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.

There Should Be More Girls

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Tonight when putting Katharine (6 1/2) to bed and talking about her day, she asked me an important and hard to answer question.  “Mom, why aren’t there more girls in my mountain biking camp?”  First of all, mountain biking camp!  I know, only in Park City does a 6 1/2 year old have a bike nicer than I did at age 25, and get to go to a camp to learn to ride trails that I only got brave enough to take on 15 years ago.

She proceeded to say, “Having more girls would be more fun.  Plus mom, we can do anything that boys can do.”  Proud mommy moment.  After a few minutes, I realized that I had never answered her question.  Why aren’t there more girls?  I proceeded to tell her that at my work, I often times am the only girl so I know how she feels.  I shared with her that it would be more fun if there were more of us (not stated to her…and more productive, and more diverse in opinions, and better for business).  I told her that the good news is that I work with a ton of girls.  In fact, at my company, there are more girls than boys (we are over 60% female).  She gave me a bright-eyed smile.  I told her that in my office there are actually about 600 girls.  She proceeded to ask me if there were only a few boys because that would be “cool”, to which I said nope, about 500.  She was pretty jazzed that at my work the girls outnumbered the boys.  We talked about it more and I told her that it was actually really great that there were all kinds of people at my work…boys, girls, young people, old people, white people, black people (I know in Utah!).  She thought that it would be “better if in her mountain biking class there could be all kinds of people too.”

But, I never answered her question.  Why aren’t there more girls?  I want to protect her from some of the truths that are probably behind that question.  Maybe more parents believe their boys should be mountain bikers than girls?  Maybe society teaches little girls to choose ballet camp instead (trust me Katharine wants to do that too, and Matthew has never asked).  I avoided the question, hoped to teach her that girls can do anything boys can do, and vice versa, and hoped that what she remembers is that having all kinds of people in all things makes everything better.

Girls Weekend: The First of Many (Let’s Hope)

I am one lucky momma.  This weekend I had the luxury of taking Katharine (my now 5 3/4 year old – that 3/4 is very important to her) for her first girls weekend.  I was coming off a very busy week at work (fall budgeting, executive retreat in Southern Utah).  The prompting of the girls weekend location (Seattle) was because I had a business committment there on Friday morning.  A few weeks ago, as we were planning for this busy week, I was lamenting being gone out of town from Jon and the kids for 4 of the 5 weeknights.  So, we decided it was a great time for the first of what will hopefully be many girls weekends (and boys weekends with Matthew and Jon) so Katharine joined me on my business trip.  Given the Seattle destination (Hilary – my sister – and her family live there), it also gave us a great excuse to see them and let our three girls play together.

As the week progressed, and I arrived home from my first business trip to the Executive Retreat at 8pm on Wednesday night having worked about 40-45 hours in three days, I was lamenting leaving again on Thursday even though it was both a work and fun trip.  I was just tired.  I unpacked and repacked that evening, snuggled Matthew and crashed, trying to keep the faith that I could do it.

So, Thursday at work, Jon brought Katharine down to drop her off and we headed to the airport.  My energy had picked up, and seeing her excitement helped me over the hump to leave again.  The smile on her face when she come running into my office and how tightly she held my hand as we walked through the airport will be two memories that I will never forget.

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After I got through my work commitment on Friday morning, I met Hilary and Katharine for a lunch date and we took on the town.  Katharine had three things on her list:  1)  Put her gum on the gum wall in Seattle; 2) See the fish fly at Pike’s Place Market; and 3) Get her nails done.  Despite only an afternoon, we did it. On my list:  A nap.  I didn’t get to mine, but the excitement of seeing Katharine take in the sites, sounds and smells of the city for the first time made it worth it.

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As we bombed around Seattle, I got lots of “I love you” squeezes on my hand and heard a lot of singing out of Katharine (she sings when she is happy).  And, I forgot that I was tired.  Life is busy, and often times the whirwind makes me not live in each moment.  On what was my most tiring work weeks in awhile, I am so happy that I didn’t allow being tired to take away from this priceless time with my little one.  Cheers to many more girls weekends little K.

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!

Commitments: Make The Next Half Even Better (and Longer)

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I am 38 years old with two adorable kids and a wonderful husband.  2 working parents with travel schedules, building a new house, trying to be involved in our community, and trying to be great parents.  Living life in a place I love, with the people that I love.  Pretty much the luckiest woman around.  You could also read this as overly busy but trying to have it all.

For the last few weeks, as I have been working on planning for my husbands 40th birthday which is coming this fall, I have been coming to grips with how short life seems.  I know that this may sound melodramatic.  What hit me in talking with Jon about turning 40, is that mathmatically, given the average life expectancy, we are about half way through our life (or a little past that).  This can either scare me or make me celebrate what lies ahead.  What it actually has caused me to do, as I start thinking about it, is to wonder if it is true.  We have a number of family friends or relatives that are dealing with serious cancer, and I have a coworker who is 48 who has recently been diagnosed with Stage 2 ovarian cancer.  All of it is shocking, and sad.  In particular those who are so young, and haven’t lived the life that they have claimed to have wanted.  It is a morbid thought, but my worry-meter has been rising.  This worry was capped off this week when I attended the “Go Red for Women” luncheon hosted by the American Heart Association.  One of the speakers was a 38 year old mother of two boys who had a major heart incident at the age of 31.  Yikes!  A little too close to home.

But, the worst thing I can do is to worry.  Worry fills my head and my time with ideas and thoughts that have no fruit. So yesterday, as I sat writing this at the salon while getting my nails done during “girls day out” with my lovely Katharine, I have a renewed commitment to enjoying the moments of my life (even the stressful and busy ones).  A commitment to making choices in my life and our families life (our food, our exercise, our habits) that create a long healthy life together.  And, a commitment to make what I hope is a longer second half of my life even better than the first.

The Joy in Her Eyes

Katharine at ChristmasChristmas morning in State College with the Snavely’s.  Katharine is such a big girl (4 in this picture, but five days to her 5th birthday).  This holiday Katharine seems like such a grown up little girl.  Between her snuggling with Gigi and Gaga in their bed, giving hugs to Matthew with “I love you” whispered in his ear, and doing her projects (learning to knit, making bracelets, sticker mosaics and her butterfly pillow), she is no longer just tearing into the gifts and not enjoying them.  Her enthusiasm to live in the moment is motivating to all around her.  More than once this vacation, someone has said to me, “Katharine has such a positive outlook on life.”  This is one of the most important things that I hope that she learns in life.  The pure joy in her eyes when she is excited melts my heart and most around her.  It is wonderful to get to spend two weeks off with my sweetheart.

Confessions of a Chronic Over-Scheduler

It has been a month of very few blog posts and very little free time.  Tonight, I find myself writing from 30,000 feet with two little kiddos perched next to me watching movies on our long flight back from Christmas in State College.  It honestly feels like this may be the first free moment in my life in December.  Maybe I will say this every year, but this seems to have been the busiest holiday season yet.  All fun things, but lots of things.

We traveled back to Ohio for Thanksgiving and flew back to Park City on November 28th.  From that day, until today, every work day and every evening had a purpose.  Some work or holiday preparation task that had to be completed.  November 29th – get the Christmas tree and decorations up.  November 30th, first ski days planned.  December 1st – begin the board meeting at the kids school.  December 2nd – Christmas cards created.  December 3rd – finish the full lists of who gets Christmas cards and get the hunt for addresses closed for the year.  December 3rd – work event.  December 4th – prep for Christmas cookies.  December 5th – Christmas cookie party.  December 6th – holiday calendar started.  December 7th – finish and order holiday calendars, 3 holiday parties.  December 8, 9, 10th – work trip to Ft. Lauderdale.  December 11th – kids school holiday party.  December 12th …. Gingerbread house….you get the point.  This schedule went on all the way up to December 21st when we flew back east.  We survived.  It all happened, and we had a wonderful Christmas with Jon’s family.  But, today I am tired and a little sick.  I can’t help but wish for a relaxing night or two in front of our Christmas tree at home with no place to go, no task to complete other than just relaxing.

It makes me wonder, what has to give in my life to have things be just a little less scheduled?  I don’t want to give up any of the fun things we fill our life with, but I also feel like keeping the pace we keep makes things go by at the speed of light.  I worry that with all of the things going on, I am not able to live in the moment.  My brain is always planning or processing the next thing to do as that is the only thing that makes them all able to fit into our schedule.

The funny thing about this is that I have always been of the belief as a parent that I won’t over-schedule our kids.  I see so many families of elementary age kids (and older) and they have so many activities going on that it seems like they don’t get time to just “be” together.  Jon and I talk about this and purposefully work to have our kids only in extracurricular activities if it is something they really enjoy, and only about 2 a year.  Ironically, I don’t apply this same principle to myself.

calendar-book-636Why am I a chronic over-scheduler?  Here are a few things that I have thought about.  Good, bad and ugly.

A Feeling of Obligation – Bad, even Ugly at times

I feel obligated to do as many things as I can with my time.  Obligated to my family, to my work team, to myself.  I feel like if I can do something, I should.  I feel lucky that throughout my life I have learned to be confident in my ability to take on almost anything.  This confidence is based in a belief that although I may not be great at whatever it is that I am trying, I will try to figure it out.  I also love variety.  The problem with the combination of these personality traits is that they lower the barrier of saying “yes” to things.  And when I say yes, I build obligation.  So, why do I feel obligated?  Who knows.

A Desire to Be Helpful – Good, but also Bad when it means no time for me

At the core of who I am, I like to help people.  I see something that I can help with, and I offer to help.  Often times this adds things to my list to do list and I want them there.  The most obvious sign of this is my list of both formal and informal mentees.  Over the years, this has been one of the most fulfilling parts of my professional life.  Ultimately, it is what has led me to want to lead a large team of marketers.  The trade-off, and there is always a trade-off is giving up time that I have for myself.

A Way Things Should Be Done – Generally Bad, and even Ugly

This is the one I have worked the most on in my quest for self-improvement.  I have historically had the perception in my life that there is a “best” way to do things.  This standard that I created for myself often times added a fair amount of stress to my life as when things aren’t done this “best” way, I get frustrated.  In the beginning of leading teams, this belief that there is one way to do things (my way) made me a horrible leader.  Nothing was ever good enough.  The best thing about this experience was that it forced me to change.  Having kids was the next big life change that helped me to value things not going my way.  My kids almost never see how brilliant my way is!  By having this belief, it has historically caused me to take more time doing things than they need.  In a life of time scarcity, this is a problem.

I Love Doing Things – Good!

I truly love relationships, challenges, being active and trying new things.  This is the most honest and good reason that I over-schedule myself.  I like it.  Doesn’t mean I like some of the consequences of the over-scheduling, but I do truly enjoy doing the things that I do.

So, good, bad and ugly this seems like why I do what I do.  Any advice out there from other over-schedulers?  Is it a lost cause, or can you change this about yourself?

Taking the Downside Out of Determination

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The other day when Katharine was working on a puzzle she leaned over to me and said, “Mom, this is a hard one.” She continued to stay determined to accomplish the puzzle as a good Stock/Snavely would. A few minutes later…”Mom, we never give up do we?”  Proud mommy moment.  She knew it was hard, but was willing to put the effort in to learn and accomplish what she set out to do.  Jon and I pride ourselves in building a life based on working hard and not giving up on our goals.  This moment of hearing her echo our behavior in her words helped me to appreciate how early we either learn or don’t learn this in our lives.

Then, I start to freak out.  Am I being too ambitious as a parent?  All I want to do is to teach our kids that they are in control of their lives.  I hope for their ability to be determined, positive and committed to what they want in their lives.  I hope that they can solve the problems that they encounter.  I also want them to know that trying is all we ask of them, not necessarily succeeding and delivering a perfect outcome.

As I reflect on what made me a “never give up” person, I do worry about the downside of being determined.  Much of my determination came from a desire to be perfect.  This desire to be perfect, whether it was because I wanted to please others or just for myself, often times turned my determination into stress.  Today, this drive for perfection has diminished a great deal – mostly due to the fact that I know it isn’t possible.  That said, the perfectionist behavior rears its ugly head frequently.  When it does, I generally try to turn the perfectionist behavior into the problem and work to channel my “never give up” skills into solving that problem.

So, although I am proud of what Katharine (and Matthew) are learning, I certainly hope their journey as determined kiddos and ultimately adults is also met with an acceptance and enjoyment of the moments in which they live.  For them to learn this, Jon and I have to show them it is possible.  Whether it be taking a random afternoon nap, having an evening dance party together, playing hooky from school every so often, or just reading a book on a snowy weekend morning, I am going to teach them through how I live how having the determination to meet your goals and living in the moment are not opposites of each other.

Commitments: Enjoy What I Have

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Had a wonderful weekend with just our family.  I realize sitting here on Sunday night that we had literally no plans this weekend other than Katharine’s soccer game which was ultimately cancelled due to rain.  I can’t remember the last time our weekend was so unplanned.  And, it was wonderful.  Just a few days of enjoying what I have and feeling lucky.  So, a commitment for this evening….keep enjoying.

Little Miss Magic

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Tonight while putting Katharine to bed she wanted to listen to music.  My phone was in my pocket and I decided this would be a nice relaxing way to spend the next ten minutes despite my dread for “Let It Go”, “Do You Want to be a Snowman” and other Frozen songs I was certain she would select.  Jon is gone traveling and after a long day, even these tunes provide a welcome quiet moment while snuggling one of my favorite little people.

I turned my phone over to her and let her navigate through the music selection to pick what she wants.  These little four-year old fingers are amazingly agile at navigating through the iPhone music selection so I drifted into thought of my day and what else I still needed to do tonight before I could retire to bed myself.  Before I knew it, Little Miss Magic by Jimmy Buffett was playing and Katharine snuggled up tight to sing.

Momentarily, I forgot everything but the journey I have been on with this precious little one.  How her 4 1/2 years of life have helped me to realize how important things like the warm breeze on my not so gentle skin are things not to take for granted.  Katharine kept singing through the whole song, to my amazement, and as the song closed let me know that she picked it because she is daddy’s “Little Miss Magic” and that she knows while he is on his trip that he is thinking of her.

A moment I won’t forget.  Goodnight, Little Miss Magic.