designing a life

A few weeks ago, my daughter and I had a bit of a girls’ day. It wasn’t really intended to be, but just kind of turned into one… and in more than just the sense you might be thinking of.

We started the morning by going to get our hair cut. Our stylist has cut my hair for a little more than ten years and has provided my daughter with every trim she has ever had. She has literally watched her grow up. When we arrived and settled in to the routine, I took a moment to breathe in the scene that has played out in salons across the country forever – women laughing about husbands, cringing over tales of bad perms, lamenting our children growing up way too fast… you know what I’m talking about. I looked at my daughter indulging in the feeling of the stylist massaging her scalp, and I felt such joy in her being a part of the experience. It wasn’t the hair trim or even the heaven that is getting your hair washed; it was the transition from being a child merely getting her hair cut to a young lady being a part of the tradition of women bonding in this way.

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{it really is more than just a haircut, don’t you think?}

We made a couple of other stops – the bike shop, the library – before we grabbed a little bite to eat at my favorite coffee shop. It’s owned by a woman who used the Small Business Development Center (years before I even knew it existed) to help her get started. This woman knows me as a regular customer who really loves a hot La Dolce Vita (decaf if it’s after noon – my partying days are long over, people!), but I know her as an inspiration as well as a purveyor of really tasty caffeine. I imagine her coffee shop was just a dream at one point – something that seemed far away. And maybe she had her doubts about whether it would come to be; I don’t know… But anyway, here it is now: a staple in our community, a welcoming place to grab a cuppa with friends (or your daughter), a venue to listen to live music, and an office away from home. You can tell she makes business decisions based on what’s important to her, and you can see her message everywhere you look in the shop – from the atmosphere, to the people she hires, to the food she provides, to encouraging composting/discouraging waste. Everything is on purpose, and seems so true to who she is. I so admire it.

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{try the new Nordic Waffles; they’re Hansen approved.}

I’ve been thinking about the dots of that morning and connecting them over the days since. There was something profound there that went unnoticed by my daughter, and I was touched. These women –  and so many others – doing what they love surround my daughter. They’re just a part of her existence, providing a model of what is ahead and who she can become, no matter what she decides that will be. It is amazing that my daughter gets to grow up in a world where success for a woman means whatever SHE deems it to be, instead of the narrow definition that I held for much of my childhood. (I didn’t know what successful women did all day, but I knew it involved pencil skirts and riding the Metra train Downtown with socks and tennis shoes over tan pantyhose.) I hope she grows up knowing that success can be defined a million different ways, depending what’s in your heart and what’s important to you.

And I’m so proud to be a piece of that – modeling for her that you can go after whatever crazy dream you come up with.

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Tell me something that you’re proud to be modeling for a kid in your life! Could be a project they see you working on, a passion you let them them follow with you, or anything really! And don’t be humble–all of us have pieces of ourselves we’re happy to be passing along to the next gen! Comment below and I’ll send you a free PDF file of my “non school days rules for electronics” so you can keep those kiddos moving toward their goals (and not staring at screens. As much.) Be sure to include your email address in your comments!

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early to rise

Mornings are hard. The bed is warm and comfy, and on weekends there’s no alarm going off to call me out of it. But something I’ve learned about myself is mornings are when I accomplish the most. While the house is still and quiet, while the birds are singing their morning songs, while the sun hasn’t yet breached the horizon… that’s when I’m killing it. Coffee fuels my little brain cells, and they’re cooking up new ideas, accomplishing tasks on the checklist, and moving things forward.

I’ve found that to keep myself motivated, giving name to three benefits/results is helpful. I identify an immediate, an ongoing, and a future benefit for whatever it is I’m trying to accomplish. For example, when I’m not motivated to work out: the immediate benefit is I feel stronger and better about myself on days when I work out. The ongoing is I’m healthier, stronger, and more fit (and that leads to my jeans fitting better). The future is I know that when I’m aging, a lifetime of fitness and healthy choices will give me better quality of life as my time on Earth sunsets. When I’m feeling unmotivated, whether it’s for a workout or a task I don’t want to do, I try to think of benefits in these three contexts. At least one of them gets me going.

So, when the morning comes and the desire to stay in bed is greater than my desire to get up and get to work, I use this little trick. Then, as painful as it is to flip back the comforter and put soles to carpet, I know that the moments that follow (once I get my eyes fully open) will make it worth it.

What is your trick for staying motivated?

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you’re never too old

When I think about this new adventure, I sometimes get a little nervous. I’m almost 40; why on Earth would I want to start something brand new? How will I fit THIS in too?

I have said from the moment the idea for Blue Sun popped into my head that I feel like I’m just supposed to do it. As I go along, the details keep falling into place, so I just keep going. But when those moments of doubt last a little longer than a fleeting thought, I let my mind go back to 1972. No, I wasn’t born yet… But, that was the year my grandma, who was 47 at the time and had 12 kids, graduated with her degree in nursing. Forty-seven. Twelve kids. Starting a new career. I think I can do this.

Who inspires you? I’d love to hear your stories.

photo credit: Ted Slowik

life changers

My kids lovingly and adoringly pose for pictures without complaint every time I ask *cough, cough* and that is 100% true. Or it is not at all true and the smiles in these pictures were eeked out of them by making references to disgusting bodily functions. Either way, these two are a couple of my biggest cheerleaders. They’re always ready with a “That’s BEAUTIFUL, Mom!” or other exclamation of affirmation. When these two yahoos arrived on the planet 10 years ago, everything changed, as it does for every parent when they welcome a new life (or in my case, lives) into their world. But what I didn’t expect is that their arrival would slowly change my work life, and would lead to a drastic change in profession. That first step of leaving my career in higher education after 13 years led serendipitously to other opportunities, which I had faith would lead me where I am supposed to be. I thought I had landed there when I started my current full-time job. The work I do allows me to use different parts of my brain, fits my interests and strengths perfectly, and the schedule works well with my kids’ busy lives. What I didn’t know when I accepted that position was that I would end up doing graphic design and photography as a part of my role, and that led me to where I am now: still loving the work I do at my “day job”, but also fully on board with this new adventure that has presented itself.

So here I am: gainfully employed mom of twins and two puppers, ever-loved and ever-loving wife of a school administrator, daughter of a couple of amazing role models, cyclist, and Blues enthusiast… persuing a new dream. A life-changer.

Tell me about your life changer!