Summer Reading List

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IT’S SUMMER!

Well, not technically until June 21, but since it’s hot as Prince Harry in this joint, we’re celebrating early.

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Nothing says summer vacay like lying poolside with a good book, and I’m sharing my summer reading list with all of you!

I did this in the fall, and you guys seemed to enjoy it, so I figured why. not make it a twice a year thing. I asked people on Instagram and Twitter what they were reading and have included some of their recs, some of my own, and some that are highly anticipated by the inter-world.

I sent the list out to everyone on my email list today, but it’s not too late for you to get a copy too! All you have to do is put in your name and email address below to sign up if you haven’t already. Happy reading and happy summer to you!

How I Prepared my Business for Maternity Leave

Early in my pregnancy, I knew I wanted to take a maternity leave once the baby got here. But when you run your own business, it’s scary to think of stepping away for an extended period of time. Moore Media Group was my first baby, and the thought of abandoning it for a couple of months really freaked me out.

I started thinking of what maternity leave would look like for me and what I needed to do ahead of time to prepare the business to run without me. Now as I begin to transition back to work I am incredibly thankful for this precious time, and I want to share what I did to prepare my company for my absence so that it could continue to thrive and I could turn all of my attention to my new baby without feeling stressed. Here’s what worked best for me and for Moore Media Group:

1. Wrap up big projects

Most of the work we do, like managing social media accounts for businesses, is ongoing. It doesn’t have a set end date, so it’s not something that could be finished before the baby arrived. However we also build websites and create videos for clients, and these were projects I knew we could wrap up before I left. I decided not to book any big projects that couldn’t be completed by the month before my due date. 

As a business owner, it’s scary to limit the amount of work you’ll take on since it directly impacts your income, but I knew it was the best decision for me and the company. And it all worked out. Toward the end of my maternity leave, we were able to onboard two new clients who we will begin work for as soon as I get back. It would have been stressful to take them on before I left for 10 weeks, but I waited and they were still available when I was ready to go back. It doesn’t always work out this way, but the point I’m trying to make is that it’s okay to turn down business for a few months in order to have a peaceful time away. 

2. Work ahead and streamline

Because a lot of the work we do is planned in advance, we’re able to streamline some of our services. For instance, when we knew I was going to be out, we planned content ahead of time for social media posts both for Moore Media Group and for our clients. Then we scheduled the posts using Hootsuite, but you could use any online scheduling platform. The same goes for blogs, e-blasts and even invoices. Having systems in place to streamline our workflow meant that I didn’t have to constantly be creating content or even approving it because much of it was created and approved ahead of time.

3. Tell your clients 

Another factor that played into my successful 10-week absence is that we have the best clients in the world. I made sure to let everyone know pretty far in advance the dates I would be out of the office. They worked with us to knock out as much as we could before baby Wren arrived and were so kind and flexible during my leave. Some of them even bought gifts, made us a meal or simply sent well wishes. They were all so excited for Tyler and me and truly made me feel like I had the freedom to enjoy my time off.

4. Get you a Jesse

Honestly, everything above was important as we planned for my leave, but I don’t think I could have done it without my incredible employee and friend, Jesse. Jesse interned for Moore Media Group last spring, and I hired her as soon as her internship ended knowing she would be a phenomenal asset to our clients. In the last year, she has grown so much, and because of her commitment I knew Moore Media Group would be just fine without me for a couple of months. 

Whether you’re planning for maternity leave or not, one of the most important decisions you make as a business owner is who you add to your team. Intelligent, creative, hardworking people who you actually want to spend time with are hard to come by, so if you find one, hold on to them. Thanks to Jesse, I was able to spend my maternity leave snuggling my newborn instead of obsessing over my inbox. It’s been the most beautiful season, and I will always be grateful for it, but I am ready to get back to the office at least a few days a week. Basically, if you own a business, you need to hire a Jesse. And Jesse if you’re reading this, please don’t ever leave me.

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It's OK to Drop the Ball

I’ve been a mom for less than two months, and I’m fairly certain I’ve already traumatized my kid. 

It happened this week en route to her 6-week checkup. The morning had gone beautifully, and I was considering nominating myself for mother of the year since I got her fed, dressed and out the door with a headband in her hair all while finding time to eat a bowl of oatmeal and put on a bra.

We were driving down the interstate listening to “The Greatest Showman” soundtrack when I heard a tiny, adorable grunt coming from the backseat. I assumed Wren was just trying to adjust herself in the carseat, so I kept my eyes on the road and continued belting “THIS IS THE GREATEST SHOW” with Hugh and the others at the top of my lungs.

A few miles down the road, the grunt got a bit less adorable and a lot more forceful. I took a peek at Wren in the mirror and realized her cute little headband had begun to slide down her forehead and was now resting across her eyebrows – or where they would be if she actually had eyebrows. Really hoping those come in soon.

“Uh oh,” I said to the newborn who I know full well can’t understand me. “Hang in there, sister. I’ll fix it when we get to the doctor’s office.” Wren did not find this reassuring. She continued to wiggle and bob her head about until the headband completely covered her eyes. This is when she began to scream.

“Wren, I’m so sorry, but I can’t pull over on the interstate,” I said trying to talk over her shouts of rage. Again, this did not comfort her. I continued to console her with promises to fix it when we arrived as I weaved in and out of traffic trying to reach our destination as quickly as possible. She yelled and kicked and threatened to runaway and never return, and after what felt like an eternity, we finally made it to the clinic.

I jumped out of the car, ran around to the backseat and took the headband off. She looked at me like “What is wrong with you? Do you have any idea what you are doing?!”

No. 

No, I do not.

This about sums up my first couple of months of motherhood. It’s moments of feeling like I’ve finally got the hang of things immediately followed by fear that Child Protective Services could show up at any moment because who thought it was a good idea to let me raise a human?

It’s holding Wren all day and feeling like a good mom until I see all the dishes I didn’t wash, the errands I didn’t run and the emails I didn’t answer. Missed calls from clients. Not getting my dad a birthday present. Thank you notes I should have written months ago. Watching frantically as all the balls I’m accustomed to juggling crash to the ground and roll in 75 different directions.

It’s stressful trying to take care of a newborn AND run a business AND keep the house clean AND eat healthy AND shower occasionally AND work out AND be a good wife, friend, sister, daughter, dog-mom, etc.

It’s just not realistic to do it all perfectly. And I’m learning to be ok with that.

To be ok with my in-laws coming over and discovering our floors are covered with cat hair. Or letting a week (or a few weeks) pass before returning a phone call from a friend. Or setting specific hours to deal with client work and sticking to them. Or eating takeout every night this week.

To be ok with dropping the ball every now and then. Because in this season, Wren is the most important ball.

I started seeing a therapist about a year and half ago, and one of the most important exercises she taught me is how to prioritize, both my time and energy, and how those priorities can change. She encouraged me to pick three things that would take priority over all others. These can be anything from my family to my career to a certain goal I’m working toward. Once I settle on my three priorities, I have permission to pour less time and energy into everything that didn’t make the list.

The best part about the list is my three priorities are constantly changing depending on my season of life. When I start to feel overwhelmed, I stop and think about what three things I need to prioritize right now.

Without the list, I end up trying to go everywhere, be there for everyone and do everything, which leads to anxiety and disappointment. I spread myself too thin, and instead of doing everything well, I come up short across the board.

But with the list, I can pick three priorities, give them the attention they need, and free myself from the guilt that comes with letting go of everything else. When I start to feel embarrassed about having a dirty house or skipping a workout, I tell myself, it’s just not on the list right now.

And right now, Wren is at the top of the list, which means I’m going to have to let some other balls hit the cat-hair coated floor. I won’t always be able to cuddle on the couch with her. Or to solve all of her problems just by holding her close. Or spend an hour doing nothing but encouraging her to coo and smile. But right now, I can, so I’m going to snuggle her and sing off-key to her and maybe wait until we reach our destination to put her headband on to avoid traumatizing her.

I hope you too can set your priorities, and enjoy the freedom of letting go that comes along with it. I hope you can drop the ball a few times and know that the world isn’t going to end. Because it’s ok to drop the ball this Mother’s Day – just not the baby.

Waiting

It’s nearly 4 o’clock in the morning, and I’ve just woken up to pee for the third time because that’s pretty much all you do when you’re pregnant. As soon as I open my eyes, I know I won’t be able to fall back asleep. I wake up a lot these days and have developed a knack for predicting when I will be able to go back to sleep and when I will lie in bed until my alarm goes off.

I can feel her squirming about up near my right rib cage. The doctor told us we could have her any day now, but she still doesn’t have a name. It is no secret that I will not miss much about pregnancy, but it will be strange not to feel her little kicks and tumbles each day. I’ve grown fond of the constant reminder of new life.

It is now 4:32 and I’m hungry, so I decide to go ahead and get up. When I do, it throws the bed into chaos. Our cat, Tony, immediately jumps down, deciding it must be time for breakfast. Balto, the dog, leaves my side of the bed to go curl up next to my husband. Tyler sits up abruptly and asks what’s wrong. Even though this getting up before the sun happens a lot lately, he always feels the need to make sure I’m not going into labor or in any kind of pain.

I fix myself a bowl of cereal and wander into the living room unsure of how I’ll spend my extra hours. The house feels too quiet to be disrupted by the sound of the television, so I leave it off. I might dabble on a project for work or do a little reading. Still contemplating what to do, I take a peek into the nursery. Perhaps there’s some tiny detail that needs to be finished. A book I forgot to put on the shelf or an outfit I didn’t wash. Did I write all of the thank you notes? 

But as I flip on the porcelain lamp, sitting atop a classic Peter Pan book, the room appears to be complete. Maybe too complete. It’s baffling to think that less than three months ago, this space was a disaster. The walls were bare, there was a hole in the ceiling and we didn’t own a single item fit for a baby. No crib. No rocking chair. No teeny, tiny little footed pajamas. But now I just look around the room, and it’s waiting for her. The antique Jenny Lind crib in the corner with the freshly laundered sheets. The Cypress floating shelves Tyler insisted on building himself. The delicate quilt my Mawmaw had crocheted for her, before she passed away just last month. The teddy bear named Annie that I toted around as a child. It’s all here, just waiting.

It’s good that it’s all finished, isn’t it? The mile-long to-do list I made for us just after Christmas is complete. And while that should bring peace, I can’t help but feel restless. Did we do everything we were supposed to? Surely there’s something we forgot.

I settle into the glider in the corner and dream about how this time next week I’ll be rocking her back to sleep, likely at this same early hour. Looking down at her rosy cheeks and tiny nose. She’s still such a mystery. I place my hand on my belly and think about the thin layer of skin that separates us. “What are you like?” I want to ask her. “Do you have your dad’s red hair? Or your mom’s green eyes? Are you a good sleeper? What do you dream about? Will you think your dad is as funny as I do? 

Are you going to be a writer? 

An engineer? 

A dolphin trainer?

I hope you have freckles. And a silly laugh. I can’t wait to take you on trips with us. We’ll climb mountains and swim in the ocean and explore other countries and cultures. I hope you’ll love them as much as we do. 

I want you to be compassionate and adventurous and brave. A strong voice for yourself and for others. Mostly I just want you to be you. Unapologetically yourself. I don’t want to ever make you feel like you need to be someone else. I hope you’ll know how deeply and specifically you were loved before you ever existed. To never doubt how much you belong in this family.

So in a few days, I will hold you in my arms. I’ll rock you and read to you and sing off-key to you. But for now, I will sit in your quiet, expectant room  – waiting for the sun to come up and waiting for you to come home.”

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Best Books I Read in 2018 (By Category)

2018 marked the second year in a row I’ve set a goal for the number of books I want to read. It’s also the second year in a row that I failed to reach that goal.

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I still believe I read more books than I would have if I didn’t have a goal, so I’m ok with it.

I did a post like this last year, and you guys really seemed to like it. So I decided to do another one. This year I read some great stuff, some good stuff and some just ok stuff. So let’s get to it. Here are the best books I read in 2018 (by category, because I’m a fan of those).

Favorite Fiction Book: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

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Summary: This is such an important book, and the fact that the author is from Mississippi makes me love it even more. It’s about a teen girl named Starr, who is torn between life in her rundown, mostly black neighborhood and her private school full of wealthy white kids. She witnesses a white cop shoot and kill her black friend, and the book follows all of the events that unfold in the following weeks.

Most important takeaways: It’s easier to get defensive than it is to listen to the people we disagree with. We all could do a better job of listening to and trying to understand each other.

Favorite quote: “What’s the point of having a voice if you’re gonna be silent in those moments you shouldn’t be?”

Honorable mention (Fiction): Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Favorite Non-fiction Book: Bringing Up Bèbè by Pamela Druckerman

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Summary: We are expecting our first baby in March and have no idea what we’re doing. I have not read many parenting books, but this one intrigued me. It’s written by an American journalist who married a European and now lives in Paris. She noticed that all of the French babies were so well-behaved and seemed to sleep through the night after just a couple of months, so she began to investigate what French parents do differently. It’s FASCINATING. We hope to apply some French parenting techniques when baby girl gets here in just a couple of months!

Most important takeaways: Babies are new here and need to be taught how to be humans. This includes exploring emotions and learning to sooth themselves. Love and care for your baby, but take care of yourself too.

Favorite quote: “When I ask French parents what they most want for their children, they say things like ‘to feel comfortable in their own skin’ and ‘to find their path in the world.’ They want their kids to develop their own tastes and opinions…. But they believe children can achieve the goals only if they respect boundaries and have self-control. So alongside character, there has to be cadre.”

Honorable mention (Non-fiction): Chasing the Scream by Johann Hari

Favorite Work-Related Book: Building a StoryBrand by Donald Miller

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Summary: Every person who owns a business or works in marketing needs to read this book. Donald Miller does a beautiful job of explaining how to get back to the simplicity of your brand and your story. He teaches you how to communicate clearly and creatively with your clients or customers. I have referred back to this book so many times when helping Moore Media Group clients determine how best to connect with their audience. This book is GOLD.

Most important takeaways: Know what your company does and how you help people. Then clearly communicate that. Keep the customer/client first.

Favorite quote: “The customer is the hero of the story, not your brand. When we position our customers as the hero and ourselves as the guide, we will be recognized as a trusted resource to help them overcome their challenges.”

Honorable mention (Work-related): Talk Like TED by Carmine Gallo

Favorite Comedic Book: Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

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Summary: I am currently finishing up the final book of this trilogy, and I will be so sad when it’s over. It is a light-hearted romantic comedy with SO MANY characters and plots. In this first book, Crazy Rich Asians, Rachel travels to Singapore with her boyfriend, Nick, and discovers that his family is one of the richest and most prominent in Asia. Of course tons of ridiculous drama ensues. This is a super fun, lighthearted read that will weirdly make you thankful you are not crazy rich.

Most important takeaways: Love trumps money.

Favorite quote: “You look like a slutty ebola virus.” 
*this quote is in the movie, not the book but still LOL

Honorable mention (Comedic): Where’d You Go, Bernedette? By Maria Semple

Favorite Memoir: Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham

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Summary: Oh man. If you were a fan of Parenthood or Gilmore Girls, this will be the most nostalgic book you read all year. If not, you probably won’t care much for it. Lauren gives us the inside scoop on both shows as well as the GG reunion. She also tells her personal story of breaking onto the acting scene in a way that makes you feel like you’re having coffee with a good friend. I listened to this one on Audible because Lauren reads it herself, and I highly recommend it if you’re a fan of hers.

Most important takeaways: Work hard, be kind and when your plan falls apart, make a new plan and press on.

Favorite quote: “I guess what I’m saying is, let’s keep lifting each other up. It’s not lost on me that two of the biggest opportunities I’ve had to break into the next level were given to me by successful women in positions of power. If I’m ever in that position and you ask me, “Who?” I’ll do my best to say, “You” too. But in order to get there, you may have to break down the walls of whatever it is that’s holding you back first. Ignore the doubt —it’s not your friend—and just keep going, keep going, keep going.” 

Honorable mention (Memoir): The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines

Perhaps 2019 will be the year I finally meet my goal (which is 30 books). Feel free to comment below and give me a few books to add to my list. And don’t forget to sign up for the email list for exclusive content and free downloads, including a worksheet to help YOU crush YOUR goals this year!

How to Stick to Your Goals in 2019

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Ahhhh the new year. It’s that special season where we get excited about all the change and possibilities the turn of the calendar will bring. I personally love this time. Every New Year’s Eve, Tyler and I make a point to reflect on the year that has just passed and be thankful for the experiences, friendships and lessons that came with it.

While it’s a season of gratitude, it’s also a time to consider what we want to change in the new year. But most of us end up setting goals on January 1st and neglecting them before the end of the month. Just this week I read that 93% of New Year’s Resolutions will FAIL.

93%.

That’s practically all of them.

I’m sure it’s not shocking to hear. Most of us know what it’s like to set a goal and then get distracted as time ticks by. In most cases, the problem is not our resolutions, but the way we set them. We have good intentions but our goals are either too unrealistic or vague to have a fair shot.

This year, I want to help you make real changes that last all the way through next Christmas. That’s why I’ve created the 2019 Goal-Crushers Group. By joining this free group, you will receive a worksheet where you can write out your personal, professional, physical, spiritual and financial goals for the new year. We’ll then break them down into smaller quarterly goals so you can measure your progress. I’ll send out an email to the group at the end of every quarter checking in and reminding you not to give up.

Make 2019 the year you finally follow through with your goals. Put in your name and email address below to join the 2019 Goal-Crushers Group.

A Season of Expecting

This is a unique Christmas in our home. Where two stockings hang year after year, a third has been added. The first two read “Emily” and “Tyler” in matching monogrammed fonts. One features a jolly looking Santa Claus holding a star. I have no idea why Santa is holding a star. This one is Tyler’s because though he has few opinions about Christmas decor, he insisted on “being Santa.” On the second is a reindeer with long eyelashes and a poinsettia positioned delicately in her antlers. This one is mine. The newest addition features a baby polar bear eskimo-kissing its mother, but has no name on it. 

We are six months into this pregnancy thing and have practically done nothing to prepare for all of the changes that are about to take place. We do not have a name. We do not have a crib. Or really any part of a nursery. We do not have a registry. I keep telling myself we’ll get to all of these minor details eventually, but I’m starting to feel like eventually is creeping up on us.

This week someone asked me how pregnancy was going, and I responded, “We’re just ready for her to be here.” “Aw, what’s her name?” he asked. “Oh she doesn’t have a name,” I informed him. 

“That’s ok,” he said. “I’m sure y’all have been busy getting the nursery together.” 

“Um, no,” I said. “We actually haven’t started on that either.”

So maybe we’re not so much ready for her to be here, but rather eager to meet her. She is like Christmas. Every year, I say I’m “ready for Christmas,” but I don’t mean that I’m prepared. I buy all of my gifts at the last minute, scramble around to squeeze in all of the holiday activities, and am devastated when the day arrives because it passes too quickly. I want to enjoy it. To sit in it for just a while, taking in all the feelings of gratitude and light and warmth.

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The best way I can describe this time before her birth is a season of expecting. I don’t mean that in the literal sense that we are expecting a child, but in a deeper way I can feel in my bones. There’s an unfamiliar energy in our home. It’s like nothing I’ve felt before and I really can’t think of anything to compare it to. I suppose it’s like missing someone you’ve never met. An abysmal longing for her to be here that continues to grow with each passing day.

I’ve always been able to picture what the next chapter in my life would look like. When I moved away to college, I could picture the late nights with friends, being on my own for the first time, and maybe even going to class every now and then. Years before I got my first job as a news reporter, I could see myself standing in front of the camera with a microphone. When Tyler and I were engaged, I imagined us brushing our teeth together. I don’t know when or why I decided synchronized teeth-brushing was a sign of a happy marriage, but now you know our secret.

However, this next chapter – this whole parenthood thing – I can’t see. I try to imagine what she will look like and my mind can’t do it, though we’re all praying she inherits her dad’s fabulous red hair. I want to hear her tiny giggles and spit-filled babbles, but the sound isn’t there. Every time she kicks in my belly, I think about how it will feel to hold her for the first time. What her little body will feel like pressed to mine. How her tiny hand will feel wrapped around my index finger. But my brain can’t show me. It’s like a photo that’s out of focus. For the first time in my life, I can’t picture what the next season holds. I just know I want it to be here.

I know that it is not going to be easy. That we’re going to lose sleep and possibly our minds during the first few months. That she’s going to be mad when she doesn’t get her way in those early years. That she will say mean things to me when she is a teenager because let’s be honest teenage girls are horrible to their moms. 

But I also know there will be more good moments than bad. That she already makes me want to be a person who lives and loves more deeply and who she is proud to call “mom”. That Tyler is going to be the most comforting, patient and hilarious dad. And that she will always know she is loved, despite her imperfections, and that she belongs in this family.

So as Christmas passes too quickly next week, I am going to try to appreciate this season of expecting. To not wastefully wish it away, but to embrace the feelings of longing and love and maybe even buy a crib and come up with a name.

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"Do Good" Holiday Gift Guide

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This one goes out to all of my last minute shoppers!

If you’re like me, you haven’t even put a dent in your Christmas shopping, but things just got a whole lot easier with my “do good” holiday gift guide.

With this guide, you can buy thoughtful, quality gifts (think shoes, candles, and even wine!) from companies that are doing good. I’ve put together a list of my favorite businesses that use your purchases to do good or give back in some way. From building wells in Uganda to empowering working women in Honduras, this guide will help you put your money to good use this holiday season.

Put in your email address below to get this exclusive guide right to your inbox today!

How I Went on Vacation and Actually Relaxed

I’m pretty sure vacations are supposed to be relaxing, but mine never are. When I get home from a vacation, I’m usually more worn out than before I left. I cram as many activities as humanly possible into a short timespan for fear that I will never visit that particular part of the world again. We get up early and stay out late and make all the memories. Every single one of them. It’s exhilarating and memorable and honestly kind of exhausting.

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Tyler and I recently went on a vacation to the Pacific Northwest, and the strangest thing happened – we came back well-rested. On the flight home, he looked at me and said, “I feel ready to go back to work tomorrow,” and as I thought about the declaration, I realized I did too. “Is this how we’re always supposed to feel after vacation?” I asked him. “I think so,” he said, laughing because normally we spend the entire flight home plotting how we can get out of work the following day to recover.

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The more I thought about it the more I became convinced that maybe this is how vacation is supposed to be – relaxing, refreshing and full of rest. So I wanted to share with you why I think this vacation was different from the others and why we will hopefully be having more trips that leave us feeling more full than empty.

Here’s what we did differently: 

We took naps

Before I met Tyler Moore I had never taken a nap on a vacation. In the last few years we’ve snoozed during the afternoon on a trip or two, but not like we did on this one. We were gone for 10 days and took naps on at least half of those. In the past I would have felt guilty for napping because that meant I was missing out on some exciting experience. I can sleep at home, right? Maybe it’s the pregnancy, but I cared 0% about missing out on this trip. As I snuggled up on the couch I tried to think of anything in the world I would rather be doing in that moment, and nothing sounded more appealing than sleep, so that’s what I did. And it was glorious. 10/10 recommend napping on vacation.

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We didn’t do things because “we’re supposed to”

Three years ago on our honeymoon, Tyler and I spent a few days in Florence. Everyone told us how spectacular the museums were, so we dedicated an entire day to taking in the historic artwork of the city. That evening over pasta and wine, we discovered neither of us actually cared about any of the art we saw that day. It was beautiful and impressive of course, but we would have rather done something outdoors than spent the day in museums.  

There have been other times where we’ve done things solely because they were recommended by friends or TripAdvisor, but on this trip we decided not to do that. Mainly I just didn’t have the energy to do that. We did what we wanted and skipped the rest. Perhaps you do that already. If so, I’m v proud of you and am hoping to continue to turn off my FOMO and skip out on the things I don’t really care to do.

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We really left work stuff at home

Running your own business is awesome, except when you’re supposed to be “off.” It’s hard to completely walk away from work for 10 days when you own the company. I’ve been known to travel with my laptop, respond to emails, take business calls and even work on projects while on vacation. This is not healthy for me or for you or for the company or for the client.

I wrote about this earlier this year, but working on vacation is less productive than you think. If you’re dividing your time and energy between work and rest, you’re not going to be satisfied with the results on either side. Your work will not be the best it can be and you will return to the office feeling more drained and frustrated than when you departed. There are several experts who say it’s much more beneficial to everyone (your family, your boss, your clients and yourself) for you to finish up all of your work obligations before you leave town and completely walk away from them until you return. That’s what T and I did on this trip, and we both still had jobs when we returned. I had such a peace of mind when we boarded the plane to start our vacation knowing that I had tied up any loose ends at work and that nothing was expected of me over the next 10 days.

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And that’s the simple story of how we went on vacation and actually relaxed. We didn’t miss out on anything. We didn’t sacrifice making memories. We did everything we wanted to do and just enjoyed being with each other. I’m not sure how this will play out when our little one arrives in March, but I hope to continue to find ways to come home from our adventures well-rested. Do you feel refreshed or drained when you come home from vacation?

Make Your Own Gratitude List

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‘Tis the season to be thankful! This is my favorite time of year, but I feel like by the time I’m done rushing from place to place, burning something in the kitchen and plowing through my to-do list, I look up and the holidays are over. I always think I’ll make time to rest and soak in all the grateful vibes, but I seldom ever do.

This year, I’m taking time to write down several things I’m thankful for. To stop what I’m doing, sit down with pen and paper, and reflect on all of the wonderful blessings in my life. And I want to help you do the same.

I’m sending out a gratitude list template to my email list this week. It’s broken into categories with blanks for you to fill in once you’ve thought about what you’re thankful for this year. Over and over again, studies connect gratitude with joy, but if we don’t take time to pause and recognize what we’re thankful for, we risk missing out on some of that contentment and peace. Sign up below if you’d like to receive this special gratitude list template just for my readers. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Fall Reading List

Not to sound completely basic, but I really love fall. I’m not a big pumpkin spice fan, but sign me up for everything else that gives off all the autumn vibes.

This includes cuddling up with a good book and pretending it’s colder outside than it actually is. 

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I asked people in our Facebook community and on Instagram last week for book suggestions. This could be the best thing they’ve read this year or just a favorite book to read during this season. Using some of their suggestions, some of my own, and some from other recommended lists on the inter-webs, I’ve put together a fall reading list I want to share with all of you. 

The list includes specific recommendations for different types of readers. Whether you’re nostalgic, just wanting something happy to get you through the holidays or trying to get your sh*t together before the new year, this fall reading list offers something for everyone.

I sent the list out to everyone on my email list today, but it’s not too late for you to get a copy too! All you have to do is put in your name and email address below to sign up if you haven’t already. Happy fall reading to all!

Pregnancy is kind of hard

Some women absolutely love being pregnant. I always thought I would be one of those women. Frolicking about, glowing at the thought that a tiny human was nestled safely inside of me – rainbows and butterflies following me everywhere I ventured.

But so far, there has been no frolicking, no rainbows and no butterflies.

Mostly just puking, napping and trying to find pants that fit.

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My husband and I found out we were expecting our first child in mid-July. We told our family and friends a month or so later and recently posted this video to share the news with everyone else.

People keep asking us if we were “trying,” which is a bit of an awkward question if you think about it. But the truth is we were not. We do understand basic biology, so I can’t say we were completely bewildered when we saw the two little pink lines on the pregnancy test, but there was some element of surprise.

Of course once we got past the initial shock, we were excited to start our little family. But as the weeks progressed, I have discovered that pregnancy is kind of hard. There are many reasons for this, some of which no one warned me about – you know who you are. 

Everyone knows you can’t drink and you have to cut back on caffeine and you probably shouldn’t eat sushi and blah blah blah. But there were some aspects of this season I was not prepared for:

1. You can’t tell anyone

It’s so strange. You receive this life-altering news, and you’re not supposed to tell a soul. You lie to your parents. You bail on plans with friends so they won’t be suspicious when you don’t order a drink for the third time in a row. You pretend to feel fine at work, while shoving crackers in your. mouth every time your coworkers look away. You have to remember not to mention you vomited while getting ready this morning. You’re feeling anxious and excited and terrified something is going to go wrong, all at the same time, and you can’t process it with anyone. Instead you just act like you have food poisoning and read way too many articles on google.

2. You’re sick

Ok, I realize not everyone gets sick, but for those of us who have to deal with morning sickness, it’s pretty miserable. Oh and it’s not just in the morning. The best way I can describe it is like having a hangover when you didn’t drink anything. It’s maddening.

3. Eating gets weird

In real life, you may love fruit and vegetables and all things healthy, but in the pregnancy vortex – NOPE. I pretty much ate bland carbs all day every day to survive the first trimester. It was the only thing that didn’t make me gag. Toast and pasta. That’s about it. Oh and Cheeze-its. Like as a meal. This is problematic because they say you should only gain 3-5 pounds in the first trimester. I can gain 3-5 pounds on a fun weekend. If any of you wants to explain to me how I’m supposed to start hating all things healthy, only ingesting carbs, and manage to only gain 3-5 pounds, I’m all ears.

4. Puppies make you cry

Watch this video and tell me if it makes you cry.

It made me SOB. That’s actually one of the reasons I ended up taking a pregnancy test. I was stressed one night before bed, and Tyler pulled up some puppy videos to make me feel better, but when this one came up I just fell apart. “What’s wrong with you?” Tyler asked, “Are you pregnant?” He was halfway kidding, but the next day I took the pregnancy test and… here we are.

5. You’re not yourself anymore

For ten months you are growing another person. You know your body is going to drastically change, but when it starts to happen, it becomes difficult to feel like yourself. Your clothes stop fitting the way they always have. You get winded faster when you exercise. You feel sick or tired a lot of the time. And you find yourself saying things like “In real life, I actually do like broccoli,” or “I swear I never cry like this.”

This has been the most difficult change to deal with. For several weeks I felt guilty because I knew I should be overwhelmed with gratitude for this baby, but in reality all I wanted was to feel like myself again. On social media, you see the creative announcements, the fun parties and showers, and the cute baby bump photos, but what you don’t see is the woman who is struggling to adjust to all of the changes. A girl in her twenties who was not ready for all of this. Who is worried she’s going to mess this up. Who is trying to keep up and enjoy the season and see how many days she can get away with wearing leggings and an over-sized sweater.

I am learning it doesn’t have to be one or the other. I am incredibly grateful to be carrying this child, but I can be thankful for the life growing inside of me and not love the process of its development all at the same time. Just because I’m ready for this whole pregnancy thing to be over, doesn’t mean I’m not excited to be a mom. I can’t wait to snuggle this little girl and one day make her feel guilty for making me pee on myself every time I sneeze.

In this weird season of change, I am reminding myself that this is just part of the process, and “pregnant me” is not who I really am.

So if you’re pregnant or have ever been pregnant and you feel like something is wrong with you because you don’t love it as much as you should, you are not alone. You can be frustrated at all of the changes and still immensely love the baby responsible for them. Hang in there, keep counting down the days until your little one gets here, and watch a few more puppy videos. 

I am a white girl, and I am with Kaepernick

I am a white girl from a small town in Mississippi. And right now, a lot of people on my newsfeed are mad at Nike for their new ad campaign. 

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If you've been living under a rock, I'll break it down for you. In 2016, Colin Kaepernick silently remained seated during the national anthem before an NFL game to protest racial injustice and police brutality. This led to a movement that people have been arguing about for two years now.

People who oppose the movement have called it disrespectful. Some of them have suggested that Kaepernick and other players who have knelt alongside him should leave the country. Our president even called for NFL coaches to "Get that son of a b*tch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!"

But here's what I think.

I think everyone is missing the point.

The invitation to join a difficult conversation.

Black men aged 15–34 are about 15 times more likely to be killed by police than other people. In 2017, police killed 19 unarmed black males, down from 36 in 2015, according to The Washington Post.

I think it's important to respect the national anthem. I am grateful for the men and women who have fought and continue to fight for our freedom. But I also think it's important to speak out when something is wrong. And the killing of these unarmed black men is wrong.

I respect our veterans. I love our country. I don't think all police are corrupt. But I can't be angry at a group of influential athletes for exercising their right to peacefully protest something as cruel and unjust as what is happening to our black brothers and sisters.

The people protesting love America. They just want it to be what it claims to be in its anthem – land of the free. If they're going to stand and honor our anthem, shouldn't it represent freedom – real freedom from racial profiling or injustice, for everyone?

I have never experienced racial injustice. I have never been followed by a cop or pulled over for no reason. I have never been suspiciously watched as I walk down the street. And neither have most of you reading this. I get it – I know how easy it is to say Kaepernick is being disrespectful and totally ignore the point he's trying to make, because that's much easier than looking at the bigger mess that is racial injustice.

It's far more simple to tell the NFL players to "stand up and do their job" than it is to listen to them and have a real conversation about what's happening in our country. 

But I can't do that anymore. Just because I am a white girl doesn't mean I shouldn't hurt when my black brothers and sisters hurt. And right now, many of them are hurting. 

So continue burning your Nike clothes if you want. Or maybe, actually try reaching out to your black brothers and sisters and learning about how you can be a part of the solution. 

As for me, I am choosing to listen. To try to understand. To educate myself. To ask how I can help. To take part in difficult conversations. To show compassion. And to hold hands with my black brothers and sisters.

"I have decided to stick with love... Hate is too great a burden to bear."
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 


P.S. If you would like book, blog, podcast, etc. recommendations on racial injustice, I'm happy to share. 

Let's Publish a Book

Ok, friends. I’ve been talking about this for nearly half my life, but I’m finally writing a book.

Like for real.

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I’ve learned so much about the book publishing world over the last few months (which is why I haven't been blogging as frequently), and let me tell you it is just that – a whole different world. I’ll spare you the details for now, but here’s a short summary of where I’m at in the process:

I’ve put together a proposal for a book about self-worth and acceptance. It is a series of short stories, mostly humorous, some pretty deep, but all with a theme of grace. The tone is somewhere between Shauna Niequist (but less eloquent) and Amy Poehler (but not as funny because duh she is queen). I’m not going to release the title just yet, but will hopefully be able to release it soon(ish).

On July 31st, I’ll begin pitching my proposal to agents in hopes that one will pick it up. If you are my friend at all you know that I chose July 31st because it’s Harry Potter’s birthday, and I fully believe in magic.

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Also because my deadline to finish the proposal happens to fall the day before.

If an agent likes my book, he/she will try to find a publisher to pick it up. Then I will continue the process of actually writing the book. So far, I have written five sample chapters. I may share one or two of them with you throughout the process if you’re interested.

So, here’s how you can help me make this little dream a reality. In order to get picked up by an agent, I’ve been told by a consultant I need to grow my platform. That means they want to see that people are actually interested in reading my words. You can be a HUGE part of this by doing the following 3 things:

1. Sign up for my email list right here.

If you’ve already signed up, send this link to your friends/family who you think might enjoy my writing. This is the biggest way you can help get this book published.

2. Join my new Facebook community, The Imperfectionists. This is where I will share my blog posts, along with content from other writers, speakers, podcasters, etc. that I find uplifting. My hope is that this will be a community where anyone who joins can share content, so we can all encourage each other to give ourselves grace and acceptance. We’re all out here doing the best that we can, so let’s support each other.

 

3. Follow me on Instagram and Twitter @onemooreemily. I share a good bit of content on these accounts as well and would love to connect with you!

So that’s it. 

That’s my plan.

I’ll keep you guys posted as major developments come along, but as I mentioned, it can be a slow process. Thanks to those of you who have already supported my writing endeavors. You guys make this fun! And to those who haven’t, well you’re probably not reading this anyway, so – as you were.

It's ok to ask for help

My husband called me today to tell me that Kate Spade passed away.

I didn't know much about Kate until I listened to an episode of NPR's "How I Built This" that featured her a few months ago. I couldn't stop talking about the episode and how she seemed like such a down-to-earth, hardworking, genuinely incredible person. Her story is one of inspiration and dedication. It made you want to be happy for her. And be friends with her.

I was really sad when he told me she died, but then he said "Yeah, apparently she committed suicide."

"What?" I said into the phone. "That can't be right."

"Yeah, everyone's reporting it." he responded.

I still didn't believe him until I got online and saw all of the headlines for myself. 

Why would someone like Kate Spade take her own life? In her interview she seemed truly at peace with where she was – content and satisfied. She even made light-hearted jokes and laughed with the host. She talked about her love for her husband and business partner and their little girl. She was a happy and successful woman, but on the inside she was dying. And no one knew.

I wanted to write a few words about this today because I think it's important. 

I started going to counseling almost a year ago. I probably should have gone sooner, but I told myself I didn't need counseling. That normal people like me didn't go to counseling. That only people with real problems attended counseling. 

But those are all lies.

We shouldn't have to be embarrassed to ask for help. We shouldn't be ashamed to admit that we don't have it all figured out. That we're not happy all of the time. That sometimes we get really sad. Or anxious. Or frustrated. Or lonely. Or lost. 

Or maybe sometimes we just need someone to talk to. Someone to help us navigate emotions we don't really know how to deal with. To help us figure out what's healthy for us. What makes us feel whole.

When I started going to counseling, I was terrified to tell anyone. For a long time, my husband was the only person who knew. But then I gradually told one friend. And then another. And another. And now, even though I still blush each time I tell a new person, I'm mostly open about my experience.

But I know there are people who aren't. I know there are people who would rather you catch them robbing a bank than see them walking into therapy.

I don't know why, but I know it's humiliating for most of us to admit that we need help sometimes. We think everyone else is fine. We think that seeing a therapist means we must be really messed up. But it doesn't. It means we're humans. With feelings and emotions and imperfections. 

So if you're struggling or hurting or lonely or confused or just need someone to talk to, today I want to tell you it's ok to ask for help. It doesn't mean you're crazy. It doesn't mean you have something wrong with you. It doesn't mean you're broken. It just means you are a person. 

And that's ok.

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It's Not About The Climb; The Climb Sucks Sometimes

Every time I get back from visiting a new place, people ask me “How was your trip?” I am not good at this question. I know most of the time they are being polite, and I am expected to say, “It was great, thanks for asking.” But this is not what happens.

What usually happens is my eyes get ginormous, and I begin to describe various parts of the trip in great detail, in no particular order. If you ask me how my trip was, I’ll tell you about what I saw or thought I would see but didn’t. How the weather was better or worse than expected. How many hours we stayed awake in a row on our flight there. I’ll try to describe the interesting people I met. Teach you something new that I learned. Tell you the strangest food I tried. Show you a picture of the Airbnb we stayed in. And inevitably, I’ll end up attempting to explain how the place made me feel, because that’s what I’ll remember most clearly and permanently.

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Our most recent trip was no different. Two weeks ago Tyler and I set out for California. We spent a quick weekend in Los Angeles before departing for Yosemite with 10 other people in a giant, black van with tinted windows and plenty of storage space. We looked like a rock band on a very remote tour as we rolled into the national park.

One of my very best friends in the world, Brooke, was turning 30 that week. She wanted to celebrate this milestone in Yosemite surrounded by people she loved. So 12 of us traveled from various parts of the country to help Brooke ring in the year of 30, which in my opinion truly speaks to the impact she is making in this world.

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Also, she's a fantastic photographer, so I used her pictures from the trip instead of mine. 

After traveling all day, we arrived at the park late Monday, tumbling out of our tour van like kids on the first day of school. We settled in to our yurts, which if you’ve never stayed in, I highly recommend, particularly if you want to feel like you are camping but still get to sleep in a bed.

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Tuesday was our first full day in Yosemite, and due to some confusion on exactly how difficult it would be, we decided to start our adventure by tackling the biggest hike of the week: All the way up and all the way down Yosemite Falls. We later learned that this is the highest waterfall in North America, but Tuesday morning, our naive bunch set out on the trail, ready for a beginner-level trek, oblivious to the possibility that this might be more difficult than predicted.

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Within the first hour we had already shed our top layer of clothes, reapplied sunscreen twice, drank a large percentage of the water we were carrying on our backs and had a close encounter with a rattlesnake. We were told the hike would take approximately eight hours, and we were starting to realize how long those eight hours would be.

Another hour and a half in, I’m not sure which was louder: the growls coming from our stomachs or the screams coming from our leg muscles. Either way, it was a good time to stop for lunch, especially since we had just stumbled upon the most quintessential place to eat our soggy sandwiches and trail mix, just beneath the coolness of the falls.

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It was really difficult to put my bag on my back again and walk out of the shade after sitting on a tree limb, enjoying the gentle mist for 20 minutes or so, but we did not start this hike to make it to the lunch spot – we started it with plans to go all the way to the top – so onward we went.

It was even hotter and somehow my bag felt heavier after lunch, but the higher we climbed, the more the anticipation to make it to the top danced around inside of my stomach. Every time we came to a turn, I just knew I would see the top of the mountain, but I was repeatedly let down by more rocks to trip over, more streams to splash through and more distance between me and my destination.

But the higher we climbed, the more the excitement grew. It was like with every mile-marker we passed, I was more and more confident we were actually going to make it the entire way. We were really doing it.

And the views along the way didn’t suck either.

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Finally, nearly five hours in, we made the final turn, and all I could see was sky. Bright blue sky that extended on forever. There were no more turns. No more giant, jagged rocks. No more “almost theres”. No more “just let me stop to wipe the sweat out my eyes.” No more “need to put a bandaid on my blisters.” No more “where’s the rest of the group?” No more “I think I’m chafing.” No more “yep, definitely chafing.” We made it.

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And as I stood (sat) on top of that mountain, water rushing down beside me like a force to be reckoned with, I felt so tiny. It was truly difficult for my mind to comprehend the vastness and power of the mountains and trees and waterfalls surrounding me. They were so big. So majestic. So terrifyingly dangerous, but at the same time so full of grace and beauty. 

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They reminded me how small I am. How minuscule my entire life is. Tiny, but not insignificant. The decisions I make and the life I live matters, but if I make a mistake or “fail” by my own standards, these giant mountains and trees and waterfalls will keep existing just the same. Carrying on with a magnificent steadiness, reminding all of us that the world does not revolve around us. And even if we miss a beat, remarkable things are still taking place. It’s not our responsibility to get it right every time. We have the freedom to fail. And the freedom to rest. And the freedom to let it be out of our hands.

I’ve heard several quotes alluding to the idea that it’s not about the destination, but the journey. After hiking Yosemite Falls on that Tuesday, I don’t think that’s true. I think sometimes the destination is breathtakingly beautiful and the journey is painful and hard and kind of sucks. More than either of these, I think it’s about proving to yourself that you can do it. About being brave and pushing through when all you want to do is quit. Convincing yourself to hike just one more mile. Because if you can make it one more, I bet you can make it another. 

And another. 

And another.

So go one more mile. Write one more chapter. Do one more workout. Lead one more meeting. Create one more design. Build one more fort with your kids. Host one more dinner party. Go to one more therapy session. Speak up about one more idea. 

It’s ok if you need to stop and take a break. In fact, it’s encouraged. The mountains and trees and waterfalls will continue to exist if you pause. So will your career, your dreams, and the people you love most. But if it’s something you believe is right, don’t quit just because it’s difficult. We don’t do the things because they’re easy; we do them because of how we feel when we’ve accomplished something that truly matters.

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We are all the Bearded Lady

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I know I am so late to this party, but you guys, I watched The Greatest Showman and am fairly certain it actually changed my life. 

If you haven’t seen it, finish reading this post, and then immediately go watch it. We rented it on Prime, but I believe it comes out on DVD this week. And let me go ahead and say, you’re going to want to buy the soundtrack as well. 

I cried approximately 97 different times during this movie. (Not to sound dramatic or anything) 

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But there is one scene I will never get over.

I’m going to describe the scene, but if you haven’t seen the movie I don’t think it will take away from your experience or ruin any major moments in the plot. 

The movie is obviously about P.T. Barnum’s journey during the birth of show business. There’s one point about halfway through the movie where ole P.T. gets too caught up in chasing success and money and approval, and he makes some poor decisions concerning his circus friends. 

The circus friends, specifically the bad-A bearded lady, feel like P.T. is ashamed of what others will think of them. Before joining the circus, these performers spent their entire lives hiding who they truly were for fear that people would reject them because they were different. 

The bearded lady (played by the amazingly talented Keala Settle), in particular, has the most gorgeous singing voice, but she never wanted to share it because she was scared that once people saw her beard they would hate her for it. When P.T. tries to hide her from the rich, upper-class crowd he’s trying to impress, she has a moment where she decides she’s no longer going to let her beard keep her in the shadows.

In a beautiful flash of acceptance and confidence, the bearded lady leads the other circus performers in “This is Me,” which is the most moving part of the entire movie. And as I watched her storm through the crowd of pretty, perfect people proudly holding up her chin so that all could see her beard, I realized, I want to be that bearded lady.

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I want to be bold and brave and unashamed of the dark and ugly parts of me. We all have them. Whether it’s something that we’ve done or has happened to us in the past or something we struggle with every single day, we all have parts of our stories that we are terrified to share with the room full of seemingly superb, flawless people who appear to have it all together. We can’t let them see who we truly are because they just wouldn’t understand. They would see our “beard” and be filled with disgust – unable to look at us the same, because their imperfections are not quite as beastly as ours. 

The truth is that those pretty, perfect people have messy, secret parts to their story as well, but that’s actually irrelevant. The real reason we love watching the bearded lady walk through the crowd belting out "This is Me" is because we never get to find out how those people responded to her, and to be honest, it doesn’t really matter. The cameras are not focused on the other people; they are focused on the bearded lady. We all are, because the magic of that moment is in her acceptance of herself.

When I think about my struggles and the ugly parts of my story, I often worry whether or not other people will accept them, when the real freedom comes in accepting them myself. In forgiving myself and granting myself permission to be imperfect in a broken and complicated and messy way. 

In that moment which I keep replaying in my head, the bearded lady accepts and loves herself, and that’s why that scene is so powerful. Not because other people embrace who she is, but because she embraces it herself. 

We all want to be ok with our flaws. We all have a desire to be fully known and deeply loved, and that has to start with us accepting our stories as they are, not as we want them to be. We all have parts we’d rather skip over, but those are the parts that make us who we are. We are all flawed. We are all broken. But we all have the ability to be open and honest and brave. To be human. To be known. And to be the bearded lady.

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Avoiding Burnout... and Food Poisoning

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My husband swears I tried to kill him last week. I think he’s being a teensy bit dramatic, but I did make him sick – I’ll give him that.

The past few weeks have been crazy busy. It’s just one of those seasons, I guess. We haven’t been home much at all, including last weekend, so Sunday night when it came time for dinner I couldn’t even remember the last time I’d gone to the grocery store. I looked in the refrigerator and found some ground turkey meat and spaghetti squash I had planned to make the week before but never got around to. The meat was expired, but I figured it was fine. (You can already tell how this is going to end.)

I cooked the turkey and it had a bit of a smell to it, but I was just way too tired to think about going to the store and at this point I had already cut up and baked the spaghetti squash, so there really wasn’t an option to turn back.

Tyler walked into the kitchen as I was finishing up and sniffed a few times. “What’s that smell?” he asked. 

“I think it’s the meat,” I said. “It’s a little expired, but it should be fine.”

He made an “are you kidding me, this is a terrible idea” face, but fixed his plate and sat down at the table to eat anyway. 

We both ate it. It honestly didn’t taste terrible. Not great, but also not like it was going to kill us. Somewhere in the middle. 

All was quiet until around midnight when Tyler woke me up and told me he felt sick. I figured he was just being whiney. A few minutes later, he got up, ran to the bathroom and began throwing up spaghetti squash and spoiled turkey meat. 

Ooops.

I immediately ran to the bathroom to rub his back and just be there with him because I knew this was all my fault. He continued to puke several more times during the night and had to call in sick to work on Monday. I, on the other hand, was totally fine.

At first, anyway.

When my alarm went off, I got up and went straight to the store and got my food-poisoned husband some crackers, soup and Sprite. Partially because I am a good wife, but mostly because I felt guilty. 

I set everything by the bed for him, along with some medicine and a little trash bin to vomit in, and went to my office to work. I got a few things done and then decided to go for a run. I felt a little nauseous, but I figured it was due to the fact that I had been up with Tyler all night. 

I was wrong.

I had to stop my run a couple of miles in because I started feeling so sick and weak, I could barely walk. I made it back home and got horribly sick. Freaking spaghetti squash. 

I crawled in bed with Tyler, and we spent the rest of the day passing the medicine, Sprite and puke can between the two of us. It was a little bit sweet, but mostly just disgusting. 

The following day, we were feeling better, and he called from work on his lunch break. “You tried to kill me,” he said, “but you’re gonna have to try harder than that.”

(Insert eye-roll emoji)

While I did not, in fact, try to kill him, I probably should have utilized common sense and not cooked meat that had been expired for a number of days I’m not prepared to admit in this post. 

In busy seasons, we tend to put everything else above our own needs. We go go go and do do do and bump our own personal errands (like going to the grocery store) farther and farther down the to-do list. If you’re like me, you also bump down things like rest and play: two vital components to a happy life. 

But it’s important to rest, and it’s important to play, and it’s important to go to the grocery store and not cook spoiled meat. These are all necessary to avoid burnout. Burnout in your work, in your relationships and just in the day to day madness that life throws your way.

Burnout is very real, and it threatens our productivity, our creativity, our peace of mind and worst of all our general happiness. In a world where we are expected to keep working even after we “leave work,” where we get emails to our phones 24 hours a day and where we see how seemingly perfect everyone else’s lives appear to be on social media, it’s easy to work ourselves until we hit a wall. And when we hit the wall, it hurts. 

I don’t want you to hit the wall. Or maybe just hit it as few times as possible. So I’ve put together a list of 3 ways to avoid burnout that I think you’ll find helpful. Oh, and I promise it will be more insightful than “try not to die from food poisoning.” 

If you’ve signed up for my email list, my strategy to avoid burnout is sitting in your inbox (or your spam folder if haven’t moved me over yet). If you haven’t signed up for my email list and would like to receive this burnout-avoiding strategy (plus other cool stuff), you can do so below.

I would also like to let you know about a 30-day self care challenge I am putting together. Starting in April, I'll email you once a week and challenge you with seven unique ways to press pause and take care of yourself that week, ideally one a day. I've learned it's much easier to spread love to others (and not give anyone food poisoning) when you are taking proper care of yourself. Click here to get more information on the self-care challenge or to sign up. 

Being Boss: Q & A with Being Boss Podcast Hosts, Kathleen Shannon & Emily Thompson

Being Boss is a top-ranked business podcast listened to by thousands of entrepreneurs and creatives each week. Also, it’s my favorite.

Kathleen Shannon and Emily Thompson interview some of the top names in business and cover topics ranging from finances and business planning to creativity and self-care. Some of their guests include Brene` Brown (queen of vulnerability), Chris Guillebeau (king of side hustle), Melissa Hartwig (co-creator of Whole30) and so many more. 

I was most excited to talk to them about self-care, a topic I’ve been intrigued by lately. So many of us spend our days plowing through to-do lists and focusing on all the tasks we have to get done, that we rarely take time to take proper care of ourselves – emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually. 

I’m putting together a 30-day self-care challenge that’s kicking off the first week of April. I’ll send you a list of 30 ways to take care of yourself, and we’ll try to do one a day for 30 days straight. Click below to sign up for the challenge!

Back to Being Boss: Kathleen and Emily’s first book, Being Boss, is coming out in April, and I absolutely cannot wait to read it. I had the opportunity to interview them about their book, the podcast and just all the things. Here’s what they had to say:

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What inspired you to write the Being Boss book?

We started our podcast Being Boss three years ago and the honest conversations we were having about what it takes to launch and sustain a creative business really seemed to resonate with our listeners who wanted to hear the real deal! A couple years, over a hundred episodes, and millions of downloads later we had a hunch that a book might be in us as well. We took it as a sign when an agent who ended up being a perfect fit reached out to us to ask if we had considered taking our podcast to the publishing world.

Can readers expect to find anything in the book they haven't heard in the podcast? Or is it more a culmination of what we hear in your episodes?

If you’ve listened to every single podcast (high five!) then you’ve probably heard us share a lot of what is in the book at one point or another. Our goal was to concisely share our entrepreneurial stories alongside our very best advice, worksheets, and exercises around cultivating confidence, getting in the boss mindset, creating productive boundaries, establishing supporting habits and routines, and blending work and life in a way that feels balanced. 

Some of our most dedicated listeners who have received advanced copies of the book have said that they’re grateful to have or best nuggets all in one place (while still sounding like us!).

I see that you write about self-care in the book. Why is self-care so important for entrepreneurs?

Self-care is definitely having a big moment in the creative entrepreneur space. When we see people feeding their animals better than they feed themselves – or giving their cars more love than their own bodies … that’s a problem! It can be easy to put your body, mind, and spirit on the back burner when you have deadlines to meet and adult obligations (like dishes, bills, and laundry) to tend to. But what’s the point of meeting all your goals and checking off all your to-dos if you feel terrible? In a world that is trying to sell us stuff on making us feel less-than, self-care is designed to make us feel like we’re enough.  

Why do you think entrepreneurs have such a hard time listening to their own needs?

As entrepreneurs we are solely responsible for our businesses. Our days are filled with making decisions, taking risks, and grinding it out. There’s often not a lot of space leftover to think about what we need when we’re tending to what the business needs in order to be successful. It comes down to priorities not being aligned with long-term goals, and that’s one of the things we’ve tackled in our book in a way we haven’t been able to in the podcast.

I read that part of the book is about mapping out your goals. What do you think is the best way to stay focused on your primary goals?

Our favorite way to stay focused is with the Chalkboard Method® – we’ve talked about this visual goal-setting tool on our podcast and wanted to make sure it was in the book too. The idea is to make space for what you want and to make it visual. It’s equal parts accountability to do the work and a little bit of manifesting magic.

On your podcast, you talk a lot about how your business can blend into your life in a healthy way. Do you talk about this in the book? Why is this so important to you?

It’s as simple as this: when you don’t fragment who you are and bring your whole self to the work you do – especially when it comes to what you value and what you intend that work to do in the world – you will be more creatively fulfilled and the work you make will resonate and make a positive impact on those it touches. 

Also, the work you do is taking up a big chunk of your life – so it should matter to you personally! 

So yes, the idea of blending who you are into the work you do is a theme that carries through the entire book.

What would your advice be to someone who feels stuck in their current career? 

You have a few options: 

    1.    You could start a side-hustle or take a course in something that sparks your creative interest and begins to move you forward in a direction that feels fulfilling.

    2.    You could find a day job or internship where you can learn more about what you actually want to be doing

    3.    Ask for what you want – whether that’s a raise or to initiate a special project that piques your interest – you can do a lot to get unstuck where you already are

You ask your guests at the end of each episode what makes them feel most boss. I'd love to hear your own answers to this question.

Kathleen: I feel most boss when I’m meeting with my team to vision out our goals and big ideas and then break those down into tasks that eventually take us step-by-step to see our dreams realized. For example, writing a book didn’t happen overnight. It took almost TWO years of little steps to get there and it’s a total dream to now see it in print (and hopefully on a best seller list!) 

Emily: I feel most boss when I walk away from work to live my life, knowing that it’s all still running and getting done. We’ve built something that has grown so much bigger than us, and the structures that hold it up give me the freedom to live my life on my own terms, whether that’s taking long lunch breaks with my family or enjoying mid-day yoga sessions. This makes me feel most like I’m doing it right, not to mention the fact that what we’ve built affords everyone on our team the exact same freedoms. Boss bliss.

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Being Boss hits the shelves April 10, but you can pre-order it now and even get some free swag for ordering it early. Sign up for my email list to get pre-order details right to your inbox.

International Women's Day is Important

Today is International Women’s Day, and today is important. 

A few years ago, when Twitter made me aware that this day existed, I took some time to reflect on all the amazing women in my life, and it has become an annual tradition. Some of them I know personally. Some of them I admire for their work. And some of them I simply adore for the legacies they’ve left behind.

These women are mothers. They are sisters and daughters and grandmothers and granddaughters. They are aunts and nieces and cousins. They are wives and friends and dog-moms. They are bosses and employees and students. They are doctors and nurses and photographers and engineers. They are writers and business owners and counselors and pilots and teachers and designers and activists.

These women are dreamers and doers. They are thinkers and sayers and challengers and questioners. They are creative and analytical and intelligent and adventurous. 

These women have started companies, created masterpieces, raised children, solved problems and fought battles, some that we may never know about.

They work in offices and clinics and schools and newsrooms and coffee shops. 

They challenge me to be better. To do more and sometimes to do less. To think deeper, to love bigger, to remember and at times to choose to forget. To ask the hard questions and speak the difficult truths. To be vulnerable and real and honest and open. 

They encourage me to love and take care of myself. To rest and to run and to play and to dance. To be silly and to chase dreams and to try new things. They show up and they answer the phone. They let me know it’s ok to cry sometimes. It’s ok to fail and to start over and to quit and to take a nap.

We’ve shared cups of coffee and glasses of wine. We’ve gone on road trips and gotten lost and found our way again. We’ve read books and shared ideas and argued and agreed and supported each other. They’ve held my hand through difficult seasons and jumped up and down and flailed their arms during the exciting times. They are the ones who talked me out of terrible ideas and gave me the courage to pursue good ones. 

Most importantly, these women have inspired me to be brave. To say words that need to be said and do things that need to be done. To listen to the voice inside of me that tells me what’s right and to fearlessly chase after it.

I am thankful for these women. The ones who do the things. It gives me hope for all the little girls out there with dreams and fears and imaginations and ambitions. They’re going to be ok. Let’s be women they can look up to. Let’s teach them to be strong and smart and silly and brave. Because the world needs them. It needs their ideas and their questions and their courage.

And it needs yours too.

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