Baby Steps in High Heels

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Treading Water

9:55 AM 0
Treading Water
Hi friends. It's been a hot minute ...

How many posts have I started with this line over the past few years? Quite a few, and yet, not that many, actually. It's been quiet around this space for some time, and there are some reasons for that:

Balancing work and motherhood and life is something like trying to fold a fitted sheet with perfect corners, cram the whole sheet set back into its original packaging, and return that midnight purchase to Amazon. And since I don't have time to print the label much less take all of those other necessary actions to complete the return, that haphazardly folded sheet set will be crammed into my linen closet until we find a free weekend (ha!) to have a garage sale in 2-6 years.

Sheesh, that analogy was a bit of a tangent, but I hope you stuck with me. The point is, for a blog that tries to share about work-life balance for moms, the balancing act over here is a bit sketchy.

Of the many obstacles life has thrown our way this year, and it has been the single most difficult year of my life, I have missed this space immensely. I hesitate to write anything shrouded in vagueness, to share half-truths, or to leave anyone hanging, but I hesitate even more to share pieces of my life that are intertwined with others (who may not have chosen to share their story publicly).

So, please bear with me as I aim to write more in the coming weeks.

To begin, I have been mulling over an observation this week that I find to be really important for anyone out there who feels overwhelmed with the messaging in the self-care space to 'start today' or 'be in charge of your own life' or 'stop apologizing' .... while I truly love these messages and find them to be incredibly relevant in their own time and appropriate place, my own personality hears them as personal failures when I am doing my best to just tread water.

In the middle of major health concerns, care-giving for multiple generations at the same time, and still trying to balance our full time jobs and parenting, life has also handed us things like massive double ear infections, lice (eeeewwwww!!), unexpected business trips, and more, all things that have canceled, one after the other, every single bit of sanity we have tried to sprinkle into this chaotic time.

We are not waking up an hour early to work out or write a book or embrace a little me-time at 4:30 a.m. No matter how much we want to do those things, sleep is our currency at the moment. And, y'all, that's okay. Treading water is okay when you're in survival mode.

It is highly unlikely that we will always be in this space that feels like we are barely keeping our heads above water, and that will be the time for ambitions and growth and goals. Today, we simply tread. It's a life skill, one that is taught in every swim lesson. It doesn't move you toward the shore, but it keeps you alive until somebody can throw you a raft.

And, if that's where you are today, that's okay.

When every date night, girls' lunch, and family fun event has been canceled due to one literal emergency or another, it is hard to do much more than tread. Hard to not feel overwhelmed and exhausted all the time. To balance all of this, I am trying simply to add in a gratitude practice. When and where I can, I look for and appreciate the life rafts, big or small, that are thrown my way. Making it through a stop light before it turns, finding pumpkin spice everything right now, noticing the sleepy smile my daughter makes every morning when I wake her for school, cooler mornings even if the high will still be in the 90s in October, etc. 

And I tell myself that physical, mental, and emotional strength that I am conditioning in these moments will build me up and prepare me for a time when I am ready to push past life's uncontrollable circumstances toward those goals I wish I had the energy to pursue today.

Until then, we keep our heads up. We keep treading water.

Thursday, August 30, 2018


9:40 AM 0
I laugh when friends and well-meaning co-workers ask me how I 'do it all' ... surely they're kidding. Most days I feel like I'm juggling about a dozen balls in the air, which could be fun, except that I do not know how to juggle. I can barely throw a single ball in the air and catch it with any level of intended accuracy.

We run in a million directions all week long, balancing kids' school and activities, our own work schedules (which are never consistent from day to day), friends, family, etc. In fact, I think I rewrite this post on a regular basis, changing up only our current set of circumstances -- ballet, soccer, and my business travel is what we have going on right now. In this season, we are also adding in orthodontics for my oldest and an amblyopia diagnosis for my youngest, which will require quarterly visits to a pediatric ophthalmologist.

Y'all, I do NOT have it all together. Not on my best day. What keeps me moving through are two distinct lines of thinking...

First, this is not hard stuff. For sure, it is exhausting. We don't just do soccer practice during the week and games on Saturdays. We also balance family who want to visit for those games with family who want us to sneak away after to visit them. We balance meal prep Sundays so that Thursday nights are easier when two kids have to be in two different places; meanwhile I'm on a 3 hour drive home from a work trip. It is most definitely exhausting, but there are real people in this world who deal with truly difficult issues. Gratitude for our capacity to lead these busy lives is ever-present in my mind.

I'm no some saint, though. I am not one who walks through life thinking about how grateful I am that I got four hours of sleep last night, but at least it was in a safe and comfortable bed. No ... I definitely struggle with gratitude, but I do my best to still keep it at the forefront of my mind.

The second mantra I am working on wrapping my brain around is this:

Having it all does NOT mean that we have to do it all.

I continue to hear that balance is a myth, and I adamantly disagree. It seems we have confused the idea of balance with the notion that it is only achieved if you're a baby food making, breastfeeding, cloth diapering, free range mom who has kids that excel in 17 activities while getting all As in school AND you work a high powered, high earning career that everybody accepts as successful and philanthropic. And you run 5 miles before 5:00 a.m. every single day.

Seriously. Just .... no.

Balance is NOT about doing it all. Balance looks different for every working mom. YOU get to decide what balance looks like for your family and for yourself. YOU get to select the areas of life that deserve your attention, your focus, and your time. There is as much power in saying no to the PTA hospitality committee if your schedule is full (or it's just not your thing) as there is in being the mom who bakes ALL the organic cookies from scratch for the PTA bake sale. If that's your thing.

I don't mean to preach here, mostly because I still struggle with this notion, as well. I'm the mom who feels like I'm not doing enough if I'm not doing everything asked of me. But I got to a point where I was doing so many things that I wasn't doing any of them well.

I started my 'recovery' process by simply saying no to things that didn't make sense for my schedule. There were often so many times that I could make something work, but it would require jumping through ridiculous, exhausting hoops. I don't do that nearly as often anymore. 

I am now in the phase of trying to say no to things that do not bring joy or fulfillment to me or my family. For example, my husband takes the kids to soccer practice ... both of them, on two different days of the week. Because it's hot, and I'm not good in those situations anyway. Bless all of you die hard soccer moms, but I know myself and I will not be the best mom that my kids deserve if I'm a hot, sweaty mess. Instead, I greet them at home, after practice, with dinner, quality time, and lots of air conditioned love. (And I DO go to the games.)

The point is, my kids have TWO parents (and an awesome grandmother who helps out most days, too). When we divide and conquer(ish) our schedule, a sense of balance begins to emerge. We are still busy. We are still exhausted more days than not, but we are less frantic, less stressed. And, yes, I am mostly talking to myself here, hoping for a self-fulfilling prophesy. There are plenty of days that don't run as smoothly as these words would have you believe, but there are more days now than ever before where I do find myself more grateful, accomplished, and balanced at the end of the day.

What baby steps are you taking toward balance?

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Amazon Prime Mom ...

10:55 AM 0
Amazon Prime Mom ...
It's true. I may have two dozen pinterest boards, but my most successful projects arrive via 2-day prime shipping. That's just more my speed. If it can't be ordered on Amazon, there is a good chance that I simply do now own it.

Every single morning, I wake up to coffee. Who doesn't? I'm not a sweet coffee drinker, but I do like a little bit of fancy, so we use our handy dandy milk frother to blend in our collagen peptides and splash of milk in a way that froths up to bubbly perfection.

I'm still considering the Ninja coffee you have one? Tell me if you love it ... I have my eye on it for the upcoming Amazon Prime Day !!

I also have my eye on a couple of other big ticket items, like ....

Clothes!! Does anyone else hate jean shopping as much as I do? Kut from the Kloth jeans always seem to fit, so they're my go to, and I'm hoping to add a pair of boyfriend jeans this summer. In my experience, they are often part of these big sales. Fingers crossed!

Furniture. Serious question for y'all ... has anyone ever ordered furniture from Amazon? I keep seeing ads pop up on my social feeds, and I am loving the look of two ottomans. If they go on sale, I might just snatch one up ...

This one from Stone and Beam looks amazing!

Same brand, but a round version ....

Are you a reader? I am usually so busy that it takes me weeks to finish a single book, but I have been on a role this summer! I have actually read about 7 books in the last month or so. What are you reading? Most recently, I devoured Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman. Loved it!

And, bigger question ... do you use Kindle Unlimited? Y'all I STRUGGLE with e-books. I want to hate them. I lovelovelove the feel of a real book in my hands. But my old eyes find it a little difficult to read print on paper late at night. My lamplight isn't that great. So, do I go e-book or just find a little booklight? Thoughts?

Alright, y'all. I promised that I would start sharing some of my favorite Amazon finds with you this year, and I'm juuuust now getting around to it. Thanks for taking a look at my first attempt here. I have a few others listed over on my Favorite Things tab, so feel free to take a check those out.

Please share YOUR favorites. I have a running list, actually, several running lists, of items that I regularly price check and keep handy for the perfect purchase moment.

(Affiliate links above mean that I may receive a small stipend IF you click and purchase from this website. Thanks so much for your support, y'all!)

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Designing a life that we love ...

7:44 AM 0
Designing a life that we love ...
Well, y'all, it's been a while. Life has been, well, busy while we have been trying fervently to become unbusy.

I have really focused hard on this New Year's resolution of mine, to find peace this year. If you were here at the beginning of the year, you may recall that I said balance wasn't the right word for the goals I had for this year. Hearing so often that balance is a myth, I didn't want to focus my efforts on a losing battle.

I'm not sure, though, that balance is really some unattainable, mythical unicorn in our fast-moving world. As we work toward making our lives more peaceful, I'm starting to realize that we might have just been using an incorrect definition of the word balance. Somewhere along the way, we were made to believe that having balance meant doing all the things, doing them well, and doing them with a full load of energy and joy.

It sounds like a mythical unicorn when you load that meaning behind the word balance. But as we have made greater efforts to live intentionally, to make careful choices before making commitments, and be present in the moment at hand, I have felt a shift away from chaos and more toward a peaceful balance.

That's not to say that life has slowed down or gotten easier, but my mind has, and maybe more importantly, my heart has.

We still have plenty of frantic mornings that are ruled by the clock, but who knew that being late wouldn't ruin your life (or even your morning) if you can learn to shrug it off? I didn't.

We still have days, entire weeks even, where we don't feel like we have enough time to complete our every-growing To Do List. But, did you know you can fail to complete a task without making yourself feel like a failure in life? I didn't.

We still have overbooked weekends full of soccer games, family gatherings, and church obligations. Bud did you know that you can end a weekend feeling tired from activity without feeling exhausted and unrested? I didn't.

I am taking small steps to reframe the way I look at our life. I'm working hard to stamp out the perfectionist in me that tries to shout destructive messages of failure at the slightest hint of imperfection. Slowing down and being fully present in the few moments we have together as a family has done wonders for my sense of peace and balance.

I also decided to be much more intentional this year in the decisions we make. For so long, I felt like life was spinning fast and dragging me along for the ride. It's still spinning all around me, no doubt, and there are plenty of things that are out of my control. But, there are so many things that I can control, and the one that tops the list is my own perspective. I'm a work in progress when it comes to accepting imperfection, a slower pace, and understanding what balance truly looks like. Step One for me has been to take control and be intentional in designing a life that we love.

Things that have helped me so far:
-Being outside more often, especially as a family
-Intentionally varying my routine in order to vary my own expectations
-Dedicating time to reading my bible more often
-Focusing on my health -- finally getting help for my neck pain, taking better quality vitamins, and putting better, healthier foods into my body
-Adding in yoga and mindfulness exercises a few times a week

I haven't done all of these things at one time. I have slowly worked them in, one at a time, over these last few months. There are still plenty of days that I sit on the couch, eat pizza, and do none of them.
Change isn't easy for me. I suspect it isn't easy for anyone. But each of these small changes has built upon the others to help me reframe by definition of balance and my feelings of peace in our everyday life.

What do you do to bring peace and balance into your world?

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Mandatory Rest

8:52 AM 0
Mandatory Rest
Last week, I had a minor surgery, nothing major, but the doctor required 2 days of mandatory rest. If you follow me on Instagram, you saw my post by 9:00 a.m. the second day. I was bored. I had organized our junk drawer, charged all the devices, and caught up on This is Us. As a busy, working mom, I'm used to being on the go. All. the. time.

I had no idea what to do with myself under a mandatory rest order. So, of course, I gave myself bigger tasks. I decided to organize my closet, which wore me out pretty quickly. I realized that my body did, indeed, need to rest. So I sent myself back to the couch and stayed there for the next 3 hours. {Thank you, Netflix.}

I found it incredibly difficult to rest, to relax, to essentially do nothing. In spite of the fact that I am constantly yearning for the ability, the time, to do this very thing ... I realized that I just didn't know how. Sure, I can unwind on a beach vacation or a night out with the girls, but those things have purpose. It took me a couple of hours into Day 2 to realize that this doctor-ordered rest also had a purpose. {Go ahead, shake your head at me.}

Once I gave in, though, I began to understand that this was actually going to be beneficial to me in more than just a physical-recovery way. As I sat on my sofa, binge watching junk TV (and, yes, after I learned my lesson trying to do too much), I decided that I would not allow myself to complete any obligations for the duration of my 48 hours. My kids were covered -- thanks mom! I didn't need to make dinner. I was taking 16 hours of accumulated sick leave that I virtually never take. All of my bases were covered. I literally had no reason not to rest.

It was hard to allow all of that to sink in, but I learned a few things from this experience that I hope to carry forward in this year as I journey toward more balance and peace ...

1. Mandatory Rest should be, well, mandatory. And often. Do not allow yourself to take care of any obligatory tasks in this timeframe. Our priest shared a quote with us last Sunday From St. Francis de Sales: Half an hour's meditation each day is ESSENTIAL, except when you are busy. Then a full hour is NEEDED. I'm not sure I can swing a full hour every single day, but the sentiment rings so very true in my life.

2. You must schedule it. I would have never done this without doctor's orders. Never. Now, I'm putting it on my calendar quarterly - one day at the end of my sales season, one day somewhere in Q3, and a fourth day amidst hectic end-of-year holidays. Whatever your schedule is, put it on your calendar ... an hour once a week, a day once a month, whatever works for you. I came out of this time period refreshed, with a clear head, and with a lot less stress.

If all else fails, schedule it on our lunch break. Take a true break, no working lunches, no double duty mom tasks. Just eat. That's what I did today .... see below for the very best 18-minute non-working-lunch mandatory rest break ...

{It was brief, but delightful. I had no idea how refreshing a short amount of time could be if I embraced it fully as an opportunity for rest. 
3. Mandatory rest is NOT selfish. I know. I know. It's hard as moms to prioritize ourselves. Especially when society tells us that we spend enough time on ourselves by choosing to work outside of the home. {That's crap, by the way.} Taking care of ourselves is the first, most essential step in taking care of those around us. I don't know why this pill is so difficult to swallow, but it really is. Grab yourself a big glass of water and swallow it anyway. Then schedule your time. You will be so glad you did, as will your family.

I'm not an expert here. Obviously. I'm just getting started on this self-care train. But, I do know one thing ... nobody will do it for me. If I want to achieve a more peaceful existence, if I want to stop feeling like the world around me is dragging me through life, then I have to design my life the way that I want it to be. And, y'all, I want to live a life I love. I want to wake up joyful, not overwhelmed. I want to embrace my work, my family, everything, with joy rather than exhaustion.

Step One: Live intentionally by taking care of myself first.

Are you also working toward better self care? Share your journey with us! I'm just taking baby steps over here .... and I'd love for you to join me.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

She designed a life that she loved

9:11 AM 0
She designed a life that she loved
In my most recent post, I shared that my word for 2018 is PEACE. It is our ultimate goal for this year, not only to make better efforts to calm our frenzied pace, but to feel a bit more inner peace as we navigate the busy world around us.

This is an important goal, but it is also quite lofty. And, even as I published that last post, something didn't quite sit well with me. It took me a few days to determine exactly what felt off about using this word to guide us through the year. It seemed, after all, like a reasonable aspiration, even if it might be difficult to accomplish. 

Then I happened upon one of those inspirational quotes that seem to be a dime a dozen these days. I wish I had taken a screen shot so that I could not only share the exact wording, but credit the author. But it didn't click for me until after the fact, at which time it clicked everything into place. The sentiment was that we need to stop making plans around our end-goal, but rather make goals to create better habits that will help achieve that goal. 

This is what hit me: the word peace is a bit too, well, passive. I couldn't reconcile my end-goal with the effort it would take to achieve it. So, although I am not revising my word of the year {PEACE is still the end-goal}, I am updating to encompass a motto that will help me get there...

It is a much more intentional motto and one that I believe will allow me to begin to create habits for change. It's so easy as a working mother to allow life to drag you from meetings to soccer games, from birthday parties and family get-togethers and PTA meetings back to business trips and presentations and conference calls. We want to feed our kids healthy, organic everything, but end up hoping that a Flintstones vitamin will make up the difference (and then feel guilty about that ... along with a laundry list of other self-proscribed failures). 

I don't know about you, but I constantly fee like I am not doing enough, or I am not spending enough time in the right places. When I am at work, I should be having lunch at the elementary school. When I am running a child to soccer or gymnastics, I should also be answering a few emails from every parking lot or pick-up line. It's a lifestyle that never seems to have a pause button, much less an option to power off. 

I believe the original version of that motto included the words and so: and so she designed a life that she loved. I'm not sure what words preceded this for the initial author, but for me it goes something like this ....

She was tired of the world around her dragging her through life.
She was tired of living each moment from one obligation to the next.
She was tired of never having a moment to rest or relax or breathe.
She was tired of spending days according to everyone else's agenda.
She was tired. She was just plain tired ..... 

And so, she designed a life that she loved. 

This is the plan, the goal, the hope. This is the first {baby} step toward achieving peace in 2018. The first step is to be intentional. She designed a life she loved ...

Friday, January 5, 2018

A year for peace

10:50 AM 0
A year for peace
Happy New Year, friends. I’m kicking off 2018 with a tradition that I love: instead of making a resolution that is sure to be forgotten within the month, I have spent the last several years choosing a word to guide and anchor my goals for the year. Some of the words I’ve chosen include:


Each word has held a significant purpose at the time, and also often held multiple meanings. This year is no different, though my word has proven more difficult to pinpoint. My “short list” of words this time around was actually quite lengthy:

Slow Down

As you can probably see, these words share a central theme in that they all aim to point my life in a more peaceful direction, one that would allow me to feel balanced mentally, physically, and emotionally.

More days than not, I feel like the world is dragging me along through life. The balance of working full-time and attempting to still be a good wife, mother, friend, and family member and contribute to my community is daunting. I could honestly collapse into bed by 7:00 p.m. every single night and still not feel rested.

When our kids were still in their baby years, Husband and I joked that we were not the kind of tired that sleep could fix. It was true. We could have slept for a week straight and woken up tired just thinking about all of the tasks we had allowed to accumulate in our effort to rest.

Our kids are older now, but I am afraid I have yet to outgrow that stage of exhaustion. I spend countless hours going through the motions without ever feeling a sense of accomplishment. There are many days that I find myself saying, “Something has GOT to give!”

But, what? What aspects of our daily grind can we let go, and how can we better enjoy the ones that we truly value? Writing these words feels a bit like déjà vu … I’m almost certain I have written them before. We seem to be trapped in an cycle of busyness.

We enjoyed five different Christmas celebrations this year, four of which were outside of our home. And, of course, we truly did enjoy our time with our family at each of these gatherings.  However, the one celebration that we had in our home, the one I spent weeks planning for and preparing to be magical for our kids … well, it was magical for them; it really was. But it was also over in 2 hours. Then on to the next stop. This is just one example, but it is exactly how every other instance goes for us, as well. 

I recently decided that it would be time to plan a trip to Disney for our family. Unfortunately, there are literally NO dates in the next 12 months that we can plan this trip without disappointing somebody who is dear to us. So who do we disappoint? Do we skip the cousin’s wedding? Great Grandma’s 95th birthday? One of the many Christmases? Do I take time off of work during my busiest season? It is mind-boggling. It is exhausting. 

While I do not wish to disappoint anyone, ever, I also cannot continue this cycle anymore. More importantly, this is not the example I want to set for my children. It would devastate me to think they might grow up with the notion that it is normal to rush through life without ever truly enjoying it or being present in the significant moments - big or small. Thus, this new year begins a new journey for us. And it begins with me.

I’d like to tell you that I have a clear and specific plan to simplify, minimize, restore, connect, slow down … but I do not. I would love to tell you that I know exactly where to begin to bring balance, intention, and a stronger foundation of faith and mindfulness, but I do not. This year will be one of my own baby steps toward a much needed state of PEACE