Tuesday, October 9, 2012


Just saying the word makes me tired.  There is nothing nocturnal about me.  Our regimented evening routine kicks off around 5 or 5:30 with dinner.  We try to eat dinner together most nights during the week; I think it’s important to have this family time each day.  I’m constantly struggling to take part in eating when everyone else does.  You’ll often find me standing around the island inhaling my food before it gets cold, anticipating their next need—I trust this will get better in time.  Life raising small kids makes a hot uninterrupted meal at the top of my wish list.

I’m on the fast track by 6, powering through my least favorite time of the day.  I am not a fan of night time routine and need to figure out how to find the joy in this time together.  If I didn’t get up so early, I think I’d have a chance but for now I look forward to the Fall when our days get shorter.  After we finish dinner and cleanup around 5:45 or 6, we make a quick transition upstairs for bath, books and bed.  We conquer and divide, Matt and Ava go one direction, Carson and I go another. 

When everyone is clean, PJ’s on and teeth brushed (myself included), we meet in our room or the playroom for our final minutes together before bed.  At this point, I’m beckoning the moment when I can collapse into bed and snuggle up to a good book that is sure to put me asleep in two minutes flat.

Around 7:30, Matt and Ava go into her room to play a game and read, while Carson and I head into his room.  Carson just recently started sitting still long enough to let me read to him, I love it. It’s my favorite part of our nighttime routine.  Right now, he loves “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” and anything with trains, planes and automobiles.  Carson is usually ready for bed around 8.

My poor husband.  Matt likes to stay awake until at least 10 and most days this results in a lonely evening for him.   I have the best of intentions to stay awake before he finishes putting Ava to bed, but fail most nights.  By 8:45 (at the latest) he finds me mouth open and eyes closed.

Thursday, September 20, 2012


The idea of creating a laborious business plan meant two things.  For one, I needed to find the extra time to sit down and do it and then if by some miraculous chance I found the time; I would need to overcome paralysis at the thought of working through the million minuscule details of what it would take to accomplish each goal.  And, whether I fall short or exceed expectations of myself, there will still be that moment where my inner critic will take over.  The goal was either too big so therefore I wasn’t good enough, or too small, stifling my potential of what might have been possible, had I not put a cap on it.  Attitude adjustment? Yes, I needed one.  But, I also knew I needed something different. On my quest to remotivate and find meaning again, I decided to take a less traditional approach. 

It was the confinement of the traditional plan that held me back.  Don’t get me wrong, I can appreciate a good old fashioned business plan--something is better than nothing-- but I had to seriously take a second look.  The heavy focus on formulas, numbers, and tracking of numbers over the past few years has taken its toll on me. There’s nothing wrong with being motivated by numbers, we need to know and understand them in order to run a business.  Some of the most successful people I know are most motivated by watching the rise and fall of numbers every month.  However, I believe most traditional business plans are missing a creative element, a place where we can dig a little deeper and learn more.   Coming out of tougher times, we find ourselves SO number and money focused that we lose sight of understanding the motivation and meaning behind our work. Maybe we even realize we aren’t having fun anymore.

In this business, minutes turn into hours which turn into days which turn into years, often before we gain consciousness.  And when I hear myself say “you don’t have time to stop and check-in…getting through what’s right in front of you has proven to be enough…maybe next month," it doesn’t end well. Before I know it I have zero awareness that my best month was LAST June, yet I can’t remember the last time I took a day for myself.   I realize my motivation has diminished, the love for my work lost and I can’t even recall why I was ever any good at it.

Over a long period of time, operating unaware, I run risk of experiencing the insidious side effects:  discontentment professionally or personally, sometimes both.  And then along comes the long term stress induced symptoms, both physical and mental, taking its toll on my overall health and wellness.  I don’t want to find myself here and not know how it happened.

Last week, Ava inspired me in this process of rediscovery.  In Kindergarten, she is building a journal for the year titled "I Can" documenting the things she can do.  This week she wrote and illustrated a story about how she can ride a bike.  Without oversimplifying, I believe there is something to learn from taking inventory of what I can do.  Most of my can do's include my strengths and translate to what I am enjoying most—a good exercise in understanding more about what I need and what I want.   All too often, this valuable information is held hostage to the busyness of life.
If you are still in business, you’re doing something right.  And, let’s be honest—it hasn’t been ponies and rainbows these past few years, so congratulations!  Survival is supposed to feel good and our work should be rewarding, right?  If you’re smirking right now and struggling to recall the last time this was you--maybe it’s time to take a closer look. When you overcome the temptation to look beyond yourself for the answer, it becomes clear what you’ve known all along.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Purchase: Day 9

We became a single income family overnight; my mom was alone raising 4 girls. The hardest times were felt after the separation.  I admire my parents; we never knew how little we had.  Later in life I learned how often they went without in order to provide for us.  When I was two, they moved us to the small logging town of Drain and opened up a True Value Hardware store. My dad was an aspiring entrepreneur, my mom a homemaker.  With the fall of the timber industry, they lost it all. I believe it was no coincidence, their marriage became a casualty with the death of our family business.   

I’ve had a fear of not having enough money for as long as I can remember, so I’d like to think of myself as a saver. However, history would prove otherwise (thank goodness for Matt’s lead in this department).  A budget has always been important to me as I don’t thrive in the grey area of life; the more defined the boundary—the better I do. 

The subject of money was never really an uncomfortable topic for me until I started making my own. The rise and fall of the economy has dramatically affected our income over the past 10 years so I’ve learned a lot about prioritizing and the commitment to long term planning.  These are life lessons I am forever grateful to have learned at a young age.

When I am spending money, I like to first spend it on travel.  A planned trip with my family or vacation with Matt, this is what motivates me to save.  I like to shop for myself, for Matt, for the kids…for a complete stranger—doesn’t matter who, I thoroughly enjoy my role as a consumer.   While I still haven’t figured out a way to make money shopping, I enjoy fashion and keep up through retail therapy.  

So, what did I buy today?  I bought two books from Smith Family Bookstore, Jane Kirkpatrick’s “Homestead” and “The Dirty Life: A Memoir of Farming, Food and Love” written by Kristin Kimball.  Both books tell a story about the journey of leaving a professional life to live more simply on a farm in discovery of sustainable living.  Hypocrisy or irony?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


I’ve fallen behind on my 31 days of writing project and find myself WAY past the deadline.  Such is life. As I approach day 90ish, I’ve adjusted my goal with hope to just complete the challenge--whenever that may be.  It’s my experience, right? I will finish when I finish. 

I love the idea of documenting the simple things about life right now and look forward to looking back someday.  While it may only make me feel old, the mundane and boring detail will hopefully provide perspective for my kids.  In moving forward, doesn’t it help to get a glimpse of what’s behind us? There are many instances growing up when I would have benefited from a little more perspective.

At 17, and $1500 later, I was the proud owner of my first car—a silver Dodge Colt. It took every penny to pay for that car and the responsibilities of car ownership quickly began teaching me a thing or two about real life.  I felt myself crossing over from adolescence to adult.  

These days, our dominant mode of transportation is the Chevy Tahoe--looking about as organized as a teenager's bedroom after a month of no parental supervision. Living 10-15 minutes from downtown, we have no choice but to pile in our car if we need to get somewhere.  This is a lot of work with two small kiddos and I find myself being more reclusive because of the hassle.  While I will be making the drive more often as my kids get older, the peaceful green landscape that surrounds us at home is a small price to pay for now.

Living in the country my entire childhood, I never knew anything about the convenience of traveling via bike or on foot. In my former adult life with no kids, we did try the “living in a condo downtown” lifestyle and walked everywhere.  While I don’t miss the early wake up call to crashing garbage cans outside my bedroom window, I do miss the option of traveling everywhere on foot.  It’s such a different way of life.  I found myself more nimble and carefree.  When you have to carry everything, you choose wisely. And on foot, I noticed more about the world around me—not only buildings and businesses, but people.  I found myself more social and inclined to engage in conversation with a complete stranger; a way of life forcing me to slow down and take notice.  This is a side of me I don’t awaken and appreciate often enough.  On my quest to live more simply—this is how I imagine we will travel.