To The Mom Who Feels Unseen

It was one of those nights. One of those nights where I just could not mother for another moment. One of those nights where I completely lost it. And I was so done that I didn’t even care. You know what I am talking about: you emerge from your bedroom to find everyone quietly and diligently doing the chores they always complain about. Because they just know. Mama has reached rock bottom.

Only this night, I wasn’t coming out of my room. I had had enough. I was doner than done.

I try so hard to raise my kids well and all they do is complain, fight, whine, and make messes…so the conversation in my head went.

My sweet husband, against his better judgement, walked in and asked, “Are you okay?”

And my exact words were:

“At Caleb’s football game tonight, one of your children pooped on me. Actually diarrheaed on me.

And YOU KNOW WHAT getting constantly crapped upon is a metaphor for my life.”

You may use your discretion as to if crap was the actual word I used.

I am the first to admit that I have no problem being dramatic to prove a point.

But, in this instance, I truly meant what I was saying.


The whining, the complaining, the fighting. Those are all part of raising kids. Siblings are going to disagree. About everything. No one is ever going to celebrate doing chores. And, because they haven’t learned that it’s ridiculously annoying socially unacceptable, children are going to whine. And whine and whine.

So while those things were driving me to my wit’s end, I knew they weren’t actually the root of the problem.

The real issue is that I feel unseen.
I do loads (and loads and loads) of laundry. And someone is unhappy one pair of pants isn’t washed yet.
I spend way too much time preparing a nourishing meal and get to spend the entire dinner hearing how awful it is. Even though they liked it last week.
I invest my life into my family. I give my all to raising my children. I think about them constantly and work hard to make sure our home is a great place to grow up.

But most days, no one really seems to notice. 

They are masters are noticing what I don’t do.
But not so much at what I always do.

And the hardest part is that my kids are really awesome kids. They are grateful when they receive an unexpected gift or get to go out for ice cream. They are helpful around the house. They do their chores, even if they complain about them. They are fun and make me laugh. They give great hugs and talk to me about their lives.

It’s not like they’re spoiled brats who treat me like a servant.

And yet I lay in my bed bawling because no one seems to see how hard I work.

Which, when I am in a good mood and feeling great about my life, doesn’t make total sense. Because they do thank me (sometimes) and they do help me and they are so sweet (when they aren’t being jackos).

But, on those long days when nothing seems to go right and I feel like giving up and I get literally crapped on and it all feels like too much, I really struggle with how much of motherhood is unseen.

Emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually…so much of raising children is not seen. And no one ever really knows how hard I work.

And you know what? I’ve decided that’s okay.

Because when I dry my tears and pull myself out of bed (and enjoy the clean house that resulted from my adult temper tantrum), I realize that I am not cooking a meal merely to satisfy their hunger today. I am not listening to a twenty minute dissertation on why I should buy them fidget toys because fidget toys matter.

I do it all because that’s what love does. And a well loved child changes the world.

When I think of the adults my children will hopefully become, it makes the daily tasks of raising them much more bearable.

Who cares if I get any recognition today if it means that my children leave home with the confidence of knowing I believe in them and trusting that they can chase their dreams. Because should when they fail, they know they have a safe place to land.

Because home has always been a safe place. Where nourishing meals were cooked and clothes were clean and long conversations took place.

The little things that feel so very small and so very unseen collectively become the big things that send children out into the great, big world as well loved, confident, contributing members of society.

When they succeed at whatever their life path becomes, I somehow think that the moments of feeling unseen, and the frustrations that come with it, will feel so small in comparison to the joy of knowing that every sacrifice was worth it.

And the great paradox of life is that, even though it doesn’t feel like it, our children see us much more than we think.

A few days after my embarrassing meltdown, I was looking through a notebook where I keep notes for my job. I came across this note:

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It was the sweetest reminder that the things I do that feel so very unseen really do matter.

And getting constantly crapped on is not actually a metaphor for my life after all.










My Husband Is Not My Everything

About five years into marriage, my husband and I were driving down the street together. Our three kids in the backseat (yes, we already had three kids)(because we are nothing if not crazy), I ignored the incessant crying/questions/whining to tell him the story of my friend’s recent engagement.

I gave every last detail. From how her now fiancé set up the proposal to her facial expression when he asked the question.

As I finished the very long, very detailed story, I thought my heart might burst with joy, as I remembered the day my sweet husband proposed to me. (Trust me: it will be very important to remember the adjective “sweet” I just used to describe him.)

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The day my now husband proposed to me. Also known as before I had a muffin top.  

“You know, I probably only listen to about 25% of the words you say,” was the reply my now dead to me husband gave in response to my lovely story.

“YOU WHAT?” I asked. Or yelled. I can’t really be sure.

Cool as a cucumber, he went on to tell me that he is a man. And that pesky Y chromosome makes it impossible for him to listen to every word I say because I just give so many details. And he doesn’t do details. And blah blah blah.

I probably should have been more upset. But really all I could think of was, “You know what? This is why I have girlfriends. They love knowing every last detail.”

Because, you see, I adore my husband. He is funny. He is fun. He is so awesome. But he is not my everything.

It would be unfair to ask any one person to be your everything. As much as Hollywood would like us to believe that a spouse completes us, the truth is no person can complete you. A spouse can complement you. A spouse can enrich you. But a spouse cannot make you whole.

Becoming a whole person is a different post for a different day.
But realizing your spouse cannot be your everything is a lesson that can never be learned too early.

Much like the stock market, there is tremendous value in diversifying your relationships.

My husband will never listen to a story that is twenty-seven minutes long.
But my BFF will hang on to every detail, offering important feedback and opinions.
Because that is what best friends do. And what husbands never will.
(Unless you have the rare husband who loves long conversations. But I certainly do not.)

And yet, not to undervalue my husband, he knows me a in way that no friend ever will. He supports my late night emotional spiraling when the world feels very dark and hard…and then makes breakfast as usual in the morning, having given me the grace to properly emote and then wake up to a fresh start. No questions asked. No judgements passed.

Relationships are the cornerstone of life. They’re the very best part of life and, sometimes, the very hardest part. And one of the greatest gifts we can give to our spouses and children and friends is to have reasonable expectations of who they can be to us. And who they never will. 

My opening story had a full circle moment when I realized recently that there are actually several ways people listen, and it is true that my husband listens best when given a broad overview of a story. His brain is wired in such a way that truly cannot follow irrelevant details. Irrelevant to him. Not me, of course.

I know I have written a lot about the leadership class I am taking, but it’s because it has given me a much better understanding of how different we all are…and the value in allowing people to be who they’re made to be. Which proves my original point in that there is much importance in having a variety of relationships.

When a woman says, “My husband is my everything,” I know that ultimately translates to unrealistic expectations that will more often than not go unmet. While it’s a sweet sentiment that sounds romantic, I’ve found that a marriage is healthiest when your husband is not your everything.

Your spouse is definitely your most important relationship. And should be treated as such. But I cannot overstate how relieved he will be when you allow your husband to be who he is. And allow your girlfriends to fill in the blanks. And not expect much from your children because those people are too honest and blunt. I kid, I kid.

Friends on the world wide web, would you agree? Do you think it’s possible for your spouse to be your everything? Or have you experienced the value in a variety of relationships?



Beauty Is Often Found In The Ordinary

I left my hometown nearly twenty years ago when I went away to college. I loved the town I grew up in, but until last month, life circumstances had never brought me back. Through a series of circumstances that is too long to recount in this space, my husband and I decided to relocate halfway across the country to my hometown.

I’ve moved quite a bit in my adult life, so moving itself is not all together that new to me. However, moving becomes harder and harder the older I get. Because friendships have deepened and the home I’ve created matters to me. But moving has a way of recalibrating life. It pushes the reset button and every single part of life becomes up for debate. Debate on whether or not I want to take that thing into the next season of life. Both physically and metaphorically.

While I miss my friends more than I could ever articulate in words, change is good for my soul. I like change. I like configuring my furniture in my new home (that is, the furniture my husband didn’t make me give away before moving. Not that I am bitter.) I like driving a new route. And I like taking the time to evaluate how I am spending my days (and therefore, my life).

Moving back to the place where I spent my childhood is particularly interesting because so many things trigger memories of experiences I had when I was my kids’ ages. And replaying the life montage in my mind has majorly put my own life into perspective.

For one, it feels like I just left home a week ago to nervously move away to college…except it’s been almost two decades and I am returning with five amazing people, four of whom did not even exist back in that time. Which means I will blink and my first born will be nervously moving out for his first time.

I have cried too many tears this year to move you to tears about young children going to college tomorrow when “tomorrow” is many, many days away, so I will not camp out in that devastating reality. (I am not at all dramatic.)

But I will say that this recalibration has given me the vision of what I want my life to look like for the next 2,700 approximate days I have until my first born leaves for college. I spent a lot of time packing and driving, so you will have to forgive me for the time I had to calculate his departure.

Sure, I want to take fun vacations. And enjoy magical Christmases. And eat decadent meals.

But, mostly, I want to remind myself that the most magical parts of life are found in the most ordinary moments.

Returning home means I get to spend more time with family, and recently, my brothers and I were laughing about this psychologically torturous game we used to play called Run Down. The game was torture because my two older brothers, unbeknownst to me, would constantly change the rules as to never let me win. Which my stupidly competitive self never realized until adulthood.


We laughed until we cried (well, I cried) about how many hours we played this game. And how mad I would get that I could never seem to win.

During those years of playing Run Down, we also vacationed to some really cool places and got some really cool presents. And while those are fond memories, they can’t compare to the hilarity of Run Down. Or the times we lowered our brother down the laundry chute in a bed sheet. Or when my sister and I would use every ingredient we could find to bake a cake (because we did not understand the importance of a little thing called a “recipe”).

As parents today, we get so obsessed with trying to live some huge epic life and creating mountaintop moments that it’s easy to forget to kids are super easy to please. And 100% of the time, they would prefer a mom who is less stressed over a life of constant entertainment (or a life of constant guilt for not providing entertainment).

Teaching your kids how to make your family’s favorite chocolate chip cookies…letting them be bored enough to make up a fun game…making your boys clean the toilets (because you want your future daughter-in-laws to love you)…showing your daughter how to wear make-up (but not well enough to spare her from the fugly middle school years that are a necessary rite of passage for every adolescent girl)…putting away laundry instead of playing a game (because adulthood)…playing the game and forgoing dishes (because life is too short and adulthood is overrated)…

It’s these ordinary moments that actually matter. 

I confess that over the past year or four, I had become quite annoyed with my ordinary life. The cleaning never ends. And my kids don’t seem to appreciate my value as their mom. I have dreamed of a glamorous life where compliments flow freely and someone cleans up the messes and the calories in cupcakes don’t count.

But as I return to the place where I lived the most ordinary days of my life, I am reminded in the beauty and perfection of the every day. The very daily moments of life actually culminated into the most amazing childhood.

It is true that life is but a blink. And I do not want to waste a moment wishing it could be anything different than what it is. Because when I stop trying to make it oh so amazing, I remember it’s been amazing all along. In the most ordinary ways.

When I was in bed sick last week, my daughter brought my favorite snack to my room with a note that said, “I love you.” The compassion in her heart and being truly known by the girl who matters most to me proved that an ordinary life paradoxically creates the most extraordinary children.

The Formula To Making Your Life Matter

If you have read much of my writing, you know a common theme is to stop trying to be who you aren’t. It is my strongly held opinion that many frustrations in raising children could be avoided if we stopped holding ourselves to impossible standards.

You know by now what I am against, but you know less of what I am for. This is intentional, for the most part. Every family differs in their values/faith/dreams, and the last thing I would ever want to do is to burden you with one more thing. 

Which is why writing (or Facebook posts or Instagram photos) only tells a fraction of the story.

In the past few years, I have spent considerable time intentionally creating the life I want for my family. I have cut many things out and added some things back. My no is strong, but my yes is always without regret. 

I am not sure specifically where I got this idea to mindfully develop my family’s goals and live accordingly, as it’s a common theme today, but my manager at work shared with my team and me that this is one of the most important decisions a company (or family) makes.

Knowing who you are and why you do what you do is crucial for success. 

While I happened upon this way of living haphazardly, there is actually a formula for success that I highly recommend:

Vision + Mission + Goals + Measures = Behaviors (VMGM = B)


I don’t know about you, but I love a good formula. And this one works. I will share specifically how it works for families, but it also applies to your job, creative ventures, and more.

  1. Create a vision for your family. In my leadership journey, I learned an easy way to remember this is by thinking of a telescope. This is what feels very far off…your dreams, aspirations, hopes for the future, etc. These are personal but are somewhat broad and can almost feel unattainable if no action steps are taken.An example from my family:
    “I want my kids to come home for Christmas,” is a mantra that I have etched in my mind. It’s a cheeky way of saying I want a relationship with my children that is so strong that even when they’re adults, they can’t wait to come visit home. Christmas is not literal, in this situation, but it’s an easy way for me to remember my long-term vision for my family when the days get long and gritty.
  2.  Determine a mission. Think of this as binoculars, if you’re a visual person. This is the strategy for what you’re going to do and how you’re going to do it. It makes the vision applicable to everyday life.To continue my example:
    If I want my kids to visit home when they’re grown, I have to create a home they love now. My strategy for this is to do my best to make my home feel safe, welcoming, and fun. It goes without saying that I do not do this well all of the time, but having a mission allows me to get back on track easily when I’ve derailed.

    My hope is that my children feel safe in my home. I listen to their sweet conversations, I value their opinions, and I remain calm when they tell me hard things. It may feel insignificant and silly when they’re little, but it creates a healthy foundation for when it’s very important.

    While I do not believe in a home where the world revolves around the children, I do believe in creating a home where kids can live loudly. Nothing is sacred in my home. My daughter can play in my make-up. My boys can wrestle in the living room. (Please remember, this is MY mission. If you are not the same, that is healthy and good.)

    I do not feel the need to constantly entertain my children, but I do want a home that is fun to live in. We laugh at mistakes and try not to take life too seriously.

  3. Set goals. Like eyeglasses, goals give clarity to your vision and mission. Goals should be realistic, time bound, and measurable. They bring the potentially overwhelming feeling of the vision into manageable ways to carry it out.For me:
    Maintaining a strong relationship with my children can feel overwhelming when my pre-teen son tests every ounce of patience I have. Instead of beating myself up for this season of life where it feels like I fail more often than I succeed in dealing with his testiness, I set realistic goals. When he asks to ride with me somewhere I would rather go alone, I say yes when possible. I take those moments to enjoy the conversation with him. He is such an awesome kid, and it’s much easier for me to see that when his sibs (as he affectionately calls them) aren’t around to bother him.

    I make bedtime tuck-in’s a priority. Every night I am home, I lay with each of my kids individually. This is my way of assuring that, no matter how the day went, I end well with each child. I have four children, but I do not worry if they’re getting enough attention…because I know I will have this touch point with each kid every day.

    I cannot stress enough how these are merely examples to get you thinking. These are not hard and fast rules for every family. It is what works for me to achieve the vision I have for my family, but it is not necessarily what will work for you.

  4. Measure the above often. You know by now that raising kids is much easier said than done. You will derail from the vision and mission you have for your family. That is expected. The benefit of writing it all out is that you can recalibrate quickly when you realize you’re off course. Take the time every couple of months to evaluate what is working and what is not…and make changes accordingly.
  5. Your Vision, Mission, Goals, and Measures will always determine your Behaviors. By being purposeful in creating the family you want, your daily life will show it. You will live your life on purpose and with intention.

I would encourage you to carve out time to consider your VMGM = B, both personally and professionally. Rather than let life happen at you, you can take control and live in a way that aligns with what you value most.

You only get once chance at life. Make it count. Make it yours.   



Hey Mom, Are You Too Hard On Yourself??

I woke up this morning to a pudgy face sharing my pillow.

Just last night, a friend and I wondered aloud to each other if we would survive our babies starting Kindergarten.

The obvious answer is no.

The baby of the family should not be permitted to grow up.

Became this…
In like three minutes.

With my first born, every new phase is exciting but also beyond nerve wrecking.
With my second, it’s mostly just exciting.
With my third, each stage feels comforting and natural.
With my baby (who hasn’t been a baby for quite some time), it’s the end. The baby closes every chapter.

Some chapters I am happy to close (potty training, I am looking at you.)
Other chapters, not so much.

Feeling my baby kick for the first time. The smell of a newborn. The belly laughter of a toddler. The most precious voice of a preschooler. Those are the best.

The little years are the sweetest of years. Impossibly hard, to be sure. But with the little years almost completely behind me, I would give nearly anything to do them all over again. Except the lack of sleep and engorged boobs.

That is the weird thing about life. When you’re living out the dailyness of it all, it is hard to enjoy it. It is hard to enjoy the toddler cuteness when you have a screaming infant. The cute voice of a preschooler is not so cute when you haven’t slept in a week and he is asking question #4,328 of the morning.

But when you’re closing the chapter, all that remains is the good. Sure, I can recall the terrible. I can remember barfing 25 times a day while pregnant (though I am prone to exaggerating, that is a factual number). I can remember being peed on, pooped on, and barfed on. (I am sensing a barfing theme.) While I can intellectually recall the grosser, uglier parts of the little years, I have mostly blocked it out.

Which is my point. (And you thought my point was to reduce you to a puddle of tears.)

You are too hard on yourself. 

Yes, you.

Just as you blocked out the time your precious little spawn painted with poop, shoving it in every crevice possible…your spawn blocked out the time you temporarily turned into a raging psychotic version of yourself.

The beauty and redemption of the human mind is that we tend to forget most things.

(We don’t forget everything, of course. And I do not want to minimize the real and lasting wounds of abuse, neglect, and pain worse than can be imagined. While that is an important conversation, that is not what I am addressing here.)

You are a mom who loves and adores your children. But even the best of moms will not love perfectly.

You will speak ugly words. You will raise your voice to a level you previously thought impossible. You will be ashamed for how you acted.

Contrary to what the 70’s taught us, love means having to say you’re sorry. A lot.

You are going to blow it a million times between now and the day you die. Maybe two million.

To be human is to mess up. To be a parent is to mess up every five minutes. Ten, if you’re hiding in the bathroom.

If failure and mistakes are a part of the human experience, why do we berate ourselves for every little mistake we make while doing literally the hardest job in the world?

We applaud Thomas Edison for the 1,000 failed attempts at the lightbulb, but when our children announce to the PTA board how much they enjoyed their McDonald’s dinner (which is not even an actual failure)…the Happy Meal somehow becomes a scarlet letter of shame.

I am thankful for light. Your children are thankful they’re fed. And happy to get a break from the kale we are all pretending to like.

It breaks my heart to see you sacrifice so much for your child, give all you have to the task of raising your cuties, and spend every waking moment with the five and under crowd…only to berate yourself constantly and believe you aren’t doing a good job.

Stop being so hard on yourself. 

I’m serious.

Do you love your child beyond any love you’ve ever known?
Does your child have a home where he is safe and adored?
Did you feed her today?
Then stop telling yourself you’re a terrible mom. (You aren’t.)

Did you lose your crap this morning?
Has it been awhile since your kid ate a vegetable?
Did you silently (or not-so-silently) wish your child would shut up for three whole minutes?
Did you linger at the grocery store a little longer, just to avoid having to go home to those people who call you Mom?
Congrats. You’re normal. And you’re still a good mom. An awesome mom, actually.

If I could go back in time, knowing what I know now, I would not have spent so much time telling myself how much I sucked at this mom thing. I would not have cried so many tears of shame over the mistakes I made. I would not have let myself be robbed of the joy of the little years with the fear that every wrongdoing on my part would mean future therapy on their part.

Because, in spite of the thousands of mistakes I’ve made over the years, my kids are turning out just fine. Not perfect. Not even close. But they’re doing just fine. And I think their therapy will be minimal.

My daughter plans the most extraordinary parties…even though she’s only ever known mediocre birthdays.
My son chooses salads over burgers…even though I forget to serve veggies with dinner on the regular.
My other son chooses burgers over salads…but he is healthy and has a killer sense of humor.
My last son chooses to eat his boogers…whatever, man. Saves on groceries.

The fact that I am even using food as example of mom failure is the only proof you need that we are living in a time where the standards of raising kids are impossibly high and beyond ridiculous.

We create imaginary worlds where all of the other moms are doing it all well…then compare our ugliest self to that pretend world…and conclude that we are terrible.

I think it’s time to take this crazy train back to the station…recalibrate what it means to be an awesome mom (spoiler alert: you are already one!)…stop being so dang hard on ourselves…and enjoy the beauty and crazy and amazingness of raising incredible children.

And, while we’re at it, let’s leave the kale at the station. Because that crap is gross.








My Year In Home-Based Direct Sales

A Facebook notification pops up on my phone. “A message from a childhood friend? So fun! What is she up to these days?” I wonder, as I click to see.

Oh. She thinks I would be perfect for her new home-based business that is making her so much money. “I’m so flattered,” I mumble sarcastically.

To say these recruitments annoyed me would be an understatement. Partly because I genuinely love to connect with friends (so I was bummed to find a form letter), but mostly because I enjoy sales as much as Rosie enjoys Donald.

I could not sell water in the desert, so selling literally anything does not interest me…mascara, vitamins, jewelry, clothing, skin care, a workout regimen…I was an equal opportunity hater.

Photo cred

But I have this weird quirk where I do not like to criticize that which I am unwilling to try.

When my children complain that their suburban lives in their climate controlled home with parents who adore them are SO HARD, my repeat mantra is “We Do Hard Things.” Some children in the world walk barefoot for miles and miles to school, but I can understand how asking you to change out of your pajamas is SO HARD. But we do hard things in this family, sweet children of mine with zero perspective on actual hard things.

I adopted that same mantra (and also their fake dramatics) and decided to try home-based direct sales. Some women work three jobs to barely provide for their family, but you have to understand that asking women to purchase beautiful jewelry with an important purpose is just SO HARD for me.

I hope you are giving me the biggest eye roll right now. Because I kinda hate myself for even admitting it.

I signed up for a company whose mission I believed in and wanted to support. And decided to give direct sales a try. (Full disclosure: this company is not actually multi-level marketing and involves no diamonds or cars. Remember, I was taking baby steps into this world. Selling was hard enough. Asking people to join under me was definitely not happening.)

And, you guys, this was WAY HARDER (to be clear: first world hard) than I ever would have anticipated. I was ashamed of how hard I had judged my friends for recruiting me for their sales teams. To me, the form letters and Facebook invites felt disingenuous, but in actuality, it takes a lot of courage for my friends to ask. My theory was correct in that I should never criticize that which I am unwilling to try. Because I had it all wrong.

I definitely underestimated how hard direct sales is, but I never even considered how awesome it could be. Even though I can’t speak for every company, I imagine it to be a somewhat universal experience…the camaraderie I found in this group of women is indescribable. Long distance friends have become some of my very best friends (thank you, Voxer!). If I were being honest, if the Facebook messages led with this rather than the promise of a huge income, I would have jumped on board a long time ago. (This may or may not be a not-so-subtle hint. Do with it what you may.)

Because this is the thing: I know myself well enough to know I will never sell my way to a million dollars. Or even twelve dollars. But I will do nearly anything for really great friends. (A knowing that has proven true as I’ve discovered amazing truths about myself this year.)

If I learned anything from my year in direct sales, it’s that it is 100% not for me. I suck at sales even more than I thought I sucked at sales. But not everyone does. Just because I can’t do it well doesn’t mean no one should do it. And I have become infinitely less critical of those trying.

Because no matter if you jump on every new sales company or roll your eyes at them, every single sales person I know is simply trying to help their families. They believe in the product enough to humbly ask their friends and family to try it out. I promise you that this is not even 1% easy to do. Sure, there are certain pushy people who seem to ignore any and all social cues that kind of ruin it for the rest of us, but generally speaking, it’s just a mom trying to figure out how to pay for braces.

The judgements I had were because I was too concerned with my own self (and apparently the thirty seconds it took to respond to a Facebook message) to pay attention to the “why” behind the ask.

As I’ve become more self-aware, I understand why sales are nearly impossible for me. I have many strengths, and I have many areas to develop. And I have loved learning to differentiate the two.

Which is why another year of direct sales is likely not in my future. But another year of writing is. Building connections through writing is super important to me. I wish you could all be my BFF’s and that we sit down together over a cup of coffee. I have come to realize that I would rather support my friends in their endeavors than attempt my own. I am a great wing man, but that’s where my skill set stops with sales. And that’s okay.

Knowing yourself is so valuable. Understanding how you function explains why some people have the pink Cadillac and some people can’t understand why that’s even a thing. This truth applies to most every aspect of life, not just direct sales.

Long story short, my year in direct sales has taught me you can’t be someone you’re not, but you can do you really well. And being the best you is the best.


Is Connectedness Actually Disconnecting Us?

You guys, we made it. We have closed the door on 2016.

I feel like we all deserve a standing ovation for enduring.

On a mass scale, 2016 felt long and hard and full of loss.

On a personal level, 2016 felt long and hard and had some loss.

In short, last year was not my favorite. And that’s being kind.

Even so, in the midst of the hard, there was definitely much good. So much good. As there always is.

My kids are more awesome than ever. We had a lot of fun.
I went on some really cool trips and met some amazing people.
Dreams were fulfilled.
My husband and I grew stronger together as we went through the proverbial fire of life.

I do not make new year’s resolutions because I have pretty much figured out who I am and what I do and don’t do in a given day.

I will eat healthy when my jeans get too tight, but I will never turn down a cupcake.
I will like the idea of working out, but when I calculate the time it takes to wash and dry my hair after a workout, I will make a mental note to skip the cupcake instead. Which I won’t actually do. 
I already spend a million hours a week with my kids, and my husband and I prioritize date nights.
I will delete Facebook from my phone, but I will download it again when I remember I can be present with my kids and still enjoy downtime. The two are not mutually exclusive.

This is a long way of saying resolutions and I have never been friends.

What I do like to do, however, is reflect on the last year (what worked, what didn’t, what I enjoyed, what I loathed, etc.)…then use that information to dream about the upcoming year (what I hope to do, dreams I hope are fulfilled, things I want my kids to develop, etc.).

When I reflect back on 2016…the good, the bad, the ugly…one of my most favorite experiences was (and will continue to be) learning to better understand myself by meeting with a personal coach as a part of my PeopleTek Leadership Journey.

The awesome part of this experience is that many of my friends, family, and colleagues completed an in-depth questionnaire about me. Along with my own assessment, the feedback from my people was absolutely incredible. My coach talked me through the results and allowed me to better understand my strengths and weaknesses.

I am naturally pretty hard on myself, so identifying my faults comes easy. Even so, I loved getting specific ideas for how to work to improve those.

The part that was the most freeing was actually realizing my strengths and owning them.

More than anything, I came to understand that relationships with people matter more to me than anything else. I love people. I enjoy being around people. I like to connect people together. I love talking, and I love listening. While I can be alone, I don’t prefer it.

Part of the reason 2016 was so hard for me is that I did not spend nearly enough time with people. And by people, I mean adults. I spend approximately six million hours a week with the ten and under crowd. Which, as important as that is to me, does not count towards fulfilling my need for people.

And while there are a variety of very valid reasons why this happened, I know I have to make different choices in 2017. My emotional health depends on it. But as I brainstorm ways to do this, if I am being honest, I am saddened by the state of our culture. In an era when we are more connected than ever, we are more disconnected than ever. 

Photo credit (words mine)

Busyness has become a way of life and even a badge of honor in our culture. It feels like we don’t have time for each other. And while I realize now that relationships are more important to me than most, I think we are all feeling the loss of meaningful relationships. Even well-intentioned friends find it difficult to connect because kids are time consuming and exhausting (and also awesome…but that’s not the point here).

I am a girl who likes solutions to problems. I do not like talking about problems unless we are looking for ways to solve them. According to my assessment, creating an influential social network is my strength. Since I take issue with the lack of connections in our culture, I plan to use that strength to bring the change I wish to see. Pushing against all of the social norms to be busy busy busy, I am going to figure out a way to connect with people more in 2017.

If you’re someone who has great success with this, I would love to hear what’s working for you.

If you’re like me and looking for deeper, stronger friendships, let’s figure this out together.

The thing is, I have great friends…people who I love being with. And I am sure you are the same. But there is definitely a disconnect between the number of people I enjoy spending time with and how much time I am spending with them. Which definitely needs to change.

Social media connections are incredible and so much fun, but nothing replaces face-to-face friendships. The surface connections that come from Facebook will never fulfill the innate need to be known and loved and cared for.

I am not sure how it will look, but my goal (NOT my resolution, because, as I previously established, we are not friends) this year is to know and be known by the friends in my life…to not let the busyness of life rob me of the joy of friendship. I’ve been the guiltiest of all in letting too much time pass without connecting with the people I dearly love, and because I know it is as nearly as essential to me as breathing, I will find a better way this year.

Do you feel the same? Are you feeling the disconnect among all of the connections? Tell me I am not alone in this.