A Whole New World

Mommy’s Pearls

Yesterday, my daughter and I took a nature walk in Bluff Creek Park for our afternoon outing on the official first day of summer. As we meandered down the trail, she suddenly started singing “A Whole New World” from Disney’s Aladdin in her sweet voice.

“A whole new world. A new fantastic point of view. No one to tell us, “No.” Or where to go. Or say we’re only dreaming.”

Yes, love, you are so right.

The last six month has been full of major life changes for the two of us. I married an amazing, loving man with three sons. We went from a family of two to a family of six. We bought a new home in a different part of town. My job ended unexpectedly in November. I launched an organizational effectiveness consulting practice as I searched for the next career opportunity. COVID-19 shutdown life as we knew it. Homeschool became part of our daily routine. Clients terminated consulting contracts due to budget cuts. Now, it’s summer.

After lots of prayer, analysis and mindset shifting, my husband and I decided that there is no better time than this for me to take a summer sabbatical. A summer to be a mom and step-mom. A summer to be a wife. A summer to be present with my primary focus on my new family. This is the time.

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”
Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NIV)

Those of you that know me well, know that I would not make the choice to quit a job for the summer. I love my career and find great fulfillment and purpose in leading teams and achieving innovative outcomes. However, after 24 years of working, I believe that the time to rest, rejuvenate and pour myself into being a stay-at-home summer mom is a blessing. Ironically, one of my summer posts last year focused on working mom summer gloom (Diagnosis: Working Mom Summer Gloom). It will be a journey to see how the summer from the other side. This is the time.

As my daughter and I entered our second lap on the wooded trail, she said, “Mom, because this is a whole new world we should blog about it together. You say what you think. I say what I think. Together, we can inspire others.”

My eyes filled with tears. My heart felt warm and fuzzy. Yes, love, you are so right. This is the time. Everyone is in a whole new world. The amount of change looks different for each person, each family and each community. Yet, we are all finding purpose and meaning through the uncertainty and trials of life.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33

We hope you will find inspiration, humor and happiness through our stories and thoughts. A mommy’s heart. A daughter’s point of view. Thirty years apart.

Hadley’s Pearls

This year our 2020 summer is a lot different then the last summers. As I would say we are living a whole new world in many different ways. Our 1st way for kids, us kid are normally playing with friends but this summer we can’t because we are all being cautious and social distancing. Our 2nd way for kids, us kids are also at camps making new friends, and enjoying the time with no school or homework to worry about. Our 1st for adults, you adults are normally at work going through all your emails and going from meeting to meeting. Our 2nd for adults, you adults are usually planing their family’s vacation. This year we can’t play with friends, go to camps, go to your office, or plan your family’s vacation. 2020 summer is way different than the past 9 years that I have lived.

Another way it is different to me is because my mom gets to stay home and play and swim with me. I have waited for this summer for 9 years. She sent me to daycare when I was old enough to go which was in January 2011. I missed playing with her when I was at camps or having play dates with friends. I remember wanting my mom to stay home with me or go to camps with me, again and again I waited for a summer like this 2020 summer for her to stay home with me. We would go to the pool on the weekends together and I would ask her to get in the pool with me but she either thought the pool was to cold or that day she just didn’t want to get in. I can’t wait to swim with my mom this summer. I am so blessed to spend this summer with the best mom ever!

“LORD, I will give thanks to you with all my heart. I will tell about all the wonderful things you have done.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭9:1‬ ‭NIRV

Yes, I’m still Writing!

You might be wondering – what happened to Heather? Life has been full of change that I will share over the coming months. Check back for the scoop!

I am blessed with the privilege of being a contributor for the Oklahoma City Moms Blog. Click below to view my last three posts!

https://oklahomacity.citymomsblog.com/author/heatherhenshall/

Watch for my January submission – The Legend of the Happy Plate!

I look forward to an exciting year of blogging more through my journey as a mom to four kids and as a professional navigating a career change. Blessings always, my friends!

Why a Taxi, 10 Minutes and a Pre-made Veggie Tray made a Difference

What a week. Actually, what an exhausting week. My life revolved around 30 minute time slots from 5:30 a.m. through 9:00 p.m., where I shifted from  mom to leader to mom to friend to mom to mentor to girlfriend to mom to daughter. On Friday night, the countdown to 9:30 p.m. felt like New Years Eve with great anticipation. I refused to allow myself to go to bed too early as that would be a sign of defeat from the week. I fought the heavy eyes. I fought the slow slouch to a horizontal position on the couch. I let my pride overpower my body’s physical response of exhaustion.

Did you have a week where you gave and gave and gave until you had nothing left to give? I did and would do it again. 

I said yes to a my daughter’s four-hour summer day camp and piano lessons even though both activities interfered with my standard work day. I knew it would be five days of added stress to run mommy’s taxi service. What I didn’t know is that I would have to ask for help. The taxi driver appointments on my work calendar failed.  My mommy focus shifted from the taxi driver to the taxi scheduler as the week went on. 

Mommies, we can’t do it alone. I don’t have to be the superhero. Neither do you. It has taken me eight years to ask for help and let those who love me and my daughter help. It’s an internal battle of my sentimental mommy heart and my working mommy duty. I do not want to miss a thing with my mini me and want to be present as her mommy. The reality is that our kiddos tell us when they want us to show up based on what is meaningful to them. They want us in the driver seat for the big moments like firsts, performances, or milestones. They are okay with another taxi driver for the drop-offs and pick-ups. Seek helpers, both planned helpers and impromptu helpers, to achieve the calendar commitments of our kiddos.

I said yes to 10 minute breathers. I took a breath on a sunset walk. I took a breath as we played catch in the empty field. I took a breath as I shared my day’s play-by-play with my sweet boyfriend. I took a breath as my daughter and I talked over a snow cone. I took a breath as I looked across Lake Hefner with the lake breeze hitting my face.

Mommies, turn off the Energizer Bunny. Find time to just be in the moment without to-do lists, without a clock and without the pressure. I have been called a busybody for my lack of ability to sit and do nothing. I have been called a tornado for my wind speed when tackling tasks. Can you relate? It is necessary to pause and just be for 10 minutes to reconnect with yourself. Evaluate your physical energy, your mental state and your emotional bank account. Tell the kiddos that you need 10 minutes with yourself. I promise, they will survive.

I said yes to a pre-made veggie tray. It was the last day to sign up for the item that I would take to a potluck lunch. The only slot left was a veggie tray. Boo, it was not my top pick. My optimistic perfectionist kicked into full gear. I will make it the best veggie tray ever full of bright colors and variety on my favorite black and white platter. Well, that didn’t happen. The thirty minute time slot only allowed me to purchase a pre-made veggie tray.

Mommies, being you is always enough. The pressures of being the perfect mom who shows up in a LiketoKnow.it outfit with a yummy Pinterest casserole in hand is out of control. I find myself in the bubble of perfectionism all too often. Sometimes it is for me. Sometimes it is for other’s impression of me. The me for last week was a pre-made veggie tray. The me for next week might be a made-from-scratch dessert. Be okay with meeting yourself where you are and do what you can do. Say good-bye to the outside pressures, always.

Our days are full. Our hearts are full. Our bodies are exhausted. It is the season of motherhood. Say yes to being the taxi scheduler. Say yes to a daily 10 minute breather. Say yes to being you and walk in proud with the pre-made veggie tray.

Diagnosis: Working Mom Summer Gloom

As I sit in my freezing office with a heating blanket on high, my daughter builds a cabin in the woods in 90 degree Oklahoma heat. As I build camaraderie with my team during a huddle, my daughter chants “I Said a Boom Chicka Boom,” in her valley girl voice. As I read and respond to hundreds of emails, my daughter learns to kayak. I feel gloomy. She feels happy. I suffer from a self-diagnosed disease called Working Mom (WOM) Summer Gloom. Do you?

Some days you dream of playing Marco Polo and lathering on sunscreen. Say hello to the gloom. Some days you breathe a sigh of relief to be in the air conditioning with back-to-back meetings. Say good-bye to the gloom. The WOM Summer Gloom pendulum swings. No matter how much you enjoy your career and your work family, it is real to feel guilt, sadness, fear of missing out and jealousy of not being with your kids during their summer fun.  

You have my permission to sit in the gloom and process the emotions that you feel with the goal to determine the root cause for you. It will be different for each of us. For me, the root cause is my love language of quality time. A joyous summer of fun activities equates to lots of missed quality time and depletes my love bank account. No matter what the root cause is, you must reset your focus to the lessons that you are teaching your kids as a working mom. 

A mom’s career is inspirational. Your kids develop an understanding of work ethic and appreciation for career commitment by watching you. A visit to your workplace bring excitement. An invitation to your company family night makes them feel part of your eight to five world. Find your passion! Find your energizer! Teach your kids the joy that a rewarding career brings! 

A paycheck is required. We all have heard the phrase about money does not grow on trees. I have to believe that most kids today think that is truth. You swipe a credit card or scan your phone to pay. Money is not tangible; it is invisible, especially to kids. You can provide them the opportunities to do the fun summer camps because you show up every day to earn your paycheck. Show your kids the cost of the camp and how many hours you worked to pay for it!

Intentional family time is a top priority. Evening and weekend schedules tend to be less full during the summer months. This margin allows for more time to take a hike, go to a trampoline park, explore a new restaurant or practice the new skill learned together. And remember, it is healthy to take time off work to be with your kids. Time passes by quickly during the season of raising responsible citizens. Work will always be there. Take a vacation day to rejuvenate and reconnect with your kids!

Like me, you will live vicariously through your kids’ summer camp experiences and monitor your WOM Summer Gloom. Inspire the importance of having a fulfilling career. Emphasize the value of hard work and financial security. Experience fun together on evenings and weekends. And remember, my friend, the WOM Summer Gloom will pass! 

Say Howdy with BBQ, Ice Cream and Coffee

Greetings like good morning and happy Monday fill the team’s workspace. Conversation starters like how was your weekend and what are you doing for July 4th fill the breakroom as employees wait for their turn at the coffee pour over station. This camaraderie is the culture of my employer and the personality of the employees who spend over 40 hours a week together.

We recently had a new kid on the block from sunny California. A tenured team member relocated to help build our Oklahoma City (OKC) team with her knowledge, expertise and experience. We knew that a simple Oklahoma howdy and smile would brighten her first day. We wanted more! We decided to fill a basket with our Okie favorites.

First stop was The Market near Quail Springs Mall to find cute and classy Oklahoma branded items. As I entered the building, I immediately spotted the Oklahoma City dishtowel made by catstudio. The colorful design of all the hot spots in OKC was a perfect exploration road map. After this find, I aimlessly wandered from booth to booth looking for the next favorite thing. I quickly found the OKLA mug. Who doesn’t love a mug?

Next stop was to purchase made in Oklahoma food items to help stock the pantry. Due to the convenience and my love for Target, I headed a mile west to find brands made and produced in our great state. My shopping list had the following items:

I felt like a contestant on Supermarket Sweep as I hustled from aisle to aisle looking for the item. Sadly, I only found one item on the Target shelf, the BBQ. I was disappointed. I was frustrated. I was disappointed. As a business-minded person, I am sure there are plenty of reasons why Target does not carry those items. I decided that I could still be disappointed in my perception that local brands are not awarded shelf space. Next time, I’ll stop at Crest Foods. It was time to call it a day!

A few days later I wrapped up the Okie favorites basket with stops at our neighborhood coffee shop, Stella Nova, and ice cream and dairy store, Braum’s. Gift cards allow the freedom of choice to explore the menu and discover a new personal favorite. I picked up a bag of Okie Smoke House Flavor Mix along with grape jelly and ice cream cones.

Last, and certainly not least, we had to include the precious Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman. Her Summer 2019 magazine includes yummy recipes and insight into life in Oklahoma. Introducing her is a must for any new resident.

We packaged the Oklahoma City dish towel, an Okie mug, made in Oklahoma items, gift cards to favorite neighborhood stops and a magazine about living in the heartland of America. We couldn’t wait to share our favorites with her.

We said howdy! We smiled big! We gave her the basket. She looked at us and said, “Thank you for giving me a glimpse of Oklahoma. I’m so happy to be here.”

Please note: This post is based on my personal opinion. It is not sponsored or endorsed by any of the businesses listed within.

Lessons of a Roller Coaster

Up! Down! Around! Around! Up! Upside down! Around! Around! Slow! Slow! Stop! “Attention passengers, please raise your arms and wait for the car to come to a complete stop. Welcome back! Thank you for riding today,” said the attendant. Whether you are a rider or a spectator of the roller coaster experience, we can all agree that a three-minute ride has one constant – change.

Change builds grit. Angela Duckworth, author of Grit, found that grit is a combination of passion and perseverance for an important goal. A standard operational goal is to provide a top-notch customer experience. Hiring and retaining employees who has a passionate heart and a perseverance spirit must happen. Grit is the only way to get through the days of high volume of work, the escalations that just keep coming and the life happenings inside and outside the office.

Change builds opportunity. Every change brings the opportunity for personal and professional growth. Leaders challenge old think. Leaders encourage new think. Employees stand firm on the good think. Everyone learns new things. Everyone forgets old things. Everyone fosters good things. Taking an opportunity is a rewarding choice. Dr. Seuss said it well, “If things start happening, don’t worry, don’t stew, just go right along and you’ll start happening too.”

Change builds relationships. During times of change, everyone turns to their tribe of family, friends and teammates. It is a time for high vulnerability and emotional connection. When teams lock arms and stand together, the experience is incredible. The team can conquer the current change, achieve success and build sincere relationships. In the future, the strong bond builds a work tribe who celebrates big in the happy times and supports big in the hard times. #StrongerTogether starts with each person!

You can chose to step on the roller coaster at an amusement park. You cannot chose to stop change in life. Change is here to stay. Change is necessary to grow. Change is part of life!

How a State-of-Fluster Can Win

“Five minutes until start time for the 10k runners. Five minutes,” blares the announcer’s voice. Hundreds of people congregate in their respective pace times. The cool Oklahoma wind swirls. Upbeat “pump you up” music unconsciously sets a positive mindset.

“Three minutes until the start time for the 10k runners. Three minutes,” says the announcer. It’s time to get in race mode with my 5k-10k playlist, which consists of 90s, country, christian and broadway show tunes. First, I look down at my phone as it turns off. Fluster number one! Next, I push the power on my headphones and they won’t come on.  Fluster number two!

“One minute until the start time for the 10k runners. Get ready for the gunshot. Good luck runners,” cheers the announcer. I press power over and over and over on my phone. Nothing. I press power over and over and over on my headphones. Nothing. Fluster mode is in full force.

Gunshot! And we are off. I am off to the longest race of my life with no music. How will I make it? What will motivate me? What will keep me from the mental obstacle of stopping because I hear my winded breath?

Fluster continues with a bit of problem solving mode as I run the first half mile of the race. No, it is not a safe state of mind especially when in the middle of a herd of runners. I don’t recommend it.

Suddenly, my phone turns on and my headphones make the friendly do-do-do tune. Yes, I have my music! I can be a runner now!

A start line of fluster sucked the excitement out of the first five minutes of my first 10k. Problem solving became my focus rather than embracing the moment of the gunshot, the herd of people, the crowd and the start of a personal achievement. When have you had a start line of fluster that sucked away the excitement of that moment??

When we find ourself at a starting line of fluster, remember these things.

  • Define the absolutes of the situation. What can you control? What is out of your control? Put your energies on the things that  you can control and move past the things that you cannot control. I can control my attitude about the race. I cannot control my phone battery and earphones. This technology mishap will not define me. A mishap does not define you.
  • Embrace the positives and negatives of the situation. What is the best possible outcome? What if the worst outcome becomes THE outcome? Spend time in the moment and later reflecting because both perspectives are important. I want my phone to have enough charge to power through on the entire race. I need it for the last 1.5 miles, my nemesis. (Yes, my phone prevailed!) If my phone betrays me, then I will sing out loud my favorite songs or pray or make up stories or focus on my breathing like a yogi. Either way, I had to finish the race. You have to finish your race too.
  • Love motivates in all situations. What do you love in the situation? Make that your focus and let it motivate you to success. I have a passion for running because it became my therapy after some very dark times in life. I jammed to my music with my best friend on one side and Jesus on the other side. Together, we persevered while getting healthy physically. You will persevere when there is love.

Are You Writing?

“Are you writing?” asked a mentor. “Keep writing and speaking,” said my former boss. “Are you going to keep writing your blog?” asked a friend. I responded to all three people with “No, I’m too busy.”

During a day’s work, I hear the word “busy” more than I can count. It’s the standard response. “How are you?” Busy. “How is your day?” Busy. “Want to go to lunch today?” Nope, sorry, I’m too busy. In the English language, busy is an adjective that means a great deal to do or as a verb that means to keep occupied. Busy has become the state of our lives.

We make choices that determine how we spend each minute. Sometimes the to-do list overflows and dominates our day. Sometimes the busyness is a personal choice. The truth is that busyness is not healthy and will not make you fulfilled in life. When you look back, being busy creates an empty, unfulfilled life.

Busy kills relationships. Someone once told me that I look for things to make me busy. An addiction to busyness kills personal and professional relationships. People get tired of an “I’m busy” response or attitude. They stop asking to spend time with you because the relationship was not a priority; the busyness becomes your best friend.

Busy has nothing to show for it. When I opened WordPress to write this post, I realized it had been 11 months since I published a post. That date sent a shockwave through my body. I felt disappointment that I had not written for pleasure in almost a year. My busyness stole my time to recharge my emotional and mental bank account. Busyness doesn’t fill your family album of memories. It leaves crisp, clean white pages with a bold stamp of the date and “BUSY.”

Busy requires boundaries. I am a list maker. I have a list in my phone, a list in my Emily Ley Simplified Planner, a Post-It note list on my computer and a Post-It note list on my back door as I walk into the garage. I make lists to keep myself organized, which is healthy unless the lists dominate my time. Time creep happens before your realize it if you don’t set boundaries for your time based on your priorities.

I have a personal challenge to not say “busy” as a response to any question for the next 30 days. I hope you will take the challenge with me. Use this time to define your priorities, embrace the unchecked boxes on the to-list and love who and how you spend your time.

 

Good is Good Enough

“I am not a good public speaker.” “I am not a good  runner.” “I am not a good numbers person.” I heard these three statements from three different ladies during the last three days. As I listened, shock hit me. First, the not good public speaker stood confidently in front of 70 coworkers to share her mentoring testimony with eloquent words and a smile. Second, the not good runner ran a 7 minute mile in a one mile relay. Last, the not good numbers person rattled off numbers without hesitation. What is not so good about the talents of these amazing ladies?

In my eyes, nothing because they have those talents and rock it. In their eyes, it’s not good enough based on their own personal parameters to achieve greatness and perfection. A place of greatness and perfection is an illusion.  We naturally want more and more and more, so it becomes a never ending maze or a revolving door. Good is never good enough develops from the influences of comparison and competition.

An epidemic of comparison fills society today. We compare material things, relationships, careers, physical characteristics, etc. The comparison happens 24-7 with even a quick peek at your favorite social media site. You see pictures, videos, stories and personal posts that spark various thoughts including the comparison. She is really good at _____; I wish I was that good. He is really a good _______; I wish I was that good. Right then, you define  your parameters for good.

Once you define that improvement is needed, you use your role model as defined in comparison and start the  competition. The competition is intense and lasts until your mental strength becomes defeat. You then decide that you are okay with not being good or you reset and start the competition again. The only time self-competition can be healthy is if you are competing for your personal confidence while embracing who you are. In that situation, keep it up.

The comparison and competition cycle can be vicious and exhausting if you try to be someone you are not. Be you and focus on what is good for you, not anyone else. Define and embrace your unique personal talents, beauty and abilities. Love and celebrate the steps of progress based on you and you alone. You are good enough inside and out!

Rules of Life Matter

We gather round the coffee table ready for a game of Frozen Surprise Slides. Anna, Elsa and Olaf sit patiently at start  awaiting the first spin. Anna moves to red. Elsa moves to purple. Olaf moves the snowflake and slides ahead twenty spaces. Suddenly, my five year old daughter said, “Uh that’s not fair. Olaf got too far ahead. I will never catch up!” In my mom tone, I replied, “Honey, it is fair. That is a rule of the game.” Darn those rules, they take away the fun and my daughter’s dream of winning the game.

Who likes rules? Well, I do. Anyone that knows me classifies me as the rule follower poster child. I have even been called “by the book” on more than one occasion. I appreciate the structure and guidance that comes with any rule. I find comfort in having rules in this complicated life. Rules can help me find peace among the organized chaos of life.

Your life rules come from three places –  your faith, your environment and yourself.

Faith –  Your faith defines rules for living a holy life. During my recent study of Leviticus, I enjoyed the exploration of the rules that keep me physically, spiritually and emotionally safe. Verse after verse states the rules followed by “I am the LORD”. He is my Father and I am to obey him. I can hear him saying it to me as an earthly father says it to his child.

Environment – Your environment defines rules for living in that moment. When driving a car, you follow the drivers rules like make a complete stop then count 1-2-3. When filing your taxes, you submit your tax forms and tax payment by April 15. Whew, I’m glad that’s done. When an election takes place, you exercise your freedom to vote.

Yourself – You write your own life rules if your faith and your environment do not define them first. We all have personal struggles, strengths and weaknesses and vulnerabilities. It might be waking up on time, eating healthy, talking negatively to yourself, going to bed on time, or managing your finances. We try and try and try to overcome the struggles by making an effort to gain control. Sometimes we need to set rules for ourselves and find an accountability partner to help us. I will get up everyday by 6:00 a.m. or I will save 3 percent of my monthly income. That’s a rule that you set for yourself to help you be the best you can be.

No matter where you are on the game board, your current location is where you are meant to be. You might be on the red square, a joyous time in life. You might be on the purple square, a going-through-the-motions time in life. You might be on the snowflake square, a crisis or difficult time in life. Sometimes the rules will hold us back. Sometimes the rules will catapult us forward.  Either way, you are on that square for a reason. Define, embrace and love the rules of life because you are one spin away from being the best you!