5 Takeaways from the Texas Conference for Women!

Dear Readers!

On Friday, it was my great privilege to attend the Texas Conference for Women!

My company actually paid for many of the women in leadership to go!

GO HOMEAWAY GO!

One of the many things I love about Expedia/HomeAway is their commitment to knowledge and learning. Many programs are offered internally to allow their employees the time for professional and personal development and it is such a joy to be able to take advantage of that benefit.  My dream is to speak there, but one day at a time, folks!

TXconfforwomen

There were 7500 people in attendance Friday.  Take a minute, drink that in…..

7500 people mostly women, and it was great to see some men as well!

The day started with a breakfast session with  (Anne Grady) about balance being bogus!

It really set the tone for my day because my normal habit in an environment like this is to take copious notes (which I never look at again) and really MISS out on the opportunity to really BE there.

Anne asked us to think about what we would do to really BE at the conference.

Some suggestions in the room were-

  1. Turn off the phone (Phone still distracting even if off & facedown)PhoneMindfulness
  2. Breathe –
  3. Focus on the last letter of the the last sentence that was spoken to maintain focus.    (I used this a LOT throughout the day)

So fed and ready I headed into the day-

There is really so much more to say than five takeaways AND one of the things I learned from my conference experience is sometimes it’s better to say it with less words and your time is valuable so I will hit the highlights!

  1. Always be early, you will get a good seat get your conference guide so you can plan out your day and map out your route for getting the most out of the conference.
  2. “We need accomplices, not allies”- Luvvie Ajayi
  3. ““Small Potential is the limited success we can attain alone. BIG Potential is what we can achieve together.”” –Shawn Achor
  4. “Choose discomfort over resentment”-Brene’ Brown (It’s not comfortable to say no, especially for women, we want to do it all, have it all and be ALL things. If you say no, you will be uncomfortable but you won’t resent the person you should not have said “yes” to if you go ahead and say “no”.
  5. Be bold, ask a question, sometimes it will lead to a great discussion! (this applies to individual networking, local meetings, as well as a conference like this!

In conclusion, if there is a Conference for Women in your area, I HIGHLY recommend you go, and encourage your company to invest in a table or two!

Think about it.

 

The Classroom of My Brain!

Dear Readers,

This week I was reminded of how important it is to always be open to feedback and education because things are always changing and shifting.

I was reviewing my benefits package for work and feeling grateful for the fantastic medical coverage that we have and the time that we are given to understand it and the fairs and the office hours and I started working on doing the calculations of what things were going to cost and things were not matching up. Jeremy was saying the same thing but I found myself getting emotional about it even though I knew what he was saying made absolute sense and he was right to question what I was saying. Why?

I think it works a little bit like this. In the great classroom of life, there are many students but let’s just focus on five for the purposes of this discussion.

Rational and Logical and Factual sit in the front row of the class and they take notes and raise their hand and are on task and do NOT stray from the lesson at hand.

Emotional and Creative sit in the middle of the class or near the back or maybe even on the floor and are painting or finding it hard to follow everything because they are wrapped up in the rainy day outside or the beautiful drawing they just did to depict what is going on in class but not really taking in the lesson.

Emotional and Creative are just as valuable to the class but they don’t really get along with Rational and Logical and Factual because they want to talk about the teacher’s hair or the way the chalk on the board smells or how beautiful the decorations in the room are and Rational, Logical, and Factual are all business and don’t have time for all that.

I guess the idea is to find a way for all five of these to co-exist and to remind yourself to ALWAYS be LEARNING. There is always another thing to learn.

There is always something you can learn from another person whether it’s “this is a good way to act” or “what they said made a lot of sense, I am getting emotional about it because I have my own stuff going on” or “I don’t plan to act that way at all, so this is a good example of how not to act” the combinations are endless.

The best example I can give is that when given the opportunity to get defensive and upset about something that was a perfectly logical and rational dispute of factual information, I gave it up and said, WAIT, time to call on Rational and Logical and Factual, since now is NOT the time for Emotional.

It has taken me many years to get there and I don’t always call the right members from the classroom of my brain, and I am still learning.imagejfminc

Think About It.

 

 

Brush those teeth!

 

VivienneHalloween16-17-18

Dear Readers,

This morning I had a root canal. It hurt and I am just starting to feel a little better.

I post a lot about being intentional and taking care of your health both mental and physical. Your dental health is no different!

I want to be really clear here, I used to LOATHE the dentist, and avoid going like the plague because invariably, I would hear bad news. Guess what?

When I didn’t go, it’s not like the bad news stopped, I just waited longer to hear it, and took longer to treat it and you guessed it, it hurt that much more.

Genetically I have bad teeth. I come by it honestly but the truth is, I had HORRIBLE dental hygiene for many years. I would brush religiously for a while but then stop because I wasn’t seeing any results. 

It was about four years ago that I finally started to really start to see the results of taking my dental hygiene seriously. I am delighted to report that I have had steadily good reports from my dentist and then in July, I had a bite of an ice cream sandwich and I chipped a tooth.

I waited way too long to get it looked at because it didn’t actually start hurting till September, and then it was intermittent pain. I would have days with no pain at all and then other days where it was hard to talk. I saw my dentist and they referred me to an endodontist (for those who don’t know, they are the SAVER of TEETH) to get the root canal done. I was not looking forward to it and in truth was feeling pretty frustrated that after all my good work, I was BACK at the danged dentist getting treated. UGH!

Then I realized something, I haven’t NEEDED dental work in 4 years. That in and of itself is AMAZING.

It’s so easy when you are on the journey to lack the perspective of how far you have come. 

I am not out of the woods because I still need to get the crown and part of me wants to put it off, ( I REALLY don’t LIKE PAIN) but I know if I do, that is going to lead to more pain so I am going to get it scheduled as soon as possible because I also know with being intentional, you have to actually put a date on it and plan it.

Speaking of intentional, we are modeling the behavior we want Vivienne to exhibit so of course when she turned two last month, we had an appointment to get her to a dentist but realized as we were heading to the appointment, Oh no! We forgot to add her to our dental plan so we couldn’t go see the dentist yet.

I really, really, really hope she does not inherit my bad teeth but if she does, I know that we can get her off on the right foot. Brush twice a day, no flossing yet, but we will get there.

This is awkward to talk about, but I am sharing my humiliation and shame over my bad teeth in the hope that you (that’s right, you!) will take an action on something that maybe you are ashamed of or have been putting off because you think there will be pain.

As motivators go, pain is not my favourite, and it’s a strong one.

Do you want to know a better motivator? My daughter picking up her Halloween candy tonight, reminding me that I have to help her take good care of her teeth so she doesn’t face this same pain.

For instance, when was the last time you saw your dentist? How about your doctor?

What other appointments do you keep putting off because you are scared or don’t have time?

One step at a time, one foot in front of the other, you can do it!

In case you are anything like me- you may need steps – here are my tips for good dental health!

1. Set a reminder for yourself and floss, brush and mouthwash twice daily

(Can you say Alexa or Google?)

2. Make it fun, pick a toothpaste that will help you work on your problem areas but put fun stickers on your tube of toothpaste (this will likely be good for kids but no reason to not have fun as an adult, right?)

3. Realize baby steps (daily activity) will REALLY work.

 

Think About It.

 

 

 

I see you, I hear you, I believe you.

metoo

Dear Readers,

It’s been a year since the  advent  of the #metoo movement and I have to ask….

What has changed? Are we doing better or worse?

If you are a woman, do you feel heard, believed, and supported or are you still afraid?

If you are a man, do you feel under attack? Do you feel more aware of what the women in your life face and have faced?

It may not be that simple to answer. It might not be black or white. It might be shades of grey.. and shades of okay are way better than solid black.

I was reading some comments that were given by Ellen Pompeo at the recent Power Trip event.

If you don’t know, she plays Meredith Grey, the title character of “Grey’s Anatomy” which is a television show I love and watch pretty regularly.

To read an article with more details click here – Gender Equality

She talked about how women are amazing and we do so many things that we shout about from the rooftops and end the shame and listen to women and stand up for women.

Shonda Rhimes, the writer and creator of the show, writes excellent women. What does that mean?

She writes POWERHOUSE women characters who are excellently flawed and human.  They take no guff from anyone. They make mistakes. They cry. They learn. They say the wrong thing. They say the right thing. They tell the truth even when it’s hard.  They are admirable and admired and it’s one of the main reasons I love the show. I was trying to explain to someone the other day why I love that show so much and it’s the women. They are strong without losing a drop of femininity and quiet without losing a drop of their strength. It’s a wonderfully balanced level of writing which lends itself to nuanced and studied performance.

But back to reality, and the question at hand.

A year after #metoo, how do you feel?

Are you supported, listened to? and believed?

Do you think things are a little bit better or a lot better or pretty much the same?

I do know that talking about it is important, and if just one person speaks up about the violence or harassment they have experienced it makes ALL of us stronger.

I recently posted about my experience and it occurred me that in posting it, I was scared to, even though it happened twenty years ago. I was worried that people would think “this isn’t that bad” and I even thought to myself “it could have been so much worse”

The shame of people asking questions or thinking about me differently because I told this story stopped me mentioning it in my own blog for a few minutes or days, if I am being completely honest.

“I have been seeing a lot of bravery and stories from women I know and women I want to know. So with that in mind, I am going to share a story from my past. I used to work nights and get home to my apartment late, but still wanted to exercise so I would swim after 10. I got a terrible fright one night as I was coming out of the pool, he didn’t say anything, he just looked at me with silent power, I ran away to a neighbor’s house in the complex and was very grateful he didn’t follow me, except it turns out he did, he showed up the next day at Hollywood Video where I worked at the time and was talking to me about going out some time, I lied and said, no, I had a boyfriend, and he said, he shouldn’t leave you alone, gave me a long up and down look and then walked out of the store and thankfully I never saw him again, but talk about scary. I wish I would have been stronger and said, it’s creepy and gross that you followed me to work, no, I won’t date you, and I think you should leave before I call the police. It could have been worse, far worse and it sucks that I even have to qualify it or even think twice about justifying why that qualifies as harassment or a ‘me too’ experience.

It was terrifying and I felt utterly powerless. That was 20 years ago.”

I hope against hope that my daughter never has to tell a “Me Too” Story.  I hope and pray that none of our sons or daughters, or nieces or nephews, have to talk about being abused and know that it’s only by ENDING the SHAME that we will find our way to that future.

If you are reading this and have your own “me too” story, please hear me and read my words when I say,

“I see you, I hear you, and I believe you”

I see you, I hear you, and I believe you” 

I see you, I hear you, and I believe you” 

Think About It.

Why is it hard to make a friend?

How friendships keep us going and why you should make friends!

Dear Readers

Why is it so hard to make friends as adults? Recently, I was at a restaurant and while wrangling my two year old, I couldn’t help but notice that almost everyone around us was on phones. No one is talking to each other, and all I can see is heads down laser focused on the phone or laptop. Maybe some of them were working or making plans to meet up with people in person, but mostly I think that they were avoiding connection with the person across the table from them, it’s just easier to look down and scroll.

When did it get to be so hard? I mean when we were kids, I don’t know about you but my criteria for finding a friend was seeing someone on the playground and we started playing tether ball or rode the merry go round. It was that simple.

Once you hit about that thirty year mark, it gets a lot tougher. With kids and jobs and different interests and so many demands on our time, we seem to relegate most of our friendships to text messages and social media. Though social media has its place. For instance, most of you reading this, found me on social media, so there is that happy thing that happens on social media. Also, I know many people who start out on social media and decide to bridge that technological gap and meet in real life.

I definitely think that it’s also a lot easier to look at your feed and just scroll and scroll rather than actually go out into the world, reach out your hand and say hi, (insert your name here) and connect with another human being.  Yes, it’s scary, and yes, it’s also worth it. For example, I will often tag some friends on social media and say, hey let’s do a happy hour, some respond and say yeah that works or no that doesn’t and no guilt or hard feelings, if they can make it great, if not, we will do another one in a month or so.

It’s a good leveraging of social media as we wait to have real face to face connection.

While we are on the subject of making friends, what’s your track record for keeping friends?

Do you work at it? Do you actively set aside time for existing friends?  Do you make plans and break them?

Maybe your kid was sick and you don’t want the other kid to get sick. Valid

Maybe you are on deadline and need to get stuff done and can’t afford the time away from work?  Also valid.

Maybe you can’t afford that happy hour cocktail but don’t want to tell them that’s the reason? Definitely Valid. May I suggest you meet at your respective homes or take a walk in the park (weather permitting)

Maybe you didn’t really WANT to go out, you love the person, you really do, but yoga pants and wine were WAY more appealing than the idea of the bar and some face-time. (also valid)

Here’s an idea, tell them that, and then make a plan to do something more chill- like say a “crappy dinner party” -next time.

Host a Crappy Dinner Party!

But back to you and making NEW friends.

If you work with someone, you have a head start since you both have a built in common interest, and some commonalities, but how to transcend the “work talk” to “friend talk” and how do you approach that situation without overstepping or making things awkward where you spend most of your waking hours? Now, suppose you hit it off and have lots of things in common, great! But maybe, they are busy and you invite them and they can’t make it, but really like you, the timing is just off.

Then if you add a spouse or kid to the mix, now that’s a new thing that needs to be tested and tried, it’s not a lock that just because you both like each other, your kids and partners will respond the same way.

If you add a person of the opposite sex to the mix, it becomes even more difficult because what if they think you are flirting, but all you want is a friend? Even if you are married, this is still a consideration because you have to be conscious of any signals you send that might be misconstrued. I have had it happen on both sides and it’s just plain awkward.

So if it’s that hard, why do it?

Well, first there is science *YAY SCIENCE* that tells us how important it is to have friends and how it greatly impacts our ability to live longer, happier lives. Here is a quote

“Close relationships, more than money or fame, are what keep people happy throughout their lives, the study revealed. Those ties protect people from life’s discontents, help to delay mental and physical decline, and are better predictors of long and happy lives than social class, IQ, or even genes.”

Here’s the full article-

Friendships Help Us Stay Alive!

Simply put, because there is no feeling like the feeling that another person “gets” you or you find a moment to say, “you too?” or having a beautiful shared moment where the other person says “Exactly!” when you tell a story about a hard time you are having at work or at home. There is so much we have in common, it far outweighs our differences.

So you might be thinking, Well, that sounds great, Jennifer, but how do I start?

I am glad you asked- I have a formula for you- Depending on where you are, you can use this formula to broach a topic. Get creative, these are just a jumping off point!

F O I L- in no particular order- you will know what is right when you start talking, trust me!

F– Friend like questions- So do you like horror movies or comedy? Do you like Star Trek or Star Wars? Do you prefer the Muppets or Fraggles? (sometimes these will knock someone out right away – just kidding, I have friends that don’t agree with me on this!)

O– Occupation questions- How did you get into what you do? Do you love it or are you searching for something new?

I– Interest questions- I like skydiving, how about you? What is your favourite book? What was the best part of your day today?

L– Location questions – likely the easiest because it’s driven by what’s happening RIGHT NOW… Are you in a meeting room? Is it cold? Is it hot? Is the decor funky or contemporary? You can comment on their shoes, funny hat, or great necklace (just make sure it’s sincere – nothing can stop a connection from being made the way a fake compliment can.

Also important? LISTEN to what they say if they answer you.

Listen, there are no guarantees, you could ask a question, and it could fall flat or get a monotone response which is a clear signal that the person you are trying to talk to doesn’t want to talk. Maybe it’s just today is a bad day to try this, but say on Thursday, it would be a completely different story.

Maybe you don’t have trouble making friends, if that’s you, GREAT!

But if it isn’t and you are like so many who struggle with this, think about your existing friendships and look around for new opportunities to connect….

I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

Think About It.

 

 

 

Marriage is HARD.

STOP THE PRESSES! Wait… Is that news? I don’t think it is. I think that anyone reading that says..

Yeah, we know.  I know this too. I live with it every day. I don’t mean that to sound as dramatic as it inevitably does. There is a lot of good to marriage, it’s not all work but it’s definitely not all fun and games either. I think at it’s core, it’s REALLY hard to always think about another person first. When you start out as selfish as I was, that’s especially hard. I am a very selfish person at heart, I have to work pretty hard to overcome it.

I went into it with my eyes wide open and willing to do that work and it’s still hard.

Sometimes when we fight, I wonder, why are we fighting? We love each other this should be easy…. then I have to remind myself…

Whoa.. who said it would be easy? No one. No one said it would be easy. People said it would be worth it, but no one said it would be easy.

A few weeks ago, I posted about how important it is to run your own race, and not think about the people ahead of you or behind you for that matter, it’s your race so you run your race.

So to that end, I am going to talk about the fact that Jeremy and I have spent the last 8 or 9 months really re-focusing on being a couple and reminding ourselves why we like each other.  We have a few role models who have been married for over 40 years so again, the reminder is to not compare, this is just our story.  We do a lot of things to help us build the best marriage we can. We often ask other long married couples their advice and what their biggest struggle is. We read books and other people’s blogs and stories.

(most notably) The Gottman Institute-

Going to link his article about horses here– Trust me, it’s worth a read-

The Four Horses That Will Take Your Marriage

One of the sweetest and smartest things my sweet husband did for us is buy some Dry Erase markers and put them in the bathroom and write “I Love You Because….” on our bathroom mirror. It is there to remind us to point out something nice one of us did for the other. Sometimes it’s sweet, sometimes it’s silly but it’s always wonderful to read and feel that special notice.

He changes the shower setting to what I like and I do the same for him. He does all the grocery shopping (a Herculean task I want no part of)  He has come up with recipes week after week and year after year so we have healthy food to eat.  He stays up late to talk with me when I know he is super tired and just wants to sleep.

We have a game we play when we “date” each other. Occasionally, we will call each other different names and it’s just a fun way to remember how we started just two people who kind of liked each other.. well really, we didn’t like each other at all, and didn’t plan to date ANYONE but then we met each other and the rest is history.

If I compare us then to now…….. *here’s a visual aid*

2008to2018BobSarah

I had no idea that my life would be what it is today, no idea that this smart and funny guy who smoked and hated cats would be the love of my life, but that is exactly what happened.

Today, away from work, away from parenting, we were able to just enjoy each other and  I was reminded that he is so much fun to be with and laugh with and in the ups and downs and just “life” of it all, that’s easy to forget. I need to make sure to keep thinking of things we can do to “date” each other for as long as we both shall live.

This isn’t isolated to marriage. This can be applied to any relationship you care about.

It’s work, but hopefully, it’s a labor you love.

Think About It.

No Spendtember is OVER!

Dear Readers,

So this past month, I was saving all my spending money to pay for Elton John tickets!

What does that mean?

Well, in a NO SPEND challenge, you do your best to not spend any extra money.

You are allowed to buy gas, food and lodging ( rent/mortgage )

But that is it- no fast food, no quick coffees, no Lunch Drop, all in aid of spending as little as you can. This was my goal.

So I want to address the elephant in the room when it comes to tackling a goal.

FEAR tells you, “you can’t do that, that’s crazy!” or “that is not possible”

Do yourself a favor and Tell FEAR to SHUT UP and tackle your goal!

Do you want to write a book? First of all, you can do it if you want to.

Break it down into bite size pieces-

How many pages will you write a day? What’s your deadline?

Do you want to lose weight? How much? If it’s 10 pounds- make it five and then do it twice. This is not my idea, it’s Jon Acuff’s. He is a New York Times best-selling author that wrote a book called “Finish” that is all about what we can do to “finish” what we start.

Several ways to buy this book- but since this post is about saving money, I find it only natural to tell you – Go to the library and check it out instead. See, I just saved you at least 8.00 !

Back to the No-Spend challenge. It took me back to the days when we were sacrificing to get out of debt (2012-2015). This is me making our last payment to the credit card !

creditcarddebtfree112913

One of the first things we did was take an inventory of how much money we were spending without thinking about it. When my husband and I looked at it, we were spending over 300.00 a month on fast-food and coffee and energy drinks. Doing the math, that’s 3600.00 a year, that’s not small change. At that time, we started really being intentional with our money and if it was over 50.00 we had a conversation about whether we needed it or not, but our spending money was our own to spend however we wished. That kept us sane in the slog that was debt reductions. That still holds true today so I took on this challenge with my spending money.

I had a group on social media that we checked in with daily. We cheered each other on and

About midway through the month I realized I have a monthly fee for a speaker bureau membership 9/15 and I thought hard about whether I needed to spend that money, I ultimately decided to keep it, because I learn so much from them and it’s a very enriching experience being part of that group of students and teachers from around the world, all working towards the goal of being better speakers.

I made up my mind that it was better to have some progress than to shoot for perfection and just quit because I had a setback.

So that was 39.00, and I said, okay, let me see what I can do to NOT spend any more, and I did pretty well, if I do say so myself but not perfect. I really wanted to go see a movie last week so I did and spent a little then, but overall feel really good about my progress.

I kept a tally of the things that I wanted to buy this past month but did not spend.

Day 1- feeling tempted by drive in coffee- that’s 5.67 I am NOT spending

Day 5- Someone just walked by with Which Wich.. Ah.. tough.. that’s at least 9.00 I am saving

Day 7- Dang I am in a really bad mood, some coffee would would taste awesome! 3.56 saved!

I had to get creative because after I started, I remembered I had breakfast plans that I then pushed to October, explaining the challenge, they were understanding and intrigued asking me more about it. I also had a lunch the last week of the challenge and I explained what I was doing and getting creative, I brought my lunch and we had a picnic instead. At work, someone is selling World’s Finest Chocolate bars.. Ugh!! I love them! I used to sell them in school, and they tempted me as well. I told the purveyor, I will see you on October 1st! They asked why and that was another person I told and they asked some questions and it made them more aware of their expenses and spending.

I was reminded of how intentional I USED to be when it came to spending money and this month was a GREAT exercise in revisiting that skill! I was careful to drive a certain way to work and home so I avoided being NEAR fast food or Target (my Achilles heel for needless spending)

All told, I WANTED to spend 354.58 but in fact spent 67.00 so that’s pretty good!

There were 74 other people in this challenge with me and some of them did better, and some of them did worse, but you know what, I am running my own race and happy with my results.

slow

I am happy to say that I saved what I needed and then some! Hello, Yellow Brick Road!

What is stopping you from pursuing your goal?

Even if you don’t accomplish it, the act of pursuing it, gains you yardage!

 

Think About It.