Baby Steps in High Heels

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:

STILL
MOVE
BUILD

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:

Balance
Simplify
Mindfulness
Minimize
Intention
Connect
Faith
Restore
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





Tuesday, October 24, 2017

All the ways we recognize fall in the south ....

7:52 AM 0
All the ways we recognize fall in the south ....
Because the weather certainly won’t tell us. 

1.  College Football. Yes, it starts in August. Yes, it’s still Summer. However, for us, even when the quarterback snaps the first ball of the season, we know we will have 6-8 more weeks of flip flop weather. At least he’s more predictable than a groundhog. 

2. Mixed messages when our kids ask what to wear. In our house, I break out the cardigans and ankle boots the moment the temps near the low 80s. Husband will wear shorts in the 50s. Our poor kids never really know if they’ve chosen the right outfit. 

3. All four seasons in one week. It’s true the high temps can stick around through November, but that doesn’t mean we don’t occasionally sprinkle in a snow flurry the day after we’ve floated the river. {Seriously, the weather won't tell us when Fall has arrived, at least not with any certainty.)

4. Pumpkin patches in flip flops and shorts. Family photos in cute fall outfits while sweating up a storm at 8:00 a.m. And, heavy coats layered over tank tops, because sometimes all four seasons also happen in a single day. Our closets are always bursting at the seams, because we can never pack away a season of clothing for months at a time. We usually need swim suits and scarves all in the same week. 

5. We eat and drink pumpkin spice everything in front of our fire places, but we need to crank down the AC first. 

6. We buy out the fall foliage section at craft stores because the leaves on our trees go from green to brown, then straight to the ground without ever a hint of yellow or orange or red. 

7. Halloween costumes are a nightmare to select. Those cute and cuddly animals costumes may cause our toddlers to have a heat stroke. On the other hand, a cold front could roll through and bring temps in the 30s by the time we start ringing doorbells to trick-or-treat. Seriously, how exactly do you prepare for this?!

You may have better luck in you part of the South, but here in South/Central Texas, we mostly fake it till we make it. We love the autumn season, and we are dang lucky that our southern roots and flare for overly dramatic hospitality and decor allow us to compensate for Mother Nature .... now I’m off to order a PSL, just as soon I turn UP the seat warmer in my car and turn DOWN the AC to its lowest setting. 



Happy Fall, y’all. Even if we have to make it happen ourselves. 

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Hurricane Harvey Relief

4:00 PM 0
Hurricane Harvey Relief
I am a born and raised Texan, and I have seen my fair share of floods. I have never seen devastation to this extent. We all want to help, and, at this time, I am using my local pajama drive - Christmas Pajama Promise-New Braunfels - to collect NEW pajamas for children affected by the storm. We will collect size Newborn - Adult Large over the next 2 weeks. 

If you are local to our area, please consider making a donation at one of the following locations:
Leslie Lybarger - State Farm 
Chick-fil-a Westpointe Village
The Gym



This is a great, but simple, way to involve children in the helping process. 

We do not yet have a specific donation recipient (or recipients). I will travel near Corpus Christi toward the end of September and hope to connect with some of the smaller towns who have received less support. If you have specific suggestions, please reach out to me. 


Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Good morning ...

10:41 AM 0
Good morning ...
Good morning, old friends.

It always amazes me that I find so little time to write in the summer. It's the time when my work is a bit more slowly paced; it supposed to be the time when I have more .... well, time.

The truth is that I have struggled with my writing lately. To share or not to share. How much to share. Does anyone care? I've written a time or two about how much blogging has changed since I began about 8 years ago. For me, it was a means of connection at a time when I felt fairly isolated (remember: sick pregnancy, new town, no friends or energy = new blog).

Not only has my life changed and evolved over the last several years, so has the blogging world. It's no longer just a glorified daily journal, but a place that requires high quality images, social media, and some fairly intense networking if you want your work to go anywhere.

To that end, I have been wondering where exactly I fit in all of this. Write what you know is an often used adage, and I have done a lot of that, focusing on the aspects of working motherhood that are familiar to me. But, truth be told, those topics can grow weary fairly quickly. And .... another truth be told, most of those topics are not specific to mothers who work outside of the home, but to mothers of all walks of life.

Where do I fit? Who is my audience? This morning, friends, I believe I have found my answer ....

I fit here. And, my audience is me. I began writing as an outlet, as a mode of connection, and in a time when blogging was truly a glorified journal. And, at that time, I loved it. Write what you know. Do what you love. Today, I will begin a journey to take this space back to what I know and love.

I don't mean to exclude you by saying that I will by my own audience. Rather, I need to write for myself and not for anyone else. My goal, my hope, is that you will like what I share and that my writing will resonate with you .... and that you will become a part of my audience naturally.

What will I write about? Good question! What do I know and love? I love my family, our life together and this fabulous "new" idea to scale back, become less busy, and be mindful of the slower times and quieter moments. I'm not good at those latter things, so I'll write about my exploration and attempts at being less busy. I will still share my experiences in motherhood, working outside of the home.

I am also going to attempt a year-long project to post weekly about my kids, based on a picture from my phone. I'm hoping NOT to try to take pictures intentionally with a writing goal in mind. Rather, I'd like to look back on my week of photos (because I am that mom with 100 pictures/week on her phone), and write about our time.

Finally, I want to share some of my favorite things with y'all! I'm wholly reliant on Amazon Prime to function in any capacity (food, clothing, home furnishings, you name it!). I love supporting my friends side-hustle businesses. I love my friend Jolie's Purpose Box mission to shop with purpose and support those in need.

We will see how this goes, y'all! But before I can begin unpacking these writing goals of mine, I really need to finish unpacking our new house!