Reliving the Glory Days

Photo by Marcin Kempa on Unsplash

The other day, my husband and I were going to Home Depot to get a sprinkler (how late-30s-life is that???), and along the way, we unintentionally took a drive through our past.

It just happened. We opened Maps and found the fastest route to the Home Depot we were going to – it was one out of the way because the closest ones didn’t have the sprinkler. The route happened to take us past some interesting places.

First, we went through this TINY town where my husband spent a lot of his time growing up. He would spend the day at his grandparents’ house, playing and doing whatever little boys do. His grandparents ran a successful lumber company, and it was right next to the house. My husband happened to be willed the house, with a provision that he’d live in it for a few years. But, we moved to Las Vegas, and his grandfather died 4 days later. His grandfather mentioned to the executor that he was going to change the will since we were moving, but that didn’t happen due to the circumstances.

Well, a year or so later, we happened to be in town, and the house literally blew up while we were home! The police contacted us, but thankfully the house blew up while we were at a family party for my cousin who was home from overseas with the military (the reason we were home was for the party). I’m not sure if they ever figured out what happened or not, but my husband was so sad that the house was destroyed because he spent so much of his time there while he was young.

So, we drove by the house – or rather lot – on our trip to Home Depot. The house now has a trailer on it, but the barns his grandfather built are still there, and that made him happy.

We continued on our journey, and happened upon a cemetery. I said, hey, I think this is where my dad is buried! So, we stopped there too. My daughter has been asking to see “Pap Pap Steve’s rock,” so we got out and hunted it down. Of course the cemetery site didn’t show his location (I should probably call about that!), but I happened to have a picture of where it was from the day of the burial. It was definitely strange seeing my dad’s grave. That seemed pretty final. I’m not particularly emotional, so I wasn’t sad, it was just strange.

I’m super at peace with my dad’s death because there’s literally not one single regret that I have, there was nothing unsaid, etc. I loved him, and he loved me, we both knew that, we talked once a week, there was nothing unfinished. I’m really thankful for that! I hate that my daughter won’t know him, but she definitely sees pictures and hears stories.

So, we got back in the car after that 2nd unexpected stop, and were on the way to Home Depot. We got the sprinkler (hooray!). It was close to the mall I used to frequent. A lot. I decided to skip the route Maps suggested on the way home and try to recall the backroads I used to be able to drive in my sleep. I miraculously remembered it nearly perfectly. I did turn before one building instead of after that building, but we got right back on track.

My husband said, just look at what Maps says.

I said Maps!?!? I don’t need Maps, I drove this way a thousand times without any map!

He said, wow, you’re right, HOW did you get there? You use Maps for everything now (even locally, for traffic purposes!).

I was like listen, I was 16. I put 18,000 miles on my car that year (seriously). You don’t get to be 16 and drive 18k miles without knowing the way. When you’re 16 (at least in those days), you can practically SMELL your way to the mall like a bloodhound!!

Man, that mall has sooooo many memories. From encountering some really bizarre people, to my car (a different car) breaking down while we skipped the SAT prep course. That’s literally the only act of rebellion I ever had. I’m pretty boring!

My then-acquaintance/classmate, Dawn and I were both there, not because we were friends yet, but because we both hated that SAT-prep course and both loved the mall, hahaha! The car broke down, we both had to pee, and we had to wait about 1.5 hours til someone could get to us (I feel like it was when they’d be leaving work downtown or something, so it took a while). We bonded, and she’s now one of my best friends (and part of this blog and videos!). 🙂

What started out as a basic trip to get a sprinkler ended up being a pretty fun micro-adventure (boy, covid has really warped our sense of adventure, haha!).

(Video) Speaking Of Interview: Gervase Kolmos, Mindset Coach for Moms

Check out the latest Speaking Of interview, where I talk to Gervase Kolmos. Gervase is a certified mindset coach for moms. For 7 years she’s been helping moms navigate the waters of “motherhood AND,” not “motherhood OR” through her companies Shiny Happy Human and The Champagne Society.

Seriously, What’s for Dinner???

Photo by Maarten van den Heuvel on Unsplash

Seriously, what’s for dinner? That’s the question EVERY night in my house. Both my husband and I ask it of one another every. single. night. We never have a plan. So, no, my kitchen doesn’t have fabulous meals in it like in the pic above.

We instead have too many days when we’re visiting places like the one below. We end up ordering takeout (#quarantine!) from places that are open late because we can’t even reach a consensus on what to eat until nothing else is open.

Photo by Ash Goldsbrough on Unsplash

People who cook are amazing to me, and those who cook *nightly* or *plan ahead* are mystical creatures to me (they’re probably also the same people who can fold a fitted sheet…). I hear that these people exist, some people even share stories of how they’re doing it, or how it’s less expensive than eating out… but it still just seems impossible to me.

I’m not sure why meal planning or cooking is so hard. In practical terms it’s not, you buy ingredients, you follow a recipe, you eat. But, for some reason, that’s now how it works in my world.

I’ve been dying for fish tacos. I thought, hey, I’m not at a corporate job, I have time to make some good fish tacos. I sent a friend who recently posted some pics of delicious homemade tacos a message on FB and asked for the recipe. She shared, and it sounded lovely, simple, and delicious. I figured I could make the tacos happen that night (although I should’ve known that it’s like watching the hair stylist do your hair at the salon – it always looks like it’s repeatable, but you get home, try it, and look like a mutant).

I drove to the store, bought the ingredients, and checked out. Somehow I ended up spending $52. But, I had enough to make tacos for 4 people, so I persisted. I got home, started to make the food, and it turned out pretty okay. My tacos didn’t look as delicious as my friend’s. My husband always jokes that it’s because I don’t cook with the most important ingredient: love.

He’s totally right. I cook with wonder, not love, in my heart and try to figure out how the heck people are so good at this and I just can’t get it right! Not too long ago, I burned something on the stove (I don’t even remember what because it’s rather frequent). My daughter asked what the smell was, and I was like, the scent of mommy attempting to cook.

It doesn’t seem to be for me. As much as I like the idea of it, it doesn’t like the idea of me.

Still, those tales I hear of others meal planning and cooking mystify me, and I want in. I want to spend less than $52 on fish tacos at home. I want to know what we’re going to have for dinner before 8pm each night (and eek then be limited by what’s open since every place has shortened hours due to the quarantine).

How does one, who dislikes cooking, and doesn’t eat mammals, but enjoys having dinner, figure out how to affordably make a meal that doesn’t suck? I’d love some tips, because it really does seem like it’s impossible! I have a few things I make and they’re good, but I don’t want to make those things every single week!

Now, off to ponder what in the world we’ll have for dinner tonight!

(Video) Speaking Of Interview – Laquanda Steed: Native Charlestonian, Working Mom, Blooming Writer

Hi all, happy Friday! Check out the latest Speaking Of Interview!

I talk with Laquanda Steed about everything from being a native Charlestonian (!!!), to the finding work-life balance as a working mom, to her blooming writing career, and advice to those pursuing their passions.


I love this interview so much that I had a hard time shortening it to even 26 minutes! If you enjoy it too, please like, subscribe, and share. 🙂

Video: Speaking Of Interview with Brian James – Friend and Account Manager for Custom Ink

Happy Thursday! Check out my 2nd Speaking Of interview – this week I’m talking with Brian James, an account manager at Custom Ink and friend.

Brian’s service is truly the best I’ve ever experienced, and I wanted to talk to him about that (which we do at the beginning and near the end), but also wanted to have an informal chat to learn more about him. 🙂

Check it out, and please subscribe and share.

Let me know if you have anyone you’d like me to interview. I love getting to know people and see what makes them tick.

Speaking Of Interview – Best-Selling Author, Christopher Connors

Happy Thursday! Check out the latest Speaking Of video – and FIRST Speaking Of interview! I’m so excited to share this first interview with you. I spoke to best-selling author Christopher Connors about his most recent book, Emotional Intelligence for the Modern Leader.

Enjoy, and please subscribe and share. 🙂

(Video) Speaking Of – First World Problems: No Pool and Calling Unemployment

Happy Thursday! Check out this video about the week. I’ve learned that I really miss having a pool, and really hate calling unemployment! Eek!

But, I got to do my first Speaking Of interview with author (and friend) Christopher Connors. So exciting to get to start doing the interviews.

Enjoy the video!

I Lost My Long-Time Job in a COVID Layoff – and I’m Thankful

Photo by Ross Findon on Unsplash

I “lost” my job in a mass layoff due to COVID-19 a few weeks ago. Isn’t “lost” an interesting word? I know where my job is – it’s at my old company, but as per the official definition below from dictionary.com, I “no longer possess or retain” the job, so I suppose it is “lost.”

Definition of Lost on Dictionary.com

It’s super weird, and yet, kind of exciting. That probably sounds weird, right? I mean, I spent all of my 30s (so far) there. I was there for 8.5 years, and I appreciate everything that I was able to do, the skills I learned, and the people I met.

While working at my last job, I had the opportunity to do some really cool stuff like building a team to manage corporate culture, and managing all philanthropy for the company. I created those roles, and that’s awesome. In a tech company, there are few roles like the one I created and filled, and I was lucky enough to do that.

There are certainly some bittersweet things about being “gone.” Although I have been working remotely from a different state for some time, the end is now official. I said bye to so many people before I moved – and even to the buildings on the campus – and didn’t know it would be goodbye forever. I thought I’d be back a few times a year for certain things. Now, if I go back, I’ll get a visitor badge. How bizarre.

I remember my interview – which was actually rather entertaining because there was a mixup. I was told by recruiting that it was an in-person interview and my manager (who is now my friend, Nina) was told it was a phone interview. So, there I was, sitting in the lobby, while the receptionist tried to track down my future manager but couldn’t find her because she was in a room trying to call me for the phone interview. Thank goodness I felt compelled to check my phone and saw missed calls and a voicemail from her asking if I still wanted to interview. Then she walked down the stairs and the receptionist was like, that’s her! She flagged my future manager down, and then I had a very informal interview.

During the interview, I met the team. One of them asked about my husband, and I said he worked at a home improvement store. The guy said, oh, so he wears a vest? I jokingly said, “Yes, he wears a vest. Nothing else. That’s his whole uniform. No pants, it’s weird.” My future coworker laughed and my manager seemed impressed because she said he was “a tough egg to crack.”

Me and Nina before I moved

In total irony, I wasn’t offered the official job until another phone interview with a man I called “the culture detector,” who made sure that potential associates were a culture fit for the company. I never in a million years would’ve imagined that I would’ve ended up creating and building a culture team at that company. It was such a unique position that I held pre-IPO, though the IPO, after the IPO, and through a major leadership change. It’s not often that people get to see culture through that lens. I’m so thankful that I did.

Through my role, I met so many associates. I got to work with them, learn about their stories, help them with their goals, contribute to their passions through matching donations and organizing volunteer events. How lucky, right? I also managed associate perks, so I really was the “shiny/happy” part of the company, a role I was privileged to hold.

I remember my first day on the job and being so nervous, and also being so excited! My first week featured on-site massages, a software release party, free lunch, and working in a building with free slushy machines.

I remember meeting the man who would become one of my best friends, Jody. I remember the first time he asked me to lunch – he wrote a note, like an old-school, on paper, note – drew a picture of his signature dog with the words “I’m hungry.” I still have that somewhere. I had no idea that he – who started 1 month after me and was laid off on the same day as me in the mass layoff – would be become one of my best friends. He has one of the most varied life stories of anyone I’ve ever encountered, and I can’t believe how lucky I am to have had 8 years of lunches to learn about them.

Me and Jody at our favorite restaurant!

I remember meeting (my now close friend), Jaclyn, who started at a folding table as a contractor. She was at a folding table because we were growing so fast that there weren’t enough desks during the busy season. Her desk was right by the bathroom, and even that couldn’t dampen what I’d eventually coin as her “Spirit Sparkles.” She put her Spirit Sparkles to good use on the culture team, and continued to brighten the company as she progressed in her career. She, too, was impacted by the layoff, but I know that she’s off to do something amazing.

Me and Jaclyn, at OUR favorite restaurant

I remember meeting Lisa, who was interviewing for the receptionist position. I had no idea why I was asked to interview her, and had no idea that I’d end up being good friends with her and she’d become part of my work and friend group (She’s also an A+ jam maker. Seriously – no one makes better strawberry jam). She’s organized, upbeat, fun, and gives good advice. She moved on shortly before the pandemic, so my whole crew is gone!

Me and Lisa before I moved. I love this picture!

I remember emailing the CEO/Founder of the company when I had my daughter. His family donated millions to build the new children’s hospital (that now bears his name) shortly before my daughter was born, and thanks to the role I worked in, I was able to meet the team at the hospital. I had no idea that when I toured the NICU while I was pregnant that my daughter would soon become a patient due to her early birth. The CEO emailed back right away with encouragement and his cell phone number.

Now, that is all over. I won’t ever be on a lunch break with my friends (shout out to Jody, Jaclyn, Lisa, and Nina). I won’t be able to organize another family event there.

But, that’s okay.

I was there for 8.5 years. I was comfortable there. The role was awesome, but it was something I did for years. I never expected that I’d be one of several hundred laid off due to a pandemic. It actually seems weird to be part of history in that way. But, I really feel like it was the best thing.

I got the call, and I wasn’t even upset… or even surprised. I mean, as I said, my job was at a tech company, so my role of culture and philanthropy (while important) didn’t contribute directly to the product. It’s not like I was in engineering or sales or account management. I worked in associate happiness, so by default my job required spending money, and when we got news that layoffs were happening, I assumed I would be on that list.

Is being laid off a positive? Not in the moment, right? You have to figure out money, and all the other things. It also creates a surprising amount of things on your to-do list (outplacement services, unemployment, transferring benefits, retirement accounts, updating your resume, job searching, etc.). BUT, I really feel like this was a tremendous opportunity. How lucky to be pushed out of the nest????

What would I be doing in 5 years if this didn’t happen? Probably working there in the same role. Where will I be in 5 years from now? I have no idea, and that’s really pretty awesome and exhilarating!!!

Is it a coincidence that Dawn and I started working on this blog and the videos a few months ago – before the pandemic happened? I don’t think so. I think it was meant to be.

Would I have ever fully “bet” on myself and left that comfortable corporate job? Probably not. But, how I choose to move forward is now a decision I have to make and can really think about. I love it.

I want to look back at the day I was laid off as the turning point in my life. I want to be proud of what I chose to do and how I took action to achieve my goals. I want to be able to say that I’m living my dream.

So to summarize this layoff, I say:

Thank you so, so, so, much for my time at the company. I grew so much there. I lived so much life during the time I was there. I started as an almost-30 year old who was newly married, and over time I bought a house, got a puppy, my husband got a second degree, he entered a new career field, I had a miscarriage, a high-risk pregnancy, a daughter with a 3-month Nicu-stay, lost my dad, and faced a serious health issue in my family (all is fine now). That’s SO much life. On the job, I was able to grow my career and learn so much, and really become an expert at what I did. I’m a different person now. How could all of that *not* change you?

I appreciate all of the opportunities, the friends I made, the beautiful campus I worked on, and the flexibility I was granted during my daughter’s time in the NICU.

And also, thank you for the layoff. Thank you for putting me on that list, and forcing me to grow once again. I grew a lot at the company, and I will grow again now, because I have to. I may never have taken this step, but I’m so thankful to be here now, at this crossroad, figuring out what’s next. KNOWING, something else great is next. It’s time for a new adventure.

Photo by Riz Mooney on Unsplash

New “Speaking Of” Videos!

Hi all, we hope you’re doing well in week 10,000 of the stay-at-home/pandemic world. Just kidding! In reality, it hasn’t been that bad. It’s certainly more enjoyable than being out and about and getting sick.

Since we can’t be in the same spot due to the stay-at-home orders, Dawn and I did our video this week via Zoom conferencing. We split the session into 2 parts. The first is us talking about the last week of the pandemic, and the second is us talking about a few TV shows we like. Check them out!

Here’s the first video talking about the pandemic.

Here’s the second video, TV Talk, chatting about some of our favorite shows.

Enoy, and have a great week!

Thoughts, Sanitizing, and Funny Memes!

Well, we’re still living in the new pandemic-world, so it’s taken me a while to get back into a routine of writing! I realize that seems counterintuitive, because there should be more time than ever to write, but it’s weirdly hard to be motivated (with anything… damn you, delicious snacks!) during the uncertainty.

During all of this, I feel like I’m more well read than I’ve ever been, haha! I’m reading all the Washington Post, New York Times, USA Today, Time, and pretty much every other news outlet you can imagine. And of course, I’ve been watching all kids of press conferences.

If you’re like me, all of this uncertainty leads you to wonder what in the world is right, what’s up, what’s down, what day it is, and more! I feel like I’m living on the edge going to the grocery store. I was going to do grocery delivery, then my husband was like, well, then someone who is visiting many other people is coming to you house, and they’re touching all of your items I was like, crapppppp! I read an article that said getting delivery is better, but there could still be risks. I ended up going to the store that time, but think I will order in the future.

Plus, if people are contagious up to 2 weeks before they show sickness, what are they shedding if they’re not coughing or sneezing? Well, I Googled that today, and apparently it can be through speaking droplets. The WHO also said to stay 3 feet away from people, so that made me feel a little better. If we’re being told to stay 6 feet away from others for social distancing, hopefully that gives us a little extra protection.

Here are some great charts from the CDC:

Thankfully I’m a preemie mom. It has trained me well for this. Since having my daughter (who had a serious lung issue in the hospital), I’ve been obsessive about hand washing, sanitizing and staying away from sick people.

No idea where this originated, but it made me laugh… and man, it’s accurate! In the NICU, they wanted a 2-minute scrub in.

Before I had her, it was almost like a badge of honor to never take a sick day from school or work. Like, nothing can keep me from missing work.

How stupid. For real.

I guess it’s one of those “you don’t know what you don’t know” things, but it never occurred to me how seriously dangerous, dumb, and unfair it was to go to work while sick. Thankfully, it’s exceptionally rare that I get sick (fingers crossed that continues!), so it didn’t happen often. I also sat in my own corner, with very high cube walls, and didn’t have many in-person meetings.

After I had my daughter and the doctors made it perfectly clear that she could die even if she caught a “small cold” from us, I realized the gravity of OTHER people’s decisions, and their ability to impact her health (and I had the realization of how stupid I was in previous years. People with chronic condition like Cystic Fibrosis, those on Chemo, and those with many other illnesses could suffer the same fate).

Per doctor’s orders, we had to isolate for 6+ months, so it was very similar to what we’re living now. No one was able to come to our house, and we didn’t go out, with the exception of my husband going to work. He did a NICU-style scrub when he got home, then changed, and put his clothes right in the washer, then took a shower before even coming near our daughter. Cell phones got scrubbed, everything got Lysol’d, it was very stringent. We’re now back on that protocol at home!

So, other than our own home routine getting amped back up, it’s so crazy trying to navigate the world at large! I look at people while I’m at the store, or walking in our neighborhood, and I’m like, wait, are you 6-feet away, have you been out, who else have you been around? I flash back to articles, and am thinking oh man, is this walk risky? Do I need to be in the grocery store??? I feel like I’m on supermarket sweep (which was always fun to play when we were young, but now with the element of danger, I’m not sure I like it as much, haha!).

When we order takeout (which we’ve done primarily through delivery), I’m not sure if I’m being patriotic (by supporting small businesses and gig workers) or being wreckless. It feels like every decision you make right now leads to second guessing yourself. It’s scary. Are we all going to get this, or can we truly avoid getting it through the precautions?

I have to say I’ve enjoyed NY Governor Andrew Cuomo’s daily press conferences. First, I love that he has the powerpoint next to him (especially at the end when he has the one labeled personal opinion – he doesn’t take the chance that anyone is going to misconstrue his opinion for anything except that). It’s seriously so great. I love his charts, and I love that he talks sense to people.

He doesn’t screw around about the seriousness, which I love, but he’s also super positive about things. He reminds us daily that 80% of people who get COVID-19 will recover without issue, 20% will have serious issues and may require hospitalization, and of that group that gets hospitalized, a much smaller percentage will require long-term ventilation and will die (so scary!!!!!!). He also always shares a very clear plan of action.

Listen, I have no idea what his politics are like outside of this (I briefly Googled, but didn’t get too involved), but I can tell you I love the way this guy handles a pandemic! Here are some of my favorite screenshots of his conference today:

Closing with lighter topics, I have been cracking up at some of these memes online.

Here are some of my favorites – note, I have no idea where these originated. They were not created by me, so I don’t/can’t take credit, and unfortunately don’t know the original source:

This is from the Giant George FB page, I have no idea whether it originated there or elsewhere.
This one isn’t a meme, it’s sidewalk chalk art at home. Here’s hoping sunny days are ahead with healthy people at the end of the rainbow!

Making Lemonade – Random Thoughts From Home

What a week. Or few weeks. What day is it? Is this real life? But seriously though, it’s been so fascinating to watch things unfold while everyone learns to live life with a pandemic. Everyday brings something new.

Sometimes I have a little freak out, but most of the time I’m pretty reasonable. I’m certainly heeding the recommendations (unlike all those Spring Breakers in Florida!!). Today, I really enjoyed the NY Governor’s conference. He was calm, upbeat, but amazing at conveying the seriousness of the situation.

To help brighten the day, I have some light-hearted pics to share!

Check out these first two. Have you ever noticed this? When you look at the clock at 1:0_am/pm, in one direction, the 1 and the colon look like one of those exasperated or bored emojis. If you flip it the other way, the 1 and the 0 look like a surprised emoji.

I noticed this a few months ago and took a pic, and happened upon them the other day, and found myself looking at the clock and noticing it again. Silly, but it cracks me up! Who knew clocks had a personality?

On to the next pic – earlier this week, I was checking out my vision board for 2020. I was like, oh sheesh. I realized that I put “home” on my vision board. We just moved back to our home state, and I put it there more as a symbol of happiness and contentment, but I didn’t specify that. I just put the word home. Well, the pandemic, stay at home restrictions weren’t what I had in mind, haha!

Sorry if my vision board helped contribute (just kidding!!!). But, lesson learned. Be specific about what you ask for, haha!!!!

And finally, a preschooler’s take on Coronavirus. Note, she is NOT a medical professional, and she is sharing her young thoughts on this. This is for humor only. That should be obvious, but just in case…

With that, stay safe and please follow the guidelines to stay safe!

A (Literal) Crappy Day

It was quite literally a crappy day earlier this week. My dog, who is 5 months old, had some kind of a stomach (or poop…) bug. What a delight to walk into the room and see her crate full of poop, complete with paw-prints in it. Ugh!!

We took a short trip to the vet, where a poo test and x-rays showed nothing serious – she apparently just had some random stomach upset. The sign outside at her vet always has funny sayings and on that day said something like “sometimes you’re the bug, sometimes you’re the windshield. That sign seemed particularly appropriate for the day. I was definitely the windshield that day!

At home, I was so proud because I successfully “pilled” her with her medicine, it was truly miraculous… until she hurled it all back up. In her crate. That I just cleaned all the poop out of. :O At least we decided to hold off on her heart worm and flea/tick medicine for a day until her stomach was better – silver linings, right?

A pic of the culprit, after she was feeling better and back to her rowdy-self!

That whole debacle really made for a very Monday-ish Monday. I was really pretty excited about the day until that happened, which was around 9am! My friend and I went to the gym, we were feeling productive, and I had fun things planned for after work.

It’s amazing how much your life revolves around bathroom habits when you have a kid and a dog. Seriously, I never could’ve imagined it. You know how there are always articles telling you how “they never told you about ___” before becoming a parent? Well, my fill in the blank is definitely “how your life revolves around poop.” I even did a YouTube video about something along those lines.

But really, once you’re the parent of a puppy, and especially of a baby, poop is life.

With a dog, you’re in the yard every few hours, waiting, then cheering and praising when the pup poops, you have to get home in time to ensure they can poop, etc.

With a baby, you’re concerned with all the things – did she go, when did she go, how much, what color, what consistency, the list goes on. Thankfully, poop doesn’t gross me out like it does my husband. I don’t enjoy it, but it doesn’t freak me out.

My friend, a nurse, is on a whole different level of comfort, apparently. The running joke is how she could eat while wiping a butt. However, it’s worth noting that while she was watching a baby once (before she had her son), she was changing a diaper with these giant gloves on like she was dealing with birds of prey, so I’m not sure if she is as cool with poop as she says, haha! It was basically one of the best things I’ve ever seen and I so wish I had a picture!

Anyway, hope your Monday was less “crappy” than mine. 🙂