The Busy and The Quiet


There are very few times in my life that I am alone any more.  Especially, times where I am alone and not connected to someone or something via my phone.  This is one of those times (don’t be bothered by the being connected to my blog….that is a part of the relief).  The kids are off to a movie with Jon and I am due to a friends house in about an hour.  But, for these 45 minutes, I am alone.  No sounds around me in the house other than my fingers typing, and the hum of our house as the dishwasher runs and the laundry is in action.  

I realize in this moment how I have almost forgotten how to sit silently.  The things I should be doing race through my mind:  should I prep the food for dinner; is the laundry ready to fold; maybe I should squeeze a quick workout in; I haven’t called my best friends from high school/college in a long time and should take this minute to make that happen; I have been meaning to get back to the book I got half way through on vacation and now is the time; what could I start on to make this week go more smoothly.  So, I force myself to keep writing as a way to not relinquish this time to the constant to do list in my mind.  

When did this happen?  Was it the onset of kids that took all my quiet moments and turned them into times filled with things?  Was it my job progressing to the point where I don’t have time during the day to take a deep breath?  Did this set the precedent for “no deep breaths, ever”?  Maybe it is because our world is on at all times (email, text, Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, etc.).  Maybe it is because Jon and I are productive people….and don’t want to let a minute not help us to progress something forward.  

In reflection, it is a choice.  I like to squeeze a lot into my life.  I enjoy the things with my family, and my job, and socializing as a part of our community.  I enjoy my friends, and the outdoors where we live and staying connected to friends from prior times in my life via phone, text, email.  I enjoy the busy.  

But, I also like the quiet.  The slight dripping I hear from the kitchen sink, the idea of a nap, being bored.  A weekend with no plans, the time to take a spur of the moment road trip.  The ability to answer my phone when my mom calls versus texting her I am in the middle of something.  The free brain space to dream about things that make me happy, without making a plan about them….simply imagining what could be.  

To live my life to the fullest, it takes the ability to do both of these things.  Not letting either the busy or the quiet dominate my time.  Being comfortable telling myself to redirect if I get too heavy on one side of the scale.  This is one of those moments.  I have been running too hard the last few months.  Not enough quiet, not enough writing, not enough open space.  It shows up in my health (sitting here with a cold), my kids (they show me my stress as if they are a mirror) and my temperament.  Time to redirect.  

Thank You Hillary…#ImWithHer

I find myself at a loss of words after this monumental week.

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Katharine was beyond excited to stay up to watch Hillary Clinton accept the presidential nomination.  As was I.  I found myself moved almost to tears by Chelsea’s introduction (however not comfortable Chelsea looked), by Hilary’s deliberate recognition of the power of the moment, by her humble acknowledgement of both her strengths (work horse) and her weaknesses (show horse), but most notably by Katharine’s excitement about the evening.

For her it was just about the experience, about learning and understanding how this election thing works, about being able to stay up late, about seeing daughter introduce her mother for something exciting, and about the fascination with the role of our President.  And, it was of course cool that it was a girl.  She asked me if I was ever going to have her introduce me for something like that.  She wondered if the whole world was like America.

For me it was about making history, about hard work, about perseverance, about striving for something despite all odds, and about creating opportunity for all of the little girls that  were watching.  And, it was of course because it was a girl.  I had hoped for this day for a long time.  It made me proud of America.

I know that my politics haven’t always lined up with Hillary, and I am certain that I don’t agree with everything that she is advocating for, but #ImWithHer because of the lesson that she can teach America and the world.  She is showing us that hard work, perseverance, dedication to a cause, and belief in equality can change the world.  She is helping all of the little girls see what they can be.

How to disconnect?

How do I find time to disconnect?  In todays  busy world of two kids, two jobs in our family, a fair amount of work travel, and  building and now moving into our new house this seems to be the thing I have the hardest time with.  There is the literal disconnecting, from either work or technology.  I have gotten better at the work physicial disconnect over time.  I am there at 8:30 and I leave by 5:30 almost without fail.  The mental and technology disconnects have been much harder for me.  In fact, the more I have time to think at work, the more time my brain stays engaged outside of my desk hours.  And technology, ugh, no good at this.

My technology diconnect used to be via reading a book headed to bed. Lately that hasn’t worked.  My book is on my iPad which is the source of most of my connections in the world (my work calendar, my email, the internet, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and this blog).  I find myself instead of taking  30 minutes to read my book that I get started reading and then remember the ten things that I had meant to do that day and I begin to tackle a few on the spot.  Is it just that the device is associated with productivity?  Anyone else have this problem?

I am considering starting to read real books again.  Honest-to-god printed books.  So, 2000’s of me.  My other solution is banning the iPad from my bedroom.  That seems not practical though.  It serves as my music, my alarm, my source of book, and a way to catch up on the news.  Maybe I am rationalizing, but this doesn’t seem practical.

The only solution that I have had recently is the gym.  Being there has helped to mentally disconnect. I go there and I am only focused on the physicial activity.  This is giving me at least one hour, three days a week of separation from my to-do list.  Not enough, but a start.

Please give me some advice if you are reading this.  All of us have this challenge in some way, especially with technology, and I am wondering how you all are tackling it out there.

Starting My 40th Year

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Yesterday, I turned 39.  Today, people asked me what it is like to begin my 40th year.  In all honesty, today felt a lot like yesterday with a little less fanfare, and for certain less cake.  As I begin to think about what this 40th year will be like, it has made me reflect on how far I have come in a decade.   Today, I am a confident (at least half of the time), humble (most all of the time), professional, mother and wife.  I like to believe that I have helped more people in my 30’s than I have hurt, unlike my 20’s, and that I will help even more in the next decade.

One of the most vivid memories I have of turning 30 was celebrating that I could say “I am in my 30’s” at work.  For some reason, I felt like being 30 would instantly give me the respect that I craved at work, and it would help my coworkers (mostly men, 15 – 20 years my senior) to respect me.  At 30, I had been working in a corporate setting for almost ten years.  I came out of college young into an amazing job, and continued taking on progressively more responsibility from Procter and Gamble to Pepsi.  In 2006, I was working as a Marketing Director for Mrs. Fields Cookies in Salt Lake City.

I was enjoying the work.  It was challenging, both intellectually and organizationally.  I continued to work hard and stay committed to success.  Despite my positive performance feedback, and my commitment to the company, and me asking for them, my bosses and co-workers wouldn’t give me larger assignments or the nod to lead stretch projects.  I truly believed that they didn’t respect all that I could deliver.

So, in my immature mind, turning 30 was the answer!  I somehow convinced myself that this milestone would bring me confidence and help them to recognize that I wasn’t a “little girl who just graduated from college.”  Wow – was I wrong.  Sure, for several months, I found a new confidence based on this belief, but I quickly realized that nothing changed around me.  I was still the same person the day after I turned 30 that I was the day before.  My work relationships were still the same work relationships.  My feeling of “lack of respect” still existed.  I felt like I didn’t get taken seriously for what I had to offer.  I decided to just put my head down and work harder than anyone around me.  My last ditch effort to earn the respect I felt that I deserved.

As I reflect now, I can see how foolish this all seemed.  What was my problem?  Why did I worry about what now seems so trivial?  I know today that this feeling of self-doubt had nothing to do with how my bosses and co-workers were treating me, but had everything to do with my own self confidence.  Instead of believing in myself, I looked outward for affirmation.

Almost a decade later, I believe that living through this challenge in my life shaped how I live today.  So, I am not celebrating the start of my 40th year nor lamenting it.  Today, I am a professional, a leader, an athlete, a wife and a mother.  I still struggle at times with a feeling of “lack of respect”, but I try hard to celebrate what I have accomplished myself versus looking for someone to affirm my contributions.  I try act with respect for myself and for others, and to be humble about what I know and what I don’t.  I work everyday to value each person on my team and in my life, knowing that each person brings a unique value.  As I lead people, I listen and try help people find their inner confidence and encourage them to respect themselves.

So with 39 in the rear view mirror, and 40 around the corner, I don’t start this 40th year with any grand hopes that being “in my forties” will change much.  What I am celebrating is that I have learned a lot in the last decade and hope to learn as much as I head toward the next one.

10 Years of Memories – Leaving our First House

We are in major transition as a family.  About 14 months ago we started building a new home, and we are in the final steps of the construction project.  In preparation to  move to the new place, we put our current house on the market and it sold, and quickly.  So today, we moved all of our stuff out of the old home and moved into temporary living until our new house is done.  It is crazy…this home is the first that Jon and I have ever owned.  I love that both Jon and I, and our kids, have grown up here.

Ten years!  It is hard to believe.  What an amazing ten years it has been.  I thought I would share just a few of my favorite moments.

  • The day we found the house.  We had just moved back to Utah and were driving around the Park City neighborhoods.  We drove by our house, and new it was a winner.  Later that day, after our realtor took us inside, we confirmed it was the one…bad decor and all.

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  • The projects!  Over the first few years, it was a never ending projects.  From the little ones, like adding cabinet hardware, to the full house painting project, we did it all ourselves.  It was hard work, but a fun set of memories, including painting the monster green wall!
  • Buying our first furniture together.  These were huge decisions often taking months of research.  Seems funny today, as it would be luxury to have months to research a couch.  But, the research served us well.  As we leave the house, we are selling/giving away a lot of our original furniture, well worn and full of memories.
  • Snow!  Love it or hate it, Blacksmith Road has gotten some doozies of winter storms over the years.  We love it.  I am sure that our new place will be just as much of a winter wonderland (assuming global warming doesn’t make the snow go away).

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  • Dinner parties.  Jon and I love the dinner party.  Our deck and our dining room had many a fun party over the last ten years.  Some of the most memorable were our east-coast ski visitors flying in lobsters or crab cakes to bring a little of the east coast our way.  Or the endless burger-press grill outs, including many a Cutthroat.
  • Leaving the house for Phoenix in 2008, and putting it on the market.  What a great time to put your house on the market, huh?!?  So lucky that it never sold.   I remember vividly driving away from Park City for the first time.  Some bittersweet memories.
  • Coming home, finally.  When Katharine was three weeks old, we moved back to Park City from Phoenix.  I remember when I brought Katharine into the house for the first time.  Jon was driving up from Phoenix, and I had made the journey, bravely, with our three week old on an airplane alone.  The peace I felt as I walked into the house was refreshing after the two year crazy-land we lived in in Arizona.

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  • Bringing Matthew home from Park City hospital as a newborn.  Katharine trying to help carry Matthew into the house as the strong-willed little two year old.

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  • The moments with our kids.  From Katharine’s first steps, to her first bike rides without training wheels, to sibling love and fighting, to Matthew’s recent crazy dance moves, our kids started their lives in this house and I will never forget how we all grew up together.

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  • Moments with our friends and family.  The beauty of living in a ski town is that people come to visit.  We have had so many visitors over ten years stay with us, ski with us and laugh with us.  I hope that continues in our new place.  There is more fun to be had!
  • Jon.  My life is better because of him.  Ten of our thirteen married years were in this house, and I love him and our life more today than I did the day we crossed our fingers and signed the papers to buy this place hoping that we weren’t in over our heads.

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What a wonderful ten years of memories.  I am sad to leave, but happy for the next step.  I can’t wait to great 10+ more at the new place!

Summer Vacation

So for those of you who have noticed, I am on summer vacation from the blog.  I figured one of the best things to help me sustain writing this in the future was a little break.  Interestingly enough, I find myself missing writing.  Good sign I guess!

Four more weeks left of summer vacation.  We will see if I can hold out.

#everybodyneedsabreak

Taking Pride in the Journey

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A few weeks ago, I heard Chris Warner speak.  Chris is one of America’s most renowned mountaineers having summited five of the worlds’ tallest peaks including both Everest and K2.  He also is an entrepreneur (the founder and President of Earth Treks, Inc.), publisher and speaker sharing the lessons that he has learned on leadership through his many expeditions.  In 2007, he led the Shared Summits expedition successfully summiting K2 and proceeded to produce an Emmy award-winning film about the expedition.

His message in his talk was a good one.  He spoke in reference to his journey to the top of K2. Other athletes on other teams abandoned some of their friends, didn’t help others succeed and even stole equipment from his team. Alternatively, his team’s approach was different. They helped others to succeed and stay safe. Some of these choices to help others along the way caused additional hardship to Chris’s team. But, in the end, they completed a successful climb that they are proud of until this day.  My favorite quotation was:

Don’t get to the top of the peak you are climbing and not be proud of the way that you got there. – Chris Warner

There are a few reasons why this resonated with me so much:

  1. Often times as a goal-oriented person, it can be easy to see my individual choices and actions as a means to achieve the end goal.  Instead, what I constantly have to remind myself is that the journey is what I will remember and learn from. It is what builds my life. Without remembering this, I can get too focused on the end and not enjoy the process of getting there.
  2. My gut instinct is so often right.  In my life, there have been moments where I didn’t feel good about a decision I made.  My gut often times was telling me in the moment to make a different decision, or to reverse my course.  Sometimes I listened, sometimes I didn’t. Luckily, these decisions were small and time passed with no consequence.  However, despite the lack of consequence, I have regretted not trusting my instinct and reversing my course if for nothing but the knowledge that it would’ve been the right thing to do.
  3. I only have one life to live.  How I live this life, or in Chris’s case how he climbed K2, is the ultimate reflection of my character. I try my hardest to do what is right at every turn, to make choices that I would be proud of my children knowing that I made.

Confessions of a “To-Do” List-aholic

We are in the middle of a relaxing beach vacation with our kids for the very first time.  Sunday was both of the kids first time playing at the beach.  Katharine was beyond excited.  As she played in the surf, giggles, an occasional squeal and moments of “this is amazing,” were what filled the air.  What a moment this was for her!  Her happiness filled our faces with joy just being around her.

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I sit here while the kids are napping after another fun filled morning thinking about my list of things to do both back at home and at work.  How in the world did my to-do list begin to creep back in my head?  Instead of heading upstairs to relax, or reading a book, I pull out my computer and begin down a path of checking email…almost out of habit.  Has my busy lifestyle made me incapable of just relaxing?  What the hell am I doing.

Today, I am confessing.  In hopes to not make this my path for the afternoon, I am writing this blog instead of doing my work email (oh damn- the notification of another email just popped up….hold strong).  I am choosing that a “to-do” list shouldn’t run my life, despite how busy I am.  I am choosing that by confessing, I am taking back control.  Working too much is not a forgone conclusion.  I refuse to accept that my email and my work list can control my life.  It starts today.

My commitment for this week is to get back on vacation, and stay there;  to start squealing with my kids on the beach when the surf touches my toes; to a margarita (or two) for lunch; and to a nap snuggling with my beautiful little kids.  I will be back next week!

Embracing the Builder in Me

    This week someone asked me how I would characterize myself.  What a question!?!  Not something that you ask a person like me lightly.  What it caused me to do was to reflect on what is now almost a 39 year old life, a 17 year career, an almost 13 year marriage and the last 5 years as a mother.  

    Is it possible to characterize what I am known for with a phrase or a statement?  I wonder if it can be that simple.  How can I package this life I have lived into a statement without being trite or oversimplifying the wonderful complexity that has been my life.  After a few moments of skepticism and frustration, it came to me.  

    I am a builder.  

    A builder of things:  kiddos, relationships (including the longest, best one with Jon), teams, businesses, marketing programs, friendships and most recently a house.  You name it, I like building it.  One of the profound things you realize when you are building a house is that through a series of micro-choices (the floor plan, the materials selection, the fixtures, the lighting) a house is formed.  It is amazing how relevant this is to life!!  A series of small (and some big choices) help to create the life that you want.  Sometimes those choices feel big – like whether to have kids – and sometimes they feel small – like getting out of bed to go to the gym in the morning.  Either way, they help to determine who you are as a person.  

    So, as a builder, what is the next thing that I will build?  Our house wraps up this summer, my team at work is in great shape, my kids appear to be normal, well-adjusted, kind little beings (at least most of the time), and Jon and I have met a number of the goals that we set out to accomplish.  Enter the problem!  I can’t seem to sit in this new so-called house (otherwise known as my life) that I have buit, and enjoy things.  I am always on the look out for the next thing to build…something to harness my creativtity and the perspective I have learned from all of the other building projects I have completed.    

    This creates mental disonance.  A feeling like I am not living in the moment, but instead, always looking toward the next project.  This evening, as I sit contemplating that next project, I have decided instead of being frustrated by being a builder, I will embrace my pursuit of the next thing.  It is just a matter of picking it wisely.