2018

Except When

On Saturday, when I told the ladies in my book group that I was giving up coffee, six loud voices retorted, “WHY?”

Why give up the nectar of the gods?

“Just switch to an Americano,” one said while another quickly spoke over her and said “Yeah, I had to break up with my white mochas too.”

Because at the end of December, when I was still in the holiday festivities and drinking eggnog lattes, my pants got tighter and I’m trying to cut back. That’s why. Sure I could run, but that’s more torturous than no coffee.

Because tea, as you now know, is supposed to be my new thing.

Except when, ugh, it’s not.

I’m ten days in and English Breakfast Tea with honey and milk is NOT AS GOOD AS A VANILLA LATTE. I’m a little tense. The caffeine headaches are real. I’ve got 21 days to go until I might just say… will probably say… screw this and invite my favorite beans back into my life.

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Photo by Mark Daynes on Unsplash

Trying to hold yourself to new standards is a beautiful thing. Except when those standards drive you crazy and instead turn into punishment.

This week we got a rather large dental bill. Dylan calls me Smaug, like from the Lord of the Rings books, because I prefer to watch my savings account slowly increase rather than spend on myself or use those resources to meet my needs. So when I saw the amount due, my stomach dropped and I began to get tense.

No coffee + large expense = tense

“Have gratitude that you have the resources to pay the bill,” my mother said as I griped to her about the cost of adulthood. Ah, she is so wise.

So I started chanting in my head – I’m grateful we have the resources to take care of ourselves and our bodies – and slowly the stomach ache fear that comes with big bills began to dissipate.

I believe that saving money is a beautiful thing.  Except when it’s not. When my obsession turns into stomach aches I have to remind myself to let resources flow. Turn over the money and say there will be more opportunities for funds and abundance to come our way.

And tonight, when we went out with Dylan’s new friends I tried really hard not to watch the clock as the minutes passed and the time spent away from the dog ticked by. Knowing Olive’s past track record with us being gone for long periods of time has led to destruction and mess. I sat over beers and had visions of our only good couch left torn to shreds, or Olive laying in a pile of the remains of our kitchen rug as she looks up me saying, “Well where the hell have you been?” I drove home quickly, even saying aloud, “Just a few more minutes Olive.” I opened the door expecting disaster and took a deep breath.

Nothing. No mess. All our furniture intact and a dog, very ready to go outside, smiling at me as if to say sure I make messes “Except when I don’t.”

So this week there is beauty in setting goals and freedom in saying maybe not. Beauty in having principles and penny pinching and grace for understanding that discipline led to provision.  Beauty found in being present rather than dwelling on the next pending disaster coming our way.

Beauty in remembering I get to live on the swing of life’s situations presented to me, swaying between yes, no, and except when with smiles on my face.

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Women Helping Other Women – Guest Post by Brittany Larsen

Ahh the internet. That magical place where you can follow your high school classmates without having actually seen them in real life for ten years. When Brittany Larsen, who I was so jealous of in high school because she had a magical soprano voice, posted on her Facebook that she was starting a community for working women I knew I wanted to be involved. Never mind we haven’t seen each other since 2007.

Her new project supports women in all paths and her rallying cry to support one another as women is SO NEEDED in this world. I sent her an email and boom – another connection. She was so kind to feature me on her new blog and I’m happy to share her beautiful message with you – the first guest post of 2018. To women!

Author: Brittany Larsen

Website: www.livlyhood.com

I have always found beauty in things that are rare. I love finding what is different and seeking out the unique. I like to consider myself a connector and I love to find the links between people and their interests. This prompt got me thinking about what I consider to be beautiful, and I’ve realized what makes me feel beautiful is when I lift the people around me and find meaningful connections with them.

One thing I felt I struggled with growing up was maintaining uplifting female relationships, which is ironic given that I know Katie from High School and we just recently connected after a decade, so maybe I wasn’t as bad at it as I thought. When I got to college, I decided that I was going to focus on encouraging the women around me. I was in a predominantly female program (Broadcast Journalism) and it was extremely competitive. I wanted to figure out what made my fellow students tick and encourage them. For too long I felt like I had been competitive with the women in my life because of my artistic endeavors, so I learned a lot by trying to avoid gossip in my college years. At times this approach cost me friendships or “popularity,” which took some getting used to. But I persisted and tried to find the higher ground whenever I could.

In my first job out of college I struggled with this concept of lifting the women around me. I realized that working in a real career unfortunately had a lot more in common with my junior high experience than I had anticipated, and it likely didn’t help that I worked in politics. I quickly learned that back biting and negativity in the workplace were more common than I would’ve thought, especially from my female colleagues. I was frustrated with myself when I would get caught up in talking about things that just didn’t matter. Again, I had a choice to seek out the rare by finding women who would help and guide me, and women I could trust. I also had to choose to rise above the negativity. More than anything, I learned how to fight for myself and the women around me in a professional way. I am still not even close to being perfect at avoiding the stereotypes of working with women, which is why I have had to make a conscious effort to avoid negativity in my female relationships.

Here are a few ideas that you can start with right now that have helped me combat the stereotypes of women working with each other:

  1. Today, write a thank you note to a female mentor and express your gratitude for how she’s guided you. This can be a teacher, former manager, peer, etc.
  2. Publicly acknowledge a woman that you work with in a meeting for her ideas.
  3. Text an encouraging quote to a friend struggling with her career path.
  4. Next time you hear someone say something negative about a female coworker, find a way to redirect to one of her positive attributes or just change the subject.
  5. Stop yourself next time you make a snap judgement about a woman you work with or a friend’s career choices.
  6. When a friend posts about a new job on social media, congratulate them for their success.

It is truly a beautiful thing when women fight for each other, instead of against each other. This is one of the main reasons I recently started Livlyhood; a community for women who work.

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Women are already so naturally hard on themselves and I’m firm on the idea that we don’t need any negativity coming from each other. I’ve learned through trial and error that women can unfortunately be our own worst enemies. We don’t lose anything by positively recognizing the efforts of those around us, especially at work. In my current professional role, I manage a team of primarily female professionals and I constantly remind the women I work with that we have more in common with each other than what may be seen on the surface. I am so proud when they stand up for each other and positively encourage each other.

With Livlyhood, I hope to continue to shine a spotlight on my beautiful connections (both inside and out) and to share what they’ve taught me. Every woman is worthy of positive relationships, even in the workplace. The glorious thing is that we don’t have to be best friends to be kind to each other. I hope to contribute in a way that makes what is currently rare and make it commonplace… women helping each other climb the ladder of success in their careers.


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Brittany Larsen is an experienced communications professional with an extensive background in crisis communications and public relations. She currently leads the Public Relations Department at The Summit Group.

You can also find her here.

Twitter: @brittlesser  Instagram: @larsenlivlyhood

January Favorite Things

Hooray! I can put up my new calendar today! Never mind that I ordered it in November when Shutterfly was offering a deal for free ones. I love turning the page on a calendar and I like New Year’s Day. While I struggle with changes outside of my control, a new year feels fresh, hopeful, and promising. I get to start over on my attempt to read 20,000 pages in a year and I can dabble in my resolutions like writing a draft of that book inside my head and learning to play the ukulele that I was gifted for Christmas. If you know anyone who teaches this beautiful instrument let me know – so far I’ve got one chord under my belt.

Here are some of my other favorite things this month. Happy New Year! May 2018 bring beautiful things your way.

1. The Little Paris Bookshop: A Novel by Nina George

I read this book over the holidays. Compassionate to grief and a clever application of how books soothe the soul. I highly recommend it to anyone who delights in the power of story.

2. PG tips Premium Black Tea

I’m turning over a new leaf and trying to cut my vanilla latte habit. This is going to be hard – maybe you can help hold me accountable. I’m switching to tea instead. I’ve been told this is the best there is. Hoping this turns into a new favorite thing.

3. Happy Birthday to Me

My birthday is coming up! I like having a birthday that closely follows Christmas. It gives me something to look forward to after the post-holiday let down. Not sure how I’ll celebrate, but I rest in gratitude for another year around the sun.

Oh, thank you for asking! What’s on my birthday list? Here’s a few ideas.

Rabbit Original Lever Corkscrew , Ukulele for Beginners: How to Play Ukulele in Easy-to-Follow Steps or most things from J.Crew

I also want someone to send me a box of wine from Wine Awesomeness. Because really, wine in the mail? How awesome.

4. T-Shirts with Dogs on Them

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I didn’t realize that I’ve sorta got a collection of t-shirts with dogs starting in my closet. My momma gave me this one for Christmas. I also like this one and hope to grow my odd collection.

5. Write it Out

New year – a new place to capture your beautiful thinking. If you want to start a journaling practice in the new year, I recommend these great tools.

Moleskine Classic Notebook and these pens with this coffee.

Shoot, I forgot I now drink tea. I recommend this tea.