grandparents’ trailers and RVs, now driven back to their own driveways. My couches and air mattresses and Tony’s bed had been occupied, and my kitchen full of cereal pouring and coffee sipping when I would awaken. All of us to quickly caravan the three blocks to the Neuro ICU before shift change at 7:30 am.

But not that morning. I had slept. Longer than I wanted. And when I woke, it was panic.

Hence, the yoga pants and cardigan, yet again.

I parked. I hesitated to get out of my car. It was sunny, and I recall the street as it glimmered. Like it was still cold and wet, and the sun was so far away that it could not even warm the most warmable parts of the town. The black asphalt. The bare parking space I neglected to see. The white house’s lawn that shimmered with dew.

My feet moved slowly. And it felt like I was trying to ice skate on dirt. The shoes meant for gliding but the surface just sucking me down instead.

It was my birthday. And he might die today. I hated that it was my birthday.

If you are from the country, like dirt road country, you know that each diesel engine makes a very distinct diesel sound. Adam drove Dodges. Always and forever. I could always pick his truck out of a stream of vehicles on the highway, hear it from three miles away. Even Henry the dog would jump at the sound, before I could even register that it was in fact him. Dodges are a deep, roaring, muffled sound. Like a dragon trying to growl while muffled with a sock. Fords, however, whistle. And if you’re keen and in tune with the boys that drove these trucks, you could differentiate in a split second.

This was a Ford. My heart melted just a little. A little more than it should have. A Dodge would have meant it was Adam. Coming to bring me a birthday coffee or sweep me off my feet for breakfast in another town where nobody knew who I was. But it wasn’t a Dodge. And it wasn’t him.

No, it was a whistle that could have woke neighbors. A whistle that shifted. Down. Down as in slowing down.

And then it stopped.

I was standing center stage. Middle of the street. I had frozen, somewhere between my car and the other side. Listening to the diesel engine. Focusing on the shift from third to second, and then to neutral.

I looked up to see their faces staring at me. The chrome of the bumper in line with my hips. Me facing the passenger side door, window higher than my line of site, but the faces stung my vision.

The passenger door opened with a vengeance. The whistle of the truck continued as arms larger than my own but smaller than my father’s embraced me.

Tommy’s five-day old scruff rubbed my hair, pulling my blonde unwashed strands from their ponytail, his scent of cigarettes and powdered donuts washed over me like a wave would if I had walked into the ocean with no intention of turning around.

Pat drove his truck away faster than a normal circumstance would have required, surely to find a parking spot with room for 6 tires and as close as possible. And Tommy stood there, holding me. In the middle of the street in the Chico avenues.

I don’t know if they came for me. Or for him. Or for my dad. Or for themselves. But it didn’t matter. They were there. And so was I. Disconnected by 200 miles in the everyday. Communication via text or the occasional deep thoughts in the duck blind.

But today. On the day it mattered, neither of them could go to work. So instead they drove. And found me. In the middle of the road. Trying to ice skate on dirt.

You see, I can’t wash that cardigan. That would mean that the smell of Tommy’s cigarettes and the sound of Pat’s truck would be washed out of it. That could never happen. It was the only moment that was mine for months and months, maybe years. The only moment that I can hold in my hands, hold to my face and breath in.

He didn’t die that day.

the Crafted Manifesto

Why it exists.jpg

LISTEN TO IT HERE


READ IT HERE

Businesses are inundated.

Buy this! Download this! You need a logo, a brand! Get your books right and invest in this and get a line of credit!

Whatever the information is, it’s being blasted at us from every angle.

But here’s the real deal. We want to get moving, and be successful, NOW. Not in a year. Not down the road. TODAY. And so, we do our research and decide where our time and money is best spent, because we only have a little bit to get this thing off the ground.

Part of that initial spending is usually a logo. Or if you’re in the lingo, a brand. And we decide how much money, and time, we can realistically spend on it.

Let’s be honest. That’s not a lot. We are putting in so much up-front work for our business, and forking out thousands of dollars and months’ worth of time to design a logo, with a stranger, that may or may not be relevant in a year, is not only daunting, but unbearable.

The reality is this:

Businesses are being held back and they don’t even know it. We are settling for “good enough” instead of “badass.” We are branding ourselves as startups when we start, and we stay that way until we aren’t a startup anymore.

What if we did this:

Brand ourselves as we see ourselves – successful, talented, smart and downright brave. We are ambitious and kind and knowledgeable.

We are not “good enough,” we are GREAT. We are doing something amazing, and our brand should tell that story.

This is the CRAFTED manifesto. To graciously and generously give businesses a shot, right out of the gate. To get them moving, like right now, with something great.

CRAFTED is not just a brand selling brands. It is a girl with a talent and a passion, similar to yours, that wants so badly for all us to be successful TODAY.

I cannot wait to see these brands out in the wild, doing what they were meant to do, and meant to do well.

xoxo for now, my friend!

nicole.png
 

Crafted | Launching March 1

Brands.jpg

Last week, we talked about brand storytelling.

Well, I talked about brand storytelling. And you probably read about it, and then probably signed up to receive a free Brand Audit.

*wink wink*

And then you were left wondering what the heck that was all about...

I'm here to tell you a few things, friend.

Here is what we know:

  • You, and your business, are unique, and should be portrayed as such.
  • Your brand should be the catapult of your story.
  • Your budget, and your time, aren’t unlimited.
  • The brand for your business should be yours and yours alone.
  • Your personality, business essence and vision are aspects of your brand that need to be apparent upon first glance.
  • Upscale, professional branding assets are hard to find, harder to pay for, and even harder to communicate.

Overwhelmed yet?

Don’t be. I got you.

This week, Nicole&Co. is launching the first 8 brands of Crafted.

 
Crafted-Secondary.png
 

Crafted by Nicole & Co. is an array of upscale branding assets, carefully curated for businesses like yours that want to get moving, like right now.

I’m so excited to be offering you, yes you, unique and wonderful you, the brand you have been searching for.

The Nitty Gritty:

  • Each brand featured is only sold ONCE – it and its parts will never be sold again.
  • Each brand is original, and carefully crafted by Nicole of Nicole&Co. herself.
  • Brands include a primary logo, secondary logo, brand mark and a comprehensive brand book with color palette, typefaces and tips and tricks for using your brand.
  • Each brand’s elements (verbiage and type content) are changeable BY YOU, the new brand owner.
  • Once purchased, your brand can be in your hands, literally, with a click of a button.
  • Only 8 brands will be released each quarter, so if you don’t see one that fits you perfectly, stay tuned.

Crafted brands are launching THIS THURSDAY, March 1st at 9 am PST, and will be discounted for a super limited time. More information coming soon, but in the meantime

Not quite ready to dive into a brand new visual identity, but definitely want to dive deeper into your storytelling?

Totally. Brand strategy can feel so abstract and daunting. Let’s bridge that gap together.

Nicole’s brand strategy sessions are focused on further understanding your brand's story, what your next steps should be, and tangible steps to communicate your WHY!

INQUIRE ABOUT A BRAND STRATEGY SESSION

Name *
Name

Ditching the Diaper Bag

doomsdayprep.jpg

It's no secret that I rarely pack around a diaper bag. When I do, my friends are not only astounded, but dig through it to see what I could possibly need in order to need a full diaper bag in my hand.

Don't get me wrong, the newborn phase is different, leaving nothing to the improvising mind and a diaper bag, fully stocked, is utterly necessary. But as Joey got older, I found myself without much need for a full blown "ready pack." 

I started carrying an extra diaper in my purse, a large pack of wipes that stayed in the car, and snacks stashed in every crevice of where ever I was. 

But that backfired a few times. Cue, a very messy banana incident away from the car and a binky thrown out of the window when nap time was right around the corner.

Then, the other day, a freaking cat peed all over Joey's carseat and diaper bag on the porch overnight. After washing the carseat cover and emptying the diaper bag, leaving it to stew in the garage until I could muster up the energy to wash it, I decided to make a change.

Joey has a very minimal amount of essentials. 

Why am I toting around this gigantic backpack full of things that don't fit him, he won't use, and a massive amount of "just in case" scenarios?

I mean, really, it's not like we are going on a trip. The small drive from the house to daycare, the ranch and the grocery store surely don't qualify as needing all the doomsday supplies.

Moving on.

I packed a mini diaper bag today, and I thought I would share what's in it. We are almost two years into this parenthood thing, and a toddler is pretty much self sufficient at this point (cue, major sarcasm).

But honestly, he really only needs a few things, if any really, and my emergency supplies don't need to be prepped for worst case scenario. 

Look at it this way, if he has a blow out at this point, I have bigger problems than needing a diaper, wipes and change of clothes. I mean, he's a real boy now. Ain't nobody got time to deal with that in the trunk of a car.

So, necessities only. And if the worst happens, in his carseat he will go and driving home we will be to deal with the situation. 

In the little mini emergency kit:

IMG_7226.jpg
IMG_2716.jpg
  • 3 Kirkland diapers
  • 1 overstuffed pack of wipes
  • Tylenol and measuring spoon
  • Lone binky – we use Natursutton
  • Spoon
  • Cliff Bar
  • Squeezer

I got two of these little bags when Joey was born, to put in the diaper bag to stay organized, and have found myself using them for EVERYTHING. I love them. Machine washable, you can see what's in them, they are the perfect size and I love the color.

A Glimpse Into Babywearing and Weights

fableticsbabywearing.jpg

There are two types of babywearing workouts:

The one when you wear your baby as a tool, to add weight to yourself and to also soothe them. This is generally while they are little, don't talk, and can't reach around your with their arms yet.

Then there's the one that I had this morning. When your toddler is making a fool of himself, and you, by smearing banana all over the gym floor and then begging to be held. But then you hold him and he wants down. Cue, the Ergo and some help to restrain the beast that is your child.

But not to worry, wearing a thirty pound kettlebell on your back is nothing compared to a thirty pound toddler who kicks you when you're deep into your squat and then scratches your waistline and laughs. 

Really, though. I enjoy nothing more than working out with my baby boy. He was 4 weeks old when we got back to the gym, and he's spent most of his days in that Ergo, strapped to his mamma while she kicks booty. Literally.

It always seems to be when we need them to cooperate most, they decide to ruffle feathers. Old news, I know. So instead of an in-depth review of this bad-ass brand today, I'm going to prove to you that this brand is not only workout proof, but babywearing workout proof.

You're welcome.

IMG_6995.jpg
IMG_6996.jpg

I'm wearing the Fabletics Camila Bra in clay in a medium. Honestly, it is a little loose on me. Granted, I don't have much to fill it up. However, it is ultra comfy, stays crazy cool through a sweaty workout, and the back is so cute. 

IMG_6994.jpg
IMG_6998.jpg

This goody is best worn for slow weight lifting or yoga workouts, as it doesn't have a ton of support. But that's my jam, since there's not much to support. And it's nice and stretchy. 

Joey, obviously, is happy back there. And mamma got her squats and sumos in, even with the extra weight.

*This post does contain affiliate links and I may be compensated from the brand retailers. However, all opinions, photos and copy are my own. Thanks for supporting me and the brands I love!

Eggplant Parmesan

EggplantParm.jpg

dinner

for two

His right hand shook. All the time.

His face was long and narrow. It had lost all its chunk. Looking back at his baby photos now makes me wonder how we can come out of the womb so full of rosy fat cheeks, and then it’s up to us to keep the color in our face.

Even drinking water was hard. Drops of water would spill from the sides of his mouth and onto his heather gray tee, now hanging on him like a husband’s shirt a wife would sleep in. The water left dark spots, elongated rain drops, cascading down his abdomen. We tried to combat the mess by offering him a straw instead, but that failed, leaving shallow white scratches on his lip line and chin from the consistency of missing the straw with mouth.

I began parking in the reserved spaces. His room was on the second floor, but to get there from the normal parking spots, it required us to walk a block down the highway-like side road and cross at the too-shortly timed crosswalk, then across a parking lot and through the empty waiting room. But if you parked in the reserved spaces, you could walk in the back doors, climb sterile stairs and enter the second floor through a window lined and new-ish waiting room, always with a friendly nurse at the desk.

Besides, a parking ticket was worth the money at this point.

I hadn’t been to work in almost two months. Looking back, I’m thankful that I didn’t have a “real” job. I would of course have been fired. And gladly so. Any company that wanted to keep me away from where I really needed to be would have been on my literal shit list.

On the flip side, it wasn’t much better being self-employed. I had no form of income if I didn’t work. I left work that night of January 4th and left piles of undone work strewn about my desk, photos were left uploading from an unnamed import from an unremembered photoshoot. Emails were left not only unread but unnoticed, believing that they would be moved up the list on the morning of January 5th. And unless you knew me personally, and maybe not even then, you wouldn’t know these things. That the desk and inbox and camera would stay exactly as they were for months to come. Collecting dust and memories of “before,” never to be put back the same way again.

I wonder what the unforgiving and unempathetic clients I had then think now. The ones that sent the emails asking why I had dropped off the face of the earth with no warning, using harsh words and a stern tone of voice. Those emails and calls going unanswered, them asking for their deposit back since I failed on my end of the deal.

But I couldn’t give them their deposit back. I had spent it. Living. Spending it on hospital cafeteria food and gas to drive to Santa Clara and so much coffee that motherhood coffee intake even now seems insignificant in comparison.

In a way, I guess I was fired. I was just lucky to have done the work I had done on January 4th, I suppose.

I crawled in his bed with him, and we watched the gag reel from the Big Bang Theory. He laughed, but it wasn’t his laugh. It was hollow and too high pitched.

After dark, the air inside the hospital was stale. The windows never opened, and for some reason, in the daylight it seemed clearer. Like the sunshine could seep through the windows’ weather coating, but after dark, they sealed tighter and that air inside started to roll over onto itself and stopped moving.

The food there was rancid. To get to the cafeteria from his room, you had to walk down a grey hallway, too wide and with bars on the windows that looked down into the bare courtyard on one side and the parking garage on the other. Each time it felt as if we were walking, or wheeling, down the fictional hallway from Shutter Island. Families pushing their loved ones in wheel chairs, blank stares and half-nods of solidarity as you passed. Once in the cafeteria, your choices were slim. The tables something you’d see in a 1970’s schoolhouse cafeteria. Wood veneer, wobbly and lined up like a summer camp.

It was late, and the uneaten dinner on his table in the room next to his bed was now stale and cold. His answer when I asked if he was hungry was just a look. I didn’t need him to speak to understand what he needed.

Days were focused on incremental tasks, such as lifting his foot up to his knee in order to tie his shoe. But the actual tying wasn’t applicable yet. Just get your foot there, bud. Things like learning how to hold a fork, but getting the fork to the mouth wasn’t possible yet. We watched like a hawk as he ate, confirming each bite was the size a toddler might take, ensuring he wouldn’t choke on the too-soft wheat bread and whipped peanut butter.

I had a mere six minutes until the cafeteria closed. Pulling myself out of his bed next to him like a band-aid being pulled off a wound which was not yet healed. Putting the laptop on the bed next to his boney hips, and pushing the bedside button, lifting his head just a few inches higher than his chest.

“I will be back, ok?”

The dinner was eggplant parmesan. Doused in red sauce and cheese that was not quite melted on top. I made two plates in Styrofoam containers, added cold garlic bread and two small cartons of milk, one plain and one chocolate.

I hid the extra container in my purse. The nurses would surely scold me for feeding him something such as eggplant parmesan. After tracking each bite of food and each sip of water and each ice chip sucked on, a real dinner with mediocre marinara sauce would of course throw off their data.

He looked at the dinner like it was Mount Everest. Eyes wide but unwavering. Until this point, we made a point to not eat our own food in his room, as to not upset him. More so not to upset him so much that he would want to say something, and then realize he didn’t know how, and then be more upset.

His left hand reached over his body to grab the fork from my hand. I held the white crunchy container over his chest, close to his chin, and he slowly scooped a forkful of red sauce, making it to his own mouth. He chewed slowly. His eyes closed, his head tilted back, and then he swallowed twice.

His eyes opened and he stared at me. There was red sauce smeared on his right cheek and his left index finger.

His smile was unsymmetrical, lazy on his right side. His teeth were caked in unswallowed marinara sauce. He put down the fork, spilling eggplant parmesan on his brown blanket. His eyes did not leave mine for what felt like eternity. His smile plastered on his face, like that of a school child who was just told they could have more candy.

I slowly helped him eat the rest, plus some of mine.

I threw the containers in the trash can in the hallway four rooms down. If someone was going to get in trouble, let it be someone else.

My shoes, grey Toms that had been worn to unwearable measure, slipped off my feet and onto the floor. I took my hair out of its four-day worn ponytail, and lifted up the brown eggplant parmesan stained blanket and crawled under with him.

We watched the gag reel again, until I heard his breathing slow and his eyes were twitching but closed tight.

It was the only night I spent in the hospital. Breathing stale air and waiting for his 7 am wakeup call to try and walk on his own again.

But he knew. And I knew. He would never have to walk alone.

Beneficial Baby Budget

budget.jpg

Full disclosure – we didn’t really do much of the “budget baby” situation. I didn’t buy anything used, we purchased what we need on Amazon Prime for full price and never looked back. I had an Honest diaper subscription for the first year and paid an extraordinary amount for glass bottles and rubber Natursutton nipples.

However, now that we are in a parenting groove, we’ve learned a few tips and tricks. I will admit, some things are worth paying for. Those glass bottles and those expensive pacifiers, for instance, since they were the only ones Joey would take. And to be honest, I felt better not putting weird chemicals and plastic in his mouth all the time.

Other super expensive things that come with baby? Formula (if you don’t have the privilege of a great breastfeeding experience), diapers and wipes, and contraptions to hold them.

These are the things that dented our budget. That overdrew our checking account, that made it so we could only eat ramen for a lengthy bit of time. I wish I was kidding.

However, this was a situation I was glad to be in, looking back. I felt really good about how we were raising our newborn, and there were things I wasn’t willing to sacrifice for him, but would definitely sacrifice for us. Hence, ramen.

If you’re on a major budget, I am probably not the best example. I prefer to be totally transparent, so whether this makes you like me more or not, it is the truth.

Fast forward into toddlerhood, and we are no longer in the initial – first parent of a newborn scared of everything wondering if we are doing it wrong – phase. No, we are officially in the – how can we save some more money for private school or college without having to eat ramen – phase. I like this phase a lot more.

Some things still apply – Joey’s primary cup is made of stainless steel (not plastic), he uses the same expensive pacifiers, though I can’t remember the last time I replaced them, and many of his clothes are from the used clothing store in town.

Alternatively, we now buy Kirkland brand diapers and wipes, feed him whole milk instead of formula and prefer to let him wander instead of containing his wild being.

Though probably not mainstream, I do want to share our three most beneficial baby budget tips for toddlers.

  1. Joey has had a horrible time with diapers. He HATES getting his diaper changed, and for the longest time, we couldn’t figure out why. No major diaper rash, no irritation. But then it hit me – it hurts when I wipe him! The wipes themselves hurt.
    1. We can’t afford the expensive, sensitive skin, fragrance free wipes. I mean, we go through them like we do blueberries (Joey is quite messy, if you haven’t noticed).  And on top of that, I can’t afford the time to make my own wipes from fabric scraps and soap.
    2. What did I do? I kept the buttload of Kirkland wipes I had, and added a quarter cup of extra water to his diaper warmer. THEN, I added a tablespoon of coconut oil to the top of the pack and let it seep all the way through. It took two days and his little bum is much happier. Sometimes, I even add some coconut oil to the diaper I’m about to put on him, for extra measure. Soft bum, happy mum.
  2. Meals. Food for babies. It’s freaking expensive. Especially if you buy the pre-packaged snacks “made for toddlers” at the store. Give yourself a baby boy with the energy of a navy seal and you’ve got yourself broke as a joke.
    1. Joey snacks on meal-type foods. The only snacks that are really in our cupboards are dried fruit and granola bars. Throw in some Goldfish and some sweet potato chips and we have ourselves a snack party.
    2. For most snacks, Joey eats things like mandarins, avocados and parsnip fries. Believe it or not, fruit and vegetables are way cheaper than pre-packages snack foods. I know that this saves us a pretty penny, and keeps our cupboards and bodies clean.
  3. Finally, strategic child care. And when I say strategic, I mean PLANNED SO WELL THAT FRIENDS THINK WE HAVE NO FLEXIBILITY.
    1. An entire section of the upcoming Mompreneur Ecourse is focused on strategic childcare. That’s how important I think this is. It will cost more than enough to find childcare, nevermind actually pay for said childcare. Your time is money, literally, so have a plan and don’t spend your evening scrambling for a babysitter for the next morning.
    2. Figure out what you have in your budget for daycare, and then use it. It’s worth more than you think to have that sort of reliability in your life. Then, when needed, use the remaining days to take advantage of grandmas and friends and sitters. I get more done in the two days Joey goes to daycare than any other day, simply because I have the reliability of those days. 8-6, no matter what. That’s worth the few hundred dollars a month for me, even if I don’t get to work the other days at all.

I told you they were not mainstream J But this is what has been the most beneficial for us, as a family of three. We are small, and not super tight with money, this I know. But these are the tools we’ve implemented to keep our baby and ourselves healthy, on budget and happy.

xoxo

How to be REAL in an age of digital perception

untitled-27-2.jpg

Perception is everything. All the good. All the bad.

In the social media world, for instance, perception can be formed in the blink of an eye. Or the glance of a scroll, I suppose. Each photo or caption is carefully crafted. Lies can be told, or the truth can be told, and no one the wiser.

We can actually purchase Instagram graphics, pay someone to write our captions. The imagery isn’t even of our real lives. The work in the photo isn’t even ours. It’s a photo of a top knot on someone else’s head, the shoes on someone else’s feet, goodies arranged on someone else’s desk.

So long as the imagery and verbiage is perceived as our own, no one the wiser.

However, it’s also this form of perception that can be intriguing. The perfectly curated, color coded, planned out feed is what followers are looking for. It’s what begs the popularity, the sponsored posts and affiliate links.

We work so hard to be perceived properly.

Just today, here are three examples of things I’ve done in order to better my digital perception:

  1. I curse like a polite sailor in real life, but if I put cuss words in my caption I might turn off some of my followers because I’m too crude for their comfort level.
  2. My toddler is wearing a diaper that is sagging so low that it’s painful to look at, but he won’t let me change it, so I’m just not going to show him in my Instagram stories today. I don’t want to see the DM of someone telling me to change his diaper.
  3. I AirDropped a photo of myself and Adam from my sister’s phone to my phone, then to my computer so I could edit it in Lightroom so it followed my “feed’s color story,” and also fixed my double chin, then AirDropped it back to my phone, then uploaded it to Instagram. I then opened a website to generate some hashtags on my computer, copied them and emailed them to myself, then opened my email on my phone, copied them from there, and posted them in a caption on Instagram. This is a lot of work for one cute photo of me and my husband.
  4. I am only 2 pages into my second book of 2018, but haven’t posted it on my blog yet because it was an impulse by from Target and I didn’t have it on my 2018 Reading List blog. Hence, isn’t following “the plan.”
  5. In an effort to get my posts set for the week ahead, I hid all of Joey’s toys behind the couch to my living room photos wouldn’t show the mess.

Also, I’m drinking a beer at 2 pm while I write this and my son is making lots of noise in his crib in the other room because he doesn’t want to nap and my dishwasher is full but not running because the noise bothers me and there are booger smears on my pants that I have no intention of scrubbing off anytime soon and I’m totally winging this post because it’s on my mind and I need a post for Tuesday.

Real life, but unseen.

It’s hard to be real in the digital world and not put a damper on the perception you’ve strived so hard to earn. To be honest, I wanted to prove that I could post “real” photos (unedited and technically bad) with great captions and still build an audience of engaged followers and blog readers and affiliates. I was wrong. As soon as I started curating my posts, from imagery to caption development, that audience became much more engaged, larger and best of all, a group of friends that I don’t even know!

However, I still strive to be undeniably authentic, raw and minorly edited.

Every time someone tells me that they love the realness in my posts, the little girl inside me does a happy dance. Because once upon a time, someone told me that I could be myself when I grew up. And then I grew up, and society seemed to scream “Don’t be yourself.”

Here are some of my favorite tips on how to be REAL in a world where digital perception reins all.

  1. Don’t try to please everyone. When you begin to focus more on quantity than quality, you lose your own quality. Sure, my swearing may turn off some people, but those people probably wouldn’t love me in real life either. My friends, both digital and real life, know I like to curse, and will either love me for it or call me out. Both is good. And like Jenna Kutcher says, you can’t make everyone happy – you aren’t Nutella.
  2. In regards to photos, edit edit edit. Find a style and STICK TO IT. To be honest, it really doesn’t matter what your photo is of, so long as it looks like yours. Especially as a business, branding is everything. And that includes the style of your photos. My best tip for this is to find and use a Lightroom preset. There are millions out there, and finding one that fits your style and brand vision will help tremendously. The goal is to have someone scrolling or reading, and know immediately that it’s you, simply because of the style of your photo.
  3. Post real life in the midst of the perfectly curated. On my Instagram account, this happens often. I post a lot of real life intermixed with the curated. On my blog, it’s a little bit less (more planned, less candid), and my Facebook is VERY real life every day. And as my business is found from all three of these platforms, each has its place. It’s important to remind those who already follow you, and tell any new tribe members, what your life is really like. That’s not to say that you should ALWAYS post real life mess, but the reminder that you are real is VERY important.
  4. Be brave. This, in my opinion, is the most important one. Be brave with yourself, your audience and your platform. Don’t be afraid to post or write and share. It can be terrifying to share the most intimate parts of your life. But society is craving real. Craving candid. Craving other vulnerable ladies. It’s ok to look and act and be scared. It makes your realness even better.
  5. Finally, digitally treat others how you’d like to be digitally treated. Complimentary comments, follows for your likers, sharing their names and handles, posting their blog, adding them as a Facebook friend. All these things matter, and make you so much more human than you would be if you didn’t. If the goal for your digital business is to grow, and find an engaged tribe, you have to be engaged too. Communicating makes you human, makes you real, makes you approachable.

Want to be the first to hear about the Mompreneur Ecourse or Podcast, launching soon? Sign up below! There may even be a freebie involved ;)

 

 

Arms of Love

Em's Love Story.jpg

The fastest way to work on yourself is to bring someone else into the equation.

The first time I heard this quote, I immediately rebutted with an out loud, “Ya, ok…”

But then, my father in me, started looking at it like a math equation.

1 + 1 = 2
1 + 0 = 1

Take it even further.

1 x 1 = 1
1 x 0 = 0

There is no logical way you can add or multiply, and end up with less.

Ok, ok, I know what you’re thinking. Because I was thinking it, too.

Being alone is important. Self love can only be achieved when you learn to love yourself, by yourself, for yourself.

Let me ask you one question.

During the time you’ve been alone, have you grown substantially as an empathetic, compassionate, emotionally strong and mature human being?

I want to tell you a story about someone I love very, very much. Maybe someday, I’ll tell you my own story.

My sister in law, Em, came up to the house one night, and in deep need of condolence. She was struggling.

After years of focusing on her education, and sacrificing large life moments and milestones because of it, she has found herself very close to receiving her doctorate at UC Davis. She is seriously kicking you know what in the professional education world.

Em has had some amazing moments over the last decade or so. Some spectacular memories, some fantastic opportunities, and has grown substantially as a wonderful, faithful human.

After a very long conversation and a few bottles of wine, her and Adam and myself found ourselves at a crossroads – Emily was craving connection. With us, her friends, someone to grow old with, God, and eventually, children.

For so long, Em has been focused on herself. And yes, she has been madly in love with someone, and thought for a long time she would marry him.

But then she didn’t.

Her immediate reaction was that she wanted some time alone. To focus and finish school. To graduate, find her place in the world of tenure and professing and to settle down. Her hesitation was that love would get in the way of all the hard work and sacrifices she has already made. And it felt necessary to be alone to work on the things within herself she wanted to work on. Those things, she told us, were:

  1. Communication
  2. Prioritizing family
  3. Faith

Since we didn’t have the emotional energy to cross yet another bridge of “what’s next,” we left the conversation at that cross roads.

If you find someone right away, see how it goes. If you don’t, that’s ok, too.

This was the day before I left for southern Cali, and on the plane, I listened to Dale Partridge say, “The fastest way to work on yourself is to bring someone else into the equation.”

This kind of tipped my opinion upside down. Until then, I had always thought that my time “alone” had been the most productive in growth. Upon further recollection, though, I realized that “alone” has a very negative connotation, and in many cases, is completely wrong.

  1. Yes, I had been “alone” when I moved home from college. But then I wasn’t. I had my family.
  2. Yes, I had been “alone” that afternoon, before I found God in the sunset. But then I wasn’t. My angel friend (we’ll talk about him another time) had brought me to Him.
  3. And then I had Him. And I was no longer alone.
  4. Yes, I had been “alone” when I learned I could be alone. But then I wasn’t. Adam walked around the corner and scooped me up and never left my side again.
  5. I have not been alone since.

Mind you, this part of my life happened within a 60 day span, the summer of 2009.

Ok, back to Em.

Upon my return from Disney, I learned that Emily had a date with someone, who we all have known for years. And that she was very excited about it.

That date was two nights later, and here is what her text said to me the next morning:

“Best. Date. Ever. I didn’t really feel like a first date. But you probably could have guessed I would say that. Thank you so much. I have never been so excited about anything or just life in general.”

Never been so excited about anything, or life in general.

I highly doubt Em would have been this excited about life in general after spending weeks alone, working on herself.

Since this date, Emily has called me nearly every day. We text all day, and she came to spend a week with us for Christmas. This is more communication I’ve had with Emily in over three years.

So, with one interaction with another person, who sparked her, she has already begun working on her three priorities. Communication. Family. Faith.

After this, I started journaling about marriage and relationships. Jotting down moments I remember from my own, things I’ve noticed and experiences I’ve witnessed.

None of them that have equated into more, or better, have happened alone.

I plan to write and share more about this theory, but I’d like to leave you with one last thought for the night.

Safety is found in the arms of love.

Reading List

Reading List.jpg

Sharing what I read this last year is not on my priority list. I did not read enough.

I said this to myself as I yet again put a book down and grab another at 1 am on a Tuesday night.

Really. How could I have read 10 books this year?! But somehow, I did. To be honest, I don't remember reading them, but I dang sure remember what I gleaned.

My reading list for 2018 is pretty ambitious. But I hear it gets easier to read more as your children grow. And let's be honest. If I can do 10 books during my first experience with a toddler, I can for sure do more now.

So what did I read? Some things were great, some not so much. But nonetheless, here they are!

Books-16.jpg

FICTION

The Mountain Between Us

Oh my, you guys. I picked this one up on the airport and had it read and done the next day. Honestly, picked it up because it has Kate Winslet on the cover, and she's, well, da bomb. Also, my favorite childhood book was Hatchet, and as I started reading the back cover of this one, I was brought back to my 10 year old self diving yet again into the depths of the woods after a plane crash. It's deep and dark and suspenseful and not a moment of dull. Loved it. 5 stars. Or more.

Big Little Lies

This is not news to anyone that this is a must read. I started this book, got anxious and instead watched the HBO series in two days flat and then finished reading the book. Both great. Highly recommended. Book, of course, is better than the show. But both great. Also, it's pretty rare I don't expect an ending in a book like this and this one threw me. Bravo Liane.

Two by Two

Nic Sparks will always have my heart, but I have to be in the right season of my life to read his books. Mostly because I have to remember that the men in these books are not real men, and the romance that exists here is literal fairytale. I have a tendency to be mad at Adam for the week post finishing a Nic book. I mean, why can't he take me on a date in a row boat and let me feed the geese and then kiss me in the rain? Is that too much to ask?! However, this little number (or quite long read if you care about number of pages) is a good one, and actually is more about parenthood than romance. Which I loved, obvi.

Since We Fell

Again, super quick read for me. And IMO, Gone Girl status. Go with it. It's a goodie.

NONFICTION

Books-12.jpg

NONFICTION

Toddler Wise

Did you happen to watch my Insta Story about me reading this book? Well, basically, I LOVED Babywise. Pretty much lived and breathed it for the first year of Joey's life. So, when we were looking for a little bit of guidance in the toddler world, this was my go-to. However, I'm sad to say I don't super recommend it. What I gleaned was a fairly intense and wordy way to say, "Let your kids explore and be curious, but not too much." 

David and Goliath

Well, Malcolm Gladwell never disappoints. And this was my second time reading this book. I don't remember reading it all the way through either time, however, I enjoy every second. I like to pick his books a little bit, and read the bits and pieces that resonate with me in the moment. 

Made to Stick

Oh my gosh, my praise for this book. I found it when I was researching my mission statement strategies for clients, and it took me a while to read. It was worth every moment. It's all about ideas and why some work and some don't. So intriguing and interesting and super entertaining.

Are You Useful?

This book was given to me by a friend when we were talking at length about how to effectively run a gym. Long term, this book was great. It is written by a fairly elementary author, which is why it's also so endearing. The book references physical strength as a way to become mentally strong as well, and how we can use our bodies for good in relationships, business and weight lifting. I would describe it as a Why-To exercise book in the best way.

31 Days of Prayer for the Dreamer and the Doer

This book. Round three for me. I love this goody. There is a prayer for anything, and when I'm searching for how to talk to God about what I'm going through, this is what I reach for. A bedside (or purse, let's be honest) necessity. Also, Jen and Kelly are super badass and idols for me.

Show Your Work

I left the best for last. Not pictured because it has since been passed on to friends, but this book is BADASS. I loved it. LOOOOVVED IT. It's real and honest and short and sweet and so so so true. It affirmed that we do what we do because we love it, so why not SHOW IT OFF?! Success is found in the process, not the result.

Books-4.jpg

2018

My reading list for 2018 is short as of the moment, but I like this spontaneous for the most part. There are few norms (Jesus Calling, my all time every day in my purse devotional), but these are all HIGHLY recommended and will be read pronto.

What Alice Forgot

Why Not Me?

Small Great Things

The Woman in the Window

Tribe of Mentors

January 4th

JAN4.jpg

Carey was working on making a wedding dress out of butcher paper.

She had a mannequin. One of the vintage ones with the gorgeous wooden stand and linen body. The ruffles had begun to form around the bust and she was working to start the bodice, each pearl tipped pin strategically placed and each fold creating a stunning silhouette.

Our broadway office as dimly lit by the chandelier and the leaves had fallen outside the open second story windows, letting in the fresh air that smelled of rain and tempura from the fast food place below our building. It was dark, and the heater in our building was always on high, making even the coldest of nights feel like an old man’s scotch and cigar by the fire kind of night in our brick lined second story abode.

I left before Carey was done with her night, snapping a photo outside our door, looking in. It’s black and white now, the original color lost to social media filters and cell phone purchases.

Adam called as I drove home, telling him that I was on the Esplanade, headed his direction. We talked about what to eat for dinner, how long he’d been at the house and if the dogs had been fed yet.

He talked normal, like all was right in the world.

It was the very cold and windy night of January 4th, 2013.

I had bangs then, and I was wearing a baby blue cardigan, extra soft and long, pockets in the front. My hair was in a bun low on my neck, and my leggings and pink studded flats were not adequately warm for the night we were having.

I pulled into our driveway, marveling at our Christmas lights that Adam had so graciously put up for me. Our Christmas tree still shone through my front window. Per tradition, the tree doesn’t come down until my birthday, 5 days later. Little did I know then that it would be much, much later than that this year.

Adam didn’t live there yet. It was just me at the time. Tony was on Christmas break from college, helping Mom and Dad at home with cows, and Adam was living in a rundown and quite cold house across town with some other friends.

Adam met me in the driveway, face serious. He was wearing a red shirt and a black fleece vest.

The drive to the hospital, a mere 5 blocks away, is lost to me. I don’t remember if I drove, or if Adam drove. What vehicle did we take? Did I go in the house before we left to get there? Where was my purse or my phone or my house key?

Auntie Shelly was already there, Adam said. She was not on shift that night but had scrubbed up and went in, simply so she could be in the ER when he arrived.

He was being air flighted in, and the trauma team was ready and waiting, she said. She met us at the door.

It was under construction, making the ER waiting room also the main entrance to the hospital. The door to the actual emergency department was a teeny beige heavy door with a simple silver doorknob at the end of a wide but very dark hallway.

Shelly said something about a social worker.

What the hell is a social worker and why do I need one?

She also told me that I would be able to hear the helicopter arrive, and that there would be a call for the trauma team over the intercom every two minutes as they got closer.

The voice on the intercom was a woman. Her words pierced the air around me, seemingly overly loud and unnecessarily harsh.

We sat in that hallway, on the floor. I sat with both my legs to my right side. My mind does not paint any sort of picture for me now, what the rest of the world looked like in there. If there was an empty chair or a waiting room or a person trying to help me find somewhere to go. I didn’t cry. I focused on a piece of lint on the brown tile floor in front of me.

They had not arrived yet. No helicopter sounds. No one I knew other than Adam and Shelly in my space. Shelly would disappear and then reappear often, back and forth through the heavy beige door. She would just look at me, and then turn around again.

“How bad?” were the only words I could articulate.

The answer, I already knew.

This blonde woman was kneeling in front of me. Her name was something that reminded me of a cartoon character and she spoke so slowly I wanted to slap her and tell her to just spit it out. Her words blurred together, and she looked at me with a stare like I had just been told news that I couldn’t handle. But there was no news. He wasn’t here yet. No one was here yet.

Why were they not here yet?

The intercom rang and two people dressed in all blue sprinted in front of me and went through the heavy door.

Did you know the helicopter shakes the whole hospital? Its wings moving enough air to make me feel like I was going to lift out of this life, right here on the first floor of a concrete and steel building.

It had been hours, I’m told. I had been sitting there for hours.

I finally did a scan. Our pastor was sitting in the waiting room. He didn’t approach me.

At some point, Mom and Dad and Scott got there. To be honest, the first memory I have of my parents is three days later. 

Shock must have set in, since how I got from the floor and through the heavy beige door is non-existent to me now.

The slow talking blonde woman was still there. Her words meaning nothing to me.

There was another man now. His hair wild and grey and his glasses thick. He was dressed in street clothes but they called him Doctor. His Nike tennis shoes were worn well and he spoke coldly.

I was last in line. All these other people entered the room before me. Who were they? Why are they here?

He laid there, on a gurney. There were machines everywhere and all I could see was the recessed hole where your chest meets your neck, the sunken space where your collar bone meets its mate. It was empty.

“Where is his Saint Christopher? Why is it not here? Who took it off him? Put it back on him!” I screamed at nobody. I was suddenly in a time warp. The white and green room was spinning around me, and I was screaming but no one could hear me. Why can't they year me? Is my voice real? Is this real? Am I real?

I chased a woman out of the room, begging her to tell me where his necklace was. She turned around and spoke to some other person dressed in gray. All gray. They responded with some sort of nod and continued to briskly walk away.

“He didn’t have one on, honey. I’m sorry, we don’t have it.”

The next moments are so much of a blur. This street clothed “doctor” had a meeting with us in this box of an office. I don’t know who “us” was or what he said. Words like “brain swelling” and “Glasgow scale” and “waiting.”

I walked out of the door by myself. Adam must have followed me. I stared at him, and fell to my knees. I sobbed and punched Adam’s shoulder and couldn’t get my feet to work.

He picked me up and carried me like a child, slung between his arms as I retreated back into myself, only to come up for air three days later, when a man named Chris spoke the only word I needed to hear in order to breathe again.

Hope.