Saturday, February 3, 2018

"Skinny" is Not a Compliment

I wish I wasn't writing a blog about this. 

But, there is a situation that's been happening too frequently and it's made it apparent that there needs to be some conversation on this.

I lost about 30 lbs. over the past year and some. I've always been more naturally thin, but had gained over the past years.

This transformation has brought about an influx of comments from people everywhere. There have been some really nice compliments and reactions that made me feel good.

Then, there have been the alarming number of off-putting "compliments" and comments.

I do not write this with any malicious intent and I don't feel like the people I'm referencing have had malicious intent either. They may have intended it as a compliment. Or, they were just shocked by the transformation and it came out before they could think.

But, I'm here to tell everyone that "skinny" is not a compliment. 

"Scrawny" is not a compliment.

Especially if you are a friend.

Telling someone that they "need to eat" or "I hate you, you're so skinny" is not okay.

When it's happened. Over and over again... I've always been caught off-guard and left feeling a little ucky.

I like to think that I have a little bit of curves and I like to eat.

Is "skinny" really a nice thing to call someone?

Let's check out the definition in the dictionary...


1resembling skin membranous

2a lacking sufficient flesh very thin emaciated
lacking usual or desirable bulk, quantity, qualities, or significance
I would say that "lacking sufficient flesh" or "lacking usual or desirable significance" (ouch) is NOT ideal.

Let's check out the definition of "scrawny" while we're at it...

  1. (of a person or animal) unattractively thin and bony.
    synonyms:skinnythinlean, as thin as a rake, skin-and-bones, gauntbonyangulargawky, scraggy, rawboned, size-zero; 

I think it is pretty clear that these adjectives are not compliments.

I have a friend who lost a fair amount of weight and I heard the comments behind her back.

"She's TOO thin" "She looks sick" "I wish I was skinny, but not THAT skinny."

What if she is sick? 

It's not nice.

Some ideas of alternative compliments to give someone about their transformation:
You look great!
You look fantastic!
You look phenomenal!
You go girl!
You look beautiful!
You look incredible!
You're a babe!

Over months and months of interactions, I have had many wonderful tasteful compliments. I have been surrounded by many positive people who have celebrated my transformation.

It would be nice to live in a world where we could be proud of our bodies and not feel ashamed regardless of what size we are.

We need to work more on loving each other and building each other up rather than passing judgement and letting our own insecurities bring others down.

You don't know what another person is going through.

Let's all make an effort to treat people a little nicer... including ourselves.

We all have insecurities. We all have challenges and fears and heartbreak. We all have strengths. We all have blessings and talents and beautiful parts.

Let's work on building some beauty inside so we can all be happy in our own skin.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

7 Truths About Running a Startup

After two years of running a startup, I reflect back on the journey so far. The past two years has definitely changed me.

I think, if you are running a startup and aren't covered in gray hair, somewhat of an alcoholic or don't appear slightly nuts 99% of the time, I don't trust you.

I recall, when I asked the Co-Founder of an extremely successful startup what his advice for a new business was, he told me ,"Don't do it." At the time, I thought, "What?! Running a business is awesome. It's your baby."

Now, I am starting to understand. That's it precisely. When you're running a business it IS your baby. It's like when you meet someone who has a toddler and they tell you, "Don't have kids!" They love their kids and they wouldn't trade them for the world... but, kids are expensive, stressful and make you crazy.

Running a business isn't all coffee and sweatpants.

In today's blog, I discuss 7 truths about running a startup.

1. You Will Ask Yourself "Should I Keep Going?"
You will go through hell and you will eventually have to ask yourself, "Is this for me? Is it better to quit and get an 8-5 job?" This is the question that I believe all entrepreneurs have to ask at a certain point. You would have benefits and a steady (really good) paycheck. You may even have some job offers or "dream jobs" open up that are tempting to go after.

But, when going to an 8-5 scares the living hell out of you and you know that you don't want to stop- you'll keep going.

2. Nobody is Going to Do it For You
It's not that you would expect others to carry your burdens or "fix" your mistakes. But, there will come times in your business where you will find that the only person you have to depend on is yourself.

If you want to be successful, you are responsible to make that happen.

3. You Will Have to Learn What Schedule is Best for You
One of the biggest benefits of owning your own business is to manage your own day. But, with great privilege comes great responsibility.

If you're like me, you want to get the most productivity out of your schedule. I am always reading articles about the best time of day to do this task/etc.

I was constantly beating myself up because I'm not an early morning person and all successful people get up at 4:30 a.m. blah blah blah.

Finally, I decided to let myself naturally fall into the schedule that works for me. I can sleep in until 7 a.m. and still be successful.

4. You Will Have Highs & Lows
Many entrepreneurs describe the journey as a rollercoaster of highs and lows. I remember being fearful of the "lows" when I would hear those words and thinking that I didn't want to go through them.

But, you will have lows. It's just part of business. Failures are stepping stones on the path to success. You will make mistakes. One of my favorite quotes is, "Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish" from Steve Jobs.

5. Work Hard Play Hard
You might spend the morning eating champagne cupcakes from the event last night and watching your show that you DVR'd. But then, the next Friday night you'll spend 8 straight hours trying to figure out an accounting error and not stop except to go to the bathroom.

Sometimes, I feel like Ferris Bueller skipping school during the day and it's awesome. But, other times, I work 16 hours straight and don't see sunlight for 3 days.

6. There IS Crying in Business
So. I worked "corporate" jobs for years and have almost never broke down crying. In tough situations, I at least held it together until I got home.

I always believed that there is no crying in business and felt that I would be weak if I cried in a business setting.

But, now I feel differently. It happens. Running a business is about as personal as you can get. You will go through a lot of emotions and probably lose your cool once in awhile.

7. You Don't Understand it Until You Live It
I always knew that running a business would be hard. I imagined having a million responsibilities and just being crazy busy.

What I didn't understand was the emotions, the challenges, the sacrifices. It's something I don't think you can truly understand it until you live it.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Living in the Present

My intention for this year is to live more in the present.

I chose this focus because I thought that by living more in the present I would improve all aspects of my life.

Every person has a primary state of time that they spend the most time in. Some people could spend hours reflecting on the past and analyzing and reliving their past experiences. Others are able to be present in the here and now. And, then there are those like myself who walk around pre-occupied with thoughts of what's coming next and envisioning the future.

As a future-oriented person, I find it serves me well in being a planner. It also serves me well in that I don't dwell on hardships too long and never hold grudges. 

On the otherhand, it also means that I have a difficult time just being in the moment and enjoying the present. On every single vacation I've ever been on, there's been a conversation asking, "Where should we go on our next vacation?"

There are many tips and tricks to live in the present, but I am also utilizing some of my own.

Most of all, I'm trying hard to just let things flow and not try to control. Some might call it "flying by the seat of my pants."

Also, I'm working on taking things as they come. Rather than trying to force things, I'm working on trusting.

One of the most challenging things I've been practicing involves music. Anyone who knows me, knows I listen to music all the time. In the car, in the shower, all day while I work, while I clean... 

I have a habit of switching songs pretty frequently, or taking forever to pick a song. I always want the "best" song that I'm in the mood for. I always think that there's a better song.

I've been working on just letting the music play. It takes every bit of self control to just leave it be. I find that in a few minutes I'm grooving to the song and I'm enjoying it.

I won't say that I have completely broken this habit, but it's a start.

One of the absolute best pieces I've read about living in the present is this article. I encourage anyone to take some time and read it.

I end with a good quote on living in the present:

“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this.”- Henry David Thoreau

Sunday, January 24, 2016

A Few of My Favorite Things

We all have those products that we love and highly recommend. In today's blog, I share 10 of my favorite things.

1. Cape Cod Kettle Cooked Potato Chips

Chips are one of my favorite snacks. These chips are the best. My favorite flavor is Sea Salt & Vinegar. They have the perfect crunch and flavor.

2. Sharpie Gel Highlighters

Highlighters are a list-makers best friend. I discovered these highlighters and became addicted to them. They are like crayons... but better.

3. Strawberry Chapstick

I've probably tried every other lip balm on the market. Nothing works like good old classic chapstick. I've even tried other types of chapstick and they don't work. My favorite scent is strawberry.

4. Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure

I don't see the point in buying expensive nail polish. Why spend more when this nail polish does the job. My favorite colors are Commander in Chic (Gray) and Wine Not (Red).

5. Post-It Filing Tabs

I love Post-It brand office supplies, but these are my favorite. I use them to label file folders for projects and then you can switch them out easily and reuse the folders. They are super sticky, but come off clean.

6. Lipton Red Goji Raspberry Green Tea

This is my favorite tea. Enough said.

7. Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream

I've tried many different face moisturizers as I use it 1-2 times per day. It's tough to rationalize spending a crazy amount on it. This is my favorite lower priced moisturizer.

8. Bath & Bodyworks Aromatherapy Orange Ginger Energy Lotion

I discovered this product line when staying at a hotel. They have lots of different products, but I am addicted to the lotion & body cream. It smells like a spa and gives you a boost.

9. Brookside Dark Chocolates

I could eat a whole bag of these in one sitting. But, they're dark chocolate and fruit, so they're healthy right?

10. Express Dark Wash Mid-Rise Jean Legging

Last, but not least on the list is my current favorite pair of jeans. It's hard to find a nice pair of jeans, especially when you're a Mom, but still want to be a hot one. These jeans come up over the hips and stay in place. They fit really well and you can wear them with boots.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

From the Hamster Wheel to the Roulette Wheel

As a child I was always finding ways to make money. Lemonade stands, a neighborhood newspaper, a cleaning business... As soon as I was old enough, I started a paper route and detasseled over the summers. On my 16th birthday I went down to the nearby grocery store and submitted a job application.

Owning my own business was always at the top of my bucket list. It was always something I would do "someday." 

Climbing the corporate ladder was never something that completely clicked with me. I knew that I wanted to be successful, but no matter how high up in a company I was, I would still want to own my own business someday.

8 months ago that "someday" finally came. I made the decision that I was going to go for it and I did.

In today's blog, I'll share 8 things I've discovered so far on this journey.

1. It's Going to Be Scary
Starting your own business is scary, but in order to have opportunity you have to feel the fear and do it anyway. At first, I would lie awake at night and think "am I really doing this? Am I crazy?"

A few of my favorite quotes are:

"Everything you want is on the other side of fear."
"Life begins at the edge of your comfort zone."
"You have to jump off the cliff and build your wings on the way down."

2. Building from the Ground Up
So far, the journey has been like building a house. First, there is the design of the business plan and vision. Then, you start with the foundation and build from the ground up. There are many different components that require different expertise. You decide which parts in the process you need to hire an expert for and which you can figure out yourself. It takes time and patience to build a solid structure.

3. Your Priorities vs. Your Boss' Priorities
When you're running on the corporate hamster wheel, you can find that you are a prisoner to the company objectives or your boss' priorities. When you are a business owner, you make your own priorities and the rest is negotiable. There are no reports that need to be completed that no one looks at anyway. Your time is spent on your mission and you are able to be more productive in less time.

4. It's a Lifestyle
Entrepreneurship is a lifestyle. Your professional life overlaps greatly with your home life. You work nights and you work weekends. When you work for someone else, you have scheduled hours and are working on their timeline. When you are an entrepreneur, you get to determine what works best for you and how your day should flow. Will you wake up early or burn the midnight oil? When will you fit in exercise? I still haven't quite decided what the most productive schedule for me is.

5. Paying Yourself Isn't As Fun As You'd Think
I always thought that when I paid myself it would be so exciting. But... it's not. When you own a business, you want to invest in the business and build up as much capital as you can. A paycheck for yourself is an expense for your business. It's exciting to be profitable, but payday doesn't have the same appeal.

6. Some Will Be Supportive, Some Will Be Standoffish
I have been blessed to have support from many wonderful people. Former colleagues or clients have went out of their way to send me encouraging messages. Friends have complimented me for taking the plunge. Acquaintances are genuinely interested in how the business is going and "jealous" that they would love to own a business someday.

But, some people who you thought might be supportive may be standoffish. Rather than being unsupportive or skeptical, some will not even acknowledge your endeavor. Some advice from some other entrepreneurs has helped me to not be so sensitive about this behavior. Some people may feel uncomfortable about your endeavor or be dealing with their own personal issues. Surround yourself with supporters.

7. So. Many. Coffee. Shops.
When you work from home, your conference room is a coffee shop. I never thought I'd get tired of meeting for lunch or coffee. Of coarse, I still love coffee, but I had to start getting into tea. Sometimes I have coffee shop meetings and I get a water. Sometimes I feel like I live at Panera Bread.
8. The Entrepreneur Community
When you're out and about during the day, you realize how many other people in the community have flexible schedules. I was amazed when I realized how many networking and community events there are. It was a huge boost for me to get involved in some local entrepreneurial groups. I've made some very meaningful relationships and formed some beneficial partnerships.

The entrepreneurial journey so far has felt... right. More and more, I feel like I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing. I look forward to seeing what the next months and year will bring.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Why a Messy House is NOT a Happy House

This blog post may be one that some will disagree with. I am sure that it will offend some people based on other articles that I have seen circulating of an opposite nature.

But, I feel that it's important to give an alternative opinion.

There are many popular quotes that have to do with having a messy house:
  • "A messy house is a happy house."
  • "Good moms have sticky floors, messy kitchens, laundry piles, dirty ovens & happy kids."
  • "A clean house is a sign of a wasted life."
There was an article that I read recently about what a "normal" house looks like. Now, while I understand that  "normal" house is a lived in house, I felt that it glorified having a messy house as though it was a badge of honor.

I told my 9 year old son about this blog post and read him the quotations. When he heard the quotation, "A messy is a happy house" he said "That should be a fact that a messy house is not a happy house. When you're done cleaning, you can still hang out with your kids. Plus, you don't have to clean every second."

I have had friends in my life make comments similar to these quotations. They have said things like, "I would rather spend time with my kids and have a messy house than spend time cleaning."

I disagree. I would rather be a good Mom and spend time with my kids AND have a clean house.

Now, this is not to say that my house is always clean. In fact, it gets messy every single day and is a constant battle to keep clean. Laundry piles up and floors get sticky.

But, I don't think a messy house is a "happy" house. And, I don't think that having sticky floors, messy kitchens and laundry piles is what makes you have happy kids and makes you a good Mom.

In a way, I think it is insulting to insinuate that spending time cleaning your house takes away from being a good parent.

Before I was a parent, I was quite a slob. Growing up, I lived in a tiny house that was over 100 years old. My Mom was a single parent for several years and myself and my siblings always had friends over filling up the house. My Mom even let those who needed a place to stay live with us, and so we usually had at least one extra person living at our place.

By the time I was in elementary school, we had a house full of teenagers that were dirtying dishes, leaving their clothes and junk everywhere and were too busy having fun to do chores. Along with that, our house was very small.

Growing up, I did have friends over, but I was a bit embarrassed of our house. I went to other friends houses that had stay at home Mom's and clean, orderly newer houses. Those were the kinds of homes where the kids were used to homemade bread when they got home from school and making their bed in the morning.

I had a fantastic childhood and I would not trade my family for the world. But, when I became a parent, it became more important to me to have a nice, clean place for my son to grow up in. I never wanted him to be embarrassed to have friends over.

I'll admit, that when I was in college, I was still a pretty big slob. Messiness didn't really bother me that much and I was too busy with other things to stress about cleaning. I liked the beauty of a clean space, but had not discovered the mental health benefits.

Over time, I have moved to the other side of the spectrum. Though I am still lazy at times, messiness stresses me out. I appreciate the zen, therapeutic feeling of a clean and organized space. I take pride in my home and in having a space that my son can feel comfortable in and enjoy his childhood in.

I also strive to teach him about organizing and cleaning so that he carries on good habits when he grows up and has a place of his own.

I understand that what is important is our children and the relationships that we have with them. My Mother was a fantastic Mother who baked cookies, sang to us and taught us so many great life principles that we have carried on to share with our children.

But, to me, a messy house does not make a happy home. You can have a clean house and have an unhappy home and you can have a clean house and have a happy home. Working towards having a home that I can be proud of and feel relaxed in is part of what I do to be a good parent.

Some parents don't prioritize cleanliness or order as an attribute that makes a happy home and that's okay. To each their own. But, children don't have the option of the house that they grow up in. 

And, I don't agree that a clean house is a sign of a wasted or unhappy life.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Epic Blanket Fort Party

It started with a dream. For the past several years, my husband Brian and I had joked about having a party and building the blanket fort of all blanket forts. We'd brushed it off as a childish notion that would never become a reality. It sounded like a lot of work.

Until now. We had planned on having a New Year's Eve party. A typical party where you dress up and have hors d'oeuvres. But, we ended up having to cancel. Brian's birthday was coming up in January and so I asked him if we should throw a blanket fort party. We wondered, "If we had one, would any of our friends actually come?"
It started off as a joke, but the more we talked about it the more we thought we should do it. And, once we get a crazy idea, it usually just snowballs from there.
Brian started contemplating the fort construction. We did not want it to be a traditional low lying fort. It had to be epic. It also had to be sturdy. I started talking about what types of food and games we should have at the party.

First, we went to the fabric store. We knew that we wouldn't be able to pull it off with blankets and so we decided to get a ton of fabric that was $1 or less a yard. On the first trip, we got around 50 yards, but he had to go back to the store after we did a trial run to get 25 more yards.
Brian came up with the system for assembling the fort by anchoring it into the studs in the wall and using clothesline. He had to modify it a few times during our trial run to reduce drooping and also anchored it to the ceiling.
We did a "trial run" the weekend before to make sure that the method for assembly worked.

This is the first run when Brian decided that we needed to anchor it to the ceiling also to make it higher.
He built a wood piece to go around the chandelier in the dining room and lowered the chandelier so that it would hang down into the fort. Awesome idea.
Our son Evan had fun during the assembly process and got to sleep in a test fort with his friend.
Once we had the method down, it was all about the final execution. We'd already thought about all of the details for the food, games and setup. The party was on Saturday and we assembled the fort on Thursday. It took about 5 hours to get it setup.

This is our living room after the fort is setup. The middle was over 6 feet so you could stand in it.
We had planned to extend the fort in our hallway and part of the kitchen. But, with two full rooms, we ran out of fabric and had to improvise with sheets, tablecloths and pillowcases to extend the fort down the sides. We decided to scratch the idea of extending the fort out into the other areas to be able to have enough pillows and blankets to make the existing fort as awesome as possible.
I was most excited about setting up the inside of the fort with pillows and blankets. We added Christmas lights for ambiance and planned to have a fire in the fireplace. The dining room was completely covered with pillows.
The menu for the party included a selection of favorite "kid's" foods: Kraft mac & cheese, pigs in a blanket, dinosaur chicken nuggets, pizza rolls, smily face fries, goldfish crackers, pb & j with the crusts cut off, teddy grahams, pudding snack packs, funfetti cake and an assortment of sugary candy. We tried to make jello jigglers, but they didn't turn out.
We made a "koolaid" type punch with fruit punch and rum and drank out of cups with bendy straws.
We chose some classic childhood games and a 64 pack of crayons and coloring books.
Of coarse, at a blanket fort party, everyone must wear pajamas. There were some pretty awesome pajamas sported at the party that I neglected to get good pictures of. From, footie pajamas, to zombie slippers to Batman legging type pants that were extremely small (on one of our guy friends).
The "pillow room" was the gaming area. We setup our friend's Super Nintendo and played Mario and other games.
The living room was the spot for activities like coloring, playing games and girl's gossiping about going to second base. We planned to play the movie "Big" on the TV, but had trouble with the Roku.
Later in the night, the games got more grown-up as we played Cards Against Humanity.
Our friend Tony brought a classic game, "Double Dare."
It was definitely a party to remember. I'm glad we have friends who are kids at heart and could enjoy the fun.

One of my favorite parts was seeing everyone's surprise and reactions when they arrived and stepped inside the fort. Some of them seemed to have a childlike gleam in their eyes when they saw the fort.

It was fun to get to relax in our pajamas and go back to our childhood for the night.

After all of the work of assembling it, I'm not ready to take it down immediately. I'm taking bets on how long it stays up before we take it down. It's assembled in the two rooms we don't really use much as we have another family room.

Last night, Brian and I slept in the fort in the pillow room. It was around 2:30 a.m. when we finally went to bed. We were so tired, we didn't even make it to second base. It was the perfect end to the night.